Thomas Foster wasScott Township north of Uxbridge where his father ran the Leaskdale Hotel. He became a butcher in Cabbagetown in Toronto, was elected M.P., and served as mayor of Toronto from 1925 to 1927. He also made a large fortune from real estate.
The Thomas Foster Memorial
Foster visited India in his late seventies. After seeing the famous Taj Mahal, Foster was inspired to build a memorial in his boyhood community, with a Christian adaptation. The Memorial was erected in 1935-36, and cost $250,000. It contains three crypts for Mr. Foster, his wife and daughter.
J.H. Craig, (1889 - 1954), was the principal architect of the temple. Together with artchitect H.H. Madill (1889 - 1988), they worked on an entirely new and original design based on Byzantine architecture.
An Unusual Contest
Thomas Foster held a contest to find the lady who could have the most children in 10 years.
An Unusual Will
to feed Toronto birds in winter.Included in Thomas Foster's will were funds:
for needy newsboys in Toronto.
to plant trees on roads leading into Toronto.
to apprehend poachers around Toronto.
for an annual inner-city school picnic.
for cancer research.
for the Leaskdale Sunday School.
to maintain the Memorial.
Thomas Foster (July 24, 1852 – December 10, 1945) was the Mayor of Toronto, Ontario, Canada from 1925 to 1927.
UXBRIDGE -- Just a few kilometres north of Uxbridge on Durham Road 1 sits the Thomas Foster Memorial
A picturesque structure, located on a hill on the east side of the road, the building was constructed by Thomas Foster in 1935-36 and contains crypts for Mr. Foster, a former mayor of Toronto, his wife Elizabeth McCauley and young daughter Ruby, who died at the age of 10.
Not one piece of wood was used in the construction of the building, which features an octagon-shaped base which the building sits on, a stunning copper roof, carved stone and hand-painted eye-catching windows. The floors feature rich-coloured terrazzo and marble mosaics in symbolic designs.
Upon entrance, patrons cross the ‘River of Death’, in which floats water lilies and lily pads.
The list of other visually pleasing features of the property, which is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, is simply too long to list.
It is certainly a place, though, where first impressions make an impact.
Count Corey Keeble among those who’ve experienced that. In the fall of 2013, Mr. Keeble was the Royal Ontario Museum’s curator and he visited the Foster for the first time.
Some or all of the facility has been used countless times to film television shows and movies. Most recently, the popular CBC’s show Murdoch Mysteries took over the Foster for a season eight episode titled: Murdoch and the Temple of Death. The episode aired in January of 2015.
Others have written books to raise awareness about the Foster. In 2014, local author Conrad Boyce wrote ‘Jewel on the Hill: the story of Ontario’s Thomas Foster Memorial.’
“The diamond of Durham it was dubbed and it is definitely the diamond of Durham and beyond. It’s one of a kind,” says longtime Foster supporter and member of the Friends of the Foster committee, Bev Northeast.
The Foster Memorial is open to the public on the first and third Sunday of the month from June to September and is the site of a weekly concert series, Fridays at the Foster, starting in May each year.
|Born||July 24, 1852|
York Township, Canada West
|Died||December 10, 1945 (aged 93)|
|Occupation||Butcher, Meat Cutter|
|40th Mayor of Toronto|
|Preceded by||William W. Hiltz|
|Succeeded by||Samuel McBride|
He started his working life as a butcher's boy in Toronto, until he saved enough money to purchase his own butcher shop for $50. The earnings from that business allowed him to purchase property which became the source of his eventual wealth.
He was first elected as an alderman for St. David Ward in 1891, then reelected in 1892 and 1894. In 1895 he lost the election, and did not return to council until 1900 as an alderman for Ward 2, a position which he held until 1909. He was elected to the Toronto Board of Control in 1910; however, he lost the 1911 election. In 1912 he was again elected Controller and kept his seat until 1917.
Foster served as a Member of House of Commons of Canada from 1917 to 1921. He was elected as a Union Government candidate in the 1917 federal election for East York. He lost in his party's nomination so he ran as an independent in Toronto East in the 1921 election but failed to keep his seat.
Foster returned to City Council for the next three years, then was elected as mayor in 1925. He was a great supporter of Hydro expenditures and loved flowers. As an alderman he fought for the rebuilding of the pavilion at Allan Gardens after it had been destroyed by fire. In his 25 years of civic service he earned the informal title of "Honest Tom". As mayor of Toronto he was reported to have saved the city two million dollars by rigid economics.
Foster was known to collect the rents on his properties in person, even when he was mayor. If a tenant complained about a problem, or wanted a bit of work done, Foster would go out to his car, get his tools and fix the issue on the spot. His penny pinching eventually led to his defeat due to his refusal to raise police salaries.
Later years and legacy
He was a great traveler and on one of his trips he was inspired by the Taj Mahal. In 1935 and 1936 he had a memorial temple constructed on a hill between Leaskdale and Uxbridge, Ontario, for his family at a cost of $200,000. The temple was designed by Foster with architects H.H. Madill and James H. Craig and inspired by Mughal architecture and Byzantine architecture.
He died at the age of 93 and is buried in the massive mausoleum on a hill north of town on Durham Regional Road 1 which includes the remains of Foster, his wife and daughter. Foster left $80,000 in funds to maintain the property in perpetuity but the trustees spent the principal and the funds had dried up by the 1990s, leaving the Town of Uxbridge to take over responsibility for the monument. In 2013, it was estimated that $1 million was needed to repair and restore the building, a controversial task given that the entire budget for the municipality was only $14 million.
Among other things, Foster left $500,000 for cancer research, $100,000 for an annual picnic to be held at Exhibition Park for school children, and funds to feed wild birds in Toronto. Inspired by the Great Stork Derby, Mayor Foster also sponsored a contest to reward mothers for their skills at procreation. The prizes were $1,250 for first, $800 for second, and $450 for third. Four ten-years periods began and ended on his death date, and ran from 1945–55, 1948–58, 1951–61, and 1954-64.
He was also a member of the Orange Order in Canada.