Advanced Search 

Home - introductions to the site
Search - a searchable database of letters/essays/etc.
Genealogy - short biographical information of each family member
Photographs - various images pertaining to the McQuesten family
Thesis - essays on the McQuestens and lifewriting by Mary Anderson
Timelines - a chronological list of events in the McQuesten family and corresponding historical events

Search Results

W5283 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Aug 8 1904 Monday
To: Calvin McQuesten Standoff Alberta
From: 5 Queen's Park Toronto Ont.

My dear dear boy,

As we are going home to-morrow, I must write your letter to-day.1 Yesterday heard Dr. Parsons in the morning,2 but it rained heavily in the evening so could not go out. Dr. P. is very much roused just now (no wonder) as to the views of many of our professors & preachers, whom he considers to be the tools of the devil, as prophesied there should be in the latter days.3

Ruby went over to Mrs. Henderson's Saturday to stay till to-day. That would be all she could stand, she thought, as Constance chatters away about herself so much. Mr. H. & Ernest have gone to England.4 Velyien is to return with them & has a lectureship at the Medical College here for a year.

It was very sad about Prof. Campbell, but I think it a kind Providence for him, as his feelings had been so wounded, but he was to have gone to Queen's and Mrs. C. is left with almost nothing.5 Miss Parsons took dinner with us yesterday & inquired for you. On Saturday morning Willie [MacKay], R. & I went through the Parliament Bldgs. and over to the University.

There we saw that collection of pictures by Paul Kane, 100 of them, very interesting of native Chiefs and camp scenes of the West in the Early days.6 I was glad to have seen them for they were talked about a great deal last winter, they belonged to E.B. Osler, I do not know if he has presented them to Univ. or not. Then we went through the Library they have some fine portraits there. We saw the new one of Goldwin Smith7 presented by Ross Robertson.8

One of the troubles of this house is keeping Willie entertained. Mr. M.[MacKay] does not at all understand that he is just in that condition of mind which leads on to insanity, and some congenial employment's the only thing that might save him, & how that is to be got is the question. Whether Mr. M. is as rich as supposed, I do not know, but he talks as if he were very hard up. One never knows, because so frequently old men get the notion that they are poor or going to be. And if Mr. M. would only give Willie sufficient money, it would be a great help. He is afraid to go outside the gate without a companion and he would like a paid one. It is a very pitiable case. Saturday evening in day-light, Drummond [MacKay] was brought home by a young man in a cab, helpless; the maids had to drag him up stairs and for a long time he could not be quieted. Fortunately I was not down-stairs at the time. But I will be so glad to get home. I can do nothing & it is all so deplorable. Gordon [MacKay] came up the other day in a cab, very much the worse. He has bought a house in Parkdale and he and his wife live there. They had been in New York, "Had the trip of his life" he said. Poor Mr. M. is hardly able to put one foot before the other. This afternoon we went for a drive and called at the Parsons and had afternoon Tea, and quite brightened Mr. M. up.9

When we came in found Miss Craig and she is very jolly. Ruby had come back from Mrs. H.[Henderson] after lunch & went with us, but has gone back there for dinner to meet some young people. After I commenced this letter yours came in; it was so interesting. And so glad you had the chance of meeting the other men at Presbytry meeting and that they were all so friendly. I do not understand how people can be Xtians and be so indifferent to other workers as these Anglicans are.10

It is Perfectly lovely to think of you being at Varsity again & so near us, though you must dread going to work again, but perhaps you may find it easier than you did & not find just the pass course so heavy.11 The Y.M.C.A. secretary Rogers is going to be ordained, I see, though he took no course and if you find you cannot stand the study you could just go back to the preaching and in time I am sure, would make yourself so valuable you might be ordained too.

We are going down town in the morning & I will see about the Mounts at once.12 I think it is fine to think of you having so much money to your credit. I do wish you could bring your horse with you, it would be so lovely for exercise, though the cars & automobiles might frighten it, but it would cost more to keep it than yourself. If only we had some of the MacKay's money! Must close, hope you will not fail to see Banff, borrow from some one & I will send it to you. With fondest love.

Your mother

M.B. McQuesten

[P.S.] Have run out of Ocean [?] post. Must compliment your handwriting it is so improved.

