THOMAS FOSTER, LUCY MAUD MONTGOMERY, LESLIE RUTH HOWARD AND STEWART TAYLOR CALLED UXBRIDGE HOME
THOMAS FOSTER MEMORIAL
THE DIAMOND OF DURHAM
Everyone should go to Uxbridge, a small town just a short distance northeast of Toronto. Uxbridge was able to defy the onslaught of urban invasion thereby conserving a rural ambiance. When in Uxbridge, try to travel aboard the York-Durham Heritage Railway Moraine Train as it journeys the 20-kilometer country side between Uxbridge and Stouffville. If you do, you will experience the most beautiful countryside in Ontario taking you back in time to the nineteenth century.
Three famous Ontarians who chose Uxbridge as their home were Thomas Foster, Lucy Maud Montgomery and Leslie Ruth Howard. Stewart Taylor, although not so well known, was born and raised in Uxbridge. Everyone throughout Ontario can be proud of this young man and his sacrifice to the cause of freedom. Laura Secord owned land in Uxbridge although there is no record of her ever visiting there.
While in Uxbridge, visit the Uxbridge-Scott Museum. A building next to the museum is devoted to Lucy Maud Montgomery as a tribute to her contribution to Canadian culture. The Uxbridge Historical Society presented a striking life-like portrait of Maud Montgomery painted by Arnold Hodgkins to the museum in 1974.
Lucy Maud Montgomery lived some of her adult life in Leaskdale, a small hamlet north of Uxbridge, from 1911 to 1926. It was during this period that she completed twelve books including the first in the series Anne of Green Gables. She was married to Reverend Ewen MacDonald; they had three children while living in Leaskdale, Chester, Hugh and Stuart. Hugh was stillborn August 13, 1914 and
was interred in the Foster Memorial Cemetery located next to the Thomas Foster Memorial.
To see the home of Lucy Maud Montgomery while she lived in Ontario, go to Leaskdale, a small village just north of Uxbridge. The house is located in the center of the village. A bronze plaque is erected on the lawn.
On September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, issued The Emancipation Proclamation:
"That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free..."
Stewart Taylor, born in Uxbridge, October 29, 1836, joined John Brown, an American abolitionist, in the struggle against slavery and was with John Brown at the raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, October 16, 1859. He was the only raider born outside the United States. Of the twenty-two men in the raiding party, ten were killed, one of whom was Stewart Taylor, by federal troops led by Robert E. Lee. Seven were captured and later executed by hanging including John Brown who was hanged on December 2, 1859. Five of the raiding party escaped. Stewart Taylor was just twenty three years when he was killed at Harper's Ferry.
Allan McGillivray, curator of Uxbridge-Scott Museum, took the joining photograph of Stewart Taylor at Harper's Ferry Museum, West Virginia, after researching and learning that Stewart Taylor was from Uxbridge.
Harper's Ferry is now located in West Virginia. Originally, it was in Virginia. During the Civil War, Virginia seceded from the Union joining the Confederacy. The western counties of Virginia refused to secede and founded West Virginia in 1863, becoming the 35th. state of the Union.
Leslie Ruth Howard, the daughter of the world famous Hollywood and British movie actor Leslie Howard, lived in Uxbridge. She presently resides in Sandford, a village north of Uxbridge. At 80, she radiates grace and a passion for stimulation. She is an author, lyricist and one of those rare people who overawes you with her presence.
One could claim that the most beautiful structure in the world is the Taj Mahal built beside the River Yamuna in Agra, India. Constructed entirely of white marble, the vision of this architectural phenomenon astounds all who view it. The gently curved dome crowning the Taj Mahal rests on a square configuration suggesting superb sensuality and love unparalleled.
Shal Jahan, an Emperor of India in the 1600s, commissioned this consummate monument as the final resting place for his wife of nineteen years, Queen Mumtaz Mahal. Twenty thousand workers laboured twenty-two years building the architectural tribute. The Taj Mahal or the Rauza (tomb) of Queen Muntaz Mahal was completed in 1653. Shal Jahan was forever reunited with his wife within the Taj Mahal upon his death in 1668, eight years after losing his throne to his son.
