Monday, June 15, 2015

On the Road to Bathgate: Great Uncle James Dyer Foster -- Teacher, Farmer, Assessor, Real Estate and Insurance Agent, and Agriculturalist

Readers of this blog know we have posted a series of stories about my ancestors, including on what I call the family's greatest generation. We wrote in depth on my grandfather Issac J. Foster (1861 - 1934) -- real estate man, rancher, farmer, civic servant, insurance agent, auctioneer and county sheriff -- and his brother George Sanderson Foster (1864 - 1946) -- Chicago lawyer, owner and developer of real estate, Democratic politician and banker. Ike and George were the two eldest of five sons born to William K. and Margaret Sanderson Foster between 1861 and 1871. 

My dad's first cousin, Etta Hoskins Meyer ,and her
husband, Phillip Meyer, opened KFYR TV in Bismarck,
North Dakota on December 19, 1953
We followed with posts about two of their brothers-in-law -- R. D. Hoskins (1860 - 1946), newspaper publisher and lawyer, first clerk of the North Dakota supreme court, and bookstore and florist proprietor, whose family went on to form a radio and TV media company in Bismarck, North Dakota, and Lyndon King Armstrong (1859 - 1942), pharmacist, engineer, miner and publisher of Spokane, Washington. Each of these men was worker, hustler, entrepreneur and pioneer to the core. Eash was a civic leader and dabbled in the political sphere.

With this post we open a chapter on the fourth son (Isaac was the first and George was the second) of William K. and Margaret Sanderson Foster. James Dyer, known as J. D., moved to the western frontier like his brothers. But J. D.'s migration hewed north, staying above the 49th parallel and maintaining a Canadian branch of the family. J. D. had the family's characteristic drive and a multitude of skills and interests. He led a fascinating and productive life. J. D.'s contributions to his community and his province were many.

Judge Jim Foster

Around the time I launched this research and blogging enterprise a few years back I learned of the existence a living second cousin not previously known to me. His name is James (Jim) Foster, grandson of J. D. Foster. James Foster resides in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. Jim had a distinguished judicial career. In this video clip from last year, Jim pushes for a new Red Deer courthouse. The locality's booming population (driven by a vibrant energy economy) and resulting legal wranglings have outgrown the built-in-1982 courthouse to the point that Red Deer traffic court is now being held Mondays and Tuesdays at the Red Deer Lodge hotel. I wonder if the judges have to check out of their chambers by noon?

Lobbying for a new courthouse

Red Deer Court
Recently retired justice Jim Foster and Chris Rickards, president of the Central Alberta Bar Society say Red Deer needs a bigger courthouse. (Meghan Grant/CBC)
To properly accommodate the population, Rickards says 16 courtrooms are needed, up from the now seven.
He and recently retired Queens Bench justice Jim Foster are leading the push for a new courthouse.
Foster served as attorney general under the Lougheed government and was a judge in Red Deer for more than 20 years. He says a new building has been needed for decades.
"I understand that governments don't get around to building courthouses until there's a crisis …well, we're there and we've been there for a longtime."
Foster said 40 per cent of his time as a judge was spent on family-related matters. He said it's children who suffer the most when those issues aren't dealt with for months at a time.
"It's very damaging to children, these are little people, no voice and no vote and they're the ones most affected," explained Foster.  
In another interview, Jim Foster projected that court congestion will cause delays that violate defendants' rights to a speedy trial.

Jim Foster, a retired Queen’s Bench justice, says he applauds the initiative, but like Rickards, believes it’s just a band-aid solution. He calls the current Red Deer courthouse “dysfunctional.”
“And when a courthouse becomes dysfunctional it creates a crisis with everyone, including children and criminals. The courts can’t do what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it.
“If we can’t give trials to criminals within a reasonable period of time the law is, and I think judges will soon be confirming this, the law is they get to walk. If that happens, boy oh boy, will the public be upset.”
Before his judicial career Jim was elected to Alberta's parliament as a Progressive Conservative. Jim lost in his first political run but was not deterred
In Red Deer, in 1967, a 27-year-old lawyer, Jim Foster, ran for the Conservatives, garnering a respectable 34% of the vote, but still losing to the popular local MLA Bill Ure.

Undaunted, Foster continued to work hard towards next time. He continued to build the local PC organization. He went to dozens of meetings across Central Alberta, sounding out local opinions and recruiting new members.

Provincially, the PC party continued to grow and strengthen.
The caucus grew from six to 10, through by-election victories and defections from other parties.

When the next election was called for Aug. 30, 1971, Lougheed and his party were ready. There were a number of new factors that weighed in their favour. The popular Ernest Manning had stepped down as premier and was replaced by the low-key Harry Strom. The electoral boundaries were redistributed, with 10 new seats being created and a much stronger voice being given to urban Alberta.

In Central Alberta, a new provincial riding was created for the City of Red Deer.

The surrounding rural areas became part of the new Innisfail constituency.

Bill Ure decided to contest the Innisfail riding, while Jim Foster ran again in the urban riding of Red Deer.

His opponents were local businessman Fulton Rollings who represented Social Credit, popular local alderman Ethel Taylor who stood for the New Democratic Party and respected local physician Dr. Leonard Patterson who ran for the Liberals.
On election night, even the optimistic PC’s were overwhelmed by the results. They won 49 of the 75 seats, while Social Credit was only able to hang on to 25. In Red Deer, Jim Foster won an impressive victory with 48% of the vote.

The Edmonton Journal ran an editorial cartoon that showed a Progressive Conservative bolt of lightening smashing the very old Social Credit tree.

Ironically, province-wide, the Social Credit Party got 40,000 more votes than in 1967, and yet lost decisively.

