Box 15-006 WHITEHERN: A HORTICULTURAL PERSPECTIVE.
Apr 1 1987
Whitehern: A Horticultural Perspective, 1853-1885.
Dr. Calvin McQuesten's Garden: "Willowbank"
James C. Haaf
University of Guelph
Assoc. Diploma in Agri. (Hort.)
[Table of Contents]
2.0 Whitehern: Beginnings
2.1 Construction: ca. 1851
2.2 Structural Features: Smith Map of 1850-51
3.0 Dr. Calvin McQuesten
3.1 Horticultural Background and Associations
3.2 Occupancy of Whitehern: ca. 1853
4.0 Hamilton: 1850-1870
5.0 Dr. Calvin McQuesten's Garden: "Willowbank", 1853-1885
5.1 "Willowbank": The Front Grounds
5.2 "Willowbank": The Rear Dooryard
5.3 "Willowbank": The Kitchen Garden
6.0 "Willowbank": A Horticultural Perspective
8.1 Evidenced Plant Material at Whitehern, 1853-1948: 4 Stages
8.2 "Willowbank", 1853-1885
9.0 Appendex [sic] A: Gardening and Horticulturally Related Books in the Library Collection at Whitehern
2.0 Whitehern: Beginnings
2.1 Construction: ca. 1851
Whitehern was constructed by Richard Oliver Duggan for occupancy by the affluent and wealthy city dweller of the mid-19th Century. Situated on four city lots (Nos. 81, 82, 101, 102) on Maiden Lane (present-day Jackson Street in Hamilton) the Georgian-design house rises from a constructed two-tiered earthen terrace giving added prominence and stature to the building of sandstone, dolomite and slate. (Fig. 1)
Exact construction date for the building remains elusive. The earliest substancial evidence of Whitehern exists with a City Map of Hamilton; 1850-1851, by Marcus Smith. (Fig. 2) City of Hamilton Property Assessments (1) indicate a likely construction date of 1851.
[Fig. 1 Whitehern]
[Fig. 2 Whitehern as Illustrated by Marcus Smith, City Map of Hamilton, 1850-51]
2.2 Structural Features of Whitehern: Smith Map, 1850-51
Smith depicts four structures on the Maiden Lane property of R.O. Duggan, Esq.: the house with front portico, a privy (assumed) at the west-central property line and two outbuildings situated at the southeasternly property line of which only one remains today (Fig. 3).
[Fig. 3 Structures of Whitehern: Smith Map, 1850-51]
Misplacement of outbuildings 3 and 4 by Smith seems evident. In a comparison with maps of later dates (Nos. 10,11,12 as listed section 4.7), building 4 closely matches dimensions of the present-day stable which is located at the site of Smith's outbuilding 3. Additional information and discrepancies suggest a modification in Smith's location of these two buildings:
1) 1903 McQuesten family correspondence making referene to a "stableyard" located reasonably close to the house. (1)
2) Smith's depiction of an apparent delineation between a stableyard and a dooryard (Fig. 4).
3) The existence of the present-day doors on the north side of the stables (Fig. 4).
4) The present location of the MacNabb Street (east) entrance to the property (Fig. 4).
5) The present-day door in the east wall north of the MacNabb Street entrance. The present stables contain a similar, but formerly-used doorway (Fig. 4).
6) 1903 McQuesten family correspondence making reference to the site of an "ancient chicken coop" along the back fence. (2)
7) Suggested privy relocation due to a 4 x 4 foot depression currently present in the lawn to the north of Smith's privy location.
8) Major discrepancy in Smith's house length with comparison to later maps.
9) Smith's apparent confusion of mismatching of north/south lot divisions. (Fig. 4)
[Fig. 4 Smith's Possible Delineation of Dooryard and Stableyard and Mismatching of Lot Divisions]
A northward relocation of structures depicted in the southern portion of the property (lots 101 and 102) eliminates conflicting evidence and results in a more practical placement of carriage house and stables. (Fig. 5)
[Fig. 5 Relocation of Outbuildings 3 and 4]
3.0 Dr. Calvin McQuesten
3.1 Horticultural Background and Associations
Dr. Calvin McQuesten was born and raised in rural New England in the early 1800's. He immigrated to Canada from New York state with his first wife, Margarette Lerned, in 1835 when fruit and vegetable production dominated horticultural endeavors in the Northern Atlantic States. Extensive searches for, and experimentation with, hardy wine producing grapes occupied much of horticultural concerns for the period and area. Apple cultivars for table consumption were developed in the first quarter of the 19th Century and crazes for silk and mulberry production continued from earlier periods.
