Family claims photo
Luke Hendry/The Intelligencer Lois Foster of Belleville points out a relative in a 1909 photo of her husband's family as Susanne Quinlan listens Monday at Gleaners Food Bank in Belleville. The photo was found among items donated for the food bank's July yard sale. Foster learned of its discovery after Quinlan contacted The Intelligencer in an attempt to find descendants of those in the picture.
Lois Foster returned home from cruising Ontario’s waterways just in time for some unplanned time travel.
The Belleville resident, Hastings County Historical Society volunteer and Intelligencer subscriber said she’d been on vacation last week when she discovered a photo of her husband’s ancestors in The Intelligencer.
“I had a pile of Intells to look at,” she said. “The first one I looked at was the one with the picture.”
“That’s the Foster house!” she recalled thinking.
“It was pretty exciting.”
The photo was found among items donated for the Gleaners Food Bank yard sale July 21-22. It’s not known who donated it.
Gleaners’ operations director, Susanne Quinlan, contacted The Intelligencer to ask for help in locating the family. The image was published in the June 13 print edition.
Foster said she recognized it instantly as being similar to a 1909 photograph of her husband Paul’s family. In fact, she said, she believes the two images were created on the same day. At least some of the photo are in both photos and the lighting and camera’s positioning appear to be the same.
A longtime historical researcher, she said Shubael Foster, from whom Paul is descended directly, walked to Canada from Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., in 1811.
Foster later married Phoebe Canniff, daughter of Cannifton pioneer John Canniff. They had four girls and seven boys, including Daniel Foster, for whom Foster Avenue was named, Lois said, and W. A. Foster, a future mayor.
The house in the found photo stood facing Dundas Street East on the northwest corner of Dundas and Foster Avenue. It belonged to Shubael and Phoebe Foster and later son Daniel and wife Sarah Jane (Vrooman) Foster.
Lois Foster said Barbara (Gillen) Wood, who appears as a little girl in the photos, gave her a picture similar to the one found at Gleaners. But that was years ago and all she has currently is a washed-out photocopied image with a few notes about it.
Wood’s mother, Theda Gillen, appears in both pictures, Foster said. Also shown is Daniel Foster’s elderly wife, Sarah, she said. She said she has theories on who the other people pictured are, but needs more time to research it to be certain.
Several names were found with the Gleaners photo, along with a note signed Melissa Thompson and dated 1973. But the order and gender of the names don’t match the line of people in the photo.
“I’ll make copies for my kids,” Foster said, adding she may keep the framed original. She conducts research at the Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County and said she’ll allow archivist Amanda Hill to scan the photo so that a digital copy may be kept on file.
“I’m just happy it’s going back to its home,” said Gleaners’ Susanne Quinlan. She said she declined a Toronto man’s offer to buy it. Foster did, however, insist on making a donation.
“People give a lot to us,” said the food bank’s finance and fundraising assistant, Debbie Hyland. “It’s nice to be able to give back.”