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W6975 TO REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Mar 17 1916 St. Patrick's Day
To: Calvin McQuesten Buckingham Quebec
From: 'Whitehern'

My dearest Calvin,

This is a bitterly cold day and it has been very cold for days. I hope the March wind will not get into your throat. Mary has been busy for days preparing for a St. Patrick's Day party for her S.S. Class. She has been making cakes and cookies in shamrocks with green icing and they are to have green and white ice-cream etc. Your cards arrived this morning, the rhyme on Edna's was very interesting. I never heard that reason for the date.

To-morrow there is to be a great parade and Mayor Walters not satisfied with the 8000 men in our city, proposed to bring in the men from Brantford and other places asking people for $3000 to pay their expenses and imposing on the churches to give them supper; so McNab St. ladies are preparing to feed 125 men. We are all very indignant with him when there are so many funds for the starving people of Europe, why should he start this waste of money just to get up a procession1. It is intended to stimulate enlistment, but the 8000 would have made a good showing, without going to all this expense. We are getting quite tired of the way men do things; up at Central School they are arranging to give coffee to a thousand men, and I do not know where else at all the schools I hear. I myself think they should recruit men to do the work in the West, on the farms; and around here they do not know what they are going to do for help2. I am afraid, I cannot get this letter finished in time for the post, have been so interrupted. Thank Mrs. Deverney[?] for the card she sent me, it was kind of her to remember me.

Well, Mary's girls have arrived, and seem to be having a merry time in the drawing-room. They came dressed in dresses of green crinkly paper and they were really very pretty, this was the idea of the two Irish girls, they are such nice girls, the others are the two Gentles and Vera Straus. Hilda and I went down town this afternoon and I do not want to go out again till it gets warmer only 3 above zero. Yesterday we managed to make a wedding call on Alice Macdonald Martin, on Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Macdonald now I shall stay in for a few days.

(Saturday morning) We were so glad to get your letters this morning, and to hear of Miss S.'s intention to entertain Ladies' Aid. I really think it was a special Providence that led us to Miss Smith. Had a note from Mrs. Henderson, who had been hearing from Mrs. Brown how well pleased Miss S. is, finds the ladies so kind, and likes her position so much3. They are so pleased that she is not in a menial position, but in one equal to what she has been accustomed4. I am sure you are doing good work with the children and parents like that. Ethel Maclaren was telling me about the favours for each class for regular attendance, which seemed to be bringing out children. Well, certainly the hope of the country is the children and they get very little fine bringing up at home. Mrs. Smith of St. Catharines told me, she was doing all she could to urge the teachings of the Bible and was to give an address in Buffalo on the subject.

Tom has been having a time in the Council fighting United Gas and fuel on behalf of the Natural Gas to prevent the City entering into a monopoly. He did not win out, but Dr. Malloch stopped him on the street and complimented him on the stand he had taken5. He has also won in quite an intricate law case, which has been hanging on for a year. So by degrees, I think, he will make a place for himself

I think this is the day you were going to Ottawa; so you manage to get some sanity, which is a good thing when you live in Buckingham. We'll send for flower catalogue. Edna and I are going down to Mrs. Dr. Leslie's to see the great parade. For awhile I could not bear to look at the soldiers, but now I think, the war will be pretty much over before these reach the front. Take good care of yourself give kind regards to Miss S. and with love from all.

Your affectionate mother

M.B. McQuesten


1 Mayor Chester S. Walters was in the forefront of the local recruiting drive. Others in the forefront of the recruiting were Mewburn (W4521) and Chisholm, Tom's law partner (W2520) (DHB4.178). Walters was deputy minister of highways (Tom was minister) when he attended Mary's funeral in 1934 (The Hamilton Spectator December 10, 1934). In 1948, in Tom's obituary, Walters wrote: "Thomas Baker McQuesten was one of Canada's great men. He was the soul of honour. As was said of Christopher Wren, 'if you would seek his monument, look about you' . . . He was my dearest friend" (Best 189). Rev. Ketchen had made a similar statement to Tom in a letter of July 12, 1947 (Box 08-202).


2 Mary's "violent opposition" to the war is coloured by the fact that Tom wanted to enlist, just as his friend and law partner, Chisholm, had done. She did not favour the war and was "getting quite tired of the way men do things." This caused a family crisis since Mary did not favour the war and feared losing her favourite son and his income. During this long crisis, Calvin wrote brief prayers for the family in his diary: "April 10, 11, 1916, that Tom may go. . . . that mother may tell him so" (Box 14-002), "April 8, 1918, that all may know His peace in anxiety about possibility of Tom being called to the colours" (Box 14-018). In spite of many arguments, Mary managed to keep Tom at home (DHB4.178; Best 26; see also W6805).

However, receipts found in the Whitehern Museum archives indicate that, despite her opposition to the war, Mary donated $25.00 to the Hamilton and Wentworth County Patriotic Fund Association in 1915 and $50.00 to the YMCA Military Service Fund in 1916.


3 For Joseph Henderson family, see W5283.


4 For Miss Smith, see W6951.


5 For Malloch family, see W4582.




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