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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

HARRY 'RED' FOSTER

Inducted in 1984

Member Details

Date of Birth: March 1, 1905
Place of Birth: Toronto, Ontario
Date of Passing: January 18, 1985
Sport: Multisport
Member Category: Builder

Career Highlights

1930

Grey Cup - Balmy Beach

1928

Won first official outdoor hydroplane outboard race in Canada

1931

Made first live wrestling and first coast-to-coast football broadcasts

1952

Organized first Grey Cup telecast

1954

Organized first coast-to-coast television sports spectacular of the British Empire Games in Vancouver

1969

Chaired first Special Olympics in Toronto

1970

Named to the Order of Canada

Honoured Member HARRY 'RED' FOSTER
Inspire

Story

Whether he was dominating new and exciting sporting events, breaking new ground in the world of sports broadcasting, or developing the first Canadian sporting program for the intellectually challenged, Harry 'Red' Foster was a pioneer in every field he entered. An exceptional all-round athlete, Foster excelled in hockey, football, lacrosse, and softball. He played for the Balmy Beach Football Club in Toronto from 1928 to 1930 and helped it claim the Grey Cup in 1930. Foster was also involved in the development of hydroplane racing. He won the first official Canadian outboard race in 1928 and earned a reputation as "the most daring and capable of the race-drivers." In the 1930s, Foster left competitive sports and delved into the world sports broadcasting. He gave the first play-by-play broadcasts of many major Canadian sports including wrestling, rowing, lacrosse, track and field, and football. In 1931, his voice was heard coast-to-coast for the first time in a live broadcast of a football game. He helped organize the first Grey Cup telecast in 1952, as well as the first televised sporting spectacular, featuring the British Empire Games, in 1954. While working as a broadcaster, he also developed one of Canada's largest advertising agencies, Harry E. Foster Advertising Limited, which greatly aided in the marriage of sports and sponsorship. Foster is best known, however, for his tireless work on behalf of the developmentally challenged. His brother, Jackie, was both blind and mentally handicapped. Mrs. Foster, unlike most parents of her day, did not try to hide her son from society but made sure that he was a welcomed part of the family and the community. Foster, inspired by his mother, devoted much of his time, energy, and wealth to help change the lifestyle of the developmentally challenged and the attitudes of able-bodied Canadians toward the less able. To that end, he set up the Harry E. Foster Charitable Foundation in 1954 and initiated numerous fund-raising drives. Throughout the 1960s and '70s, Foster campaigned for the establishment of research centres devoted to studying the causes of mental handicaps, and training programs to teach the proper care of those afflicted. In 1968, Foster was in attendance at the first Special Olympics, a international sporting program for the developmentally challenged, held in Chicago. Combining his love of sport with his humanitarian ideals, Foster helped bring the Special Olympics to Canada in 1969. The Games expanded under his chairmanship in 1971 and 1974, attracting nearly 2,000 participants from Canada and the United States. Today, the Special Olympics are held every two years and provide athletic training and competition for more than 30,000 people. For his incredible contributions to sport and to society, Foster was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1970 and received the Ontario Special Achievement Award in 1974.


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