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[Written at top] I wonder where the key of Tom's trunk is, you need not return Constance's letter. Photos in parcel. Tom's letter just came as well, will send it soon.

W6336 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Jan 24 1909
In care of (c/o)
To: Calvin McQuesten Knox College Toronto, Ontario
From: 'Whitehern'

My dearest cal,

The box and trunk arrived in good shape. I hope to send off your parcel to-morrow. The weather keeps wonderfully mild and the snow keeps off, which saves the snow cleaning for me, but it is hard on the unemployed. Had two letters from Ruby which you can send on to Tom, but return the photos to me, they might get lost at Elk Lake. It is a week to-day since I heard from Tom, but suppose the mails are uncertain. Isn't Ruby fortunate in finding such a comfortable home? She certainly has a very comfortable time of it. Hilda went up with Mrs. Mullin Monday and spent the night. Nellie is neither better nor worse, at the end of the 21 days, as hoped, the fever did not go down, so now it will have to run again for 21 days, and there is nothing to prevent running another 21 days.1 R. had a nice letter from Constance Kellogg. Will enclose it too. It is very sad about the brother.

Hasn't this shipwreck of the Republic been a most thrilling affair?2 Isn't this wireless telegraphy like something miraculous! This is a great triumph for Marconi.3

Poor Mrs. Woods is such a delicate person and too nervous to drive behind a horse even, so just imagine her. It is a mercy Mr. W. was with her. And poor Miss George (our W.F.M.S. treasurer) will hear enough about her comb. I am sorry for Mrs. Caven, who, I am sure, has enough to do looking after that nervous husband of hers.4

I am glad you went to the Dicksons, they were always so friendly. Lately there has been nothing but weddings amongst "Society" people. Now that you have your meals by ticket you can call Sundays on Maggie for dinner when you are at a loss.5

Yesterday was our Presbyterial annual of the W.F.M.S. As Mrs. Steele is away I had to take the morning business meeting, but got Mrs. Lyle to take the afternoon meeting. We had invited R.P. MacKay to speak for we had never yet succeeded in hearing his account of what he saw of our missionaries' work in the East, so I wrote him that we were particularly anxious to hear of our own missionaries and would you believe it, he gave a great account of a large gathering of the American Meth. [sic] Episcopalian mission and of the Ep. with social, and never mentioned our missionaries' names or a word about the work, except a little reference to a Xmas tree in our Widows' Home. Mr. Lyle and I were so exasperated we could hardly contain ourselves. Was there nothing to be seen of their work? It really looked so badly that I was more than sorry I had ever asked him. He looked worn out and dropping with sleep. It was fortunate I happened to write just the week before as he had forgotten and thought meeting was in the evening. I wish we could send some bright woman over to bring back our account.6 Mrs. McGillvray would do finely if she were a good speaker, but she has a very poor voice and no animation, otherwise she is exceedingly observant and clever and can write well.7

I am very indignant too about another thing. You know I had to keep at Mr. Ketchen8 before we got Prof. Kilpatrick for our anniversary sermons and I told him if he could not get him, to try for Prof. Kennedy. Well, we got Prof. Kilpatrick last year.9 This year when I inquired who do you think, they had fixed upon but Hossack?10 Mr. Leitch11 had voted against it, but Dr. Fletcher and Mr. Milne wanted him.12 Prof. Kennedy's name never mentioned. Can you understand people having a man like Prof. Kennedy within reach and no desire to hear him?13 As for Mr. Ketchen he seems to have nothing in his mind but his sermons. Sunday morning Mr. Gray of Dundas preached for us and came in by Radial, but Mr. Ketchen did not look at time-table and reckoned on a 10:10 trolley car.14 There is none on Sabbath, so he did not reach Dundas till 12 o'clock. If the ministers went on Saturday night, there would be none of this confusion on Sunday mornings. Mr. Ketchen is inviting some of the young men in to have a smoke with him. Am thoroughly disgusted with these men. Well, I must close, glad if you can get nicer meals at Varsity, it is fortunate you can make a change. With much love from all.

