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Samuel Foster

Featured in the Cemetery Tour Book

Samuel Foster was born in Woodstock, New Brunswick in 1831. He left his province for Western Canada on June 1, 1884, traveling with a team of horses and wagon for the whole of 3,500 mile (5,682 km) trip over rough roads and trails, via American and Canadian territory. Resting from sunset until sunrise and on Sundays, he arrived at Brandon, Manitoba, by September 18. He was feasted by friends, and introduced to the local newspaperman for an account of his remarkable journey. Apparently he traveled alone, and it is unclear when he was joined by his wife, Malisa, and their two daughters.

The Fosters settled on land 16 miles (25 km) north of Saltcoats. Some years later, he obtained a job as caretaker for the Immigration Hall in Yorkton. He was known as a skilled axeman, which was demonstrated in the log buildings he had constructed in the area. South of the railway tracks, on a street surveyed in 1890 and named in his honour, he built a house. His address was #14 Foster Street. By 1905, Samuel had been promoted to Dominion Immigration Agent and remained so until termination of the position in 1911.

Now, let us look at the more colourful side of this pioneer. During the first years of Prohibition, probably around 1915 when Mr. Foster was about 84 years of age, it was alleged that he was deriving some income selling liquor to the very needy. Perhaps, though, his politics reveal just how much zest he had. It was no secret around the community that Mr. Foster was a staunch Liberal. His ardently expressed political views had earned him the nickname of "Old Grit"—a name used as a substitute for "Liberal." Consequently, when a new avenue intersecting Foster Street was constructed in 1901, and named after Father of Confederation, Sir Charles Tupper—a Conservative, it did not sit well at all with Mr. Foster. The extent of his dislike is best described in DR. Swallow’s book OX TRAILS TO HIGHWAYS: "Foster was very allergic to Conservatives, so when Tupper Avenue was christened, it was too much for his digestion, and every night he would take down the board bearing the hated name, and substitute one of his own choosing. The ruse did not work. Tupper Avenue it was and so it remained."

One can just picture this distinguished looking elder gentleman leaving his home some evenings, to go take down the Tupper Avenue sign—an act which would be a criminal offence today, but was likely considered only an irritant and a joke at the time. It is interesting to note that prior to his death, Samuel had moved away from Foster Street. But, he hadn’t moved very far. In his obituary, THE YORKTON ENTERPRISE listed his address as Tupper Avenue!

He died at the age of 86, on July 10, 1917. His service took place at the Baptist Church, with six old-timers as pall-bearers: Messrs. Levi Beck, F.W. Bull, J.M. Clark, T. Switzer, John Wood, and Reverend P.R. Carey. He is buried in the City of Yorkton Cemetery, Block 7, Lot 15, Grave C.