1 Mary and Ruby had been visiting the MacKay family in Toronto, see W4297.

2 Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Henry Parsons, M.,D.D., lived at 235 Jarvis St., Toronto, with their children Jessie, Emma, and Mr. Holly Parsons (Tyrell 95; W5289).

3 Dr. Parsons and Mary are referring to two related controversial issues that had been developing for several years in the Presbyterian Church: "higher criticism" and "Union." The first is the modernization and reform of Presbyterian doctrine, and the second is the organic union of Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregationalist churches: "union and consolidation were in the air." Mary (and Parsons) were firmly in the fundamentalist, anti-reform/union camp, and her judgement of various ministers was usually made on that basis. On August 16, 1904, Mary commented on her next meeting with Parsons: "Dr. P. told me that Davidson . . . preached there a sermon on Jonah in which he stated how he had come to know it was just a legend. . . . and the next Sabbath, he said he had been reproved by some 'old fogies'. . . but he had received such Enlightenment. Dr. P. is wild & and 'no wonder.' To think of men like that going forth with our Bible" (W5289). Richard Davidson was one of the "Canadian Presbyterian academics [who] made their mark as leaders in Canadian intellectual life" and "were scholars of international stature" (Moir Enduring 188). For an 1891 article on "higher criticism" in the U.S. see Box 09-214.
In the Presbyterian Church at that time and "closely related to higher criticism . . . was the theory of evolution," which became evident in "social Darwinism" a belief that man was influenced by his environment as well as his will. It placed its emphasis on social reform at home and in the missionary work abroad (Moir Enduring 170-76, 189-90, 199, 204, 211-33; McNeill 203-07, 248-49, 253, 260-61).

The "professors & preachers" that Mary criticizes in connection with the new "higher criticism" and "Union" are: Lyle W4436, McFadyen W-MCP1-1.025, Caven W5105, Warden W4531, Falconer W5665, Jordan W5794, Davidson W5289, Macdonnell W5382, McNair W5868. Church Union was proposed as early as 1875, and was debated for many years. In 1904 the leadership of the three churches formed a Committee of Correspondence, including many college principals who were also "hospitable to the new doctrines." The dissenters formed two camps: Principal D.M. Gordon of Queen's and Rev. C.W. Gordon were "gradualists" (Moir Enduring 204, W4535, W6446), and Prof. Wm. McLaren, principal of Knox College (1905) was one of the "true 'anti-unionists'" (W6173n). For more on "Union" from 1906 to 1925 see W6446n, W0127a-April 24, 1923.

4 Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Henderson (nee Ewart) lived at 66 Wellesley Ave., Toronto, with their children Miss Constance L., Mr. Velyien E. and Mr. Ernest M. (Tyrell 63; W5109, W5172, W5233, W6738, W6975). They may have been related to the Gordon Hendersons of Hamilton, see W5709.

5 Rev. Dr. John Campbell (1840-July 30, 1904) was a lecturer at Knox 1870-73, professor Montreal Presbyterian College 1873-1904 and acting principal 1904; D.D. Queen's 1903. His "wounded" "feelings" likely refers to two incidents in his career: Campbell was one of the first to attempt modernization of doctrine, but at that time was severely criticized for what later became known as "higher criticism." Campbell had stood a heresy trial in 1893 for an evolutionary view of life and history, and he was accused of "undermining the literal truth and divine inspiration of the Bible." He was initially found guilty for recognizing "progress in revelation" but, after signing a "typically Canadian compromise statement about Scriptural inspiration" which was acceptable to the Synod, they declared a "victory for the accused." However, ten years later the "critical method" was being widely adopted by many "professors & preachers" (W5283). Also, Campbell had written a two volume work, The Hittites, their Inscriptions and their History (1890) in which "he found the Hittite civilization not only underlying all Oriental cultures, but also traceable in mounds to be seen 'from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico.'" The work was immediately discredited (McNeill 185, 203, 208-09; Moir Enduring 174, 187, 190, 253). This book is not in Whitehern library.