The difference was that the usually apathetic voters turned out in much greater numbers. Moreover, the electoral distribution meant that the urban voters were more fairly represented.
In the aftermath of the great victory, Jim Foster quickly took a major role in the new government. He was named Alberta’s first Minister of Advanced Education.

At 31, he was the youngest member of the new cabinet.
A new era for Alberta had commenced and Red Deer had a central place in that new ‘Lougheed’ era.
Here are the 1971 and 1975 vote counts.

Red Deer Election Results 1971
Political AffiliationVotes Received
Elegible Electors
Total Votes Cast
Percent Voting
1971Red Deer
Jim Foster

Progressive Conservative4994146881042571.0

Fulton Rollings

Social Credit3627146881042571.0

Ethel Taylor

New Democratic Party1022146881042571.0

Len Patterson


Red Deer Election Results 1975
Political AffiliationVotes Received
Elegible Electors
Total Votes Cast
Percent Voting
1975Red Deer
Jim Foster

Progressive Conservative656616996998858.7

Cecil Spiers

Social Credit153816996998858.7

Ken McMillan

New Democratic Party131716996998858.7

Herb Fielding


Jim served in Alberta's cabinet as minister of advanced education during his first term and as attorney general after his 1975 re-election. He is a stand-up guy. 

At one point during his tenure as attorney general, Jim got into a kerfuffle with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the Mounties) who were less than candid during a criminal investigation.
Nobody Said No: The Real Story of How the Mounties Always Get Their Man, Sallot, 1979.
We have in common a last name, a bit of family resemblance, uncannily similar political views, residence in the north country and an interest in finding joy here and there in a game of golf. Jim reports that my uncle Herb and aunt Margaret visited his family in Alberta when he was a lad (J. D. was Herb's and Margaret's uncle). Jim recalls uncle Herb came bearing gifts of edible delicacies and beer. Living off of his Chicago Transit Authority bus driver's salary as a bachelor, Herb seemed to luxuriate in riches, compared to the Red Deer clan's hard scrabble existence.

I did not know of Jim until I began roaming the far reaches of the internet looking for what could be discovered of ancestors. The impediments of family size (my dad was youngest of eleven brothers and sisters), great age differences (for example, I am at least fifteen years younger than all but a couple of my first cousins, and my father was born nineteen years after his oldest sister, who died twenty-five years before I was born) and geographical dispersion (California, Oregon, and Minnesota to name just a few places of family residence) meant that I had never met most of my aunts and uncles, and did not know anything of many of my first and second cousins -- not even their names or the number of them. For most of my life the family tree appeared as an impenetrable thicket. 

So as it was exciting to come across a message that had been posted on a genealogy bulletin board on March 7, 2008.
Subject: Fosters in Canada Date: Fri, 07 Mar 2008 08:07:30 -0700
I have Fosters from Ontario, Canada. Margaret Foster emigrated to Ontario in 1849 from Wicklow/Wexford Ireland. Her husband Isaac Foster had died in Mota Bower, Carnew Parish, County Wexford, Ireland in 1837. They lived in Wexford but their land was part of the estate of the Earl of Fitzwilliam who owned the Coollattin Estate which was mostly in Wexford. Margaret emigrated with her children Harriett, James, Elizabeth, William and Isaac. Margaret,William and Isaac were in Kemptville, Ontario in the 1851 census. I never did find Harriett, Elizabeth and James. I also lost track of Isaac after 1851. William ended up in Perth County married to Margaret Sanderson. After her death, William remarried and moved to North Dakota, USA with most of his children. Several of William's children ended up in Chicago, Illinois. Oneson, James Dyer Foster, moved to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. If any of this sounds familiar, let me know.
Googling the names led me to a 2003 post as well.
Subject: William Foster Date: Thu, 04 Sep 2003 14:51:21 -0400
I'm looking for information on William Foster who was born in Ireland about 1836. He came to Canada with his brother Isaac and widowed mother Margaret (nee Roach) Foster and I first found them on the 1851 Canadian Census in Oxford Township, Grenville County,Ontario. William married Margaret Sanderson in Kemptville, Ontario,Canada in 1859. They had 5 sons, Isaac, George, William, James Dyer and Robert. Margaret Sanderson Foster died shortly after Robert's birth in 1871. William remarried in 1873 to Nancy Jane Loucks and they had a daughter Emily Lillia in 1876. William moved to the USA, Dakota Territories. His sons Isaac, George, William, and Robert went with him. James Dyer Foster stayed in Canada and moved to Edmonton, Alberta. He was my husband's grandfather.
I have found some information on William and his sons in North Dakota through census records, local history books and cemetery records. I can't find out where in Ireland William was born or what happened to his brother Isaac and mother Margaret Roach.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Jim Foster (far right) handling and celebrating the
Stanley Cup with his law partners during the Gretzky years.
After spotting these posts I literally cried out loud, "Wow!" I knew about Scottish origins but was confused about Irish heritage. Irish I am! William K. (1836 - 1902), son of Isaac Foster, and Margaret Sanderson Foster are my great grandparents. William K. moved from Smith Falls, Ontario to the Dakota territory in the 1870s with four sons ranging from age 8 to age 17, including my grandfather. Isaac J. Foster. 

I located the the posts in 2012, so a number of years had passed since they were lodged. On the off chance that the email address given was still active, I responded. My cousin Jim's wife, Mary Joan, replied immediately, and, with her encouragement and assistance, it was off to the races tracing and researching family history. She had been at it for years. 

Mary Joan supplied basic facts, a framework, key documents and many clues that opened the doors for researching and writing about ancestors. She is hard working, thorough and organized. After writing her 2003 note, Jim and Mary Joan traveled to Ireland where they identified the very land that our ancestors farmed (sharecropped might be a better term), and turned up records documenting births, weddings, deaths and my great grandfather's and great great grandmother's (she was widowed) passage to the new world. I cannot thank Mary Joan enough for many of materials that are referenced in this post (as well as other materials appearing in various additional genealogical posts) and her encouragement and support of my ancestry research. In addition to being an invaluable resource, she is my inspiration. 

