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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Hon. Walter Edward Foster
P.C. (1936–1940)

W alter Foster had initially worked in a bank following high school; after a decade he advanced his business career by joining a dry-goods company and marrying the owner’s daughter. He also enlisted in the New Brunswick Regiment, Canadian Artillery, and retired from his Militia regiment as a captain in 1903.

Foster served as President of the Saint John Young Liberals Club, but he failed to win a seat in the 1912 provincial general election. In 1916, he was invited to become leader of the Liberal Opposition in New Brunswick. The following year his party won, and he became Premier, but he did not win his own seat until an uncontested by-election shortly thereafter. Foster was one of the only premiers in Canada to take office before he was a member of a Legislative Assembly.

In the New Brunswick legislature, Foster gained a reputation as a dull speaker with a wooden personality, but also as an unexcelled constitu-ency representative. Foster’s government was re-elected in 1920, but he found it necessary to resign three years later to shore up his faltering business interests.

As Premier, Foster had attracted the attention of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, who appointed him to his Cabinet in 1925; Foster, however, was unable to win a seat in the House of Commons in two attempts. He resigned his Cabinet post, and three years later King nominated him for appointment to the Senate. Shortly after the Liberals regained power in 1935, Foster was appointed Speaker of the Senate. He served in the office for four years before being replaced in 1940.

Foster established the world’s first Department of Health while Premier of New Brunswick.

Next Speaker: Hon. Georges Parent

Previous Speaker: Hon. Pierre Édouard Blondin

Portrait of the Honourable Walter Edward Foster

Born: St. Martins, New Brunswick, 1873

Died: Saint John, New Brunswick, 1947

Professional Background: Business

Political Affiliation: Liberal

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: