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W-MCP7-1.268 The Hamilton Spectator, Jan 17 1948.
Jan 17 1948

Citizens Mourn as T.B. McQuesten is Laid At Rest

Because the work of his life had been a benefit to all men in his city and Province and because his amazing ability to command respect and earn friendship but across all lines of party, race, and creed, there was barely enough room for the great crowd which went to pay its last tribute to the memory of the Hon. Thomas Baker McQuesten, K.C. LL D. in his old church, MacNab Street Presbyterian yesterday afternoon.

Represented was every walk of life; the workmen from the parks which he had inspired; members of the Ontario Government in which he had once played a brilliant role; the judiciary, the professions, the clergy, Board of Control, City Council, Wentworth County Council, colleagues in scores of public enterprises, and fellow members of the Presbyterian congregation he had served for 40 years.

Delivers Eulogy

Eulogy was delivered by Mr. McQuesten's minister for years and close personal friend for 40 years, Dr. Beverly Ketchen, minister emeritus of MacNab Street Presbyterian Church. It would be a brief eulogy he said, because his church was not accustomed to pay elaborate tribute to the dead, and it was a eulogy which he had hoped he never would have to deliver and never expected to deliver.

"I am conscious of a great personal loss, greater than I can say," Dr Ketchen declared. "I am sure you will agree that it would be difficult to think of anyone whose passing would be a greater loss to the community."

It was but the day before his friend had entered the hospital for the last time that he had written to him congratulations on his being nominated the city's most distinguished citizen, he continued.

"It was undoubtedly a very much belated acknowledgement of his worth to the community," he said. "There has never been a more distinguished citizen here for several years."

There was little need to eulogize Mr. McQuesten. "All his works praise him. You cannot look anywhere without seeing his monuments--the beauty spots which will be enjoyed by generations yet unborn and which will be admired by countless neighbours to the south of us."

Mr. McQuesten, he continued had a remarkable and rare combination of gifts. Combined with his practical ability, "and he had enough brains for a half a dozen public men," he was a dreamer, "a healthy kind of visionary with a poetic passion for the beautiful"

But his supreme interest was in the extension of God's Kingdom an interest which made him "more or less conspicuous among public men"

He Loved Beauty

"Tom loved beauty; beauty in literature, beauty in nature, beauty in music, in art and above all the supreme beauty, the beauty of Christ."

"Consequently, he enjoyed a wonderfully rich and abundant life, a very fitting kind of preface for the life he has now entered upon. He found God's work profitable for the life that is now his"

None had done more to make MacNab Street Presbyterian the beautiful place of worship that it was, he said. One would call Mr. McQuesten a "great churchman" he declared, recalling that Mr. McQuesten had never failed to attend the quarterly pre-communion service while busy with Government affairs at Queen's Park. No minister ever had a more loyal friend and supporter.

Loved Old Traditions

"Mr. McQuesten was a Liberal in politics, but he was in many wholesome ways a conservative; he loved old traditions and customs, old books and pictures, old churches and sites of historical interest. He devoted much of his time, thought and energy to the preservation of many provincial landmarks."

"Tom," continued Dr. Ketchen, "was a sentimentalist in the highest sense of that word, He was a Christian gentleman. I would call him a gentleman of the Old School"

"He had a host of friends and admirers because of his great capacity for making and keeping friends; his solidarity inspired confidence."

The unscrupulous did not like him, he continued, "but like Daniel, Tom McQuesten was able to play a leading part in the treacherous political field , wearing the white flower of a blameless life. The memory of his mother was like a guardian angel to him and none was more chivalrously devoted to his mother--who can ever tell what happy converse they are now having?"

His worth to the community would never be known "till the day breaks and the shadows flee away."

Dr Ketchen concluded with an excerpt from Mark Antony's funeral oration for his friend, Julius Caesar:

"His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, This was a man"

Dr. Ketchen performed the last rites at the graveside in Hamilton Cemetery, a stone's throw from one of Mr. McQuesten's greatest monuments, the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Service at the church was conducted by the Rev. Forbes Thomson. Deceased's brother, the Rev. Calvin McQuesten took the scripture reading.

