W9153 TO REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Mar 26 1915
To: Calvin McQuesten Buckingham Quebec1
My dearest Calvin,
Edna was glad to receive your letter yesterday. I am sure your sketch of Edward Blake would be very interesting and it is well you were prepared to give something so useful and interesting to young Canada on a St. Patrick's occasion as a reminiscence of that statesman2.
Poor Mr. Ketchen is having a terrible time with 'Grip.' He went up to see his father and the minister of the place had come out to call, when going away Mr. K. stood a long time out at the door talking with the unhappy result, suffered terribly in his ears, now in his throat and has not slept for nights3. He came home in the meantime and went to Toronto to preach for Harper Gray, but was obliged to give up and come home. Mr. Gray is tired out and resting out at Dundas4.
I am so thankful to have got through the winter so well and feel much better than usual. Have been busy this week getting various things done. Wednesday, had Peter up for a general clearing up of the barn and burning up rubbish. Glad to get it done while stuff was dry, it rained that night. It has turned out very cold to-day.
Mary has gone down to secure tickets for Stephen Leacock, who is to give an entertainment of his own writings next Thursday for the Belgian Fund, I believe he is going through the country giving his services5.
It is so distressing about Gourlay Colquhoun his poor brother just walks around at night. It seems so strange that two men have told of his body being found in the trenches with seven wounds and yet no official report. The slaughter of officers is so fearful6. Did you read Lloyd George's great speech at Bangor. It seems to me sometimes that the war was sent to bring men to their senses about the liquor traffic7, for the selfish callous heartlessness of the liquor sellers and others was fiendish, as poor Mrs. Colquhoun says, it was just the devil's own work.
Am sending you a most interesting cutting, the words of the late American ambassador to Petrograd and the Duke of Connaught's remarks8. I do wish I could remember the things I read. Punch is good this time, see last page.
We expect Hilda home to-morrow night, she has been away two weeks and has been on the go continually to various old friends. What do you think of Tom's suggestion as to trip? I see the railways are holding out inducements to go to San Francisco by various ways. When you are in Ottawa next, you could inquire about them. One way suggested is by G. T. Pacific to Prince Rupert and down to Vancouver and on by water. It sounds fine. If I contributed a hundred or more could you manage it? You can spend quite a bit at one of these ordinary resorts and have nothing much in return. One cannot go to Europe this year. Your letter has just come in. You might make the inquiries all the same. You would have to judge what would rest you most and I know it is a long train journey; still food is good, and we found it warm only one or two days and quite comfortable at the Coast. Only $60. from Vancouver to Skagway and return. Then I should think there would be reduced rates for the Exposition, and I understand, there was to be an agreement amongst hotels to prevent over-charging. I know my trip enlarged my vision very much and gave me something to think and talk about. To-day our Ladies' Aid has a sale for Sick, Poor and Red Cross. Well, I think my news is exhausted. Sorry there is no trolley. Don't forget the two eldest girls have had fine trips and I would like to give you one if you would enjoy it. Well, good-bye, much love from all.
Your loving mother
1 See W8756, March 17, 1914. In December 1914 Calvin took a position as co-presbyter at Buckingham, Quebec which he held until August 1916 when he came home exhausted and discouraged.
2 Edward Blake (1833-1912) lawyer, politician, became leader of the Ontario Liberal Party in 1868 and second premier of Ontario in 1871. "He established the Liberal dynasty that ruled Ontario from 1871 to 1905." "In 1892 he entered the British House of Commons as an Irish nationalist." He "retired to Canada in 1906, and served as senator and chancellor of University of Toronto (from 1873)." He was described as "intensely ambitious" and "absurdly sensitive to criticism." "[He] often behaved like a spoiled child" and "possessed a manner as devoid of warmth as is a flake of December snow;" however, he did leave his mark by recruiting both "Oliver Mowat . . . and Wilfred Laurier, 2 of Canada's most effective and electorally successful politicians" (CE 240).
3 For Rev. Ketchen and family, see W5359.
4 Rev. Samuel Harper Gray (1873-191, Queen's M.A. 1894, Knox College 1895-98, ordained Calgary 1898, missionary Banff and Canmore, Alberta 1898-99, Knox Church, Dundas 1899-1911, Toronto 1911-16 (BDKC 91).
5 Stephen Leacock was raising funds for the Belgian Relief Fund: "that little nation, which was almost wiped from the European map . . . by the violation of its neutrality by Germany." The Hamilton Spectator, March 26 reported the coming event: "Great Rush Seems Probable for the Evening with Canada's Humorist" at the Temple Theater, Tuesday, March 30, at 8:15 P.M. On March 31, the paper reported the performance: "Canada's Mark Twain . . . . Stephen Leacock is a master of satire and he stood out last evening a living embodiment and perfect interpreter of the humor which he has originated. . . . and one who could get a strangle-hold on Old Man Gloom." After the introduction he "immediately got in touch with the risibilities of his audience." He read from his own works, did a "spoof" on a romance novel "in his best vein." He also performed a "problem play in three acts. . . . the first two acts were 'hum-dingers,' the problem being that the plot was so twisted that only the professor could bring it to a conclusion." The closing was "the reading of an alleged copy of the London Times bearing the date of 1916, wherein . . . the entire house of commons leaves arm in arm, the objective point being a moving picture palace where the film is entitled, The March of the Allies into Berlin. It was real satire, the kind Hamiltonians have been denied for many a day."
6 For Colquhoun family, see W4549. Gourlay Colquhoun joined the Canadian Permanent Force in April 1909. At that time, Mary stated: "Think it is rather a good thing as he is rather wasted in the bank" (W6395). On February 26, 1915 Mary had relayed a report to Cal: "There is a report through a letter from Mrs. Watson's son to her that Gourlay Colquhoun is to have the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery in rescuing a comrade. It is not yet confirmed, and I am sure it will be difficult to confer all that are deserving in this terrible war" (W9111). The above letter gives the March 26 report, and on March 31, 1915, Mary gave a further report about war events and Gourlay's capture:
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. . . . 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 [sic]. Hope he will not be ill-treated. (W6813)
The Hamilton Spectator, March 31, 1915 reported that "Lieut. W. Gourlay Colquhoun, the brave Hamilton officer who distinguished himself with the Princess Patricians in France, first reported missing, and whose body it was later claimed, has been found in a German trench, is safe in the citadel of Metz, a prisoner of war. . . . Mrs. Colquhoun never gave up that her son might be alive" (W9111, W6983).
7 Lloyd George made a widely publicized speech at Bangor on February 28, 1915 in which he declared: "Drink is doing more damage in this war than all the German submarines put together. Reports of what was represented as being almost a tidal wave of drunkenness had been pouring in for months past from all over the country. Amongst shipyard workers, now getting really good wages for the first time, it appeared especially serious." A Temperance Crusade was launched and the Nationalization of Drink was proposed, but it received opposition from both the Beer Barons and the teetotallers. The first did not want to lose their profits to the State and the second would not "countenance that the State should sully its soul by dealing in the evil trade." This "unacknowledged coalition" brought the matter to a end (Owen 284-86).
8 The Duke of Connaught (1850-1942), British Prince and soldier, third son of Queen Victoria, was governor-general of Canada (1911-16) (CBD 337).