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The TALES you probably never heard about

Dr. John Fraser (1806-1882)

John Fraser was born in March  14 or 16, 1806 in Finwick Kirk, Ayrshire Scotland. His father was William Fraser and his mother Abigail Stewart, his father’s second wife.

Dr Fraser graduated from Glasgow College of Physicians and surgeons at age 19, in June 1825. He enjoyed a large medical practice in Ayr, Doune and Perthshire for 12 years before coming to America. He was also very active in politics..

He came to Canada in 1837. He settled on the townline between Pelham and Thorold. He lived with Israel Bradshaw and John McKinly. He never married. He later moved to Fonthill and lived and practiced in his home  on Haist Street and Canboro. The house is still standing at 1 Haist Street.

By 1854, he was chosen Liberal candidate for Welland County. He served one term in Parliament. In 1867 he was nominated as candidate in Monck, but it was won by L. McCallem.

Dr. Fraser held many positions, he was on examining board of physicians for Canada, district surgeon for the militia, warden of the county in 1856 when county buildings were created. He took active part in securing the location of the county town at Welland. He was member of the Presbyterian church and member of the Masonic Fraternity.

Dr Fraser was associated with many Drs. In their early careers—Dr, Comfort, Dr De La Mater, Dr. Burgar, and DR. Hansler.

Dr Fraser died at his residence October 7, 1882 and is buried in the Fonthill cemetery. His funeral was attended by 2200 people and led by the Crowland Band.

Fraser Street in Welland was named after Dr. John Fraser.

[Pelham This Week, Wednesday, March 17,1993]

By Shirley Ruth May

Fonthill’s First Physician was well-liked

John Fraser, Fonthill’s first Doctor, was born of his mother after she was in her coffin.

His mother, Abigail Stewart of Ayrshire, Scotland, was 15 when she sickened and was pronounced dead. A grave was dug, a wooden coffin was built and her grieving family had her body prepared for burial.

The coffin was closed, nailed shut, and loaded onto the horsedrawn wagon serving as a hearse. The cortege was about to start for the cemetery when suddenly an old family servant arrived from a distance and asked to take one last loving look at the child she had nursed.

In deference to the woman, the coffin was opened. The servant, bent to kiss the dear face  only to find an unexpected warmth in the supposedly dead body. She threw up her hands, exclaiming, “My God, would you bury my darling alive?”

Shock and disbelief rippled through the assembled crowd. A mirror was brought and held to the girl’s lips. Sure enough, a faint moisture was detected. Immediate steps were taken to resuscitate the girl who years later, was to become John Fraser’s mother.

Abigail Stewart married William Fraser, a widower with 14 children. John was her seventh child. He was born in Ayrshire, Scotland in Marchbank House, on March 14,1806.

At a very tender age he chose medicine as a career, perhaps because of his mother’s near burial because of a medical misdiagnosis. At age 19 he graduated from the Glasgow College of Surgeons. Sometime after 1828, he came to Fonthill.

Dr. Fraser was well-liked by his patients because, in addition to being a good physician, he had a chronic disregard of having his accounts collected. Although he left a comfortable property when he died it is estimated he lost five times that amount through uncollected accounts.

A bachelor, he was liked socially because of his love of congenial company and respected politically because of his hard good sense, frankness in speaking, and sterling integrity.

Besides running a busy medical practice, he found time to become a member of the examining board of physicians for Canada and district surgeon of the sedentary militia. He was warden of Welland County when the county buildings were erected. He was the first reeve of Pelham after the separation of counties in 1850. He was an elected Member of Parliament.

He was president of the Welland Herald (the forerunner of the Welland Tribune) published in Fonthill from 1854-1863.

On Oct. 7, 1882, Dr Fraser died at his Fonthill residence.

[The Peoples Press, Aug. 7, 1906]

Dr. John Fraser may be styled the father of the County of Welland, as a separate municipal organization. He was elected to represent the County of Welland in the Parliament of Canada in 1854, and took a leading part in securing municipal separation from Lincoln and in locating the seat of the new county town at Welland. He was the first Warden of the County of Welland, and laid the cornerstone of the court house, on Friday, the 16th day of July 1856. His name is inscribed on the tablet above the main door of the Courthouse, with the councilors of the day.

Dr. Frazer was born in Ayrshire, Scotland on March 14, 1806, and died at Fonthill, Ont. On Oct 7, 1882. He never married.