Your loving mother

M.B. McQuesten

1 For Mullin family, see W4521.

2 The Republic steamship was shipwrecked in collision with an Italian vessel, the Florida, January 23, 1909. It sank 39 hours later in 40 fathoms (240 ft) 15 miles off Nantucket, while being towed in for repair. During the 39 hours, the 1500 passengers were transferred twice. The heroic wireless operator Jack Binns remained at his station "summoning aid by wireless, using it for the first time at sea for this purpose" and "subsequently every soul aboard the Republic was saved . . . and Sealby [Captain] was the last to leave the ship." The cargo was lost: $3,000,000 in American Gold Eagles destined for the Imperial Russian Government of the Czar, as well as all luggage and personal possessions. The Republic, similar to the Titanic, was considered unsinkable. "This golden cache still rests in its watery tomb. . . waiting. . . ." (Official RMS Republic Website. 8 December 1999. AltaVista Sites). .Another shipwreck rescue by telegraphy occurs in letter of February 5, 1910: "Isn't that wireless telegraphy a wonderful thing? The rescue of the Kentucky another instance" (W6630).

3 Marconi's first experiments with wireless telegraphy occurred in 1895 and 1899. However, it was "conceived in N. America by Samuel Morse in 1837 and in Europe by the English partnership of William Cooke and Charles Wheatstore. . . . In Canada, the first telegraph company, the Toronto, Hamilton and Niagara Electro-Magnetic Telegraph Co. was formed in 1846." By 1881 it had been taken over by Western Union Co. of the United States which for a brief time "controlled virtually all telegraphy in Canada, after which it was taken over by the railroads (CE 2123; CBD 969; see also Hugh Cossart Baker W5854, DHB1.13 and Burkholder 139-40).

4 Mr. & Mrs. J.W. Woods, Miss E.B. Woods, Miss I. L. George and Dr. & Mrs. John Caven, were on the passenger list of the Republic. They were all from Toronto, and all were first class passengers travelling to the Mediterranean.

Sandra Smith of the Republic web site has added some information: Miss George is Miss Isabella L. George, born about 1855 and she is listed on a 1911 ship passenger list as c/o Toronto Canadian ofc. Victoria Street London....home address: 110 Lowther Ave., Toronto. Mr. & Mrs. James W. Woods lived at 91 Breadalbane St. summer residence, 170 Centre Island, they had 2 daughters named Effie (Eufigenia) and Mary. Mrs. Woods maiden name was Douglas.

Our letters show that John Caven M.D. had examined Ruby in 1908. Mary stated that Dr. John Caven had "known your father well at college" (W6336, W5105, W6169, W5109, W5984, W6169, W6343, W6374, W6509, W6347, W6351 Feb. 12, 1908, "death of Alderman Woods").

5 Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. MacKay (W4297). Mrs. Mackay had died in March 1907 (W5804) and Mr. MacKay had died in February 1909 (W6359).

6 Rev. R.P. MacKay (1847-1929) was secretary of the Foreign Mission Committee (FMC) from 1892-1916. He traveled a great deal inspecting the various missions in the East, China, Korea, India. In 1911 he became Moderator of the General Assembly. He was from East Zorra, Ontario, educated at University of Toronto and Knox College. His son-in-law, Rev. Andrew Thomson, wrote his biography: The Life and Letters of Rev. R.P.MacKay, D.D. (1932) (Thomson 97, 108; McNeill 66, 144, 192; BDKC 133). In the gender struggles between the Committee and the WFMS, MacKay "was particularly anxious to resist any accretions of power by the WFMS." This usually involved decision making about the distribution of monies collected, which the women had mandated for women missionaries and for work with women and children, but the committee wished to appropriate it for the larger political body. This money is likely the "account" that Mary would like to "bring back" (Brouwer 38-39). Mary sometimes refers to him as "Dr. Grinch"(W9180). MacKay also favoured "Church Union" which Mary rejected. I have found no evidence of a relationship with the Donald MacKays, Mary's friends in Toronto (W4297).

7 Mrs. Janet McGillvray was editor of Foreign Missionary Tidings (Brouwer 51). Her husband, Donald, was chiefly engaged in the extensive translation and other publication work for the society" (McNeill 123).

8 For Rev. Ketchen and family, see W5359.

9 For Prof. Kilpatrick, see W5199.

10 Possibly, Donald Calvin Hossack (1862-1937) ordained minister and barrister in Toronto (BDKC 104).

11 For Leitch family, see W4815.

12 For John C. Milne, see W9013.

13 Prof. Kennedy was a teacher at Knox College, see W6460.

14 Samuel Harper Gray (1873-1916), ordained missionary, Banff 1898-99, Dundas 1899-1911, Toronto 1911-16.

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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.
Please direct questions and comments to Mary Anderson, Ph.D.

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