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W4549 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Feb 10 1902
To: Calvin McQuesten Montreal, Quebec
From: Whitehern

My dear dear boy,

The two first topics just now are the Lancefield affair and the old mortgage. I suppose you see the Times everyday, let me know, if you do not. I think it is time that any person holding a position of trust should forfeit it if he is known to bet or gamble. L. always seemed to me a silly sort of man.1

I was also sent with a notice re mortgage by the law firm of Keir, Davidson & Paterson, Toronto; it seems strange to me that any government should do such a contemptibly small mean trick as even try to get the money so many years having lapsed. What have we to do with it. Fancy us having to pay out money to the government for no debt of ours, I'd like to see myself.2

Jean Vincent has just returned from visit at Penn Yan, the home of the young man. She is perfectly delighted with every thing they seem to be very nice & very wealthy people, Mrs. Vincent is just delighted, considers it an answer to prayer; so our Mary immediately suggested I should begin to pray for them.3

It did me good to read your description of your new quarters. You really seem to have been very fortunate, am so glad to know your room is warm, we have had such bitter cold weather, I hope poor Ruby is not freezing at that college. What troubles me about her too is that she never gets an invitation to any really nice home or has a chance to meet any one. Although she sees more than the girls at home do, it is terribly monotonous for them, tho' they never complain. However some day, something may turn up for them. Emily Colquhoun came in to tell the girls all the fun she had in Toronto this year, she met a Mr. Coats who was just leaving for Ottawa, she liked him & told him to be sure & call on Ruby.4 By the paper, I see he left "The Globe" for Sabons Gazette. Did you know him? Maud Shaw had gone to Ottawa & had her veil & feathers sent down from Toronto for the presentation ceremony, when old Mrs. Shaw died.5 It was perfectly shocking the way those girls went on at the poor old woman, being so inconsiderate.

It is quite funny to think of all you fellows sticking together. It would have paid Mrs. Charles to feed you better. Every time I think of that old mortgage I boil with indignation. Do not feel as if I would ever vote (in influence) for the grit government, it does not make any difference whether they press the matter or not, I am done with them, they must be a low down contemptible lot, & precious hard up to stoop to raising money in any such unjust manner, even if the law permitted, it is most unjust, simply robbery. Cannot somebody find out who originated the idea? The thing should be shown up. Have not been able to hear what Mr. Chisholm thinks as he has been out every time Hilda went.6

Well, I am still in bed I borrowed Mrs. Davidson's crutches & went downstairs, but every one said I would get better so much quicker if I kept quiet, that I took the advice as I am so afraid of not being able to go to Toronto on 25th.7 Tom writes that Mrs. MacKay is very poorly. [I] thought of going to St. Catharines with Leila [MacKay], who is quite cured now, but very weak.8 So have given up all idea of staying there & will not be able to attend Student volunteer meetings, but will just go down for the day. James Buchanan & wife have been here for a few days the girls did not see her, but from those who did, she does not seem to be out of the ordinary in appearance.9 Mrs. Watson gave a 'tea' for them but she never invites us.10

How is Ken getting along? Have asked this before. Has he been back in Montreal since he went on the Road?11 Gordon Clark had got another diphtheria & was thought out of danger, when suddenly his heart failed.12 It occurred to me the other day that you are not so very far from the old homestead now (if it is not pulled down) how would you like to go there for your holidays? You could inquire price of ticket to Manchester N.H.13 Had a long letter from Ida Welker. Every one who comes from Vancouver seems to have liked her so much. Am afraid it will be lonely in Montreal.14 It is an olden place. Well, take care of yourself dear, with love from all.

Your loving Mother

M.B. McQuesten

[P.S.] Did you get the book from Mr. R.?

1 Richard Thomas Lancefield (1854-1911) bookseller, author, librarian, actor, was the first librarian for the Free Library, the Hamilton Public Library, Main St. W., from its inception in 1889 until February 1902, when he disappeared after defrauding the library of $5300 and destroying the records. He was "gregarious and popular but addiction to gambling led him into trouble." In spite of this he "laid a firm foundation" for the growth of the library system in Hamilton. He had advocated for the political and social emancipation of women (DHB2.88). As recently as 1885 there had been civic resistance to "the formation of a library, when it was feared that domestic disruption would result if women read novels" (DHBl.83). He was an amateur actor who gave recitations at parties and concerts (DHB2.87-89). He wrote Victoria, Sixty Years a Queen (1897) which was advertised in The Evening News, Toronto, January 28, 1901: "By Lancefield, the great librarian. . . . Only fifty copies left!....$.75." The book has 571 pages, 200 illustrations, is bound in morocco and gilt. The Whitehern library does not contain a copy of this book.

