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W6813 TO REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN, B.A. from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Mar 31 1915
To: Calvin McQuesten 'The Manse' Buckingham Quebec
From: 'Whitehern' Hamilton

My dear Calvin,

As I am going to my Prov. Board meeting to-morrow I must write you a few lines to-day. We are busy all the time planning for this terrible meeting.1 It will be a relief to have it over, but at our meeting here yesterday, we have set different committees to work so we begin to see daylight.

The weather has been very cold, but still perhaps it is better for working than soft spring days, but I am afraid with you it would be just too cold. Was up at Mrs. Thomson's yesterday, she was asking me again how you liked her poems, I am quite sure you expressed your opinion a dozen times and Laura came to our help, by reminding her that you had told her, that your mother who did not usually care for poetry admired and liked hers very much.

Poor Mr. Ketchen is still suffering with his head, has had a dreadful time with his throat having to have it poulticed etc. So Tom is endeavouring to get preachers for Sunday. Prof. Law goes to Ottawa, but they are trying for Prof. Kilpatrick. I do not know if you met a Mr. Wilson, a Scotch minister, who is here. Think I mentioned in my last letter calling on them. He preached on Sunday night a beautiful sermon on Christ's progress from the Jordan up to Jerusalem, uses fine language and has good descriptive powers. We would be quite pleased to hear him, but Tom wanted to hear Prof. Law, if he could.

Hilda came home Saturday night, having had a fine time with various friends. Mrs. James, Mrs. Whittemore, Miss Fisher, the Gartshores, Helen Luce, Mrs. [?] Hamilton and Miss [?] whom she met on tour. They seemed to have quite a jolly time and from their house on Bloor St., they saw the great parade of 9000 men. But people could not cheer, every one feels too badly to see them go. Kate Colquhoun phoned us yesterday, that they had a cable from Gourlay's wife, that he had been found in a Red Cross Hospital in Germany. Nothing more and they asked us not to tell this to any one for some reason.

Edna is expecting Nellie James to-morrow evening to stay till Monday. The paper has just come in and says Mrs. Colquhoun has received message from Adjutant Gen., confirming report that Gourlay is a prisoner at Meintz. Hope he will not be ill-treated.2

Well, this is all I think at present. You will be preparing your Easter sermon I suppose. Hope you will have the inspiration of fine weather. All join in best love.

Your loving mother

M.B. McQuesten

1 For all of their Colonial and Christian zeal, the missionary societies were not without internal strife, and Mary's letters record some of the "gender conflicts" that occurred at home and abroad. The "terrible meeting" refers to the conflict between the all-male Foreign Missions Committee (FMC) and the women's executive body in Canada which was being coerced into uniting the WFMS (the Foreign body)with the WHMS (the Home body) to form the WMS. Abroad the conflict involved Dr. John Wilkie, the FMC and the women missionaries (W4651, W5172, W5765, W6853). In both cases, at home and abroad, the dispute involved the control of funds which the women's societies (WFMS) raised for women's missions and were reluctant to give up to the men for other uses. The WFMS proved to be extremely successful at fund raising, while the FMC had "perennial budgeting problems."

Initially "the power of the purse" prevailed and the women insisted on "financing only women's missionaries' activities" (Brouwer 32, 34, 38). The dispute continued for many years while the FMC used pressure tactics, placed restrictions on the WFMS and, in 1910, the provincial WFMS and the WHMS agreed to try to work out a basis for union. In the same year Mary became vice-president of the Ontario Provincial Society and spoke out strongly against the union. However, in 1914 they were "forced to unite" and became the WMS. Although the women provided a "show of unanimity and brave talk" they could not "mask the fact that their leaders had been coerced into union"

2 The two different reports of Gourlay Colquhoun's whereabouts demonstrate the tension in the community caused by the conflicting news that came by cable in the newspapers. For more "news" reports about Gourlay Colquhoun and the war, see W9153.

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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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