W6391 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Apr 20 1909
To: Calvin McQuesten Glenhurst, Saskatchewan
From: 'Whitehern' Hamilton
My dearest Cal,
I was just beginning to wonder what you were doing when your letter came in yesterday. It quite cheered me to think of your having thoughtful friends like the school-teacher to look after you. I think we will have to send him something good in your barrel. H. is going to start the cake very soon.
I have at last been told of your sad experience in February. Poor you! To think of all you have gone through and just when you were starting in to do something for exams, that this dreadful thing should have come upon you, and what you must have suffered! Poor dear child! Your life has been a strange Providence but perhaps it was sent to save you from straining your hairs for a scholarship, and we must be thankful you recovered in time to pass your exams, that was the chief thing.1
There is quite an excitement over the doings of the Railway, they are buying on south-side of Hunter between James and John. Gave Stanley Mills $40,000 for their corner on John & Hunter! There is talk of a great Union Station. This uncertainty seems always to block sale of our property, which we had suggested for the new Public Library.2 So we await developments. Mrs. Mullin lent me "Sowing Seeds in Danny." It is certainly a most comical refreshing book. So glad you found your little horse alright. Enclose Tom's last he will come home June 1st, there is no use wasting time where you cannot get paid for your work. Aside from the experience, it would have paid far better to have stayed with Masten till April 1st.
To-day's Globe says nothing but letters can be taken now to Elk Lake, roads broken up, only can be carried by men on foot.3 So Turkey is in a turmoil, it is a good thing to get the old Sultan out, if those terrible Mohammedans had not come down upon the poor Xtians and missionaries.4 I suppose you get the Globe. We have been very busy. Ruby feels better of the rest at home. All join in much love.
Your loving mother
1 I have been unable to establish the nature of Calvin's illness, however, it may have been another nervous collapse, which often occurred under stress, such as exams.
2 On April 8 Mary wrote: "In the meantime a new site for Public Library is required. Carnegie having offered $25,000. There is scarcely any likelihood of us being taken on account of the Railway" (W6387). The Hamilton Public Library was built near Whitehern, at Main and MacNab Sts. It was funded by Andrew Carnegie and opened May 5, 1913. The first library in Hamilton was the Mercantile Library in 1854, then the Mechanic's Institute with the first reading room. In 1883 a lending library was established by the Lancefield brothers and R.T. Lancefield became the first librarian for the new Public Library (see W4549). There was strong opposition at first to the Free Libraries Act of 1885 because some men thought that "libraries were just for the purpose of letting women read novels, while their children were being cared for at the kindergartens," and the term "dime novel" was "about the last word in the demoralization of the youth system" (Burkholder 86). Mary and her family were very much in favour of the Public Library as were many other prominent Presbyterians and Hamiltonians.
3 Tom had been at Elk Lake since January 1909 practicing law for Masten, Starr and Spence during the silver boom at Cobalt, Ontario, see W5990. In Mary's letter of April 24, 1909, she tells of Tom's long walk at Elk Lake: "He had just returned (on the 20th) from Gowganda having walked there and back 66 miles. A pretty rough trip and lots of lice, it is a beastly hole. Wasn't that a terrible experience. Do not know how he did it" (W6398).
4 The Globe, Tuesday April 20, 1909 carried the headline: "Report that the Sultan has Fled on a Warship."
Young Turks threaten to hang him in front of his palace. Macedonian army of nearly 30,000 men closing in on Constantinople. The officerless soldiery here are in a blue funk and say they won't fight. . . . There is to be no mistaken clemency now. The arch-plotter will plot no more. The crowned assassin will assassinate no longer. The reactionary Mohammedan society which caused the mutiny was led by the chief of the palace eunuchs, and included . . . his son, his chamberlain and many of the Old Regime spies, all living in the palace. The Mutinous troops in St. Sophia Square . . . were well provided with gold pieces. . . these facts are conclusive. There is no fear of Christian massacre here as the Christians are well armed. . . . The worst feature of it, if not the starting point, was the fanaticism of the Moslems and their bloodthirsty treatment of the Christians. . . . one of the most injurious despotisms known to history. . . . Turkey may now be left unmolested to show what her people can do in the way of self-government.
A young Canadian seaman, "Ransford D' Bucknam" was part of the Court of Sultan Abdul Hamid. He was Vice-Admiral of the empire, in command of the Imperial navy and of all naval construction. "Twice already he has saved the life of the Sultan, and present indications are that he will not have long to wait for a third opportunity" (The Globe, April 21, 1909). On May 15, The Globe included an advertisment for subscriptions "For the Adana Christians": for the relief of Christian "refugees in Asia Minor devastated by fanatical Turks." They claimed to be in "constant telegraphic touch with the missionaries at all the points where the Armenians were slaughtered."