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 a drink from a tray; acting as tourist guides...
Read more

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 transcontinental run to give readers a first-hand account of the...
Read more

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 Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada, chronicles the...
Read more

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 men, former and current porters (popularly known as “George’s boys”...
Read more

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.

Read more

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, the winner won $100,000, with each finalist receiving $10,000. This year’s...
Read more

Introducing the Five-Member Jury Panel for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Scotiabank Giller Prize For Immediate Release: Wednesday January 14th, 2015, 9:00 a.m. EST Introducing the Five-Member Jury Panel for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize Read more

Publisher’s Weekly – Independence: Book Review

Both abandoned by their mothers to the care of their grandparents, Bajans Christopher Lucas and Stephanie King are life-long friends. Discord arrives in 1966 in the form of the predatory Mr. Lashley, who takes a disquieting interest in 14-year-old Stephanie, lavishing gifts and attention on the teenaged girl. Conversations Christopher is too inexperienced to understand...
Read more

Buried in Print – Cecil Foster’s Independence

Cecil Foster’s Independence (2014)

Desmond has returned to the island because the prime minister has asked those who went abroad to help rebuild the nation, now that it has gained its independence. Cecil Foster Independence Harper Collins Publishers, 2014 Cecil Foster’s experience is not unlike Desmond’s, but Independence is rooted in the...
Read more

CBC Podcast – The Next Chapter

CBC LogoAired on February 24, 2014


Quill & Quire – Review of Independence

Cecil Foster was 12 years old in 1966 when Barbados gained independence from Britain. Foster’s first novel in almost a dozen years delves into the formative period of the newly liberated nation, as seen through the eyes of 13-year-old Christopher Lucas. Like his childhood friend and neighbour Stephie, Christopher is a “grandmother chile,” raised under old-fashioned...
Read more

Black History Month

I look forward to February as Black History month. This is when regardless of ethnicity and racialization we can all as citizens reflect on the struggles by so many to create an inclusive society; when readers seem to really appreciate my book Read more

Welcome Back Cecil Foster

Featured Post by Heman Silochan The Caribbean Camera Newspaper - Thursday February 6th, 2014 Among the Toronto literati in the past decade or so, many asked around, where was Cecil Foster? What was he doing? Will we ever see another book? His very fine novel launched in 1992, “No Man in the House”, made him a household...
Read more

Burlington Public Library – Meet The Author

Meet the Author, Cecil Foster

Burlington Public Library - Central Branch

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 07:00pm

Journalist and author, Cecil Foster joins us to discuss his latest book, "Independence", a story about a boy and a country coming of age, set in Barbados' as it gains its independence from Britain. Fourteen-year-old Christopher Lucas and Stephanie King have been...
Read more

On the long bus ride home, when I usually revise my "to-do" list of the day, I pushed "get a set of letter stock and envelopes to write home" to the top of my list for the next day. Even with all the carry over from the days before, at the moment nothing is more important than writing back home. Somewhere between going to school, dreading getting out of bed to go to work, and bundling up against each cold day, it's as if I've forgotten about my family. The calypso I play at the bus stop and warmth I remember radiating off of the sand in Barbados are lifelines up north, but I can't remember the last time I called them. Even from the preface of Independence, the first few pages that I usually blatantly disregard, I felt guilty.

Christopher, the novel's protagonist, and Stephanie are God siblings, neighbours, and best friends. They are also coming of age in the time of Barbados' independence from England (1966) while their single mothers have gone "over n' away" to North America for work. While Stephanie has already slipped into the assumption that she is more mature than she actually is, Christopher is focused on getting back in contact with his mother. During post-independence Barbados, many of the island's young adults who went away to work slowly began to stream back in, and that's where the bacchanal begins.


[Read More from Leslie Nicole's Site]

Life Not Lived – Guest Post Featured on The Saavy Reader

A few years ago my wife Sharon and I were driving along the island roads of Barbados, windows down, radio turned up. I remembered vividly the same scenes from when I was a little boy: sugar cane fields, outcrops of limestone, stands of mahogany trees, pastures where I played cricket, in the distance white sand beaches and fading blue waters. But there was also change, lots of it — a major highway, housing estates, a spanking new seaport where Oprah, Tiger Woods, and other billionaires dock their yachts.

Read more
Dr. Foster divides his time between research, writing, and teaching, and he is a professor of sociology at the University of Guelph. For this month’s featured Oral History, he joins Paul Watkins, PhD student in English Literature, ICASP Graduate Fellow, and Toronto-based sound poet, for an informal public interview (during the 2011 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium) about jazz, improvisation, the writing process, and multiculturalism.

Cecil Foster in conversation with Paul Watkins

improvcommunityArticle and Interview:

Whose values: mine, yours or ours?

It is said values make societies. They are the cement that binds people together. And at the same time these values are produced by society, for it is society that instills values in us. It is the society that teaches us what is valuable about values. Values are very much in vogue in the societies I...
Read more

McGill-Queen’s University Press

A provocative look at why multiculturalism could only have originated in the Americas.
While many modern societies are noted for their diversity, the resulting challenge is to determine how citizens from different backgrounds and cultures can see themselves and each other as equals, and be treated equally. In Genuine Multiculturalism, Cecil Foster shows that a society's failure to bridge these differences is the tragedy of modern living and that pretending it is possible to mechanically develop fraternity and solidarity among diverse groups is akin to seeking out comedy.

Read more