W-MCP2-3b.029 TO MARY BAKER MCQUESTEN from her son [Rev.] Calvin McQuesten
Mar 23 1904 Wednesday
To: Mrs. I.B. [Isaac Baldwin] McQuesten 'Whitehern' Hamilton, Ontario
From: Stand-Off, Alberta
My dearest Mother
As there was nobody going into town until toward the close of the week before last I am afraid that my letter is very late in reaching you and that this one will be no better. You see the Friday I go to Rothwell and Slide Out, it is usually Monday evening before I get home again, and as the mail man leave Stand-Off for Macleod early Monday afternoon coming out on Tuesday, I fail to connect. However, next Sunday, or rather the Sunday after, I shall be staying over until Tuesday in Macleod for a conference on Sabbath observance & so will be able to do better. On Sunday April 17th I am to preach for Mr. Jaffary, and as I would like to get your letter there, you might if you remember, enclose it in a second envelope addressed to Rev. A. Jaffary. Otherwise It will be sent out to Stand-Off with all my other mail. I decided that it would be better to be sure of one mail a week coming by Stand-Off, than to run the risk of losing part of it by having miscellaneous people bring it out to me in Macleod.
It must have been interesting to hear Mr. Pringle. Although I never heard him preach, I have met him personally and thought him a fine fellow. I have always heard that the men he worked among in the Yukon thought the world of him.
What a wretched life those luckless Bells are. I think Charlie will be simply crazy if he marries in October when he has nothing to keep a wife on. I wonder that he does not have the sense to bring matters to a head, simply tell them plainly that when he became engaged to her in the first place, it was under a misunderstanding as to his financial prospects for which he was not responsible, and that now, if they are not satisfied to wait until he considers himself able to support a wife they are at liberty to break off the engagement.
You must have had quite a jolly time at your tea. I think that I did meet Miss Craig once, but cannot recall her although I have often heard of her. The Social at the manse was quite a success, but I failed to meet my fate. That does not matter, however, as I have decided to abjure the society of young ladies (for the present) there being no other course open to me. Still I am not losing flesh over it. I was weighed the other day and tipped the scales at 157 1/2, while the most I can ever remember weighing before was 140.
Did I ever say anything about the fellows at the boarding house? There were three carpenters, Blake, McKinnon & Kennedy, the last of whom had quite a taste for character reading from phrenology & physiognomy. He had read a good deal in that lime but could not be persuaded to practise. Then there was a good-hearted fellow named Bob Fleming, who had once been a professional wrestler & then turned painter, but was out of work while I was there. A young ex-N.W.M. Police man who ran the skating rink, named Edgett from Nova Scotia, and a clerk in the Hudson's Bay store completed the "outfit." They were a good-hearted jolly crowd, and we got on very well together.
I see by the paper that they had a wild time at Varsity on St. Patrick's Day and that the hose was turned on the rioters. I am afraid that "poor old Maurice" would have been greatly distressed. I noticed that Tom distinguished himself once more in the fencing tournament although he did not win the championship. It will be a severe strain on the poor fellow for now on, I am afraid. But with his strength & the way he has always taken care of himself I do not think it ought to do him any serious injury. And I still think that it would be a great thing for him to win the Rhodes Scholarship. The more I think of it the more I am convinced that there is no career which affords such opportunities as that of a university professor if a fellow has any inclination & ability for it. You remember that Henry Drummond chose it in preference to the ministry in spite of all his gifts as a preacher. As to the effect on Tom's spiritual, he has not at Varsity found any religiously-inclined fellows who were congenial; & he is scarcely more likely to do so at Osgoode Hall. But some way I have a fancy that at Oxford he would stand a much better chance of meeting men who combined manliness, culture & spirituality, and at any rate I do not feel that is he the kind of fellow who would take up with low company, and there ought to be plenty of the other kind at Oxford. I notice that Spier is to deliver the university sermon on March 27th & perhaps he may give Tom a lift.
Thank you very much for sending the News & also the Record & Faithful Witness. On Saturday I posted the News an article on Alberta & asked to be put on the dead-head list again. However, in case it is overlooked you might lay the news aside for a week or two but do not trouble to post them.
Really I think it is too much for you to start teaching a Jew at your time of life. You are certainly a most energetic person.
Well, my dear, I am afraid I have not much news to tell you. An Indian named "Claybank Foot" living near here, shot his squaw and himself on Sunday night as the result of a quarrel. I went over to the double inquest on Tuesday, and never heard such dismal wailing in my life. Ordinarily, both men & women wear their hair in plaits and keep a kerchief over the head, but when they mourn they go about with head bare & their hair all hanging loose. So when I got near to the house I saw poor old Running Wolf, the father of the dead man, a stately-looking old Indian standing wrapped in his blanket and bare headed, buckskin leggings & moccasins, with his hair hanging all over his face, wailing heart-brokenly, while a crowd of squaws surrounded the little cabin making an awful noise. The lamentations increased as they brought out the bodies but as I had just walked over & had not brought over my horse, I could not follow them to where they buried them some distance away.
We are having colder weather lately but nothing to complain of.
With best love to all.
Your affectionate son,