W-MCP2-3b.048 TO THOMAS BAKER MCQUESTEN from David Ross
Oct 9 1906
To: Thomas McQuesten 22 Grosvenor Street, Toronto, Ontario
From: Fonors [?], Sask.--Camp, Maple Creek, Saskatchewan
It is a long time since I received your welcome letter and the scrawl I sent was no attempt at an answer. So here goes from the unmistakable evidence I have I believe I am correct in stating that a way of getting a full measure of trouble is to try to show a Mormon contractor that by running his $20,000 outfit a little different he could make $25 a day more. An avalanche of misfortune appears to hang over me in consequence of a few hints I was rash enough to give this same contractor, who is losing money he might as well make.
Did you take the trip you proposed? Maybe you are prowling through the work just now. I certainly enjoyed the week in Muskoka, though the fishing was absolutely no good. Ruby and Edna will testify to my industry at it. Your mother let me take her out in a canoe once and once only for the next day I upset myself close to shore, and so ruined my reputation.1
It isn't two months since I saw you but I feel as thought it might be two years. Two weeks after I got back to the Double Track Work I pulled out. Though it was like pulling teeth to quit deliberately, I believe now more than ever that I took the right step but I mustn't weary you with "pros" & "cons." After ten days idleness or rather extra hard work, looking up another job, I was sent out to the engineer I started with two years ago. For the present I am not making what I did on the [?] but shall I say fortunately?--the resident engineer I was sent to took sick the night I arrived, and though he was in camp in few days since he is now back in hospital, and my old chief is letting me look after things on the D.T. We have nothing on our section but rock, rock, rock and I was familiar with every corner of it. Here (excuse so much shop-talk) there are some concrete structures being put in, and for the last three weeks I've been getting next that, for everything had to be inspected. Don't be surprised if I don't stick to engineering much longer, i.e engineering for a railway company. Contract work, if one doesn't try to handle what he knows nothing about, is what pays best, and is what a big percentage of engineers turn to. I simply can't get out of the rut I'm in at present. I'm in a treadmill, overhaulage, shrinkage, concrete culverts, strife, requisitions, Mormon contractors and I wish I had you here so we could take the 303 Savage the engineer left in my care and roam over this fine rolling cattle country and shoot coyotes or perchance an antelope. I want someone to talk to about something off the grindstone. Experience is fine, but this is one lonesome existence. But this is only a passing sensation--it is great entirely--all except getting up in the morning into the atmosphere of Xmas! Write soon.
P.S. I've forgotten your address, so am sending this to Hamilton.
I've just spent five minutes feeling down into the depths of my rummage bag for my bundle of unanswered letters, but I couldn't locate it so will let this go without minding your address. I've got it somewhere. I found buffalo horns [?trolls], books, everything but that bundle of letters.
1 While in Muskoka, Mary went out in a canoe with David, a trip she did not particularly enjoy (W5622). That same week, David proposed to Ruby but was rejected (W5622, W5630).