About

I have been blessed with a beautiful family, a stimulating career, wanderlust and an interest in family history.

Growing up the late-in-life child of very busy storekeepers in the rather remote community of Manola Alberta provided for me some narrow horizons from which to perceive the world.  One of the windows out into other worlds was the kitchen table of my grandma Foster.  She was different from everyone I knew at the time.  She had written a regular column for the Edmonton journal since the mid-50s despite living in a farm house sided with verticle planks with no electricity or running water until 1973. Her literary and philosophical view of life made it easy to absorb the romance of the pioneer life she had lived.  From her I learned an appreciation for what the courageous and tough men and women who settled western Canada had endured to forge life in what we now consider familiar places.

Dorothy Margaret Foster may be indirectly responsible for my career in newspapers but she is directly responsible for this website and the fact I have an interest in knowing and collecting these stories.

She spoke eloquently of the Tarplee family.  She said they had come to England via rowboat from France, escaping the guillotine of Robespierre.  She told me about her cabinet maker father and bookish mother.  And about how they came with two pre-teen daughters to the bush north of Edmonton, North West Territories the very year Alberta became a province.

She seldom spoke of the Foster family.  She told me that she first took notice of Cloyd Foster as he rode past her home on an emergency ride to Edmonton to get medicine for a neighbor child who was critically ill.  She called it a romantic image.  But she seems to have known little of the family she married into.  I suspect Cloyd Foster was not taken to nostalgia.  Outside of visits from uncle Duke, there was no contact other than letters between Cloyd and his family back in Washington.  Cloyd’s isolation from the family seems to  have left a void of  family history.  Neither my grandma foster nor my dad seem to have known much of the family’s story.  Probably my first act of family history tracing was when I jumped off the bus on a busy highway in Birmingham England during a high school tour in 1980 to find the house the Tarplees had left in 1905.  I found it and rejoined the tour that night in Warwick.

There is no doubt this appreciation for Tarplee family history and sense of mystery surrounding the Foster name that has created the drive that has spawned this website.

It was not until the early 1980s when while visiting my cousin Elton Foster and his wife Marie that the Foster story began to take shape.  After dinner I noticed a miniature flag of Tennessee draped on their hearth.  I commented on it and Elton said I should take a look.  It was tucked over a framed document which turned out to be an army discharge.  It was the discharge of Private Andrew J. Foster from the 2nd Kansas Battery of Light Artillery.  Fascination was born.

Where Cloyd had been isolated from his family, Elton’s father Ewell had gone back and lived in Washington after farming in Alberta.  Elton had grown up with some of the stories, although time had dimmed them somewhat.  He had even sat on the old soldier’s knee as a child.  I wrote down everything I could that evening.  The information on the discharge led to a trip to research on the 2nd Kansas Battery and a hunt for clues to Andrew’s life.

A weekend trip to Washington followed.

I was married in Edmonton in 1984 to Brenda Van Soest.  Our daughter Danielle was born in Edmonton in 1987.  The newspaper industry meant for me a lot of moving around and our son Stephen was born in Surrey British Columbia in 1989.  We also lived in New Westminster BC, Lethbridge  and High River Alberta.

Currently my daughter Danielle lives in Okotoks, Alberta and my son Stephen attends school and lives in Lethbridge, Alberta.  I am back in Edmonton after a stint in Red Deer.

Copyright © 2017 These Fosters.