Box 04-111 TO PROFESSOR ARTHUR from Rev. Calvin McQuesten
Sep 29 1958
From: 'Whitehern,' Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Dear Professor Arthurs [sic],
Quite a while ago in speaking to the Art Gallery here, you were reported as saying that Whitehern was the finest house of its period in Canada, if not in North America.
Just now I am eager (if my sisters consent can be obtained, as I hope it can) to have the Hamilton Parks Board, which is the custodian of Dundurn Castle, take over our house, contents and grounds for a "Period Piece," leaving us with a life tenancy1, and I wish to make the offer as attractive as possible so that they will not baulk at the prospective cost of maintenance. So I would like to have a letter from you stating just what you did say, and also mentioning the name of the period. But please do not make any reference to the Parks Board in it. Just write it as if in answer to a request from me as to the exact period to which it belongs; and kindly enclose a couple of carbon copies. I am enclosing a draft of our offer.
If you ever have an hour to spare in Hamilton, I would so much like to see you, and have you see what is in the house as well as outside.
God bless you.
1 Prof. Eric Arthur (1898-1982) was one of Toronto's early architectural activists promoting progressive modernism and was a professor of architecture at U of T from 1923 to 1966. The Eric Arthur Gallery in Toronto celebrates Eric Arthur, architectural activist. The Eric Arthur Gallery is Toronto's first gallery dedicated to the study and appreciation of architecture and design.
He was also the professional adviser for the international design competition for Toronto's new City Hall in 1958, won by Finnish architect Viljo Revell. Author of "Toronto: No Mean City," a standard reference book on the city and its past, he was a vocal defender of Toronto's rich architectural heritage and a founding member of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario. (By Micah Rynor, http://www.newsandevents.utoronto.ca/bin2/011116a.asp).
Eric Ross Arthur (1898-1982) was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, and was one of Canada's most prominent architects and architectural historians.
Educated in England, Arthur emigrated to Canada, where he was appointed Professor of Architecture at the University of Toronto. He developed a strong interest in early Ontario architecture, and in 1932 he founded the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, to promote interest in the preservation of Ontario's architectural heritage.
Arthur wrote a number of books of architectural history, including "Toronto: No Mean City" in 1963, (later revised with Stephen Otto in 1978); "The Barn: A Vanishing Landmark in North America" (with Dudley Witney, 1972); and "From Front Street to Queen's Park" (1979). He received numerous awards for his scholarship and activism on behalf of heritage preservation, including two L.L.D's, two Gold Medals (one from the Corporation of the City of Toronto), and the Order of Canada. http://ao.minisisinc.com/scripts/mwimain.dll/400/AUTH_JOIN/HEADING/Arthur,+Eric,+1898-1982?JUMP
2 Calvin also asked Professor Eric Arthur's help to convince his sisters, Mary and Hilda McQuesten to agree to leave "Whitehern" to the city after the death of the last family member, which occurred with the death of Calvin in 1968. Initially the sisters were hostile to the idea and Calvin had to manipulate them to agree. For the documents related to Calvin's scheme to convince his sisters, and the Hamilton Parks Board's acquisition of "Whitehern," in chronological order, see:
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