Pall Bearers

Active pallbearers were: Judge Ainslie Wright of Bracebridge, Ont.; C. Ellison Kaumeyer, Niagara Falls, Ont.; Judge William F. Schwenger, W.G. Welby, K.C., Fred Marshall and John Newlands.

The long list of honorary pall bearers included: William James, Frank Whittemore, George W. Rayner, A. Charles Brennan, William L. Somerville and H.B. Dunington-Grubb, all of Toronto, and Carl O. Borgstrom, Churchville, Ont.; Chancellor G.P. Gilmour, Mayor Sam Lawrence, C.W.R. Bowlby, K.C.; C.V. Langs, K.C. Prof. N.W. Radford, Matthew Broman, Dr. J. A. Bauer, Dr. D.G. McIlwrath, Charles Eldon Bull, R.D. Glassco and John A Poison K.C.

Among memories that yesterday crowded the last journey of one who had given so much to Hamilton were those of the part played by men who had helped Tom McQuesten's dreams come true.

They were his friends--his constant and most valued companions. They were the ones who fashioned the parks and great highways that now stand in proud reality as monuments to his vision and determination.

Among those of his old friends who had been named as honorary pallbearers were William L. Somerville of Toronto who had planned the approach to the famous Rainbow Bridge at the Falls and was an architect of the new MacNab Street Church. Another was H. B. Dunington-Grubb, landscape architect who set out Gage Park and the fine McMaster Gardens and Carl Borgstrom architect of the splendid Western Entrance to the city.

Matthew Broman, superintendent at one time of the Niagara Parks and then of the Royal Botanical Gardens and Professor N.W. Redforth, were two others who had worked closely with Mr. McQuesten in his projects.

Canadian Press Clipping Service

Late T.B. McQuesten [??]
Here, his Father [??]
Been Partner in [??]

The majority of Hespeler citizens were unfamiliar with the fact and quite surprised to read that the late Thomas B. McQuesten, prominent Hamiltonian and highways minister in the Liberal cabinet of Mitchell F. Hepburn, who passed away yesterday, was born in Hespeler.

Inquiry on the part of the reporter showed that some of the older residents were familiar with the family name of McQuesten connecting it with the old Upper Mill, but aside from that information did not provide other details. However, after meagre information was gained on the late Mr. McQuesten's residence in Hespeler, Winfield Brewster, always a most informed and reliable source of information on any matter connected with the early history of the town, was contacted. While Mr. Brewster was only a boy himself at the time the McQuesten family were in Hespeler, he was, however able to provide considerable information.

In the year 1880, two Hamilton men, John Harvey and Isaac B. McQuesten started a business in Hespeler1 in the premises which was prior to that time known as the Hespeler Manufacturing Company, and where now the Stamped and Enamel plant is located. The McQuesten family moved to Hespeler and took up residence on Silver Heights in the house later purchased by the late George D. Forbes, which was demolished last year. It was here that Thomas B. McQuesten was born on June 30, 1882.

Firm Given Bonus

Upon providing that portion of information, Mr Brewster remarked that if his memory served him right that he had heard his father mention a bylaw having passed granting a bonus to the firm of Harvey and McQuesten in opening their business in Hespeler, which bylaw, on file at the town hall would possible offer further information about the McQuesten family and when and how long they lived here.

The bylaw mentioned by Mr. Brewster was made available by Town Clerk W. G. Woodsm and scrutiny showed it dated, Dec 30 1880, with the signatures of Lewis Kribs, reeve, and A.J. Brewster, clerk attached thereto. The bylaw which showed it was carried by the taxpayers, in part reads as follows: "To aid and assist John Harvey and Isaac Baldwin McQuesten, of Hamilton, giving $6,000 to the said parties by way of bonus" The only stipulation in the bylaw was that the firm remain in business for a period of at least 10 years.

In Mr. Brewster's opinion the McQuesten family lived in Hespeler for quite a number of years and then returned to Hamilton. Thomas B. McQuesten being quite young when the family left town after the firm failed. The plant was then taken over by A. W. Brodie, who came here from Peterborough and later by the Canada Woollen Mills. When the mill closed down the plant remained idle for years until taken over by Stamped and Enamel Limited.


