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W5717 TO MARY BAKER MCQUESTEN from her daughter Ruby
Nov 9 1906
To: Mary Baker McQuesten Whitehern, Hamilton, Ontario
From: Ottawa Ladies' College

[written at top] This Bible reading was at meeting of Ottawa Presbyterial
My darling Mitherkins,

This has seemed a long week with so many things in it. First of all on Tuesday afternoon I took my Bible Reading in Erskine Church. Miss Hay made me sit up on the platform with herself & Miss Alexander the President & Mrs. Armstrong who was to offer the dedicatory prayer. It was rather a good thing for it accustomed me to looking down on the ladies & then I had just a step to go when my turn came. Well it was over at last & I was very thankful. Once I'd started & gotten into my subject I forgot my self pretty much. Dear little Miss Hay whispered as I sat down, "It was just beautiful dear & you weren't nervous after the first few words were you?" 1

Then I stayed till half past four & slipped away without speaking to any one as there was a meeting of the Council of the Field Naturalists at five o'clock.2

Then after tea Mlle. Vessot & I took the girls to the morning meeting to hear Dr. Johnson. He gave a long very fine account of the spread of the gospel in Europe from the very start up to the present. Of course it was a great subject & it was almost too long--certainly we were weary--but it was very fine & thorough and brought before us the names of the famous historical characters which we should know as more than names.

Just at the close I saw the jolly plump little Miss Masson who wanted to know what I was doing in the afternoon up on the platform, an infant among the Mothers of Israel.

Then on Wednesday afternoon Miss Boyd, Gallaher & I were taken by one of the day pupils for a most exciting automobile ride out along the canal & through the experimental Farm & back & around Parliament Hill. It was very refreshing & also very exciting. We tickled astonished horses noses and saw the scared look on peoples faces, more than a little scared ourselves. Miss Boyd & I told Miss Gallaher she could sit in the front as she was the biggest in case we ran into anything. However we arrived home safely.

But that as well as the Bible Reading seems a long way off for on Wednesday night Eleanor Ross seemed so ill.--she had been in bed all day with just a cold we thought--that we sent for the doctor. He came about ten & after careful investigation told us--in the hall--that she had every symptom of pneumonia. So he sent up powders & medicine & Miss Airth & I spent the night in turn with her. I was so anxious for Eleanor is just so sweet and the thought of telling her Mother and the uncertainty of anything of that kind--it just made me sick to think of it. Then at noon yesterday the doctor came & said it certainly was pneumonia & at first said the hospital but afterwards thought our own Infirmary with a trained nurse would be even better, & we were thankful not to have her taken off. So the nurse came & got her all ready & she was carried down & soon settled & really the room is so pretty & she had American Beauty roses & two vases of carnations & last night had a good night & is better this morning. So I'm feeling better about it--the doctor says some cases recover just in a few days and then of course there is the danger of typhoid & some can't shake it off. But Eleanor is young & never had any trouble with her lungs--she always had a specially good chest expansion. I don't know how she got it--she must just have been run down sitting teaching so many hours in her little room in the Conservatory. But we're just trusting that she'll get over the worst & then she has friends the Lambarts-the Hon Mr. Lambart & his wife & one daughter Toula & a son--they are English & think the world of the Rosses and were expecting Mrs. Ross to stay with them soon anyway--well they have a lovely home near Rockliffe where Eleanor could stay and gain her strength. 3

Well dearest your letter has just come so must devour it. Such a number of things as you manage to accomplish, it is simply wonderful. And so you're off to Guelph, I like to think of my little Mother letting people see & hear her if only she doesn't wear herself out.4 And I'm glad your little new dress is so pretty. And Ted [Edna] is well again. It is a cheering letter this time. 5

I really have seen almost nobody to speak to since I gave my little speech, you see I slipped away early from the afternoon meeting & in the evening we had so many girls we had to wait till most of the people were out. Little Miss Masson did say which I considered a compliment when she was teasing me about being an infant etc. "You must have gotten your mother to do it for you--I recognized her in it all right." So you see I'll never have any satisfaction--if I do poorly people will be ashamed of me and if I do well they'll say, "O well she should do well--it's easy enough--look at her mother--it is just her mother's Mantle." But I'm not going to be famous like you--it is really too hard--I couldn't stand a load on my mind often like I had last week. And yet I felt I was wanted to do it and I knew I would be given strength. But I don't think I will be asked often to do things like that when I live in a place like this.

Well dearest, I think I've told you everything. I much enjoyed my chunk of cake. It was just delicious. And really my unmentionables are the most comfortable things. I've just been enjoying these this week. My pen has gone soft & blotchy & my blotter only smudges.

With heaps of love dearest & love to all.

Your loving child,


1 Ruby occasionally gives Bible readings or addresses following the style established by her mother in her WFMS work.

2 Ruby meets regularly with the Field Naturalists and the McQuesten family was very active in various garden, bird and naturalist societies. Calvin later became president of the Hamilton Branch of the Bird Protection Society. In Calvin's Calendar there are many items from the Bird Protection Society and from various Naturalist clubs. We have used W8084 to represent them all. See also W8099. Others in the Calendar or boxes are W7956, W8086-96, W8140, W8751, Box 08-204. Calvin was President or an executive member for many years, and was an avid member until his death in 1968. Several photos on this site include Jack Miner, the famous bird conservationist, IMG050, IMG053, IMG071, IMG124, IMG139, IMG140.

3 Eleanor Ross's illness is another instance of the serious illnesses that plagued the school (and the age). Ruby was ill from time to time and in 1907 was no longer able to continue teaching. See W6135.

4 Mary McQuesten was at Guelph giving another of her rousing addresses to the WFMS. For examples of same see E2-2 and E2-3. Later in the letter Ruby compliments her mother for her reputation as being a forceful speaker.

5 Since childhood Edna has suffered from mental instability and had several breakdowns, and finally was sent to the Geulph institution and died there in 1936. For the history of her illness, see W2511 and see her Bio. by clicking on "Family" on the Home Page and then on her picture.

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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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