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W7095 TO REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Jul 15 1930
To: Calvin McQuesten Foote's Bay Muskoka
From: 'Whitehern'

My dear Calvin

This is the 16th tho' I started yesterday. We seem to be so busy all the time. On Friday Tom drove Mary and me to Guelph and then on to Preston. It was a perfect day and E.[Edna] very happy1. Laura had had a visit from Joe and Margaret which did not seem to cheer her for Miss Paterson says she frets all the time and they do not know what to do for her. She was told that Mary and Jean were with the Hendersons and Laura crying herself sick2. L. had actually written a splendid reference and Mary had gone to Daisy Rousseau who is laid up with her broken leg. She came with her baggage but almost immediately after disappeared probably preferred to booze with the Hendersons3.

This Daylight S.[saving time] gives us splendid evenings, so hearing from Mrs. Whittemore from Oakville, she was going home, we went down to see her on Monday evening4. After being so well on Saturday, that he was going home, Mr. C.[Chisholm] took cold and pleurisy, but is much better again and will go soon5. I spent yesterday afternoon with Mrs. Bell who was in good spirits filled with her grandson's Gerald's achievements and great talents tho H. and her family are getting all the money they can. Mrs. B. will be here till end of Aug. Anne gone on trip abroad. Herbert in quietness writing a book which seems endless6. The garden is magnificent every thing has grown so well, I can see very well now, the brilliant borders in front, from my window, such lovely phlox and snap dragons and wonderful salpiglossis. Then the Lilium regalia very fine.

Did I tell you I heard the King and Prince of Wales on the Radio from London? Did you read in Globe Harry O'Brien's great letter for the Government? He had voted for 15 years (I think) for Conservative but would vote now for Liberal not a party question now but for the Empire. This Patriotic vote gives a fine opportunity for the women too to spread themselves7. The Diamond Jubilee at Winnipeg gave King and Lapointe a great opportunity in spite of the heat.

Marshal bought fine lot of raspberries this morning wish you could be home in fruit season. Fruit is very dear. Kenneth is busy in H's room will be through to-day I think. C. Whidden amazed at the flowers at McMaster8, cannot take any more students. Have had such good rains and not too warm, so that I feel very well. How lovely to see those ducks! Tom says the scraps are not eaten. A good thing for them! H. is much engaged taking Lizzie C. to the Hospital as often as she can. Posted B.W. yesterday. Glad you have some congenial interesting guests. Take good care of yourself, the time seems to be flying. Stay longer than the month if you can. With love from all.

Your affectionate Mother

M.B. McQuesten


1 Edna was a mental patient at the Homewood Sanatorium in Guelph.


2 Likely, Laura Hostetter who may have been a patient at Homewood. For Thomsom family, see W4415.


3 For Henderson family, see W5709. It is impossible to be certain about the identity of these patients and their visiting families at Homewood in Guelph, a sanatorium for treatment of mental illness and alcoholism. The reference to "booze" suggests that some of the patients were being treated for alcoholism.


4 For Whittemore family, see W4815. The Whittemores were likely vacationing in Oakville.


5 James Chisholm was recovering from an appendectomy, see W7085. For James Chisholm, see W2520.


6 For Bell family, see W4531.


7 I have found no record for Harry O'Brien, but the papers for this date refer to the debate about the preference for trade with the Empire rather than with the USA. This caused some dissension in party politics, and caused some to break ranks. The vote was to take place on July 28. In a headline "Former Tory Speaks Out and Ascends Liberal Platform as Exponent of Empire trade" the Globe reported that J.H,. Burnham "made no apologies" for "speaking on behalf of Liberal policies." He appealed to the women and "stressed the intelligent viewpoint being taken by the women electors who, he said, would make or break a candidate's political chances. He appealed particularly to the Conservative women tonight" (Globe July 9, 1930). Women received the franchise in Canada in 1918 (Bashevkin 6).


8 Howard P. Whidden was Chancellor of McMaster in 1927, retired in 1941. He collaborated with Thomas McQuesten and others to bring McMaster to Hamilton. Whidden gratefully acknowledged the university's indebtedness to Thomas and the Park's Board for their generosity in offering what he called "exceedingly reasonable terms." He also stated that Tom was "one of the great big factors which has made the whole thing possible" (Johnston 7, 14, 161, 176, 200; W7085n). An early news account states:

The new university starts with a plenitude of groves of Academe. . . . right on the brink of a sylvan paradise. Its scholars will at their back door have cool ravines and marsh meadows in which to meditate the theological and other muses. . . . And they will have red-winged blackbirds and whistling swans and canorous Canada Geese to keep them company. Hamilton is proving itself a generous host to higher learning. . . . A broad tree-lined avenue . . . a sunken garden . . . lily ponds and grottoes containing fountains and flower beds suggesting the work of La Notre, the famous architect of Louis Quatorze. (The Hamilton Spectator, October 5, 1929)

Unfortunately, the Sunken Garden was razed to make way for the Medical Building. In 1934, after Tom's appointment to cabinet, The Hamilton Spectator reported at great length on Tom's contributions to Hamilton: "Far-Seeing Plans Bring University . . . . Crusades for City Improvement. . . . Venerable Mother Shares His Triumph" (June 30, 1934). In 1941 Whidden again wrote to Tom: "Do not forget that from the beginning I have been under indebtedness to you for constant support and inspiration in connection with the bringing of McMaster to Hamilton and the making possible of its beautiful surroundings and setting" (Box 08-138a, March 21, 1941). Whidden was a pall bearer at Tom's funeral in 1948, as was G.B. Gilmour, chancellor in 1948. For more on the McQuestens and McMaster, see also W7085, Box12-405.




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Copyright 2002 Whitehern Historic House and Garden
The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
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