Jim and Mary Joan are fantastic folk. They stopped and introduced themselves in 2013 on return from a research trip to the Mormon genealogical archives in Salt Lake City. We met them for dinner again this spring when they were on their way back to Red Deer after another week in Salt Lake City. It has been a pleasure making their acquaintance. Even though the writing of this blog is an individual enterprise -- responsibility for all errors is mine -- I am fortunate to have the collaborative support of Mary Joan, Jim and a growing number of additional relatives. Now, on to J. D.

Introducing J. D. Foster

J. D. Foster was born on October 21, 1868 in Ontario, Canada. On the day of his birth the Hayward earthquake struck the San Francisco region in the United States. Measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale it was comparable in magnitude to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that interrupted the World Series, killed 63 Bay Area residents, and collapsed portions of a major freeway. Two weeks after J. D.'s birth General Ulysses S. Grant was elected 18th President of the United States. Not long prior (July 1, 1867) Canada was formed by the confederation of independent provinces. The first transcontinental railroad was still nine months from completion. 
Margaret Foster, 30 yrs., cabinet maker's wife,
death registry, April 9, 1871, Kemptville, Ont.

J. D. was the fourth of five sons. His mother, Margaret Sanderson Foster, died two and one half years later from complications (puerperal fever) following the birth of the fifth son, Robert. James Dyer's widower father, William K., remarried to Nancy Jane Loucks in 1873 who begat the family a sixth child, Emily Lillia in 1876. 


James Dyer Foster stayed behind with relatives in Smith Falls, Ontario, Canada when his father and stepmother moved to North Dakota with the other four sons and his little sister in the late 1870s. Because of this, tracking J. D.'s early life has been quite a challenge. As detailed below, there is evidence that J. D.'s stepmother, Nancy Loucks Foster, split time between North Dakota, and Smith Falls in the years that followed the move to North Dakota. J. D's father, William, returned to visit Smith Falls on at least one occasion as well. The 1880s was a decade of massive rail network growth -- members of the Foster family were frequent train passengers.

The year after Bathgate's founding, the Bathgate Sentinel newspaper reported J. D.'s dad and his stepmother went back east for Christmas.
Bathgate Sentinel, December 19, 1882
Mr. W. Foster and wife left this a.m. for Ontario. The "mayor" will visit a host of friends in Smith's Falls, his late place of residence, and will, no doubt, devote every spare moment, championing Dakota generally, and Bathgate, the metropolis of Pembina Co., in particular.
It appears that daughter Emily Lillia accompanied William as well as his wife, Nancy. The distaff side of the family made it a six month excursion.

Pembina Pioneer Express,  July 13, 1883
Then late in 1883, the poor health of Nancy Louck Foster's mother called Nancy back to Smith Falls again.

Pembina Pioneer Express,  November 16, 1883

Bathgate Sentinel, November 15, 1883
Very shortly thereafter, the Bathgate Sentinel reported that William sent for his son.
Bathgate Sentinel, November 29, 1883
Mr. Foster sent for one of his sons who has remained in Ont., attending school all these years. The little fellow is only thirteen years old, but Mr. Foster thinks he can find his way out here alone.
That son had to have been J. D. who was fourteen years old. I have yet to find a report of J. D.'s arrival in Bathgate, and, assuming he arrived, how long he stayed. Someday when I return to the State Historical of North Dakota I will scour early editions of the Bathgate Sentinel to see if I can identify any 1880s' references to J. D. 

Mrs. Foster's visit to Smith Falls was lengthier than even her last, for her return was not reported until a year and one-half later.
Pembina Pioneer Express,  May 29, 1885
Seeming to confirm that family's ties with Smith Falls remained close after the move to Bathgate is the Fosters were still listed as Smith Falls residents in the 1881 Census of Canada. 

1881 Census of Canada, Province of Onatario, District of South Lanark, Sub District of Smith Falls.
Pembina Pioneer Express,  November 18, 1883
The entire Foster family is recorded -- Methodists all with occupations and ages, albeit several of the ages incorrect -- William and Nancy age 34, Isaac, 21, George, 18, William Jr., 14, James 10 (actually 12), Robert 7 (actually 9) and Lillia, 4 (actually 6). William is listed as a carpenter. Nancy's national origin is given as German, the rest are listed as Irish. My grandfather Isaac's employment was given as printer (recall that Isaac relied on that experience when he sat in for future brother in law R. D. Hoskins, editor and publisher of the Bathgate Sentinel, when R. D. traveled to visit friends and look for love). Great uncle George Sanderson Foster's occupation is given as farmer.

Young Adult

In the 1891 Census of Canada there is an entry for a 23 year old James Foster, Methodist, in Napean, Ontario, Canada (about 35 miles north of Smith Falls) who we are guessing is our J. D.
1891 Census of Canada, Province of Ontario, Carleton District, Napean Sub District,
James' occupation is given as P School Teacher.