Pallbearers and Honourary Pallbearers for the funeral of the Hon. Thomas Baker McQuesten.

Active pallbearers were: Judge Ainslie Wright of Bracebridge, Ont.; C. Ellison Kaumeyer, Niagara Falls, Ont.; Judge William F. Schwenger; W.G. Welby, K.C.; Fred Marshall and John Newlands.

The long list of honourary pallbearers included: William James; Frank Whittemore; George W. Rayner; A. Charles Brennan; William L. Somerville and H.B. Dunington-Grubb; Carl O. Borgstrom, Churchville, Ont.; Chancellor G.P. Gilmour; Mayor Sam Lawrence; C.W.R. Bowlby, K.C.; C.V. Langs, K.C.; Prof. N.W. Radforth; Matthew [Knut Mattias] Broman; Dr. J.A. Bauer; Dr. D.G. McIlwrath; Charles Eldon Bull; R.D. Glassco and John A. Poison K.C.

John Newlands was a member of the Hamilton Hydro Board and had attended the funeral of Thomas' mother, Mary-Jane McQuesten. For a time he was also the President of the Hamilton Liberal Association and Thomas' political ally. See W-MCP3-5.070.

William Lyon Somerville was an accomplished and respected architect who had worked on numerous projects in Hamilton and the Niagara region. He had studied at the Hamilton Art School and later moved to New York, where he continued his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and later graduated from New York University in 1916 with a Diploma in Architecture. Three years later he established his own firm in Toronto. Amongst numerous other projects, Somerville was responsible for the original buildings at McMaster University in the 1930s including Mills Memorial Library, the renovation of McNab St. Presbyterian Church from 1934-35, restoring Fort George and the design of the Carillon tower in Niagara Falls. See also W-MCP7-1.130, W-MCP7-1.011, W-MCP7-1.065, W-MCP7-1.075, W-MCP7-1.085, W-MCP7-1.086, W-MCP7-1.092, W-MCP7-1.098, W-MCP7-1.127, W-MCP7-1.010, W-MCP7-1.017, W-MCP7-1.060, W-MCP7-1.027, W-MCP7-1.093.

George P. Gilmour was the chancellor of McMaster University from 1941 to 1950 and served as president from 1950 until his failing health forced him to retire in 1961. Gilmour and Edward C. Fox, Gilmour's successor as chancellor, worked together to loosen some of the influence that the Baptist Convention held over the university which was in some ways a detriment given that at the time it was the policy of the Ontario government to deny public funding to universities connected to a church. In the 1940s they constructed a plan to place much of science education under the academic control of the University Senate thereby making it eligible for public funding. In 1956 the Baptist Convention approved their proposal amending the university's charter to break ties with the Baptist church and create a separate Divinity College corporation. Gilmour and Thomas both served on the board governing the Royal Botanical Gardens. At a meeting of the board in February 1947, Gilmour commemorated Thomas' work, saying:

At this first Board meeting since his death we desire therefore to place on the minutes some formal expression of our sense of loss and of our appreciation of the fact that the Royal Botanical Gardens can never outlive the debt owed to him who was both founder and first president. Our late president's intense love for this city and its surrounding district, and his concern for the protection and enlargement of the Gardens property, are largely responsible for the existence and progress of the Gardens (W8703). See also Box 03-242, W-MCP7-1.205, and W-MCP7-1.206.

Cecil Vanroy Langs was a member of the Board of Parks Management (BPM) from 1919 until 1947 and president of the BPM from 1923 until his retirement. He enrolled in Osgoode Hall Law School in 1907, the year that Thomas graduated from the same programme although the two did not meet until Tom joined the BPM in 1922. Initially, the BPM managed only 500 acres of parkland in the city, but by the time Langs retired the city boasted 1636 acres and a total of 35 parks owing in part to the fact that as a child Langs was disappointed by the lack of parkland. Additionally, Langs was involved in municipal politics, a businessman and a member of numerous clubs and lodges such as the Scottish Rite and Royal Arch Masons.