The Lerned family of Hopkinton, New Hampshire were avid gardeners. They grew vegetables and fruit varieties common for the time and roses which bordered the pathways of their garden. (1) This garden was considered Margarette's father's but care and interest was passed to her brother, E.A. Lerned, her sister Mary and to Margarette herself. Mary was growing mulberries and rearing silkworms in 1832 (2) and Margarette and her husband, Dr. Calvin McQuesten, were growing fruit in New York state in 1833. (3) McQuesten's brother-in-law, Hugh McAllister, was attempting commercial orchard production around Cleveland, Ohio in 1855. Plum, cherry, quince, apple and peach made-up his orchard of some 300 trees. (4)
Correspondence between the McQuestens and family members point to a keen but, perhaps for the time, average interest in gardening.
Margarette died in 1841 before Whitehern was constructed. Dr. Calvin remarried and occupancy of a home in Hamilton may have afforded him and his second wife, Ester Baldwin, a small garden.
Once established and prospering in Hamilton, Dr. McQuesten provided financial assistance to many who asked. One such individual was John Haigh. (5) Mr. Haigh was Director of the newly-formed Hamilton Horticultural Society. (6) He seems to have been engaged in large-scale farming by 1869 for which Dr. McQuesten supplied occasional financial backing. (7)
The Library at Whitehern today contains 6 books which may have been owned and read by Dr. McQuesten:
1) Medical Botany. 1790. In 3 volumes. William Woodville. London: James Phillips.
Descriptions and uses of woody and herbaceous medicinal plants. Extensive listings. Colour illustrations.
2) The Botanic Garden: A Poem in 2 Parts. 1807, 2nd edition. Part I: The Economy of Vegetation. Part II: The Loves of Plants with Philosophical Notes. The Faculty of Physicians College, London. NY: T. and F. Swords.
Poetic odes to Darwin and Linnaeus. Botanical notes on plant morphology and physiology. Linnaean classification system. Data and descriptions on specific species.
3) The New and Improved Practical Gardener and Modern Horticulturalist. 1848. Charles McIntosh. London: Thomas Kelly.
Culture on a wide range of plants. Garden and orchard location. Grafting, budding, pruning. Extensive descriptions of fruit cultivars.
4) The Journal and Transactions of the Board of Agriculture of Upper Canada. 1856. Vol. I. Toronto: Thompson and Co.
Affairs and dealings of the Board of Agriculture. Horticultural Exhibitions. Lectures on agricultural topics.
5) The Cultivation of the Native Grape and Manufacture of American Wines. 1870. George Hushman. NY: G.E. Woodward.
Placement of vineyards. Culture of grapes: pruning, trellis systems, fertility, culture. Wine production.
6) The Canadian Fruit, Flower and Kitchen Gardener. 1875. D.W. Beadle. Toronto: James Campbell and Sons.
Culture of fruits, flowers and vegetables. Extensive descriptions of cultivars.
3.2 McQuesten's Occupancy of Whitehern: ca. 1853.
Dr. McQuesten's second wife, Ester Baldwin, never enjoyed the grandeaur [sic] of Whitehern. She died in 1851 while still living on Merrick Street. (1) Dr. Calvin is listed as living on Merrick Street in 1852. This property was leased to one I.M. Williams in 1853 at which time it appears Dr. McQuesten was in the United States courting his third wife, Elizabeth Fuller of Boston. (2) It is in this year (1853) that Property Assessments first show McQuesten's occupancy and ownership ("proprietor-self") of property on Maiden Lane, occupancy which perhaps took place with his new bride and his six year old son, Issac [sic] Baldwin McQuesten.