2 Mary may be referring to a mortgage debt owing from the time of Isaac's bankruptcy and death in 1888.

3 Daughter Mary was likely suggesting that her mother pray for similar prospects for her own daughters. Further in the letter Mary expresses her concern that her daughters do not have enough opportunities to meet good prospects.

4 Emily Colquhoun was one of the ten children of Edward Alexander Colquhoun (1844-1904) and Evelyn Esther (Elly) Gourlay. For Gourlay family, see W6012. Emily was a nurse, became "night superintendent in St. John's Hospital" in 1907 (W5780) and married Mr. McCarthy (W7018).

Her father, Edward Colquhoun, was an accountant, bank manager, politician, mayor of Hamilton in 1897-98, and won a seat in the Ontario Legislature with the Conservatives. He was educated at local schools in Berlin (now Kitchener). At age nineteen he began to work for the Bank of Montreal in Ottawa. In 1872 he transferred to the newly established Bank of Hamilton, and finally became manager in Hamilton in 1882. He lived at Barton Lodge on the west Mountain in Hamilton. Edward was the mayor of Hamilton in 1897 and 1898, and then moved on the Ontario legislature in 1898 but in the elections of 1902 he was defeated, ran as an independent, but had little support and retired from politics. He died in November 1904 as the result of surgeries to remove a growth on his neck. Colquhoun Park is named for him (DHB1.51).

Edward C. was the son of James Colquhoun, a former barrister of the Inner Temple in London (DHB1.51). James and his wife, Mary Bryce Alexander, moved from Scotland to Canada in 1842 with their children Frederick Colquhoun (born 1839) and Catherine Alexander Colquhoun (born 1841). They settled in Berlin, Ontario, now Kitchener (correspondence from relative in the UK). The 1871 Census lists a James Colquhoun, age 66, from Scotland and occupation as Deputy Clerk of the crown. He lived in District 32 which is Berlin Town, (now Kitchener).

The Colquhoun family of Hamilton lived at Barton Lodge, the Gourlay/Colquhoun estate, a large farm on the Hamilton Mountain brow (DHB1.51, 85). They are often mentioned in the McQuesten letters, especially during their son Gourlay's war service, see W5477, W5532, W5691, W5705, W5780, W6133, W6256, W6371, W6395, W636, W6813, W6983, W7018, W9153.

5 For Shaw, see W4531.

6 For Mr. Chisholm, see, W2520.

7 For Davidson, see W4544.

8 For the MacKays see W4297. The nature of Leila's illness is unknown.

9 For Mrs. Buchanan, see W4500, and for Buchanan family, see W4367.

10 For Watson family, see W4588.

11 Kenelm Trigge had gone "on the Road" as a traveling salesman. For Trigge family, see W4635.

12 For Gordon Clark, see W4521. For Clark family, see W4902.

13 The McQuesten homestead in New Hampshire was Dr. Calvin McQuesten's home before he moved to N.Y State and opened his pharmacy. He then began his foundry business in Hamilton, Canada in the 1830's with his cousin John fisher. He then emigrated to Canada in 1838 or 39 and purchased Whitehern in 1852.

The N.H. farm was in the family for 136 years. A cousin, John Knox McQuesten wrote to Calvin from New Hampshire in June 1903 to give his address as 723 South Main Street, Manchester New Hampshire, "the cradle of the race" (W7415). Calvin also received an invitation from Lucy A. Lerned, a relative of Dr. Calvin McQuesten's first wife, Margaret B. Lerned (1809-1841). Lucy was living at Concord, New Hampshire, which was a 7 1/2 mile ride by stage from Manchester (W7416). Calvin did visit Boston and the homestead in late June 1903 (W4998, W5002).

14 For Ida Welker, see W4521.

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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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