6 Paul Kane (1810-71) painter, born in Ireland, studied in Canada, U.S., France and Italy, and travelled by canoe, horseback, and snowshoe to depict the life of the Indians of the North West. "Most of his pictures are now in the Royal Ontario Museum at Toronto or in the Parliament Buildings at Ottawa." Kane published Wanderings of an Artist Among the Indians of North America (1859) (MDCB 401). This book is not in Whitehern library.

7 Goldwin Smith (1823-1910) historian, journalist, educated at Eton, Oxford, taught at Cornell, settled in Canada in 1871. He was called "Annexation" by his opponents because he advocated "union with the US as a prerequisite to moral unification of the Anglo-Saxon race." He favoured the idea "that free trade between nations would lead to interdependence and make war impossible. . . . [a] creed derived from Adam Smith." He contributed to the Morning Chronicle, Daily News and Saturday Review, became Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford, and founded the Canadian Monthly and National Review with Charles G.D. Roberts (CE 2016). Three of his books are in the Whitehern library: The English Statesman (1867), The Political Destiny of Canada (1877), The United States: An Outline of Political History 1492-1871 (1901).

8 Robertson, John Ross (1841-1918) publisher, philanthropist, founded the evening Telegram (EC 1879).

9 For MacKay family, see W4297. In Mary's letter of August 1, 1904, Gordon MacKay had cashed in an insurance policy for $10,000 and "has been spending it as fast as he can" (W5275).

10 Mary's criticism of the Anglicans continues in her next letter, dated August 16:

What a poor set these Anglicans are, and it is deplorable how seldom one meets a true honourable warm loving Xtian. Now this case in Scotland of a handful of free church men (as I understand) holding on to the funds. Isn't that most disgraceful? To think of men calling themselves fellows of Christ, hindering the work of God and making all this terrible disturbance, just to carry their own little point. No spirit of Christ in them but just the spirit of the devil. Supposing they have right on their side how can they put obstacles in the way of carrying on the church's work if they are Xtians at heart? I tell you the devil is getting on finely these days. (W5289)

The Anglican criticism likely has its source in an old controversy from the mid to late 1800's. It involved the Church of England which considered itself the legal church of the colonies. The Church of Scotland was also setting up its Presbyterian Churches in Canada. When the sale of 2.4 million acres of "Clergy Reserve" lands was made to the Canada Company for colonization, one-seventh was to be used for the "Maintenance of a Protestant Clergy," which the Anglicans considered themselves to be. The Church of Scotland demanded a proportional share but in 1840 received only half the grant that the Anglicans received. Over the years, the dispute over the "Clergy Reserves" became "the most fruitful bone of religious contention in Canadian history." A further split occurred within the Canadian Presbyterian Church between those adherents to the mother Church of Scotland and the new church in Canada, which, in turn, had two competing divisions. It is likely that these issues of money and property were coming to the fore again as meetings had begun in 1889 for a Canadian Protestant union. The Anglicans were included in an initial "historic episcopate" but "no follow-up meeting was ever held." Finally, a committee on union was formed in 1904 between Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregationalists, which resulted in the creation of the United Church in 1925 (See W5283n above on "Union," and W-MCP1-1.025 below; Moir Enduring 49, 69, 75-76, 84-94, 101-07, 138, 182).

11 Calvin had decided to go back to the University of Toronto for his pass B.A. On September 13, Mary suggested that he go to Knox College, the Presbyterian College at Toronto: "I have not heard from you why you do not go to Knox, it would be so much cheaper, I think . . . you will have to consult economy because I am afraid everything will be high this year and I want you to have as good food as you can and a comfortable warm room" (W5313). Calvin went to Knox College.

12 "Mounts" are photo mounts, see W5303. Calvin had been preparing an article and pictures for the "News" upon which Mary comments on August 22: "It was really too bad of the 'News' to treat your article in such a way. I never saw it at all, July 30th was the first Saturday I was in Toronto there I was watching for your pictures expecting the article to be with it. It was very annoying" (W5297).

Home | Search | Thesis | Family | Timelines
Photographs | Whitehern | Sitemap | Credits

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

Hamilton Public Library This site was created in partnership with and is hosted by the Hamilton Public Library. Canada's Digital Collections This digital collection was produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital Collections initiative, Industry Canada.