4.0 Hamilton: 1850-1870
In his Practical Notes Made During a Tour in Canada (1833), Adam Fergusson credits the Hamilton and southwestern Ontario region with "rich orchards" and "fine farms". (1) The mid and late 1800's brought extensive developments of orchards and fruits to the area. In 1845 D.W. Beadle (St. Catherines) offered only the 'Isabella' grape to his customers. (2) George Leslie (Toronto) sold six cultivars of native-hardy grapes in 1853. (3) By the mid-60's and early 70's upwards of 20 or more cultivars were listed by nurserymen. (4) Available tree fruit varieties increased at similar of more rapid rates. "A drive along the newly macadamized road from Stoney Creek to Grimsby in 1856 (6) and seven years later the fruits of the region captured a Silver Medal at the International Fruit and Ceral Exhibition in London, England. (7)
A series of horticultural lectures in 1848 and 1849 (8) inspired the formation of the Hamilton Horticultural Society in 1850. John Bruce established his seed business and was marketing fruit, vegetable and flower seeds from his King Street address (Hamilton) in 1850 (9) and Rosedale Nursery was operating six years later. (10)
While fruits and vegetables were the major interest of property owners, the beautification of grounds within the bounds of Hamilton was of increasing interest during the 1850's. Newspaper coverage of the Hamilton Horticultural Society's Horticultural Exhibition of 1859 indicates the continued and rapid spread of ornamental horticulture in the mid-1800's:
"...nor were the flowers and vegetables less remarkable, indeed some of the judges preferred these ven to the fruit." (11)
Entries in this Exhibition of 1859 were nearly four times that of entries in 1851. (12) By 1863 the Hamilton Horticultural Society was granting Awards of Medal for the "Best Kept and Most Tastefully Arranged Garden and Grounds". (13)
Marcus Smith illustrates landscaping details of several estates and city homes on his Map of Hamilton (1850-51). Large estate properties on the outskirts of the city, such as the property of Sir Allan MacNabb (Dundurn Castle) and A.E. Kennedy's residence at the foot of the "mountain" on Markland Street, indicate design influence of the British landscapers Humphrey Repton and J.C. Loudon. Pathways meander through front and rear pleasure gardens in these two properties. The gardens would have contained specimen plantings, carpet-like lawns, flower beds and asymetrical groupings of trees and shrubs.
The "naturalistic" and "gardenesque" styles of Repton and Loudon were replacing the formal, rigid patterns of earlier periods. Plantings were more open and employed graceful curves instead of the straight line. These design styles were emulated in North America by A.J. Downing, Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux. These landscapers were known to serious Canadian gardeners. A.J. Downing's book, A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1841), was offering as a prize at the first Provincial Fair of 1846 in Toronto. (14) It was available for purchase from John Bruce (Hamilton) for $4.00 by 1862. (15)
5.0 Dr. Calvin McQuesten's Garden: "Willowbank", 1853-1885.
5.1 "Willowbank" The Front Grounds
In a newspaper article of 1954, Reverend Calvin McQuesten, Dr. McQuesten's grandson, describes the early grounds at Whitehern:
"The home in which Dr. Calvin McQuesten spent the latter part of his life was called "Willowbank". But by 1885... all that remained of the willows was a huge, rotting stump on top of each corner of the double terraces in front of the house and a third at the south-west behind." (1)
Willow trees at Reverend Calvin's specified locations (Fig. 6) indicate an adhesion to older, formal design principles. The "Willowbank" title suggests their planting by Richard Oliver Duggan, Whiterhern's builder, due to the likelihood of Dr. McQuesten's title selection based on an existing, prominent feature of the property. A fourth willow tree may have existed at the southeast corner of the house further complementing the symetrical design of the building and grounds (x on Fig. 6).
[Fig. 6 Location of Willow Trees]
Dioramic maps of 1859 (2), 1876 (3) and 1893 (4) depicting "Willowbank" indicate the presence of deciduous trees along the north, northwest and northeast boundaries. These may have been willows but a photograph in the Whitehern collection dated 1897 (5) depicts mature maples and other non-willow species. These occurred in straight line peripheral plantings. (Fig. 7) One large silver maple shown in the 1897 photo currently grows near the northwest corner.
[Fig. 7 North, Northeast and Northwest Tree Plantings]
Later photographs show dense plantings on the front grounds bordering MacNab Street (northeast). This probably took a similar format to the plantings along the north and northwest boundaries.
Maturity of the trees shown in the photo of 1897 suggests plantings of ca. 1857-1867. These may have been planted by Dr. McQuesten. Their arrangement shows his preference for Duggan's originally-intended symmetrical design of the front grounds.
The selection of trees offered by nurseries in southern Ontario comprised a varied array throughout the mid and late 19th Century. Mountain ashes, Ailanthus, catalpas, lindens, Lombardy poplars, horse chestnuts and others were available from George Leslies (Toronto) in 1853. (6) David Murray (Hamilton) offered flowering cherries, apricots, ornamental crabs and spruce in his catalogue of 1873. (7) If Dr. McQuesten used such ornamentals it cannot be ascertained. It seems, however, that he most likely by-passed these for less showy material such as the silver maples and possibly elms.
A low stone wall extended along the front of the property in 1897. (Fig. 7)(8) The wall probably existed earlier. (9) A similar wall runs the est length of the property along MacNabb Street today. Vertical plank fencing enclosed the west boundary in 1897 and the south boundary throughout the 1990's. The enclosing stone walls may have been built by Richard Duggan in the latter stages of Whitehern's construction. Duggan's death in 1852 and 1853 (10) may have led to the substitution of the wood fence for further stone walls.
The double earthen terraces of Whitehern are shown on the map of Marcus Smith. (Fig. 2) Lineation by Smith closely corresponds to the location of existing grade changes of the terraces today. These earthen terraces contributed prominence and stature to the building- elements in keeping with the professional position of the builder, lawyer Richard Oliver Duggan, and with the socialite lifestyle of his wife. (11)
The circular bed and pathway at the front of Whitehern depicted on Smith's map is fairly typical of other detailed city properties of 2 to 4 lot size. Symmetrical lay-outs of circles, ovals and U-shaped configurations abound in these properties. They represent designs mid-way between the newer, open styles where space was an affordable luxury and the formal, symmetrical, small garden design of earlier periods. Smith depicts a more conservative style in the residence of Danial MacNabb on the corner of Maiden Lane and MacNabb Street adjacent to Whitehern. This pathway leads directly from street to front entry without the softening effect of a graceful turn or leisurely curve. The circular bed and path at Whitehern compliment the symmetrical design of the building and holds to formality without the static effect of a straight line.
The bed and pathway remain today although changed by 1903 to a more Victorian outline of a heart (12) by possibly Mary Baker McQuesten, Dr. McQuesten's daughter-in-law. The bed was adorned with an assortment of flowering shrubs for at least the first 40 years of the 1900's. Roses were consistently present throughout this period. Moss Roses grew in the bed in 1903 (13) and remained there even when beds for the newer hybrid teas had been cut in the 1920's or 30's. Roses in the circular bed at front may have been a tradition.
In June of 1869 the 22 year old Issac [sic] Baldwin McQuesten presented young Mary Baker, his future wife, with a basket of flowers. In an accompaning note to Miss Baker he laments:
"It is too bad this is not the season for pansies, as there are some fine ones in the garden." (14)
These pansies may have grown with the roses in the circular bed as they did in 1903. (15)
The Victorian Era (ca. 1860-1900) brought an over-exaggeration of the flower bed, border and parterre to the landscape. Brightly coloured annuals were arranged in geometrically-designed beds and as carpet bedding and sharp contrasts of foliage colour, size and texture embellished home gardens. An April 1862 reprint of a lecture by Mr. Geo. Laing, Hamilton-based garden landscaper, appeared in The Canadian Agriculturalist (Toronto). In it he spoke of ribbon borders, pannelled beds and linked chains... to be made of flowers". (16)
Any expression of Victorian gardening ideals at Whitehern would have occurred in the circular bed and its border. However, such expression doubtfully took place. Victorian practices were met with staunch opposition (17) by the time of Dr. McQuesten's death and Issac [sic] Baldwin and Mary Baker McQuesten's occupancy of Whitehern in 1885. The change of the bed outline to that of a heart (ca. 1903) represents some adoption of Victorian ideals but shrub and flower plantings throughout the first third of the 20th Century took on a "Jekyllian" style.
