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.