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W-MCP7-1.265 Canadian Motorist article.
Feb 28 1948

Canadian Motorist, Feb 1948

Hail! And Farewell

Pontifex Maximus, chief bridge builder, was among the finest of the titles of the Caesars, and high among the most constructive of the public works of some of them was the building of roads. In this work the last great empire of classical times excelled to such an extent that there was warrant for the proud boast "all roads lead to Rome". Although modern etymologists challenge it, it was long believed that it was from Pontifex Maximus that the title Pontiff of the Popes was derived, the fine conception being a translation of the temporal to the spiritual in road building. In the temporal sense no Canadian has better merited the title of Pontifex Maximus than Hon. Thomas Baker McQuesten, K.C. LL.D. and in his passing Canada has lost a preeminent builder and beautifier of roads and bridges[,] and the Empire and Commonwealth a great patriot, Hamilton the peer of its greatest sons and the O.M.L. Hamilton Automotive Club its very distinguished former Honorary [sic]President. After driving over the Queen Elizabeth Way Henry Ford II spontaneously paid a glowing tribute to it, in the course of a conversation with the editor. He stated that it is one of the world's finest and most attractive highways. He especially referred to the attractive architecture of its bridges and highly commended its landscape-gardening treatment, a feature that reflected Mr. McQuesten's love of decorative flora. Mr. McQuesten combined the aesthetic with the practical to a degree that is lamentably rare in our race. Thanks in no small part to him, Hamilton's northwest entrance was transformed from an eye sore into a thing of beauty of international fame that gives Hamilton a magnificent main portal, rivalled by few cities of any size anywhere. This is but one of many places where his touch made "the desert-rejoice and blossom as the rose". Possibly nowhere is this better exemplified than by Hamilton's glorious rock garden which formerly was an enormous and unsightly gravel pit. To his vision, his artistry and enterprise, too, in large part are due the world-famed beautification of the Canadian side of the Niagara River and Falls, including extensive developments in Queen Victoria Park, which were executed during his tenure as Chairman of the Niagara Parks Commission. He was the protagonist of the Hamilton Parks Board to whom primarily was due the Ambitious City's comprehensive parks improvement and extension program, including the acquisition of a large acreage of undeveloped land for a botanical garden. The Royal Botanical Gardens now cover 2,500 acres, the most extensive of its type in Canada. Here important research projects are being conducted in conjunction with the Ontario Research Foundation and McMaster University, in the beautiful landscaping of the campus of which he played a leading part. The last of the temporal honors [sic] to come to him was his selection, a week before his demise, as Hamilton's "Man of the Year".

His fine historic perspective found an enduring expression in the restoration of such historic monuments in Ontario as Fort Henry at Kingston, the forts at Fort Erie and Queenston and Chief Jos. Brant's house near Burlington, now the Brant Museum. His practical bent found expression in providing Ontario with one of the most symmetrical systems of highways planned and partially developed in any major road building jurisdiction. In this he was fortunate in having as his chief lieutenant one of the world's greatest road engineers, R.M Smith. During Mr. McQuesten's tenure as Minister of Highways for Ontario the high standard was established for the main travelled roads of northern Ontario which provided for them the same modern specifications in gradients, radii of curvature and sight distances which had been adopted for the King's Highways of southern Ontario. During his ministerial term, 1934-1943, approximately a fifth of a billion dollars was invested in the roads and bridges of Ontario, the most important of the latter being the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls. He envisioned a super-highway of the type of the Queen Elizabeth Way spanning the province from Windsor to the Quebec border and another linking it with the roads of Ontario's vast hinterland.

Sir Christopher Wren, following the great fire of London in 1666, was the architect of many of the great buildings of the "Chief Citadel of Freedom", including approximately fifty of its churches, the greatest of which is St Paul's Cathedral. In it is the tomb of the greatest of Anglo-Saxon architects which bears a short, simple epitaph in Latin which freely translated reads: "If you seek his monument, look about you". That epitaph is appropriately applicable in Ontario to Hon. T.B. McQuesten, whose presence graced many an annual meeting of the Ontario Motor League at the luncheons of which for years his brother, Rev. Calvin McQuesten, has pronounced the blessing. Hail! and Farewell.

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Copyright 2002 Whitehern Historic House and Garden
The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
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