W8697a TO REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from Eric Arthur
School of Architecture
University of Toronto
[Note on back of envelope in Rev. Calvin's handwriting:] "I know of no house in Canada so worthy of preservation." Eric Arthur's second letter.
Oct 6 1958
To: Rev. Calvin McQuesten 'Whitehern' Hamilton, Ontario
Dear Mr. McQuesten,
Various dates have been given for "Whitehern" all of them between 1840 and 1852. I, myself, would put the date somewhere between 1845 and 1850.
I first saw the house when I was judging the "Entrance to Hamilton" competition. Your brother, Mr. T. B. McQuesten, was very interested in that project, and it was shortly after the competition that he invited me to "Whitehern".
I immediately fell in love with it. It is not only a perfect example of an urban house of that period; it has something about it that speaks of Hamilton, and of nowhere else.
I have spoken often in lectures of "Whitehern" as an unique example in a perfect state of preservation, of a gentleman's estate of the first half of the 19th century. House and buildings and gardens--all are there. I am so devoted to the house that even the metal sun flowers on the wall mean something to me.
You will forgive me if I write of "Whitehern" in terms of its future, because I know of no house in Canada so worthy of preservation. The last few years of "progress" have destroyed so many of our historic buildings, and the next decade may see even greater destruction. In the peace and quiet of "Whitehern," so close to the hurly burly of Main St., future citizens and, particularly the children of the future, can have a vision of a vanished world of highly civilized, well mannered people - a little world, perhaps in the 1840's, but nevertheless one that laid the foundation of the city of Hamilton today.2
I hope this is the information you require. It gives me the greatest pleasure to send it to you.
(Signed) "Eric Arthur"
1 This letter is very similar to another one on the same date (W8701) in which paragraph five reads slightly differently. At this time Rev. Calvin was attempting to convince his sisters Mary and Hilda to agree to leave "Whitehern" to the City of Hamilton, and the note on the envelope suggests that he had some input into the re-phrasing of the letter. See Box 05-002 for Terms of Transfer of Whitehern to the Hamilton Parks Board.
For the documents related to Calvin's scheme to convince his sisters to leave Whitehern to the Hamilton Parks Board. see (in chronological order)
Box 04-111, 1958/09/29
Box 04-012, 1958/11/06
Box 04-113, 1958/11/07
Box 05-002, 1959/02/01
Box 08-140, 1959/11/03
Box 09-233, 1959/11/04
Box 14-090, 1960/06/18
Box 04-113a, 1971/05/04
2 This paragraph was re-written to be more poetic and emphatic in order to convince Calvin's sisters to leave "Whitehern" to the city.