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W5996 TO MARY BAKER MCQUESTEN from her daughter Ruby
Oct 8 1905 [Estimated date, Calendar date disputed]1
To: Mary Baker McQuesten Whitehern, Hamilton, Ontario
From: Ottawa Ladies' College Ottawa, Ontario

My own darling Mitherkins

Just a good old talk for your birthday. And this time you have a still smaller family to celebrate it at home. Nevermind! your branches though away will try not to disgrace their little Mither.

How we would all love to fight over you, Tom, Cal and I, but we can only think jealously of those who have you and look forward to the holidays. Sometimes when Miss Gallaher speaks of going home I do so long to see you just to have a good hug. I feel as if I couldn't squeeze you hard enough my own best Sweet Heart.2

And then I feel thankful that I can do a little to help things along. Your letter came at noon & I was so glad to get it. I will explain to Mrs. Ross and see what can be arranged right away. Poor old Tom! I'm sure he understands how things are & it truly made me feel quite happy to think I could be of some use, though really Mother dearest I'm not doing more than you all, for you save money if I make it and Hilda and Mary are as hard working as I.3

Haven't you a big, strong kind of family for such a little person? But then it's the quality!

You told me not to send you anything but a letter. Well I'm really not, for the little thing to put around your shoulders when you do your hair cost next to nothing, as I had the yellow cotton from a bit of ribbon. The towel is just a cheap one & I rather liked the idea & thought perhaps Hilda might like a couple for bazaar.

It is awful the way I have to give away the value of things when I send to the family! I'm so scared of scoldings! Now seeing it's such a [?] elegant thing I'm sure you must have thought it worth a fortune.

Never mind dearest, you would be rich if you could reckon in money all the love of the family, and we care for that most, don't we?4

Well dearest I hear one of the girls coming for the letter so must hurry up. I've been very busy yesterday & today or would have started before. So can only send my own dearest Mother my very best love and wishes for you & many more happy birthdays to come.

With hugs & kisses & loving loving thoughts to you my dear dear best of Mothers.

Your affectionate child

Ruby McQuesten

1 Calendar date is listed as October 8, 1907, but this is incorrect since Ruby did not return to the Ottawa Ladies' College after the summer of in 1907. In fact she was at Oakville with her family. In mother's letter from Oakville to Calvin (Aug. 3, 1907 W5932) she states: "Ruby was in Hamilton yesterday doing some shopping, she is beginning to be like herself, came home from [in June] thoroughly worn out with a bad cough. Glad she is not returning" (See W6135 FN, for an account of Ruby's illness (tuberculosis) and her death in 1911. Date likely should be October 8, 1905. We have also estimated by the fact that "Miss Gallaher" is mentioned in this letter and in another in 1906.

2 Ruby is often homesick at the College in Ottawa and misses her home and family.

3 This paragraph about money seems to suggest that Ruby's mother wrote to her about Tom's urgent need for money, and that Ruby went to Mrs. Ross to request an advance on her wages in order to send money to Tom at the University of Toronto. Ruby paid Tom's way through University. (See W6135 FN, for an account of Ruby's illness (tuberculosis) and her death in 1911). Also see her Biographical sketch by clicking on "Family" on the Home Page and then on Ruby's picture.

This comment about money also helps to establish that Ruby was working to send Tom through university and, with the mention of Mrs. Ross, suggests that Ruby is still working in Ottawa, so this further establishes that the date on this letter is incorrect.

4 This deep concern for the poverty of the family is also noted by Ruby in her pre-Christmas letter of 1902 in which she notes that the family has very little money to spend on gifts, W4263. In this letter also, she apologizes for the cost of the simple gift.

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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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