Uxbridge is an unlikely site of a Christian adaptation of the Taj Mahal. It was built by Thomas Foster as the final resting place for himself, his wife Elizabeth, and their only child Ruby, whom they lost when she was just ten years of age. Thomas Foster was a Federal Member of Parliament from 1917 to 1921 and mayor of the City of Toronto from 1925 to 1927. By all standards, he was considered wealthy having amassed a fortune from his acumen in real estate.
Thomas Foster was truly a person of the people and one cannot help but ponder what Toronto might have gained if he had not been not defeated in his bid for re-election for mayor in 1928 after serving just one term in office. Although he was said to be frugal throughout his life, in death Thomas Foster was generous not only to his relatives but to many people throughout Ontario.
In his will he provided endowments for many causes and charities including monies for the restoration of a Mohawk chapel near Brantford; monies for annual picnics for underprivileged children in Toronto; $600,000.00 for cancer research to the University of Toronto; funding to provide bird feed on the shores of Lake Ontario during winter; gifts for charwomen who worked in downtown Toronto office buildings...and more, such as funding for a forty-five foot flagstaff to be erected at Central Technical High School in Toronto.
When he was in his late seventies, Thomas saw the Taj Mahal in India for the first time. Inspired by the overwhelming experience, he ordered the construction of a Christian adaptation of the Mughal temple as the final resting for himself, his wife Elizabeth and their only child Ruby.
The Thomas Foster Memorial was constructed during 1935-36 in the Township of Scott, the community where Thomas Foster spent his youth. It is often called "The Diamond of Durham"...a rare jewel indeed.
The interior of the Memorial consists of a grand dome set on four arches which in turn are supported by sixteen marble columns. Painted on the ceiling of the dome are scriptures of some of the Gospel writers.
To get to inside the Memorial you must walk across a terrazzo floor illustrating a mosaic of water lilies floating on the River Styx. In Greco-Roman mythology the river was also known as the River of Oath designating the boundary between the worlds separating the living and dead. Before the dawning of Christianity, the dead were required to pay a coin to Charon the Ferryman as payment for him to ferry them across the River Styx into the underworld.
Written in gold lettering encircling the circumference of the dome high inside the Memorial is the inscription:
"TAKE THIS MY BODY FOR IT IS DONE AND I HAVE GAINED A NEW LIFE, GLORIOUS AND ETERNAL."
The exterior and interior of the Memorial is dazzling. Words cannot describe the splendor of this incredible place. Once inside the structure you will become gripped by the harmony and majesty about you. Before you go there,
check when the Memorial is open for public access.
In the chamber below the Memorial are five sealed crypts. One of the crypts is a time capsule to be opened approximately fifty years from now. Speculation among some of the senior citizens of the area suggests that the other four crypts house the remains of close confidants of Thomas Foster. We'll never know. These four crypts will remain sealed for all time; the sanctity of the Memorial is protected and honoured.
The Taj Mahal is a person-made wonder of the world. The Foster Memorial is a structure of stupendous majesty which will cause you to re-examine and further understand the purpose of our brief journey through our world.
The Thomas Foster Memorial is located on Durham Road 1, four kilometers north of Uxbridge in Scott Township. For information concerning the times the Memorial is open to the public, telephone the Uxbridge-Scott Museum at (905) 852-5854.
The sanctity of the Memorial is protected and honoured.
The dedication ceremony of the Memorial was held Sunday, October 25, 1936 at 3 p.m. There were a number of speakers who contributed to the service. Thomas Foster gave the keynote address. He spoke of his daughter Ruby and his wife Elizabeth. He also spoke of his life experience, his transitory journey on this planet and his success. He told the gathering present that "success is determined, not by financial worth, but rather if the world became a better place because that person passed through it."
The ceremony closed with all present singing the Hymn "Abide With Me."
Thomas Foster died at the age of 93 in 1945 and was entombed within the Memorial next to his wife and daughter.
Charon the Ferryman ferried Thomas Foster, Elizabeth, his wife of twenty-seven years, and their daughter Ruby, across the River Styx embossed onto the floor at the entrance of the Memorial. Inside the Memorial, together for all time, they "have gained a new life, glorious and eternal."