Box 15-004 HAMILTON SPECTATOR ARTICLE: "Sipping tea and touring the throne room with Rev. Calvin McQuesten."
Jun 10 2006 Saturday
By Darryl Buckle, Saturday June 10, 2006
On a fine June night in 1958, I was assigned the foot patrol beat south of Main Street downtown.
Earlier, my sergeant at the Hamilton Police Department had reminded me of the standing instructions to check the grounds around Whitehern when passing by. It seemed that local winos were in the habit of drinking, then sleeping in the bushes after dark, much to the concern of the property owner.
Sure enough, upon checking the bushes in the side yard shortly after midnight, I found one of these surly, well-lubricated and argumentative revellers. After a bit of "coaxing" with my handcuffs, I was able to "help" him into a passing patrol wagon to be whisked off to Central Police Station for the balance of the night.
As my noisy customer departed, I was hailed from a side door of Whitehern by an elderly male, who asked whether I was all right. I still recall the wispy, white hair atop the gentleman's slim, frail frame.
Next thing I knew, I was sitting in the back kitchen of Whitehern, sipping tea and munching on Peek Frean Biscuits with Rev. Calvin McQuesten.
Meanwhile, a rather poorly and ancient housekeeper puttered about in a heavy kimono, mumbling (not so quietly) under her breath about "such carrying on at such an ungodly hour." The reverend said to ignore the muttering, as she secretly welcomed the excitement.
After our tea and cookies, I was led on a personal tour of Whitehern by the last living member of the McQuesten family, who had owned the property since 1852.
I won't attempt to list all the intriguing, lovely and historic items that were shown to me that very early morning 48 years ago, but I will mention two very special items stored in the rather cluttered basement.
Before me were the actual thrones that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth had used during the opening ceremony of the QEW in 1939.
I can almost hear my host's quiet voice, edged with pardonable pride, as he explained how they came to be there. His brother Thomas, who died in 1948, had been minister of highways during the construction of the highway. Somehow, the thrones wound up at Whitehern after the inauguration party.
Although the courtly reverend invited me to try one of the dusty but sturdy and handsomely ornate chairs, I declined. I must confess it was a tempting offer.
Rev. Calvin McQuesten passed away at the age of 92 in 1968.
Although I have returned to Whitehern several times during the intervening years, I have never forgotten the warmth and charm of my first visit to Whitehern.
Darryl Buckle is a retired Hamilton police officer and former department historian