Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
July 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Sir George Foster


Foster, Sir George Eulas (1847-1931), statesman, was born in Carleton county, New Brunswick, on September 3, 1847, the son of John Foster and Margaret Heine. He was educated at the University of New Brunswick (B.A., 1868; LL.D., 1894); and he was professor of classics in this university from 1873 to 1879. He represented King's county, New Brunswick, in the Canadian House of Commons from 1882 to 1896. In 1885 he became minister of marine and fisheries in the Macdonald government, and in 1888 minister of finance. This portfolio he retained in the Abbott, Thompson, Bowell, and Tupper administrations from 1891 to 1896. With the exception of a few days in January, 1896, when he was one of the so-called "nest of traitors" who retired from the Bowell cabinet. From 1896 to 1900, he represented York county, New Brunswick, in the Commons, and was the first lieutenant of Sir Charles Tupper in opposition. From 1900 to 1904 he was out of parliament; but in 1904 he was elected to the Commons to represent North Toronto, and this constituency he retained, with ever increasing majorities, until 1921, when he was summoned to the Senate of Canada. Between 1906 and 1910 he was the subject of an attempt on the part of the Liberal party to drive him from public life; by means of charges made against his administration of the affairs of the Union Trust Company, of which he was appointed general manager in 1901; but this attempt failed, and in 1911 he was appointed minister of trade and commerce in the Borden government. He played a conspicuous part in the government of Canada during the Great War; and in 1917 his was the first of four names submitted by the western Liberals as head of a Union government. In 1918-9 he accompanied Sir Robert Borden to Paris as one of the Canadian delegates to the Peace Conference; and he would have been one of the signatories of the Treaty of Versailles had he not been called home to Canada by the mortal illness of his wife. In 1920 he was acting prime minister of Canada during the absence of Sir Robert Borden through ill-health; and in 1920-1 he was chairman of the Canadian delegation to the first Assembly of the League of Nations at Geneva, and was elected a vice-president of the Assembly. He continued as minister of trade and commerce in the Meighen administration, declining to allow his name to be put forward as a candidate for the prime ministry; but at the end of 1921 he accepted appointment to the Senate, and for the rest of his days played only an intermittent part in Canadian politics. He died at Ottawa, on December 30, 1931. He was created a K.C.M.G. in 1912, and a G.C.M.G. in 1918; and in 1916 he was appointed an imperial privy councillor. In 1889 he married Addie (d. 1918), daughter of Milton Davies, and former wife of D. B. Chisholm; and in 1920 he married Jessie, daughter of Sir William Allan, M.P. He was the author of Canadian addresses (Toronto, 1914), and Citizenship: The Josiah Wood lectures (Sackville, N.B., 1927).


See W. S. Wallace, The memoirs of the Rt. Hon. Sir George Foster (Toronto, 1933).

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., p. 380.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College