Dr. McQuesten was a man in his 60's when the gardening practices of the Victorian Era were fully developed and commonly applied. He made no adjustments or attempts to adopt what may have appeared to him as frivolour floral and foliar displays. His gardening attentions were focused on other uses and areas of the "Willowbank" grounds. The pansies picked by Issac [sic] Baldwin McQuesten in 1869 most likely grew at the rear of "Willowbank".
5.2 "Willowbank": The Rear Dooryard
Marcus Smith depicts a delineation of dooryard and stableyard at Whitehern on his map of 1850-51. (Fig. 4) The concept of dooryard and stableyard was one often maintained by rural dwellers. The dooryard, the immediate space surrounding the house, was an area were [sic] household chores such as laundering or butter churning occurred. These chores would take place at the rear of the house.
The existence of "a third (willow tree) at the southwest corner behind" the house is appropriate. A large tree at this spot would provide cooling shade for the rear dooryard and verandah in the hot summer's afternoon sun. (Fig. 8) The verandah extended the width of the house (1) and was undoubtedly the site of Dr. McQuesten's reading and Elizabeth's sewing and needlework during pleasant days and early evenings. Trellises ran the height of the verandah in 1898 (2) and possibly earlier. They appear as much an integral part of the verandah as does the embellished coping running the verandah's length. (Fig. 9) Dutchman's pipe, everlasting pea or trumpet vine may have climbed the trellises.
[Fig. 8 The Rear Dooryard Area]
[Fig. 9 The Verandah]
McQuesten family correspondence of 1903 refers to a "clothes yard" located near the rear of the house and seemingly close to the immediate "stable yard". (3) An area for laundering of clothes would have been needed during Dr. McQuesten's time. This utility area would likely have existed in the sheltered and private space between the verandah and the carriage house (as relocated). (Fig. 8) A fourth willow tree in this area (o on Fig. 8) would have contributed added privacy and shade for outdoor chores, the verandah and the rear of the house.
No other evidence exists of garden or landscape features in the rear dooryard at "Willowbank" although embellishment with flowers and shrubs was common. (4) Persistent annual and perennial flowers such as hollyhocks, sweet violets and lily-of-the-valley which grew nearby in the early 1900's may have originated in "Willowbank's" rear dooryard area.
5.3 "Willowbank": The Kitchen Garden
The kitchen garden is the most dominant landscape feature of Whitehern illustrated by Marcus Smith. Like the circular bed and pathway at the front of the property and the double terraces surrounding the house, the kitchen garden would have been initially laid out by Richard Oliver Duggan for its inclusion on Smith's map of 1850-51. However, unlike the rest of the property, Dr. Calvin developed this area to possibly the fullest extent of its use for the time.
Smith's depiction of the kitchen garden as a subdivision of the stableyard is customary for the era and city environment. As it is doubtful that any livestock roamed freely on the property of "Willowbank" a fence between the dooryard and stableyard would have been unnecessary. Animals kept by Dr. McQuesten, a horse for the carriage and possibly a milk cow, would have been confined to the stables and grazed in open pastures on the outskirts of the city- about one mile's distance from "Willowbank". Hitching posts in the immediate stableyard outside the north facing stable doors would have served as temporary restraint for the horse or for the cow during milking in the shade of the fourth willow tree.
Chickens on the property are suggested by one McQuesten family member:
"Where do you think those new bushes (blackberries) have sprung up? In the ancient chicken coop... along the back fence." (1)
This "ancient chicken coop" with a likely enclosing pen would have been located in the southeast section of the property. Adjacent space may have been used as collection areas for household and garden debris and stable and chicken manures, a vital component in gardening.
