countryside byzantium: foster memorial
Sometimes the most interesting sights come upon us when we let ourselves wander from the beaten path, taking the road less travelled. Just as driving by feel on summer afternoon happened me upon a lovely bowstring bridge, so too did a wander down side roads south of Lake Simcoe (just north of Toronto) reveal quite an architecturally interesting memorial in the middle of the countryside. The Foster Memorial, inspired by the Taj Mahal, is a sweet hidden architectural treasure set in the rural Uxbridge countryside.
After stumbling upon the memorial surrounded by farmers’ fields, I learned that Thomas Foster was born in Lambton Mills (a former village along the Humber River in south Toronto, just a short stroll from where I grew up) but his family moved to Leaksdale near Uxbridge shortly afterward. He was a wealthy man and a politician, serving as a member of the Canadian House of Commons and as the mayor of Toronto. Foster commissioned the structure in the 1930s as the final resting place of his daughter Ruby and his wife and (who died in 1904 and 1920 respectively, and himself. (Thomas passed in 1945.)
The Memorial is of Byzantine architecture, with nods to Art Deco, with solid bronze doors and hand painted stained glass windows. The domed roof is of solid copper pierced with 12 stained glass leaded windows. Although the memorial was closed at the time of my visit, the interior is quite elaborate, with a floor of richly coloured terrazzo and a dome of marble mosaics. I might have to make a planned return visit on a Friday evening, for each Friday from June to October the Memorial hosts a different entertainer, with genres ranging from classical, to acoustic guitar, to alternative folk, pop, and Broadway musicals.
interior photos: rick harris | flickr