T.B. McQuesten ...................Business Manager
M.H.V. Cameron ........ Editor-in-Chief
W8171 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his brother Thomas McQuesten
Apr 24 1904
To: Calvin McQuesten Macleod, Alberta
From: Toronto, Ontario
My dear Cal,
This was meant to be a birthday letter as I was counting on a 4 day service but they tell me that this cannot reach you now until later. At any rate I wish you very many very happy returns of the day.
As you have probably seen we have a tremendous fire in Toronto, the largest there has ever been here. I was working and had no idea it was so large, so did not go down until 11 o'clock or so and stayed until one. I suppose I saw just about the best of it. I stood on the Esplanade at about the foot of Bay Street and it certainly was a wicked blaze. The streets could not stop it. It was not as if a few embers would blow across the street and catch fire, but there was such a wind that a whole body of flame would shoot right across and lick up the building before you would imagine it was on fire. It didn't do a thing to that iniquitous sweat shop Copp, Clark's. The water as usual was very poor and there was no system followed out at all in putting the fire out. This was impossible but I think more might have been done to stop it.
The worst thing about the fire was that it burnt up practically all of the Year Books. They were printed at MacLean's and were being bound at Brown Bros. and all the type was in pot. They were to have been delivered by contract the next day, and they all went up. Two hundred out of six had been delivered before. So these and $500 in advertising was all that the committee had as assets with a liability of $1500. Some of the books had already been sold at $2. These were called in and the price has been fixed at $5. I had to take one though I hated to part with the money, but the fellows had to be helped out as it was very discouraging for them after working all year. It was a particularly good book too. The cartoons which I sent you in the News were out of it.
As to the Rhodes Scholarship, it needs a lot of grafting.1 Chiefly I think owing to the machinations of Hutton, who saw he could win no other way, a committee of the Senate has been appointed to deal with the matter. His man of course is Patterson. The Committee is composed of the President, Principal Hutton, Principal Burwash, Ramsay Wright, C.J. Moss, and Alfie Baker who is the Chairman. Of these I have the Pres. and Baker fairly strong. Ramsay Wright is of the Pres's party and so is opposed to Hutton and I am working all the pull I can upon Ross. Burwash is for another man named Wallace, a long queer from Victoria. I think he is the son of a recreant Presbyterian now a Methodist Minister, a friend of the Sutherlands. So you see I have a fighting chance.
My chief hope is that I am supported by the President's party. The thing could have been settled easily had it not been for Hutton. He is the chief opposition. But I have my Knife out for him. He is probably now the most unpopular man on the faculty at Toronto, owing to the stand he took in a row we had with the Meds., and also because he took the tickets at the door of the Freshman's reception, in order to keep out the other years. He stood on side of the door and Robert Martin the beadle on the other. Don't say much to Mamma about Hutton because she would be calculated to do anything if she got mad with him. It's just a toss-up whether I win or not.
Old Vander2 is working like an Indian for me, he is a pretty kind hearted old chap. I wish his influence was greater.
Just now I am studying pretty hard for exams, but with one thing and another this year I am afraid I won't get first class honours, all these things keep your mind full and you have to be constantly running around which prevents the settled routine necessary for good work.
Have been watching for your articles in the News. Mamma told me about the last one being practically duplicated in the Globe. It is very hard luck. Possibly you could send to the Montreal Herald or some other town. I don't suppose you got much time but such independent writing as you do is fine and just the sort of thing to turn your attention to.
By the way about the fire, the Telegram building was saved, it is generally conceded by Parmenter, I think you met him here. He stayed right on the roof and fought it back along with young Southam. They were the only ones down at the time. Parmenter is John Ross Robertson's nephew. He just had his nose broken two days before too in the house here boxing. He's game all right. He is going to Winnipeg to row in the Eight which they are sending to Henley this year.
Well my dear Cal, this is about the longest effort I have attempted for some time and hope it will make up for my remissness in not writing before. My exams will be over in a month and then I will have more time. Take care of yourself, old man, and don't take too many risks with those bronchos.
Your aff'te Brother
1 Tom had been a contender for the Rhodes Scholarship that year but did not receive it. For more information and links, see W5199.
2 Vandersmissen is a family friend. He had been the principal at Mary Baker's (Mrs. McQuesten) Grammar School in Newmarket.
3 This is clearly an error. The letter is obviously from Tom to Cal.