Monday, 15 July 2013

Foster Fridays

As you drive north on a quiet country road not far from here, hidden among the farms and barns and the fields full of wheat and corn, you come across a unique sight.
What? The Taj Mahal? I thought we were in Ontario!
Yes, we're still in Ontario... and yes, it looks like a smaller version of the Taj Mahal.

It's the Thomas Foster Memorial.

Thomas Foster (1842-1945) served as the Mayor of Toronto from 1925 to 1927. After a trip to India in his late seventies and visiting the Taj Mahal, he was inspired to build a memorial in his boyhood community of Leaskdale. The building was erected in 1935-36 and cost $250,000.... a ton of money in the 1930s.
It contains 3 crypts for Foster, his wife and his daughter Ruby, who died at the age of 10.

During his time as Mayor of Toronto, Foster held a competition to find the woman who could produce the most children in a 10 year time span. He wrote:

As I approve of large families as such and desire to extend some benefit to the mothers of such families, I direct my trustees to set aside a fund which, with interest, will provide the sum of $2,500 at the end of each of 4 – 10 year periods, the first commencing at my death, the second three years after my death, the third six years after my death and the fourth nine years after my death, the will reads:

The money is to be distributed among mothers living in Toronto for at least one year prior to the start of each period, who have given birth “in lawful wedlock to the children during the 10-year period in question.” The mother giving birth to the largest number of children is to receive $1,250. Second prize is $800 and third prize is $450 in each of the four periods.

Included in the many bequests in Thomas Foster's will were funds

  • to feed Toronto birds in winter
  • for needy newsboys in Toronto
  • to plant trees to beautify roads leading to Toronto
  • for charwomen who cleaned buildings in downtown Toronto
  • to provide a 45 foot flagpole for the Central Technical School
  • for the Salvation Army to repair and maintain their musical instruments
  • to apprehend poachers around Toronto
  • for an annual inner-city school picnic
  • for cancer research
  • for the Leaskdale Sunday School
  • to maintain the Memorial.
The Foster Memorial is open to the public during July and August, and every Friday evening there's a pay-what-you-can concert featuring local musicians and singers.... concerts known as Foster Fridays.
Mike Burns and Bruce McNeil.

Sometime's it's R&B, or maybe jazz, or barbershop, or fiddle music ... even opera, and in a couple of weeks there will be a guitarist and a belly dancer on the program. 
All donations go towards fixing the leaky 77 year old roof. I think Thomas Foster would be pleased.


  1. Who knew? What an odd species we are.

  2. Like so many before him Foster was suitably inspired by foreign architecture. Like the Prince Regent with the Royal Pavilion in Brighton:

    We grow up accepting these things, but why is it that during our lives when people want to build such things, there is public outcry! I cannot understand it myself.

    The Foster Fridays are such a good idea, bringing people together and remembering someone long gone.
    It's good to read about these places and people I knew nothing about til now. Thanks :)

  3. What an interesting man with such varied interests! the idea of foster Fridays a terrific! he certainly left quite a legacy, didn't he?

  4. Sure, a very interesting man!
    Foster Memorial looks an impressive building.

    PS: Thank you for your kind and comforting words to my dear Flora.

  5. Well the architecture is quite amazing but so is this man's charitable endevors.
    I like the types of things he was generous to.

  6. MP used to always ask her kids to recite something new they learned today. Well, it's only 7am here and I've accomplished it for the day. :)

  7. I declare! What a fun "story," Sham!


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