The Wedding Quilt – Episode 29

On the evening of the fifth day the ship’s captain announced through the loudspeaker that they had now come within sight of land. They were passing through the Strait of Belle Isle and the following day the ship would be travelling up the St Lawrence.

Vowing not to miss a moment of this experience, Donald planned to sit on the promenade deck all the following day unless there was a fog. This being his first experience of abroad, he mean to make the most of it.

What amazed him most of all was the vast distance involved. Somehow everything looked much more compact on the map.

Moving steadily on, they passed numerous small communities, each with at least one church, all with their steeples shining silver in the sun.

It thrilled him to realise that Dugald Stewart must have come this very same way, three-quarters of a century earlier.

Had the man felt this same sense of anticipation, or had he been saddened by the break with his father, as the distance between them lengthened? Harsh words had been spoken; that much Donald knew.

“Honour thy father and thy mother,” the Bible told us, but was it always a sin to go against a parent’s wishes? Without knowing the exact circumstances it was impossible to say.

The great ship docked at Quebec City. The first-class passengers were disembarked first and in the meantime Donald joined others on deck, gazing up at the impressive Château Frontenac.

It was a magnificent structure with numerous towers and turrets, and copper roofs that shone green in the morning sun.

“It looks as if it’s been here for ever,” a man marvelled. “It’s like a castle in a fairy tale. Hard to believe it’s just a hotel belonging to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company!”

Now he was actually in Canada, Donald couldn’t wait to get started on his quest. Perhaps when that was accomplished, and he was on his way back to Scotland, he might spend a day or two exploring Quebec City.

Vague memories of schoolboy history lessons came back to him: something about Montcalm and the Plains of Abraham. It would be a shame to return home without learning more.

People spoke of Canada as a young country, yet this French city was already three hundred years old.

Toronto was not as old, and by all accounts it was a bustling, cosmopolitan city. He hoped it wouldn’t take long to trace his missing cousins, if there were any.

In the few surviving letters that Dugald had written to his mother there was no mention of children, but Donald had a hunch that there was a thriving group of Stewarts somewhere here, waiting for him to introduce himself.


At home in Toronto, Stella waited with growing impatience to hear from Russell.

Of course he would be in touch eventually, sweeping her into his arms and murmuring words of reassurance into her ear. Perhaps it was too much to expect that he’d been able to talk his mother round, but surely he’d have some plan to share?

How romantic it would be if he suggested an elopement!

But another week went by with no word from him. Perhaps he had written and her parents had intercepted the letter. That was the most likely explanation!

She took to getting up early to meet the mailman on the corner of the street, but still there was nothing. Eventually she decided to take her mind off her anxieties by shopping.

In the china department of one of Bloor Street’s department stores, she ran into her friend Natalie, who hailed her excitedly.

“Isn’t it interesting about Russell?” she began.

Stella frowned.

“What, exactly?” Perhaps Russell had landed an important new job and had wanted to make sure of it before sharing the news with her.

Yes, that could be it. He must have been writing letters and having interviews. Once he’d gained his independence he could defy his parents. Then they would be married.

Natalie raised her eyebrows.

“Why, that he’s gone to Europe, of course!”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.