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mother” (MCP 1-3a.25). More than that, she told him explicitly of her reliance on him: My own darling boy: You do not know just what a help and strength you have been to your mother. I am so very nervous and anxious minded that if you had been anything else but what you are I would certainly have broken down…it seems to me I would have died, for people do die of broken hearts. To one of my disposition and views it would seem to me life would have been impossible. As it is you were strong and vigorous and unlike son Cal, physically fit … and thus have been an unspeakable strength to me. (A75-MCP 2-4.37a) Thomas came very close to winning the Rhodes Scholarship in 1904, the first year that it was offered, but was passed over for another candidate. Mary expressed her severe disappointment at the loss of the opportunity, the income of $1,500 per year, and the honour: “It seems as if I cannot forget it…. I would just have been too proud” (A50-5199). Tom graduated in law in 1907 at the age of twenty-five and then articled in Toronto and worked in Elk Lake in 1908, during the Cobalt boom. His mother encouraged him to come back to Hamilton, stating to Calvin: “[i]t is difficult to decide as to Tom’s final start, but he thinks, and I think, perhaps it is as good a place as anywhere here in Hamilton…here I may get him interested in some good works besides his business” (as, indeed, she did) (A906318 ). In 1909, Tom secured a permanent position in Hamilton with John Chisholm, his father’s former law partner, and began to earn an income of $1,000 a year. The Restoration of the Family l It is certainly wonderful to look back over the years and realize that they are past and that we are in such easy circumstances. Sometimes one is tempted to think that the sorest trials might have been averted if there had not been such a scarcity of money, but then we feel that is not for us to say. God was managing our affairs for us, and He surely knew the best way. (Box 12-720) —Mary Baker McQuesten, 7 March 1912 With Thomas’s income, the family finances finally began to improve a little, but the heavy bills for Edna and Ruby and for the maintenance of Whitehern continued. However, the McQuesten family was finally restored to political and social prominence by Thomas McQuesten, who eventually fulfilled his mother’s expectations and his own potential. Tom was remarkably successful in politics and public works in Hamilton and throughout Ontario. On the Hamilton 1  MARY BAKER MCQUESTEN’S BIOGRAPHY 14 Parks Board, as part of the “City Beautiful” movement, he commissioned many parks and building projects, including Gage Park, Cootes Paradise, King’s Forest Park, Chedoke Civic Golf Course, The Royal Botanical Gardens (The Rock Gardens), the High Level Bridge (later, the McQuesten High Level Bridge), and many more. Tom was also instrumental in bringing McMaster University to Hamilton from Toronto, which was finally accomplished in 1931. Tom considered this success to be one of his finest achievements (A134-7085n), and the chancellor of the university, Dr. H. P. Whidden, clearly stated his indebtedness to Tom by acknowledging that Tom was “one of the great big factors which has made the whole thing possible”(A136-7111n). Tom, in turn, stated his indebtedness to his mother. In Mary’s obituary Tom openly acknowledged his gratitude to his mother for her inspiration, encouragement , and imagination. Tom fulfilled his familial and his public duties admirably. After his mother’s death in 1934 he continued their beautification vision at his dual portfolio in the provincial cabinet and then, with his collaborators, built the Queen Elizabeth Highway, the Rainbow Bridge, the Niagara Parkway and Parks system and its School for Apprentice Gardeners, the Floral Clock, the Carillon Tower, the Clifton Arch, and the Oakes Garden Theatre. He also rebuilt several forts and was involved in many other public works, parks, bridges, and roads in the Niagara peninsula and in other parts of Ontario (Best 192).7 Mary’s obituary in the Hamilton Herald (7 December 1934) credits her with being the primary influence in Tom’s life and work: Mr. McQuesten himself has told of the large part his mother played in molding his tastes, his standards...


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