W-MCP1-3b.016 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Jul 25 1896 Friday
In care of (c/o)
To: 'ZION' Divine Healing Mission, Corner Michigan Ave. and 12th St. Chicago Illinois
From: 'Whitehern' Hamilton
My dear Calvin,
You must indeed have got into the clouds when you proposed my starting off to Chicago. You seem to have quite forgotten that I had to borrow the money that took you and that money was what I always set aside for my taxes.1 Nothing could have induced me to break in upon that, but the almost certainty that you would be able to earn the money that would replace it. And I do not wish to discourage you but you must come home well before I would think of going. I am regaining my strength very slowly indeed, but as the weather is cooler I hope to get along faster. I am much exercised as to what you can do by next Monday, if you are not yet cured. If you think you had better stay longer you must let me know and I will see what I can do. It tries me so to write and makes me so nervous that I can't write any more. May God help you and strengthen your faith. Your loving Mother
1 Calvin had fallen under the influence of Rev. John Alexander Dowie and his "Zion" Divine Healing Mission. He joined the Dowieites for healing in 1896 after he suffered an emotional collapse brought on by the stress of examinations after his first year at University of Toronto. He failed Mathematics and English and was forced to transfer from Honours Classics to a Pass program (W-MCP1-3b.068). The Dowie influence had a profound and long-lasting effect on Calvin and his diary entry of 1933 refers to his "rebirth in 1896."
A DOWIEITE GOES INSANE
John Alexander Dowie was born in Scotland in 1847 and came to the United States in 1888 by way of Australia. He formed one of the most successful faith healing ministries in the United States. He declared that he was "Elijah the Restorer" and wore "High-Priestly robes." In 1896 his ministry headquarters was a seven-storey building on a city block in Chicago, and by 1901 he owned 6000 acres of land near Chicago where he built his "Zion City." He and his wife fell into financial ruin when they "began to indulge in secular activities" such as personal mansion building and Paris vacations. He was deposed in 1906 and died almost bankrupt in 1907. Dowie's work has become of interest to the healing revivalists and millenialists of the present day and his sermons were published in 1996 (CBD 437; The Biographical Dictionary (September 9, 1998): Online 5 pp. Internet. October 4, 1998). In 1901 Dowie spoke to a crowd of 10,000 and "devoted much of his time to abusing the press and concluded that he might start a daily paper in Chicago" (The Evening News, Toronto, January 23, 1901). An article in The Montreal Herald of December 6, 1902 carried the title "John Alexander Dowie, Merchant Prince of Faith Healing, makes $15,000,000 in Ten Years." A Montreal branch of the Dowieites was formed, and on June 10, 1903 another Herald article noted "the rather peculiar state of affairs" in which the "Queen St. Baptist Colored Church" was attempting to raise the funds to get rid of the Dowieites with whom they were sharing the church. It is not known if Calvin attended this church in Montreal; however, he may have written these articles as he was a journalist with each paper at the time of publication.
The Globe article on Sat. Feb. 16, 1907 reports the effect that Dowie had on one Toronto woman:
Mrs. Mary Queen Taken to Queen Street asylum.
Her husband has an Acute Mania on the Subject of Hyptnotism--Was brought up in court on a Charge of Assault.
Toronto Junction, Feb. 15--(Special)
Mrs. Mary Queen of 42 Van Horne street was taken to the asylum for the insane to-day after being examined at the police station by Dr. Clark of Queen Street asylum and Dr. Perfect of the Junction. The woman became connected with the Dowieites a few years ago, and since has developed a severe mania on the subject of her religious beliefs. The neighbours told of her shameful neglect of her five children.
The woman's husband also has an acute mania on the subject of hypnotism, and to-day appeared in court on a charge of assault laid by a man named Crisp. Queen's reason for the alleged assault is that the complainant was exerting an hypnotic influence over him. He was not detained at the time of his appearance at court this morning, and the police have since been unable to locate him. The couple have five children between the ages of fourteen and three. The youngest was with Mrs. Queen, this morning.