The kitchen garden of the mid-1800's usually retained the functional format of rigidly laid out beds intersected by straight pathways. The central pathway shown on Smith's map disceting Dr. McQuesten's garden maintained its exact position for the preceeding 136 years. Trees at the peripheral borders of a kitchen garden were a common feature. Fences or hedges often completed the borders which created a desirable screening from house and public view and offered sheltered protection for the plants within. Flowers sometimes found a place at the inner border of a kitchen garden. Hollyhocks grew at the northern border of the "Willowbank" garden in 1898. (2) This area was developed into beds of peony, iris, tulips and other perennial flowers by Mary Baker McQuesten by the early 1900's.
In the earlier quoted newspaper article of 1954, Reverend Calvin McQuesten provides further description of his grandfather's garden and the plants it contained:
"...he retired (1859) to read ...and to enjoy his garden, which among other things contained an asparagus bed, half-a-dozen or more varieties of grapes, a dozen or so kinds of pears, which latter [sic] he considered to be of verg special medicinal value." (3)
Pear trees exist in the Whitehern garden today. Five hollowed trunk trees grow at the periphery of the kitchen garden as illustrated by Marcus Smith in 1850-51. (Fig. 10) A sixth, similar tree is depicted in a photograph of ca. 1930 (O on Fig. 10). (4)
[Fig. 10 Existing Pear Trees in Relationship to the Smith Map, 1850-51]
It seems quite likely that Dr. McQuesten bordered his garden on the north and east sides with these and other fruit trees. (Fig. 11)
[Fig. 11 Possible Fruit Tree Plantings]
Apples were present and bearing in the garden by 1873, 'Northern Spy' being one cultivar mentioned by Issac [sic] McQuesten. (5) Large cherry trees existed by 1897. (6)
Despite their advanced age, the existing 5 pear trees are relatively small in comparison to their potential stature. In 1898 they were of similar size as today. (7) These may be "Beurre D'Anjou" on size-controlling quince rootstock which was in use by the 1850's. (8) The collection and planting of "a dozen or so kinds of pears" between Dr. McQuesten's occupancy of Whitehern in 1853 and the early 1870's when he was of noticeably declining health and vigor (9) shows a keen interest in newly available cultivars. His orchard contained approximately one-half of the pear cultivars available through regional nurseries in the late 1860's and early 70's.
As the garden border would not be large enough to accommodate a dozen or more pears, apples, cherries and perhaps others, Dr. McQuesten needed to utilize space within the kitchen garden for his fruits. This space was found in the interior of the southeast section of the garden (O on Fig. 11). (10) Here, into the 20th Century, stood a large pyramidal tree unnaturally truncated at the apex. It was most likely truncated by pruning to control its growth or by fire blight infection as it characteristically affects pears.
Dr. McQuesten gave gifts of baskets of pears to business associates and perhaps friends in Hamilton. (11) A barrel of apples was regularly shipped to his oldest son living in New York State. (12)
In 1886 the new tenants of Whitehern, Issac [sic] Baldwin and Mary Baker McQuesten, were assessed an orchard tax. (13) Although not investigated, it seems reasonable that an orchard tax would be assessed for trees above and beyond a customary or average number for a city property. The north and east borders and the additional space in the southeast section of the garden might easily contain 25 standard and dwarf trees at today's recommeded spacing. The 3 pears at the north border (Fig.10) are planted at a distance of 6 and 8 feet- closer than the recommended spacing of experts at the time. (14) "Willowbank" certainly contained above and beyond an average number of fruit trees.
In 1875 the grapes at "Willowbank" yielded "130 to 140 gallons of wine" (15) for Issac [sic] McQuesten. Figures for commercial wine production (16) and average yields for vines (17) suggest that the garden contained close to 50 individual grape vines. This, however, may be a conservative estimate. Dr. McQuesten's grapes may have inclined the 'Isabella', 'Catawba', 'Delaware', 'Clinton', 'Concord' or 'Ontario'.
Grape vines may have grown along fences at the south or west boundaries of the kitchen garden but it seems most likely that they grew within the garden on a constructed trellis system. Both George Hushmann and D.W. Beadle recommend the use of wooden trellises for the support of grape vines (Fig. 12) in their books of 1870 and 1875 respectively. (18) Grapes grew in Whitehern's kitchen garden area in the late 1920's in a much neglected state, although not necessarily in the same location that they might have occupied in earlier periods. (19)
[Fig. 12 Trellis Support System. From D. W. Beadle's The Canadian Fruit, Flower and Kitchen Garderner. 1875. pg. 77.]
