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W9180 TO REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Apr 7 1916
To: Calvin McQuesten Buckingham Quebec
From: 'Whitehern' Hamilton

My dearest Calvin,

It was very good of you to write Edna, such a hearty invitation. She is really very well and has just now come in from gathering up a lot of papers in the back yard. She was pleased with a letter from Ethel McLaren giving her Winnipeg address, it was so friendly of her.1 E. is particularly excited just now on the subject of bird houses. Some of the schools have had a display in connection with Manual Training of 200 of these houses; they are shown in "Mills" window and are very attractive. They go on sale to-morrow, so we are to start out first thing to get some for the encouragement particularly of the wrens.

I went to Toronto by noon train Monday, spent the afternoon with our President and Lee going over various things before Tuesday Board meeting. Then went over to William MacKay's.2 He is particularly well now and does all he can to make my visit pleasant. Spent all day Tuesday at the meeting. Then on Wednesday morning went down town for short time, and Mrs. Steele came in to have a chat about various things.3 You see when the fall returns came in by mid of Jan., we found ourselves $27,355 behind. The [Wish?] had fallen behind and so many, particularly the [Banks?] had given their money, we suppose to Red Cross &c. Now we are called upon all over the Provinces to have a special Easter offering. Mrs. Steele has had a talk with Dr. Grinch4 and we are very pleased that he agrees with us in not having any more hospitals built in the West. Our contention has been that the municipalities should do that, not the church. Then we are not going to take up the Social Service work as was suggested by some. We believe that is not the work of denominations.5

On Monday just before I left, Elsie Buchanan called and I then discovered that she has been at Auchmar for nine months, but did not come to church as she did not wish to go to meetings. Have since learned that she brought up ten girls from the Refuge, two babies and Miss [Hatte?] who has also taken the son of a special friend of one of our ministers Rev. Jack. He has, or is threatened with tubercular trouble. How it is financed I do not know.6

Well, to go back, Wednesday afternoon (in Toronto) I took Maggie [MacKay] White to see the "Travelogue" in Massey Hall.7 These are very fine moving pictures, which are drawing immense crowds. We were anxious to see the Dardanelles, which were to be shown in the Evening, but found all seats had been taken three weeks ago and there were only rush seats; as I could not undertake to stand an hour or more, we had to content ourselves with seeing London and Paris in the afternoon, the pictures are very beautifully coloured and quite worth seeing. Then I took the 5 o'clock train for home and was not too tired for I am feeling better this spring than for a long time. Before taking my train, met Mary coming off hers, she is to visit Mary Taylor for a few days.

Edna thinks she is not clear about where lilacs might grow. My idea is that in order not to break in on the lawn, you might put a japonica and lilacs between the lawn and the road leading from big gate to the back. Then if you could widen the border at the verandah we could put in as many hydrangeas as space permits and scarlet geraniums in front of them, for of course this year, they will not be much, and the pansies were pretty too. The dwarf double lilacs are lovely but Tom found Fonthill near Welland the only good place to get them, and I am afraid they might be too dry when they reached you. Perhaps Graham could advise you about them, whether they are satisfactory down there and if they can be got. The old fashioned tall mauve and white lilacs are always sweet in the spring. The Persian is beautiful but requires a good deal of room. Will leave it to your discretion, but will foot the bill, as we think it a nice idea for each occupant of the Manse to leave some improvement behind him. You spoke of raspberries, be careful to order a sweet variety, some are very sour. I would not order Tree Hydrangeas, but Hydrangea paniculata.

MacNab St. is getting very busy for the men are starting out to give Mr. K.[Ketchen] an auto8 and also a presentation to Mr. Chisholm, who has been over 25 yrs Treasurer.9 The weather is quite cold, snowing to-day, our Xmas roses came out under the bell glass we put over them, and the snow drops have been out for a week.

(Saturday morning could not finish letter yesterday). We have purchased six bird houses they are quaint little ones covered with bark. Would send you one, but they are quite heavy, and would go to pieces if not well packed. Last night H. and I went to Bible Society Annual Meeting. Mr. Sedgewick and Dean Owen gave excellent addresses,10 as it was in the Tabernacle we had a full congregation.11 Hope you are getting good food that you relish, and taking care. With love from all.

Your affectionate Mother

M. B. McQuesten


1 Ethel McLaren was likely related to W. W. McLaren. Rev. William McLaren was in charge of the Birtle Missionary school when Mary visited in 1906 and was a principal of Knox College in charge of student missionaries from 1905. He was a "true anit-unionist" (Moir 176, 199, 204; W5474, W5502, W6173, W6574, W7387).


2 For MacKay family, see W4297.


3 For Mrs. J. Emily Steele, see W4387.


4 "Dr. Grinch" was likely Dr. R.P. MacKay secretary of the FMC who was involved with the negotiations between the WFMS and the WHMS to create the WMS and had been in contention with the women's groups over control of funds collected by the WFMS, see W6336, W5172n.


5 This is the last letter (extant) in which Mary mentions the women's missionary auxiliary work. It is likely that she grew somewhat disillusioned after the political problems with "Dr. Grinch" and the FMC in general (W6336, W5172n). This letter suggests that the missionary work in Canada was no longer as vitally needed as it had been. The communities and the government had taken over much of the medical, educational, and welfare aspects of the work (Wee Kirks 195). Mary's letters after 1916 indicate that she transferred some of her missionary zeal to the social reform agenda of Tom's "City Beautification" movement and was the inspiration behind his vast and successful enterprises in building parks, highways, bridges, and in bringing McMaster University to Hamilton. Her vision for Tom became apparent soon after his graduation: "[I] hope that here I may get him interested in some good work besides his business" (W6318).


6 Miss H. Elsie J. Buchanan's avoidance of "meetings" suggests that she also was disillusioned and had now turned her efforts to private charitable enterprises. She was a charter member, with Mary, of the Women's Auxiliary at the McNab Church in 1876 and had also spent many years on the executive. For Buchanan family, see W4367.


7 For Maggie (MacKay) White, see W4297. Mary's first viewing of moving pictures was the Coronation pictures in 1911 (W6746). She also described "a photoplay 'Cabiria' said to be the most wonderful spectacular display ever shown" (November 20, 1915, W9096).


8 For Rev. Ketchen and family, see W5359.


9 For James Chisholm, see W2520.


10 Rev. William Henry Sedgewick (1876-1945) Presbyterian clergyman. Educated at Halifax, Glasgow, doctorate at Knox College, ordained 1901 at Nova Scotia, post-graduate studies, Scotland, Church in P.E.I. 1904-06. He was "virtually whisked away by Dr. Samuel Lyle of Central Presbyterian Church. . . . He was a happy combination of young life, scholarly tastes, personal gifts and a very engaging personality." He shared the ministry with Dr. Lyle and assumed full charge in 1910. He was a leader in the Church Union Movement and when the Central congregation voted to remain Presbyterian, he resigned. He was on the Board of Home Missions and Social Services, chairman of the Home Missions Committee and was a member of the Scottish Rite (W5683; DHB4.223-24; POH 56). He may have been related to "Old Dr. Sedgewick," see W6446.


11 Possibly, Derwyn Trevor Owen, Anglican primate, rector of Christ's Church Cathedral. In 1934 he became Archbishop of Toronto and fifth primate of Canada. He was a member of the Scottish Rite and was one of the fathers of the ecumenical movement in Canada. This meeting appears to be an interdenominational service for the Bible Society (DHB3.163).




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