Samuel Lawrence was born in England in 1879 and served in the Boer War as a Coldstream guard. A stone mason by trade he was a member of the Operative Stone Masons' Union from the age of 18, he was politically left-wing and intensely pro-union. After coming to Canada in 1912 he joined the Journeymen Stonecutter's Association of North America and quickly organized a local branch of the union in Brantford before settling in Hamilton. He ran for Alderman of Ward 8 as member of the Independent Labour Party in 1921 and was defeated; however, he won the race the following year and remained involved in politics thereafter. He ran as a Labour candidate in the 1925 federal election but was poorly supported by his own party and lost the race. Instead he returned to municipal affairs and became a member of the Board of Control from 1928 until 1934. In 1943 while under the banner of the CCF Party (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation), Lawrence became mayor, a position which he kept for six more years. During that time he continued to support labour organizations and quickly became involved in a strike by Stelco workers which started on July 15, 1946, leading a march of unionized workers and lead the march of thousands of union workers. The strike lasted 80 days and was marked by eruptions of violence from the striking workers as a result of the company housing 2,500 workers in order to maintain production. At that time, Lawrence was chair of the Hamilton Police Commission and was initially assured that police would not take action but was soon outvoted by the commission which summoned 500 officers from both the provincial police and the RCMP to restore order, although this further escalated the situation resulting in the outpouring of support for the workers from across the nation. Lawrence attempted to prevent any further escalation and after the strike was finally settled on October 2 he was lauded for his balanced approach.

Dr. Douglas Gordon McIlwraith received his medical degree from the University of Toronto and subsequently interned at the Hamilton General Hospital before establishing a private practice in Binbrooke in 1902. Seven years later he sold his practice and returned to the hospital. He was a local leader in obstetrics and, as chief of staff, he oversaw the design of the obstetrics department when Mount Hamilton hospital opened. He was also active in the community and various clubs and associations including the Scottish Rite, the Hamilton Club and the St. Andrew's Benevolent Society. He was an active and devoted member of the Board of Management for MacNab Street Presbyterian church which is most likely where he came to know Thomas. On February 2, 1948 (less than one month after Thomas passed away) McIlwraith died in a car accident and was also lovingly eulogized by Rev. Ketchen.

Matt Broman (Knut Mattias) worked closely with Thomas B. McQuesten on many of his projects in Hamilton and in Niagara, including work done at the RBG. He was appointed the first member of the RBG staff (Laking 5). Tom had recommended that Broman be selected as the Principal for the Training School for Apprentice Gardeners in Niagara, and he was named Superintendant in 1920. The Niagara Parks Rose Garden established in the 1940s is an excellent example of Broman's grand style of landscaping. Tom also asked Broman to inspect the Trans-Canada Highway between Port Arthur and Longlac. There is a plaque commemorating Matt Broman's work at the RBG near the Thomas B. McQuesten High Level Bridge. There is also a small lookout park named after him on the brow overlooking King's Forest Park and Golf Course in Hamilton, and on a clear day, you can see across Lake Ontario to Toronto. It is one of the most spectacular lookouts on the Hamilton Mountain Brow, situated at an abrupt curve in Mountain Brown Boulevard where it meets Mohawk Road. See footnote at W9861a.

William Frederick Schwenger (1892-1962) was an Ontario lawyer, judge, and political figure. He represented Hamilton Centre in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1934 to 1938 as a Liberal member. Dates of service as an MPP: June 19, 1934 to January 26, 1938. He was born in Hamilton, Ontario, studied at Osgoode Hall and set up practice in Hamilton. Schwenger was named King's Counsel in 1934, the same year in which T.B. McQuesten received the honour. Schwenger resigned from his seat in 1938 to become a junior judge for Wentworth County, becoming a senior judge in the county court in 1949. He served in that post until his death. After McQuesten's death in 1948, he was named to the Hamilton Board of Parks Management in 1948 (the year in which T.B. McQuesten died) and became its chairman in 1951. Schwenger was also chairman for the Royal Botanical Gardens from 1949 to 1956, appointed after T.B. McQuesten's death. See Box 04-012 and Box 04-113.

W.G. Welby Law Partner to T.B. McQuesten, friend and executor of his estate. From the office of Chisholm, McQuesten & Welby, Barrister at 69 James St. South, Hamilton. See W-MCP7-1.251.

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