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years of Foresters

Foresters Financial has always been there to help everyday families live well and do more of the good they want to do. Explore our history and see how every volunteer event, member benefit and milestone led us to today and memories that will last a lifetime.

Ancient origins with a modern destiny
Fraternal societies were popular in the 19th century because of their affordable life insurance options. Foresters roots were as one of these fraternal societies in 1745 before becoming the Independent Order of Foresters (IOF), founded by Col. Alonzo B. Caldwell in Newark, New Jersey, in 1874 and introduced into Canada in 1875. This shift in name was the start of the organisation we are today.
Under the leadership of Dr. Oronhyatekha

Dr. Oronhyatekha (O-ron-ya-teh-ka) was the first Oxford-educated First Nations person and Canada’s second First Nations Doctor of Medicine. He joined Foresters in 1878 and became our Supreme Chief Ranger (now known as International Fraternal President) in 1879. Under him, the IOF grew to an organisation with over 250,000 members and an insurance fund of over $10 million.

Rallying together – The early causes at Foresters

The historic 1906 San Francisco earthquake that reached a 7.9 magnitude was one of the earliest instances of Dr. Oronhyatekha and Foresters providing large-scale emergency relief to members. This natural disaster was the precursor that led to the creation of the first two Foresters member benefits – a home for orphans and the tuberculosis clinic benefit.1

Facing wars and economic growth

During the Great War, the Great Depression and World War II, Foresters, like the rest of the world, encountered strains unlike anything before. In the face of wars and economic uncertainty, Foresters would introduce competitive life insurance products, expanded benefits and organisational changes that would carry on into the future.

Giving back goes global in a big way

The end of the 1940s brought on a wave of global give-back efforts for the IOF. It all started in 1948 with the Toronto High Courts fundraising food boxes to support English families during Easter. As the decades went on, the IOF turned its efforts to large-scale support for charities, retirement communities and global campaigns during the Vietnam War.

Caring for our children and elderly

As the post-war boom years ended, Foresters global charity work continued to grow. In 1972, B.C. Hallum was elected as our new Supreme Chief Ranger. Together with his wife Florence, they rallied members over causes like the prevention of child abuse and the expansion of old-age support homes across Canada, the US and the UK.

Hopes, dreams and bowling for miracles

Nearing the end of the 1980s, our members remained as active as ever. Through global and more local causes, the spirit of giving back grew with amazing causes like the Romanian convoy and the Bowling for Miracles campaign. Our team also supported the Hospital for Sick Kids from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s through radiothons that became a staple volunteer event for members and employees.

People want community

In the early 2000s and 2010s, the world was more connected than ever, and our members wanted a feeling of community. Through our Community grants, partnerships with organisations like KaBOOM! and our Growing a Better Future program, our members stayed connected over giving back. Since their inception in 2012, our members have used almost 25,000 grants consisting of over $45 million to live well and help their communities.2

Do more of the good you want to do
2024 is a milestone year for us at Foresters. Our 150th anniversary marks a period of opportunities for our members. Now more than ever, members can do more of the good they want to do for their communities and loved ones. To ring in the celebrations, we’ve tied this timeline to our Instagram account to keep it going and always a part of our community.

We’ve got a lot to celebrate!

Since 1874, Foresters has always been about creating a more caring future. Today, our members are still keeping that original vision going strong by always lending a hand and enriching communities across Canada, the US and the UK. This is 150 years of purpose at Foresters.

Stories about our 150-year legacy

Explore blog articles that highlight moments from our past, experiences from members, employees and more!


The timeline above was based largely on the 1997 publication "Shaping Our Future Together" by the International Order of Foresters.

For more information on this book or other Foresters history, please contact

All figures stated in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted.

1. Member benefit no longer available. For a full list of current member benefits, visit

2. Figures from 2012-2023 granting years from Canada, UK and US

3. Figures as of December 31, 2022

Description of member benefits that you may receive assumes you are a Foresters member. Members must be 18 years of age or older and must have an active Foresters Plan and maintain it in good standing. Foresters member benefits are non-contractual, subject to benefit specific eligibility requirements, definitions and limitations and may be changed or cancelled without notice.