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W4496 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his sister Ruby McQuesten
Jun 20 1901
To: [Toronto, Ontario]
From: Ottawa Ladies' College

My dearest Cal,1

I'm just going to scribble a line on this paper I've torn out of my note book. It's such a delightful feeling that I might as well use up my old book as I'll need it no more--Hurrah! I've just made out my marks for the various classes & now we're ready for the reports & years honor cards etc. We'll hardly suffer from ennui these last days. I must tell you my latest plan about coming home. You know I had tho't of coming by boat & then I tho't I couldn't without staying in Kingston over Sunday, so had resolved to take the train. However I found out, & we've looked into the matter pretty carefully, that we can arrange it all right by boat. A train leaves here at 8.10 on Friday morning & reaches Prescott at 10.30 in time for the boat at 11.15. Miss Boyd will be with me & we'll take the boat to Kingston together reaching there by night & thus having the sail thro' the Thousand Islands in the day. There I'll have my bath & come along to Toronto, reaching it Sat. morning at six o'clock. The trip by boat is about a dollar cheaper than train, including meals & bath. So I'm quite pleased to think of seeing something & having such a nice little trip for no extra expense, & reaching home on Sat. too. Of course it isn't quite decided, but I don't think there will not be anything to hinder.

By the way you spoke of going to the Pan on Monday 1st I'd love to go with you, if you'll take me, & have no other arrangements. 2

You see I was interrupted in my epistle. One after another of the teachers strolled in till finally Mrs. Ross also came & we had a regular teachers' meeting which lasted till tea time--then after tea we had another affair which lasted till there was no time to send off this scribble as Miss Boyd & I were invited out for the evening & had to rush & dress. I'm ashamed of myself for never writing before.

It has been quite a treat having your paper arrive each day. We've enjoyed reading your account of the coup each day after class. I think they're splendidly written, so bright & comical. 3 That last one was a good one on Gen. O'Grady Haley. I hope he enjoyed it, but it is just good for him. It's a good thing you're not one of the soldiers or I'm afraid you'd have to be reprimanded for disrespectful allusions to his August person & character. I can't help laughing whenever I read that article & I'm going to take the various papers & read them to the Rosses. I've been too busy to see them lately.

We had a great time of it here with the minister. I don't think I can begin to tell you the various ones I met. I'll have to reserve it for the future. I met Mr. MacDonald of Westminster who is always so jolly & spoke so kindly of you & also Charles Gordon, just as lovely as ever. He is one of the most loveable men & spoke so kindly of his visit to our place & about you & Tom. And I met Dr. MacTavish & little Mr. Mackay of [Madock?] & big Mr. MacMillan, & Mr. Love of Quebec, & our ministers Dr. Fletcher & Mr. Colin [Fletcher] & Dr. Lyle, & various young ministers around here.4 But I'll tell you all when see you.

To-night we're going out for the evening again & next week will be closing etc.

I hardly know whether to send this to Niagara or not but think I'll risk it.

This is a most scrappy good-for-nothing letter but I feel too unsettled to do anything well, so you'll have to forgive me & we'll make it up I hope at no very distant period.

With much love, Your loving sister


1 This letter is very faint and difficult to transcribe.

2 "The Pan-American Exposition was held in 1901 in Buffalo, New York, May 1 to November 2, 1901 on a 342 acre site. . . . The fair featured the latest technologies, including electricity, and attracted nearly 8 million people. . . . The Electric Tower was illuminated nightly by thousands of coloured bulbs and floodlights." ("Pan-American Exposition, 1901, Buffalo, New York": 1 p.. Online FREENET. November 29, 1998).

In The Evening News, Toronto, January 22, 1901, Calvin wrote "The Dominion at the Pan-Am," and reported on the visit of a Canadian delegation led by William Hutchinson of Ottawa to inspect the site of the Exposition grounds. Representatives were from colonization, forestry, mines, agriculture, and archeology. The Exposition has entered American mythology with the fictionalized account by first-time author, Lauren Belfer: City of Light (New York, Dial Press, 1999).

3 Calvin was working as a journalist for the Toronto Evening News, and these articles are likely in that newspaper; however, they are not signed so they are difficult to find.

Following is an excerpt from Calvin's Biographical Sketch on this site: "Calvin decided on a career in journalism and, in 1899, at the age of twenty-three, he took a job with the Copp Clark Publishing Co. in Toronto and wrote for the Toronto News, where one of his assignments was a women's column, for which he chose the pseudonym, 'Nina Vivian.' In 1902 and 1903 he was on the staff of The Montreal Herald where, among other assignments, he wrote a special column, 'The Tatler,' for the Saturday edition. It was based on the literary model initiated by Addison and Steele in The Spectator, England (1712-1715), a collection of which is in the Whitehern library. Calvin's articles are often mentioned in his mother's letters with great interest and pride, and the footnotes to the letters provide some commentary on the articles. A selection of 'The Tatler' and 'Nina Vivian' articles are available on this site."

For more on [Rev.] Calvin McQuesten see his biographical sketch by clicking on "Family" on the home page and then on his picture.

4 Some of these important Canadian Presbyterians can be researched by doing a search on their names. For Charles Gordon (Ralph Connor), see W5359. For the Fletchers, see W4479, W4635.

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The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
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