As for J. D.'s young adulthood, Mary Joan writes.
When I wrote you an email from Maui on March 2, 2014 I said that J. D. Foster moved to Edmonton with his uncle George P. Sanderson. That is not right as George Sanderson moved to Edmonton in 1881. James Foster likely moved there though because his uncle lived there. People often move close to relatives. I have no idea why James Foster did not go to North Dakota with his family but maybe he stayed behind in Ontario for a while because he had a teaching job. he then appeared to have a teaching job in Clover Bar [, Alberta.] His future wife, Tessie Sheppard had taught school in the Baker area which is in the Clover Bar School district. Possibly they met since they were both teaching school. I don't know. Clover Bar is just on the east side of Edmonton.
She continues:
It looks like J. D. Foster started out as a teacher in Ontario. He moved to Clover Bar about 1893 and took out a homestead. He also taught school there and farmed. He moved into Strathcona (now south Edmonton). Edmonton and Strathcona joined together 1 Feb 1919. J. D. Foster was in real estate for a while, he was city assessor, he was an agriculturalist and a bee keeper. When his son Alf Foster moved to Benalto, Alberta in 1939 J. D. Foster spent a lot of his time there. 
He raised chickens. The Foster family moved to Red Deer in 1945 and J. D. Foster was around there a lot too. The family can't remember if he lived with them or not but he lived in Red Deer for some time. He had a potato patch and beehives. He must have been back and forth to Edmonton because he died there int 1950. He and his wife Tessie didn't get along too well so he spent time in Benalto and Red Deer with his son and family, but I assume that his main residence was still Edmonton.
George Pringle Sanderson

Mary Jane mentions J. D. 's uncle (my great granduncle or great great uncle -- whichever) George Pringle Sanderson -- perhaps the most colorful character among an incredibly spirited lot. Here is George Pringle's Wikipedia Bio.

George Pringle Sanderson (December 24, 1850 – October 27, 1940) was a politician in AlbertaCanada and a municipal councilor in Edmonton.
George Sanderson was born December 24, 1850 in Carleton Place, Ontario. He moved to Winnipeg in 1877 to work as a blacksmith before moving further west, to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan by ox cart. He came to Edmonton in 1881 by buckboard. He became the settlement's second blacksmith and first locksmith. He returned temporarily to Winnipeg in 1883 to marry Julia Simpson, with whom he had four children.
He became Edmonton's first fire chief in 1892, the same year as he ran in Edmonton's first election for town council. He failed to become alderman, finishing in a tie for eighth of fourteen candidates (the top six were elected). He was more successful in 1893, when he finished fifth of nine candidates, but was defeated in his 1894 re-election bid, finishing eighth of nine candidates.
In 1896, alderman Isaac Cowie resigned, and Sanderson was appointed by Council to take his place.
But there is much more. George P. Sanderson developed his locksmith skills to the point that he became known as the finest safe cracker western Canada. 
George P. Sanderson, artist of the safe dial, could be temperamental artist on occasion. There was such an occasion at Brule, the small railroad town at the entrance to Jasper Park. He had been called up to Brule to open a government safe. It was a tough job. The crowd watched him at work. When the tumblers had fallen, and the door of the safe came open, George Sanderson reached into his vest pocket and extracted a bottle. Now, Mr. Sanderson was a temperate man and a pillar of McDugall Church, but he figured a man was entitled to toast his success upon the completion of a tough job. However, when the bottle came in sight, the secretary sheriff of the district, who had called him up to Brule, began tut-tutting furiously. "Oh now, I'm sorry, Mr. Sanderson, you can't have liquior here. This is railroad territory. It's against." G. P. Sanderson drew himself  angrily to his full height. Without a word, he locked up the safe again, spun the dial, and stalked out. Ignoring all pleas, he got on the railroad speeder and headed off back for Edmonton. A week later, he consented to come back and open it again. But he charged double. The Edmonton Story. April 26th, 1954. by Tony Cashman, Credit, the Edmonton Archives.
Mary Joan has supplied intriguing materials on George P. Sanderson, and we have uncovered sources on our own. George P. was my father's great uncle and namesake. You can be sure that we will write a future blog post on George P. Sanderson. Also, just in the last month or so, I was contacted by another previously unknown second cousin, a granddaughter of George S. Foster, who has Sanderson stories to add to the mix and has filled me in on additional details on George Sanderson Foster's life  (including George S. was a judge, a Spanish American War veteran and a 33rd degree Mason).

J. D.'s Life, Marriage, Career and Family

Pembina Pioneer Express, March 28, 1913

Getting back to J. D., we include J. D. in the Road to Bathgate series not only as a relation of its founders, but because we can document he had actually been there. In this 1913 news snippet it is reported, "James Foster, a brother of Sheriff Foster is visiting at Bathgate. He lives at Edmonton." That visit was during my grandfather I. J. Foster's second term as Pembina county sheriff, and occured when my father, George W. Foster, was a three year old tot.

After moving to Alberta, J. D. Foster was farmer, teacher, a municipal assessor, hazard insurance and real estate agent, and a civil servant in the provincial agriculture department.

J. D. homesteaded a section in Clover Bar (about 10 miles east of the center of present day Edmonton). He entered his claim on July 3, 1894, It was proven April 29, 1899.

J. D. Foster's statement in support of proving his homestead patent, entered May 3, 1898.
Early on at Clover Bar, J. D. represented the school district when it sought assistance on the process for assessing property values.
Edmonton Bulletin, January 15, 1894
At Clover Bar in late 1897, a stray horse happened upon J. D.'s property. J. D. advertised for the owner.
Edmonton Bulletin, March 17, 1898
At the Christmas 1898 celebration in Clover Bar, J. D. Foster "gave an excellent impersonation of Santa Claus" for a "most successful Christmas tree entertainment."
Edmonton Bulletin, December 28, 1898

J. D. was constantly sought ways to supplement his income. He branched out into the insurance business.

Edmonton Bulletin, March 10, 1902
According to the Edmonton Bulletin ad, J. D. and Wawanes Mutual insured buildings and grain, and promised prompt payment of losses and the lowest rates in Alberta. Wawanesa Mutual was "a strictly farmer's insurance company doing the largest business in Manitoba and [North West Territories,]" which until 1905 included Alberta.

