Box 12-286 TO REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from Ted Warde
Jan 1 1916 [estimated date]1
To: Rev. Calvin McQuesten St. Andrew's Manse, Buckingham, Quebec
From: Camp # 1. C.P.L. Co. [Canada Pine Lumber Company] Kearney, Ontario
Dear Mr. McQuesten,
It's such a long time since I wrote and I owe you two, that I am almost ashamed to start this. But if you will take as an excuse the fact that I have been so unsettled since I came from Gooderham that I have had no time or convenience to write, why the procrastination will be forgiven me, I'm sure.
How are you getting along in Buckingham? Do you like it as well as when you went there? We have a young fellow, Athur Lescord, French, in the Camp here, who hails from your town.
I am clerking for the Canada Pine Lumber Co. here in Algonquin Park, and I like it fine. I make more than when teaching, and do less work, although I am Constantly in demand, Couldn't even get out at Xmas! But I am very fond of the woods, and I like shanty-men, always did, So I get along fine. Arthur Lee, is the manager of the firm, he and Henry Warren who was with him at Shire's running the business for the bank. The Foreman in the Camp here Bill Oderkirk hails from Bracebridge too; and is a fine fellow, every inch of his six, foot two, by 240 pound body. The walking Boss, Jack Dawkins was also a Shire man for six years, so I am among men I know.
After I left Gooderham, I worked on the Lakes awhile, and then that job stopped and I got at Shire's. I was there a mouth when Stan Dickie came along and wanted me to Enlist. Now on my way from Gooderham, I stopped off with half-a-dozen other young fellows, all disgusted with teaching, and we were examined for enlistment. I was turned down for eyesight. When I got home mother got me to promise I would not go without her consent. As I was only 17 then I promised, so when Stan came, I had to get it, and although father had no serious objection, Mother held out for me staying at home. We had quite a time, but the upshot was that Stan went alone.
Now I want to go in the spring. Mother I feel sure, will not give her consent and I hate to break my promise, but I feel I must or lose my self-respect. I am intending to go to Toronto when the camp breaks up, before the drive, and enlist, if possible, in the Royal Army Medical Corps as stretcher bearer, or if that is not possible in one of the Highland regiments. Now shall I seek mother's permission, which I will not get or go and do it surryptitously [sic]? I would like your opinion on the matter, although my mind is almost made up on the latter course of proceeding. A great many of my chums are gone, I do not whether Harry Lowland is dead of alive, and Stan Dickie is in England now, while Carl Rosewarne is in training.
I hate militarism as much as you, and for fully four years I have seen this coming on and am therefore unable to feel that enthusiasm of patriotism which prompts so many to go. In three hundred years people will think of the nations engaged in this war with the same feeling of compassion and superiority with which we look at the pages of history filled with the senseless strife of the Highland Clans or the petty wrangles of Guelf and Ghibertine [Guelph and Ghibellines].2 In every war Civilization, according to the emphatic warrant of the crowd, has been in jeopardy, but is a thing unarrested still and will be ever unspent in force of evolution. Germany victorious, would in the great annals of time be but an infinitesimal blot, but still I would hate to have my descendants, if I ever have any, read that page of history and realize that none of their line was in it. Moreover, I desire to go from the purely selfish motive that everyone is going and I could not stay here and make no effort to go too.
So the Committee of One Hundred is getting busy. I took a petition for the "Abolishing of the traffic in intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes" around the camp last night. We are mostly foreigners, Russians and Pollacks, but out of 36 voting men 29 signed it, and all I believe will vote by their signatures. It is significant that the names of the worst booze-fighters in the camp were on the list, whereas with the exception of two, the men who did not sign, are not drinkers. They were simply apathetic, and said it did not concern them since they did not drink. One of them, ventured to argue with Denny Dwyer in the office to-night, who signed it. Denny is a very hard-drinker, and his boys, two of them, both drinkers are at the war. Denny told the other guy that he'd just as soon his sons were shot, as come back to a wet country. Frank Prunty, the Chief Hotelman in Kearney, was the first to sign out there. He said he'd be cut out of business he knew, inside three years, and that he intended to take it gracefully.
Well this letter is getting long, and I have to rise at 4 a.m. these mornings. Please answer soon and give your advice on the issue at Stake.
[P.S.] Address, c/o Canada Pine Co., Kearney, Ontario.
1 It is clear from the text of the letter that WWI is in progress and since the letter is addressed to Calvin in Buckingham Que., it was likely written sometime before July of that year. Calvin had applied to become a war chaplain but was rejected. Around this time, he resigned from his position as a minister in Buckingham and returned to Whitehern shortly after that. See W6999 and W-MCP1-3b.024.
2 German and Italian warring factions in the 12th century which continued for many years (CBD).