William Alexander Foster

William Alexander Foster, barrister, essayist (b at Toronto 16 July 1840; d there 1 Nov 1888).

Foster, William Alexander

William Alexander Foster, barrister, essayist (b at Toronto 16 July 1840; d there 1 Nov 1888). He was a leading spokesman for a Toronto-centered group of intellectuals and public men who, in the wake of Confederation (1867), came to believe that without a unifying sense of purpose Canadian nationhood would succumb to American hostility, British indifference, racial animosity and political partisanship. In Canada First (1871) he described a Canadian national identity forged out of the process of nation-building, particularly Canadians' continuing confrontation with an inhospitable northern environment. Pride in their accomplishments and a belief in their destiny would give Canadians a sense of purpose before the forces of national disunity and dismemberment. In the wake of the PACIFIC SCANDAL, Foster and his friends launched the Canadian National Association to give political expression to the aims of the CANADA FIRST movement in 1874. They intended to enter politics on a platform of pure administration, political reform, protective tariffs and patriotism, but failed to elect a single candidate.