A grateful client whose house was consumed by fire publicly thanked J. D. and the firm for prompt payment of his claim.
Strathcona, Jan. 29, 1902.
J. D. Foster, Agent Wawanesa Mutual Fire Insurance Co., Stathcona.
Edmonton Bulletin, February 28, 1902
Dear Sir, I beg to acknowledge receipt of cheque for $500 in full of my claim against the Company for loss of my house by fire on the 5th inst. My claim was sent on the 14 inst. and my cheque was received here on the 22nd. Thanking you and the Company for the promptness with which you settled my claim and wishing you every success, I remain, 
Yours truly, 

J. D. was an enumerator for Canada in the 1901 census, earning $154 in pay and expense reimbursements for the assignment.

Also in 1901, J. D.s received an appointment as Strathcona district weed inspector, a post that would eventually lead to employment with the Department of Agriculture.
Edmonton Bulletin, June 14, 1901
Still tending to his farm, in the 1903 Strathcona agricultural exhibition J. D. Foster book top prize in the heavy draught horse, foal category (see the following clipping).  Back in the day, draught horses performed many of the agricultural tasks that in modern times are performed by motorized tractors. 
Edmonton Bulletin, August 24, 1903

J. D. Marries Tissie E. Sheppard

On July 8, 1903 J. D. married Tizzard E. Shepherd, teacher at the Baker school and daughter of farm association organizer and political figure Rice Shepherd.

Strathcona Plaindealer, July 10, 1903
A very pretty wedding at the Strathcona Methodist church was the social event of Wednesday last when Mr. James D. Foster and Miss Tissie E. Sheppard, two of Strathcona's most popular young people, were united in marriage. The ceremony was arranged for 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Long before the appointed time the church was filled to overflowing with an audience largely composed of ladies. The church was beautifully decorated for the occasion with house plants, bouquets and festoons of flowers. A canopy of white and colored muslins overhung the alter. As the bride arrived learning upon the arm of her father the wedding march was played by Mrs. Colcleugh. The bride's maid was her sister Miss Ida Sheppard, and the groom was supported by his cousin, Mr. Herbert Sanderson of Edmonton. The bride was beautifully gowned in white China silk trimmed with silk applique and insertion. She wore a necklace of pearls, and a bridal veil with orange blossoms. The bridesmaid wore lemon colored muslin trimmed with peach lace and wore a picture hat to match. The ceremony was performed by the pastor of the church, Rev. C. W. Finach, B. A., B. D.
After the ceremony the bridal party and a large number of invited guests drove to the home of the bride's parents, Chiselhurst Farm, two miles southeast of Strathcona, where the wedding feast was enjoyed. The bride's cake was a masterpiece of the baker and confectioner's art, the skillful workmanship of the bride's father. The bottom layer was ornamented with lilies, the second with roses, the third with grapes, the fourth with maple leaves. The top ornament was built in England. The moulding was all done by hand. The bride was the recipient of many handsome and valuable presents.
Mr. and Mrs. Foster have already taken up housekeeping in their new home, the property on McDonald Ave. formerly owned by G. W. McIntyre, where they will be "at home" to their friends in a few days. The Plaindealer joins with a host of friends in extending congratulations.
Tissie Sheppard, later known as Tissie Trudgeon (she remarried after J. D. passed away), reminisced in 1972 about teaching at the Baker School and recounted how when J. D. was courting, they managed to get lost in the dark on the way home from a dinner date.

Many of the pioneer families who homesteaded in our district had school age children, so it was most important that a school be erected. In 1901, before a building could be made, the Presbyterian Church in Lackey Settlement was used for classrooms. There were twenty pupils or more. The first teacher was Miss T. Shepherd. She is the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Rice Sheppard, who had come out from England in 1897. They had a farm in Strathcona, south of 76 Avenue, where Avonmore district is now located. Mr. Shepherd drove out at week ends to get his daughter. He was an active farm leader and was one of the originators of the United Farmers of Alberta.  
Recently the writer and her husband spent a very pleasant afternoon with the former Miss Sheppard - now Mrs. Trudgeon. She told many interesting tales of those early days in this pioneer district. She spoke so fondly of her first pupils and when shown a picture, taken a year or so after she had been here, she recalled nearly all of them. 
Mrs. Trudgeon relates that when she was teaching here, she decided to put on a box social and concert to buy books for the school. For a program she had the children take part, Mrs. Bready gave a reading, a Mr. Hamilton, who lived where Mr. and Mrs. Earl Dowling farm, played the violin and Mrs. Parker and Mrs. Storms sang a duet "Count Your Blessings". Mrs. Trudgcon said it was the first time she had heard it and was greatly impressed.
She told, too, of having been lost, while in the company of the late J. D. Foster, who a few years later became her husband. They had gone to the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Clapp for supper. 
While driving back that wintry night to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Baker's, where she boarded, they found out how confusing the bush trails were at night.
Tissie was daughter of Rice Sheppard, a politician and a founder or the United Farmers of Alberta, serving on its executive board for 21 years. He ran five times for mayor of Edmonton and 12 times for alderman, serving twelve years on the Edmonton city council. Rice Sheppard ran three times (without success) for Canada's House of Commons. He was a staunch advocate for the interests of the farmer. From Edmonton Historical Biographies of Mayors and Councillors:

Sheppard, Rice 

Born in Lambourne, England. Started his business career at age 10 by working in a store in his hometown. Went into business for himself at Clapham, London, at he age of 21. Sold business and emigrated to Canada in 1897. Farmed in the area south of Edmonton. Served on Edmonton Exhibition Board; member of the executive of United Farmers of Alberta for 21 years. Member of the Masonic Order and the United Church. Died in Edmonton on August 26, 1947, at the age of 86. Survived by his wife, two sons and seven daughters.

Additional Photos:
Edmonton Journal, August 26, 1947, p. 1, 2.

Source of Text:
Edmonton Journal, August 26, 1947, p. 1, 2.

