Students of the high
school at Simcoe, Ontario, a little more than a quarter century ago,
will recall a dark-haired, brown-eyed freshman, somewhat diminutive in
stature, then known as "Frank," who was ushered up from a
district school with all the seriousness and application that usually
attend youth similarly favored from the outset. That youth is now
the Reverend Father Forester, president of Assumption College, Sandwich.
We remember a boy who seemed always enjoying life to the full, who laughed
heartily, played football vigorously, handed in his exercises with
scrupulous attention to neatness, and developed the provoking capacity of
inevitably gaining the highest marks in examination. Published
examination reports seem to indicate that this later capacity pursued him
throughout his career as a student.
The first year in a high school
provides few opportunities for leadership, and still there was something
irresistible about the manner of this beardless boy, the smallest in the
class. Even the wise and dignified members of the second form found
themselves yielding to his contentions and views upon matters under
His rapid rise from one
important position to another has not taken any of us by surprise. To
hear that at the beginning of his professional career, at a time when
the rest of us were thinking of settling down to the seriousness of
life, he had been appointed head of a Southern States college seemed just as
might be expected. His recall a few years later to the presidency of his
own college in Sandwich followed as a matter of course.
Assumption College has had a
successful past. Many of its graduates are numbered among the
influential men of Western Ontario, Michigan and Ohio. It was generous
of those older men, who had added years of valuable experience to all
the greatness with which their alma mater had endowed them to look with
favor upon the boy president.
They really hoped the good work
would go on. It was the age of young men, and there was no telling how
near earnestness and attention to duty might come to maintaining the
prestige begotten of previous success.
Less than a decade of years has
passed, yet the same devoted admirers of former traditions now speak with
pride of college buildings almost doubled in extent, of equipment
increasing, multiplying constantly, of a staff becoming more and more
efficient, of a complete reorganization of the curriculum and methods of
discipline, of testimonials in the highest form, as well as the confidence of its patrons.
It is one of his early friends
who stands responsible for the following: "If I were asked to say
what is the distinctive characteristic of Frank Forster, I should
answer an incapacity to admit the existence of an obstacle."
Difficulties there may be in
abundance, but difficulties exist only to be overcome. If you have 100
acres of land covered with pine stumps, you have only to remove the
stumps to have a farm. No small undertaking, you will answer. Perhaps,
but no man would allow a difficulty to stand between him and object of
I remember an amusing evidence
of this disposition in his early school days. A teacher, whose name is
sacred, had a hobby. It cost his pupils an immense expenditure of time
and energy upon the very uninviting task of committing to memory long
lists of words which were produced as exceptions to certain rules of
Class after class approached this stage in dread and horror,
accepted the task under protest, but submitted to the inevitable. There
was absolutely no hope of relief; the venerable man clung to his pet
scheme in defiance of all opposition.
Frank Forster had seen something
of it, and decided to talk to the teacher privately. Not
at all baffled by the extreme indifference with which this dignified
personage treated his youthful visitor, he held his seat and with calm
determination advanced one argument after another until the good man saw his hobby as others saw
it. Forever afterwards pupils of
that class were liberated from this drudgery.
am told that experiences much more daring are matters of common
occurrence with Father Forster in his present position.
All who have
taken part in the management of a boarding school profess a readiness to
face anything in the ordinary round of difficulties with one single
exception -- the irrepressible solicitude of the all-wise mother
insisting upon relaxation and modifications of the rule in behalf of her
much-indulged boy, with the less enthusiastic father pressed into service
as an auxiliary.
The world has not heard how many boarding school
presidents have proved unequal to the task. Nor has the world perhaps
realized that the oft-deplored relaxation gradually taking hold during
the past quarter of a century is due in great measure to the persistent
entreatings of one parent after another, urging every consideration for
that "only boy" on earth.
President of Sandwich has had those parents to deal with also. Their
story has been listened to with a patience so untiring and courteous as
apparently to guarantee compliance with every request put forward.
long time was necessary to deliver the answer, and it was nothing less
than an heroic attempt to reverse for all the time the parents' views
regarding the needs of their precious boy.
It was not a matter of refusing
assent, much less an honest effort to adjust a present conflict of
opinion, but the eradication of an abuse so completely as to prevent its
ever appearing again.
From Father Forster's viewpoint,
no other measure, of course, could be considered.
It is altogether within the
range of probability that some day when the Department of Education will
have said "take a chair" to this almost unknown colleague they
will soon after discover that a long interview is in prospect, because
the caller is there intending nothing less than to convince that
distinguished body of the unreasonableness of certain favorite measures
which many schools throughout the province are respecting under
Nor need we be surprised to hear
soon after that the Superintendent of Education has come to look upon
the aforesaid regulations as provisions which have outlived their
Blessed with a splendid physical
constitution, Father Forster is taxing it to the very limit.
Equally at home in the pulpit,
conducting a class of higher mathematics, discussing business
propositions, enforcing the discipline requisite to a large residential
institution, climbing to the highest point of the roof to account for a
leakage, inquiring into new schemes for developing the possibilities of
the college farm, his round of duties precludes all hope of
There is no day in which he is
not engaged in several of these; there is no season when such a novelty
as a holiday can be ever dreamed of.
I believe it is on record that
he was absent one summer vacation on a business trip to Europe.
Authorities do not agree how much ground was covered within those few
weeks, but it seems generally admitted that sight-seeing was tolerated
after business hours.
It is only busy men who have any
time to spare; this principle must have guided the society in their
choice of a general manager in addition to the every-multiplying duties
incumbent upon the head of a large and growing institution.
Those who interest themselves in
a career are usually given to inquire about formative influences. To
such, Simcoe High School takes the credit of contributing a year or two
in this instance. No doubt other centres of learning and influence did
their share also. But it might be fairly questioned would the result be
very different if neither high school or college had lent a hand to his
history of most men, it is true, depends upon opportunity; but there are
few men of achievement for the explanation of whose success we do not
look further back than to the years spent in institutions of
On a large
farm a few miles out of town nine or ten sons were brought up
understanding their duty to God and fellowman and knowing from early
years the value of habits of industry and faithfully to duty.
learned how to do everything that had to be done; then attempted many
things that had not to be done.
boy who has held his own with eight or nine keen vigorous, enterprising
brothers, will likely meet men in later life with equal assurance and
All the members
of this excellent family -- and among them a highly esteemed church
rector located in this district not many years ago -- one after another
have won in their respective callings the success which sterling
character, ready compliance with duty and practical efficiency alone can
secure. A mother gone to her reward, a father whose slower step and
diminishing frame record four score years and more, did their part, and
did it well.