• Canadian Notes & Queries: Hey Porter

    Most of us recognize them from the odd period movie clip, bedecked in their black-and-white uniforms, special caps, and pocket watches; their ever-present, mile-wide smiles. They flit in and out of these shots like shadows: here helping a passenger to climb aboard a train; there serving...

  • TVO – Excerpt: Cecil Foster’s ‘They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada’

    For years, cross-country rail travel was an integral part of Canadian identity, and Black train porters played a central role. But despite their contributions, they were treated like second-class citizens In 1891, a reporter from the New York Sun shadowed porters on the Canadian Pacific Railway...

  • CBC – The untold story of Canada’s black train porters

    At the beginning of the 20th century, being a train porter in Canada was the exclusive domain of black men who laboured long hours for miserable pay. Cecil Foster is a journalist and academic whose book, They Call Me George; The Untold Story of Black Train...

  • The Toronto Star – In 1954, Black train porters called on Ottawa to transform Canada into ‘a country of equality’

    On April 26, 1954 a train arrived in Ottawa. Inside one of its cars: a 35-member delegation of the Negro Citizenship Association. In They Call Me George, sociology professor and novelist (Independence) Cecil Foster makes the case that the moment was exceptional, a consequential threshold-crossing episode. The...

  • The Toronto Star – Demeaned, overworked and all called George: How Black train porters transformed Canada

    During the golden age of North American train travel, sleeping cars often came with porters who would carry your luggage and shine your shoes. Porters were smiling, courteous and unfailingly polite; for the better part of the last century, they were also Black, male, and sometimes...

  • The Caribbean Camera – How Black Train Porters helped to build modern Canada

    Typical of books written by the evocative Bajan-Canadian author, Cecil Foster, once you pick up They Call me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada you just cannot put it down. Every Canadian of every ethnicity and walk of life should...

  • The Globe and Mail – How black train porters helped put Canada on track

    Once, a black work force kept rail travel running smoothly in Canada – and they paved the way for racial justice and economic opportunity for all. How can we remember their sacrifices? Article Link: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-how-black-train-porters-helped-put-canada-on-track/...

  • Radio Canada International – The story of the Black Porters on Canadian railways

    It was a unique chapter in Canadian history.  The age of rail travel blossomed in the 20th century, and along with it a need for workers aboard the trains to help the passengers, particularly those in the sleeping cars. They were almost exclusively black, and later helped...

  • Biblioasis – An Interview with Cecil Foster

    ...we’re eagerly awaiting February 5 and the Canadian publication of our first 2019 title: Cecil Foster’s They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada. Foster’s history documents the struggles, both individual and collective, of Black Canadians against the racist policies of their employers and their country. It was their actions, Foster argues, that laid the groundwork for the multicultural nation we know today. Incorporating the author’s own interviews with former porters and outlining the rarely-discussed institutional racism of early Canadian immigration and employment policies, They Call Me George is an indispensable read for the 21st century.

  • 2015 Giller Prize Jury Includes Guelph Prof, Alum

    Two of the five jury panel members of Canada’s most prestigious literary award this year have University of Guelph ties. Sociology professor Cecil Foster and alumna Alison Pick were selected to the jury for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize for excellence in Canadian fiction. Last year,...

Cecil Foster

Cecil Foster

Journalist.  Novelist.  Academic.

Cecil Foster is often described as a renaissance man because of his many intellectual interests. He is an author, an academic and a public intellectual. But should you ask him to describe himself he would probably explain that he is a writer who uses many genres to tell stories about the human condition and the struggles by individuals for a better world. These stories might be in the form of his acclaimed fiction or told through his journalism and media commentaries. Or they might be in his award-winning academic writing and teaching. Or they might be in general nonfiction. These stories are about hope and about social justice and freedom. Read More

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