Edmonton Bulletin, August 5, 1903
Rice once returned to his homeland of Great Britain on a mission paid for by the Canadian government to recruit immigrant farmers. Taking the excursion exposed Sheppard to "junket" attacks by political opponents. Rice responded: 
I noticed in your paper an article under the heading 'Dr. Clark's European Trip,' commencing as follows:
Last year the federal government sent thirty-five special immigration agents to Great Britain and Europe at a cost to Canada of over twenty-one thousand dollars, just what the antics fo the so called agents were, have not been disclosed.
The Journal knows right well that that article is a misleading one, and is directed at Dr. Clark with the direct intention to down Dr. Clark at the coming election, and the Journal in doing so, does not refrain from smearing this mud from its dirty wallowings over the character of other farmers of the province who were appointed agents or delegates to the old country to talk Canada from a farmer's standpoint. I see that my own name is included in the list given, of government pets sent on that so-called pleasure tour, and I feel it my duty to try and enlighten the Journal, if you will allow me, through the medium of your valuable paper. 
In my own case the cost of the trip was somewhat more than that of Dr. Clark's so that we may conclude the Doctor did not have just as good a time as myself, so far as myself is concerned it looks more as though the government had a plot laid to kill me, rather than to give me a picnic, as it took them 14 days to get me to Halifax, and on the way  I was twice off the track and once in collision. The wages paid to the farmer to leave his farm and family to the mercies of the worst winter we have seen was about that of a second class clerk, $100 per month.
I want to tell the Journal that I have met at Stathcona station and Edmonton station over 100 settlers who came to the two cities as a direct result of my trip, and that I have received letters from many others in different part of Canada thanking me for advice given them when in England.
Supposing we reckon the cost per head of those we know have come to the country as a direct results. it will work out at a cost of about $4.00, for I am certain that over a hundred booked for other points, as our instructions were to talk Canada, and that is what I did, my plan was first to find out what line of farming a man wished to follow, then advise him accordingly what part to go to.
I have gone to some pains to find out about what capital has been invested by the settlers I have placed in and around the dstrict as a result of my work, and I find it no less than fifty thousand dollars.
If the Dominion government sees to it that they get as good returns for all monies spent as they did from the farmers'delegates trip, all will be well.
Yours truly, 
Rice Sheppard published long and impassioned appeals for political the support and funding from farmers.

Saturday News, September 2, 1907

When the farmers's association went "soft" Rice Shepherd broke off and ran for public office against the association endorsed candidate, with the result he was expelled from the association for disloyalty.

Edmonton Bulletin, January 19, 1922

Sheppard ran five times for mayor and 12 times for alderman in Edmonton. Rice Sheppard favored government nationalization of economic sectors that failed to work in the best interest of farmers. He was an emphatic socialist.

The Family Man Years -- J. D.'s Many Public Roles

J. D. and Tissie would go on to have two children -- William Robert Foster born October 21, 1905 and Alfred James Foster, born May 16, 1907.

Birth announcements were published for William, and

and for Alfred.

The Fosters, Tessie, Bill, Alf and James Dwyer, circa 1910.

J. D. was again appointed weed inspector for the Strathcona district in 1906.

Edmonton Bulletin, June 8, 1906

Strathcona Alderman Cameron called attention to a large field of Canadian thistles in the southern part of the city. He wished to know who the weed inspector was and was told it was J. D. Foster. who cotinued as weed inspector into 1908. It was a sideline that eventually would lead to a change in vocation. 
Edmonton Bulletin, August 12, 1908
On March 9, 1909 J. D. resigned as Strathcona district weed inspector. In later years he would work for the provincial agricultural department on weed control.

Edmonton Bulletin, March 9, 1909

In 1906 J. D. took on the somber duty of foreman of a coroner's jury inquest into the death of coal miner Robert Burke.


Coal Miner at Walter's Mine Did Not Timber His Drift and Cave In Resulted Fatality

Strathcona, June 8. -- Dr. F. W. Crang held an inquest this morning on the body of the later Robert Burket, miner who was killed yesterday afternoon in the coal mine north of Walters mill, on the south bank of the river. The following were jurors empanelled by the cornor: Messrs. J. D. Foster, foreman, Dr. J. C. Wateright, W. H. Martin, F. Gibba, W. Johnston, and A. G. Baalim. They, in company with the coronor, first visited the mine to see the place of the accident, and also viewed the body in Wainright's undertaking parlors, and then heard the evidence of the various witnesses in the town hall.
Edmonton Bulletin, June 9, 1906
Wm. Ferguson, mine boss, was the first witness. He stated that he was on duty yesterday afternoon as usual and visited the different men at their work in the various drifts. He cam around 4 p. m., went into the east drift and saw Ordzhar at work, and then went to R. Burket's place and did no see deceased went ot next room where D. Evans was working, and as him if Burket had gone out. Mr. Evans answered that he had seen him at 3:30 taking an empty car to his place of work to load. He told Evans to come with him as something had happened, and when they got to Burket's room they found that he was under a slip of coal. He then called McManaus and Buato to remove the earth and at once telphoned for the coroner. When he got back they had got Mr. Burket out and found him dead. Witness [Ferguson] said it was the duty of miners to put supports under the roof. Deceased was an experienced miner and such men often take more risks than new men.
The witness was asked many questions.
David Evans was the next witness and testified as follows: I saw deceased about 3:30 as he had asked me the time then. Foreman Ferguson came to me about 4:40 and told me to come with him, as there had been a cave-in in Burket's drift. He asked me if Bob had gone home. I said I did not think he had, and we soon found he was under the fall. Ferguson then telephoned for the doctor and the rest of us took the rokc off him. Gusso and McManus helped me and we got deceased out. He was lying with his head bent over on his breast, and was apparently dead when we got him out. I have mined all my life and was a timber man in the main drift. There are no printed instructions to follow as far as I know. The deceased called for timbers and got them, but he had not used them. deceased was far enough ahead in the drift for two timbers and I think it was negligence on the part of deceased that the timbers were not put up. I have worked in the mine since last November. 
R. McManus testified: I was called by Ferguson to move quickly. I followed him into Burket's drift, and found evans rolling the rock off Burket. I asked Evans, "Is he hurt?" and he replied "He is gone." we took the body out and laid it down. We moved him about six feet to a safe place. The man was apparently dead when taken out. I have worked in the mine since it was opened. I never got instructions to timber the roof. I do not know what the regulations are as to putting in timbers. I think it would be a good think if there were a set of rules. I heard Mr. Ross say that he wanted the mine well timbered. There was no delay in getting timbers. A man takes risks in not putting in timbers, but he works to more advantage when timbers are not in.
Messrs. A. Stuart, Mike Guato, and and J. B. Thomas all gave evidence which was practically a repetition of that already given and corroborated that of the former witnesses. At the continuation of the evidence the coroner addressed the jurors, bring clarity to the main points of the case. The court was cleared and the jurors after deliberation gave the following verdict: "That the deceased, Robert Burket, came to his death by his own negligence in not putting in the supports according to the foreman's orders. We would also recommend that in the future printed regulation be put up in conspicuous places for the safety of the men."
In 1907 J. D. Foster was selected as a delegate for the Baker School subdivision of the Electoral Dsitric of Stathcona for the purpose of selecting a Liberal candidate to the new federal constituency of Victoria.

