The Mountain Climber

Lieutenant Colonel W. W. Foster, D.S.O., M.L.A
52nd (New Ontario) Battalion Foster

Billy Foster was a very interesting and safe companion, who always wore well no matter what the circumstances or the dangers might be. He was what is called a good mixer and always had an interesting and appropriate tale of experience, or a story, for that pause during a discussion or controversy which, if not pleasantly broken, might result in serious contention.

When there are more men like him to protect and guide its Nations, the whole world will be a safer and better place for all mankind.

(A. H. MacCarthy, Alpine Journal, 1954)

William Wasbrough Foster was a mountaineer, president of the Alpine Club and among the first to climb Mount Robson and Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak. He was born in Bristol, England on 1 October 1876 and immigrated to Canada in 1894. Mount Colonel Foster on Vancouver Island is named in his honour.

In a 1913 by-election, Foster was elected Conservative member for The Islands in the British Columbia legislature. In November 1914, he joined the 2nd CMR under the command of Lieutenant Colonel J. C. L. Bott.

52ndFosterHe won the Distinguished Service Order but was defeated for re-election in the September 1916 provincial election. Prior to departing, Foster had promised if the electors decided to select him by acclamation, he would resign, return home and contest the seat in a -election. In the end, he lost by only four votes.

After distinguishing himself at the Somme and Vimy Ridge, he was promoted to command the 52nd Battalion in August 1917. Aside from a temporary post to command the 9th Infantry Brigade in September 1918, Foster remained with the 52nd until the end of the war. He received two D.S.O. Bars and was five times mentioned in dispatches.

He became Chief Constable of the Vancouver Police in 1935 and gained a strong reputation as anti-union and anti-communist. He was president of the Canadian Legion from 1938 to 1940 and promoted to major general in charge of defence projects in western Canada during the Second World War.

He died on 2 December 1954.

Digitized Service File (LAC):

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