An asparagus bed also existed in the garden in the early 1900's. (20) Re-division and relocation of the plants would likely have taken place since their establishment by Dr. McQuesten some 40 years earlier.
Gooseberries, blackberries and raspberries were enjoyed from the garden by Mary Baker McQuesten and her family in 1903. (21) Such small fruits may have been grown by Dr. McQuesten as well.
Vegetables in the kitchen garden would have consisted of the standard items such as peas, beans, lettuce, beets, melons and so forth. Dr. McQuesten seems to have been familiar with the types of squash commonly available. In 1861 during a trip to "the falls" he saw the newly introduced Hubbard Squash were mailed to him later that year at "Willowbank". (22) Bruce's Seed Establishment (Hamilton) lists the Hubbard in 1862 as "new, excellent". (23)
Dr. McQuesten probably grew plants for medicinal use. His medical training at Bowdoin College in Maine during the early 1800's may have provided him with a background in common "simples" of the period. His notion that pears were of "very special medicinal value" indicates either a thorough knowledge of the subject of a general reflection on pear's nutritional value- something akin to the adage "an apple a day...". William Woodville's Medical Botany, an extensive 3 volume set contained in the Library at Whitehern, was presumably owned and studied by Dr. McQuesten.
The practice of growing herbs in a part of the garden reserved only for them was disappearing in Canada by the mid- 1800's. (24) However, Dr. McQuesten seemed to hold to older, more traditional styles and methods. He may have maintained an isolated "simples" garden within his kitchen garden or planted sage, anise, rue and lavender among his vegetables.
6.0 "Willowbank": A Horticultural Perspective
The landscaping at Whitehern between 1853 and 1885 seemed not to have displayed latter [sic] 19th Century concepts or foresight. Duggan's lay-out of the initial features allowed for an appropriate endeavor into these trends but also allowed for easy retension of traditional styles. Dr. McQuesten seemed to opt for the traditional style of regularity and symmetrical balance. Elements, which in rural New England where he spent the first 35 years of his life, were equated to the taming or civilization of the natural environment. Horticultural beautification at "Willowbank" was, at the most, modest in consideration to the potential of the time.
Ornamental development of Whitehern's grounds was to wait for successive generations of the McQuesten family. Mary Baker McQuesten brought showy catalpas to the front grounds (1) and enclosed the kitchen garden with a formal, Russian mulberry hedge of which remnants exist today. She introduced ornamental beds and put a refined polish to them while puttering about the garden even in her "Sunday best". (2) Reverend Calvin McQuesten, Mary's eldest son, extended his gardening interests beyond the borders of Whitehern and into the community. Garden tours that he organized drew as many as 800 people and bolstered the ailing Hamilton Horticulture Society of 1922. (3) Thomas Baker McQuesten sculptured the Whitehern grounds with conifers. He hired H.B. Dunington-Grubb to design the existing perennial and sunken garden. Thomas McQuesten's horticultural endeavors, however, are best remembered on the provincial and national scope of his work with the Niagara Parks Commission (Niagara Falls) and the Royal Botanical Gardens (Hamilton).
Dr. Calvin McQuesten's material contribution to the Whitehern garden survives as five, hollowed trunk pear trees. Ornamentals were a part of his garden but they seemed not to reflect his primary gardening interest. His interests were, what were for most in the 19th Century, plants of economic concerns. But Dr. McQuesten's gardening was not carried out for economic concerns. He led a financially successful like in Hamilton before and after his retirement at age 58, and the expanding horticultural industry of the region could meet the needs of wealthy city residents. Dr. McQuesten's garden reflected the search for quality fruits and vegetables of the 18th and 19th Centuries. The plants hidden away in the confines of the kitchen garden undoubtly represented current trends and possible foresight into the plants which were to continue to dominate horticultural concerns of the region.
7.1 McQuesten Letters at Whitehern
The McQuesten letters examined (Nos. 1-4912, 8269-8296) provided a limited amount of information as to the design of the gardens. Most information available in the letters was of specific plant material present on the property at a given date. Ex