Edmonton Bulletin, November 18, 1907

J. D. served as assessor for the City of Strathcona. In 1909 the city council's review of J. D. 's work left his assessments largely intact. 

Edmonton Bulletin, June 16, 1909

Very Few Changes Made in the Work of the City Assessor, J. D. Foster -- City Council Held Number of Sessions
The City Council has concluded its work as a court of revision, the last session being held on Monday night. Very few changes have been made to the assessment reflecting considerable credit on the good judgment of the city assessor in his work of fixing value.
One of the main points of contention was the question on the value placed on the lots on Main street north and south of Whyte avenue and this was finally adjusted by raising [the north lots] 10 percent. On the following lots south of Whyte the assessment was decreased  20 percent. 
The assessment on certain lots owned by Mr. Thomas Anderson west of the C. P. R. tracks in the south was reduced to some extent.
J. C. Noble's lots 12 and 13, block 43, were reduced $100 each. 
Ald. Bush's lot in block 1-2 was raised to $1,500.
Lendrums lots in block 13, Beau park, were reduced $20 each. One and two and 34 in block7 Beau park, was reduced $50 per lot. Twenty-one acres of farm land at the southeast corner of section 10 were reduced to $50 an acre. 
Miss Connelly's lots in block 140 were reduced ten percent.
The income tax on Walter's mine was struck off.
No alterations were made in the assessments of [36 other complaints.] 

J. D. was not only assessor, he was tax collector. J. D. warned, "All land in arrears for taxes will be sold ... unless the taxes are paid before January 1st." 
Strathacona Evening Chronicle, December 11, 1908

J. D. Foster reported the assessment roll to Strathcona city council in 1910 as well (see the clipping below).

Edmonton Bulletin, May 11, 1910
J. D. diversified into the nursery and landscaping business.    

He got into the real estate business too.


This enterprising firm, which operates in real estate, insurance and taxes, was established in Edmonton in 1911, the partners being Messrs. Hugh A. Calder and James D. Foster. The firm transacts all classes of business, but make a specialty of close-in city property and farm lands. Messrs. Calder and Foster represent the Nova Scotia Fire Insurance Company and the North British and Mercantile Insurance Company, of London, in Edmonton South. Mr. Foster, is a native of Ontatio, but has been many years in the West. He is an old resident of Edmonton, and was city assessor for several years.
Mr. Hugh A. Calder, one of the alderman of the city of Edmonton, was born in Nova Scotia, and for some time carried on a lumber business in this province and in Labrador.
He then went to Western Canada and settled at Strathcona, now known as Edmonton South. He there worked in connection with Mr. T. A. Barrows, contractor for the G>. T. P. Railway, for two and a half years. In 1911 he formed a partnership with Mr. James D. Foster under the name Calder and Foster, real estate brokers. Mr. Calder was elected an alderman for Strathcona in 1909, and on the amalgamation of the two cities, Strathcona and Edmonton in 1911, was reelected as Alderman of the first Council Board of Greater Edmonton. He is a member of the Hospital Board and has held a seat on the Library Board for many years. 
Page image
Henderson Directories, City of Edmonton, 1913.
Always on the lookout for a way to make a buck J. D. Foster won a cash commission in the Edmonton Bulletin's circulation contest in 1917 (clipping below).

Edmonton Bulletin, April 2, 1917

At various times, J. D. Foster's occupation was listed as agriculturist, which initially was a bit of a mystery. 

Henderson's Directory for Edmonton, Alberta, 1920
What was meant by agriculturalist? An agriculturalist is defined as "someone concerned with the science or art or business of cultivating soil." It would seem that would be more than a fancy word for being a farmer, and so we learned it was. J. D. Foster worked for the Department of Agriculture of the the Province of Alberta. He worked in the weed and seed branch. 

J. D.'s duties in the Department of Agriculture included service as a different kind of judge -- at local, regional and provincial agricultural fairs. His contributions are documented in annual reports of the agriculture department (see the Appendix for pertinent pages from the reports). In 1915 J. D. judged standing field grain competitions in LeDuc and Lacombe. He judge the 1916 field crop competitions in Mannville and Vegreville. In 1917 J. D. judged seed fairs in Stony Plain, Wetaskian, Edgerton, Lacombe, Leduc, Vegreville, Lloydminster, Innisfree, and Camrose. J. D. Foster judged the standing field crop competition at Wainwright in 1922. In 1923 J. D. helped to judge combined field crop, combined seed crop and cleaned seed competitions and good farms competitions at High River, Lalke Sakatoon, Wainwright, Camrose and Lloyminister. 1927 found J. D. judging seed crop competitions in Delburne and Colinton. J. D. was in Camrose, Colinton, Vergreville, Lloydminster and Chauvin in 1928. In 1930 the Field Crops Branch of the department put into effect a field organization. J. D. was appointed supervisor of the Smoky Lake district. 

