W8265a THOMAS BAKER MCQUESTEN: Passage on his life by Jessie Yorston.
Jan 18 1948
They say that just before he went to hospital Tom McQuesten has a last look at the things he had made possible for the people of his city.
He took a taxi and went the rounds and he must have known it was his sunset. There was the fine expanse of Gage Park, now white in winter. And under the snow, where people enter Hamilton from the west was the Rock Garden, which would again burst into gay summer bloom. Further along, near McMaster he could think of the Botanical Gardens with all their classic beauty and peace--next summer would know them too.
He might have thought further of the great Way that stretched to the rushing Niagara--a Queen of England had given her name to it, and at the end of it the Rainbow Bridge, where Canadian and American voices would stir long memories of holiday hours and peace.
All his work--the work of a politician, a stern partisan if you like, but of a politician with an iron will and a heart as big as the happiness of people in his parks. All his works, with those many battles through a Legislature as Ontario Minister of Highways, defence on the hustings, bitterness, rebukes and worry. But in the end triumph, above all, for his city Hamilton.
To Tom McQuesten it was not a case of sectionalism or local pride. He loved Hamilton and the people in it surrounded by countless pictures and relics and reminders of its growth he stood for all that was best in the old and all that could be promised by the new. He wanted the best for his town, and that was one of the driving motives of his life.
In his last look around that day Tom McQuesten might well have said goodbye not to monuments, but to old friends. Echoes would come from far back, from loved and familiar places and landscapes. Then ahead there would be new and younger voices, picking up the threads of a city's proud and human growth; out of winter into summer. Just a little better for what Tom McQuesten had done for it.
[Handwritten note along the side]
Imaginary, he was in his bed. H.B. McQ.2
1 A longer version of this article by Jessie Yorston was published in the Biographical Encyclopedia of the World in New York. It is available at Box 14-129.
2 There seems to be a body of mythology surrounding the final hours and days of Tom's life. This note was written and signed by Tom's sister, Hilda.
There are several accounts of his actions that day.
For more information on Thomas B. McQuesten go to the Home Page and click on Family and then on his photo.