J. D. Foster, agriculturalist, went to war on sow thistle.

Edmonton Bulletin, August 14, 1918
City Asked to Wage Campaign for Wiping Out Insidious Weed
The seed and weed branch of the provincial department of agriculture is asking the city to take an active campaign against the perrennial sow thistle, that insidious weed that has made its appearance within the last few years and is making considerable inroads.
It is stated that some time ago, J. D. Foster of the department, went round with some of the city employees and made a clean up of all the weed that could be found, but since then more has come up and should be dealt with. The department has just made a partial survey of the city, and conditions were found to be very bad so far as the sow thistle is concerned. Some 24 spots in the city are mentioned where it can be found, one bad place being the dump along the river banks from the Macdonald hotel eastwards.
It is asked that the city would take steps to have a thorough destruction of the week and also investigation, to find any other that should be dealt with.
J. D. judged a student seed fair at the Kuusamo school much to the delight of the readers of the Red Deer News and their children. 

Red Deer News, November 30, 1921
Prizes Won by the Boys and Girls
Early last spring the boys and girls of Kuusamo school were supplied with free samples of farm seeds by the University of Alberta, though the kindness of Prof Cutler. These samples consisted of wheat, oats, barley, rye, corn and peas. Elite in quality, the seeds were distributed to the children and sowed at home on specially prepared plots which were inspected during the growing season by the teacher. In June, the children, who undertook the care of a seed plot, met at the school and formed a Junior Pure Seed Association.
At the last meeting a hearty vote of thanks was extended to Professor Cutler and kind friends who had contributed to the prizes. A communication was also read from Prof. Cutler promising, if possible, to judge the seed plots in August. Later it was learned that he could not visit the district for this purpose, and an appeal was sent to Deputy Minister of Agriculture Craig for a judge. Mr. Craig, who takes a great interest in Albertan farm boys and girls, kindly consented and Mr. J. D. Foster, of the Weed and Seed Branch, judged the plots in a very satisfactory manner August 26 and 27. 
The seed grown this year has been carefully harvested, threshed and stored away for 1922, and while giving additional interest in farm work to the Kuuamo boys and girls, the production of the seed should also do something towards the improvement of seed in this district.
The young people are proud of their society, take the greatest interest in conducting their meetings and are looking eagerly forward to the 1922 contest.
The following letter was received from Judge Foster after his inspection:---
Department of Agriculture

Province of Alberta

Edmonton, Aug. 29, 1921
Miss Mae Jaric, Secretary, Kuuasmo Junior Seed Ass'n.Sylvan Lake, Alta.Dear Miss Jarvic --Enclosed please find score cards and report of judging done in your district August 26 and 27. I enjoyed the trip through your district very much, and was pleased to find such an enthusiastic lot of boys and girls. I hope that you will go on with the work another year, and if you do, I hope to have the pleasure of again visiting your district.
Through it all, J. D. continued to have a role in local government at Strathcona, "J. D. Foster was reappointed as auditor at a salary of $350 subject to consent of the Minister of Municipal Affairs."

Edmonton Bulletin, May 18, 1920
He stayed active in civic affairs as well. J. D. Foster was elected a director of the Edmonton Horticultural and Vacant Lots Garden Association.
Edmonton Bulletin, November 6, 1920

The end came for J. D. in 1950.

Edmonton Journal, May 4, 1950
James D. Foster Dies In Hospital
James D. Foster, 81, resident of Edmonton and district for more than 50 years, died in hospital early Wednesday.
Mr. Foster came from Stratford Ont. to Clover Bar, where he farmed and taught school for a number of years. Later, in Strathcona, he was in the real estate business. He retired about 1930.In earlier days he was an active member of Metropolitan United Churc,. A member of the Edmonton Horticultural Society, he maintained an interest in agriculture and horticulture until his death.
Mr. Foster was son-in-law of the later Rice Sheppard, former city alderman.
He is survived by his widow and one son, W. R. Foster, Victoria, B. C. Another son, Alfred James Foster of Red Deer, died last December.
Funeral arrangements have not been completed.

Edmonton Journal, May 9, 1950

Edmonton Journal May 4, 1950


Annual Reports, Department of Agriculture, Province of Alberta -- documenting J. D. Foster's service as an agricultural judge and miscellaneous other clippings.

1915 Annual Report, Department of Agriculture Alberta

1916 Annual Report, Department of Agriculture Alberta

1917 Annual Report, Department of Agriculture Alberta

1922 Annual Report, Department of Agriculture Alberta

1923 Annual Report, Department of Agriculture Alberta

1927 Annual Report, Department of Agriculture Alberta

1928 Annual Report, Department of Agriculture Alberta

1930 Annual Report, Department of Agriculture Alberta

James D. Foster appointed deputy returning officer for the First Ward.

Strathacona Evening Chronicle, May 4, 1908
J. D. Foster deputy returning officer for the First Ward.

Strathacona Evening Chronicle, May 11, 1908


  1. Rice Sheppard was a younger brother of my great-grandmother - it's interesting to read some of the additional material you've described in this blog

    1. There is much more out there on Rice Sheppard -- I've just scratched the surface. If you are interested, start out by looking at this.

  2. Many thanks, I appreciate your help . I've just accessed that site - there's enough to keep me busy for some time. I know more about Rice than I do about his older sister.