The Fraser family name lives on in Quesnel
and in Vancouver. Fraser Village, a retirement home, was named
after Alex's father, John
A. Alex Fraser Park, of course, was named after Alex. Gertrude
recalls that when he was told of the proposed name, "Alex
didn't want the park named after him, since he was still alive
and still mayor.
He thought it shouldn't be named for him, but he agreed and was
The third noticeable Fraser legacy in his hometown is an information
sign on the sidewalk across the street from Alex's and Gertrude's
house. It reads,
Alexander Vaughan Fraser
Alex Fraser's introduction to public service came early in life
as his father John A. Fraser served as both a Member of the Legislative
Assembly and a Member of Parliament for Cariboo.
Alex married Gertrude Watt, R.N., Matron of the Quesnel General
Hospital, on August 7, 1940, and with their family made 679 Walkem
Street their home.
His public service career spanned 40 consecutive years. Alex
first served as Mayor of Quesnel for a period of 20 years, during
which he became president of the Union of BC Municipalities and
was honored with a life membership. He was also the first Chairman
of the Cariboo Regional District. His many contributions to the
community of Quesnel resulted in the naming of Alex Fraser Park,
his installation as a freeman of the City, and an honorary life
membership on the G R Baker Memorial Hospital Board of Directors.
Alex was first elected as the MLA for Cariboo in 1969, and was
re-elected to five more terms. He served in cabinet for 11 years
in several portfolios, all involving BC's transportation and highway
In recognition of his work, the bridge crossing the Fraser River
in the lower mainland, the longest span of its type in the world,
was named after him.
Alex passed away on May 9, 1989.
Palliative care legacies
Gertrude and Alex were also instrumental in starting two important
programs at the GR Baker Memorial Hospital in Quesnel that assist
palliative care patients and their families.
Towards the end of Alex's life, he returned
to Quesnel and the Cariboo, to the people and the land that he
loved so much. Nurse
and Hospital Administrator Linda Arnold states, "When Alex
came back here for his final days, it was a great honour for the
hospital." At that time, Alex and Gertrude were asked by the
provincial government what type of gesture it could make to honour
Alex's memory. Mrs. Arnold remembers that the Frasers requested
a government-funded social worker position for Quesnel. It was
position that the hospital had requested before and that had been
turned down. In those days, there were no social workers at the
Social workers, particularly half-time,
were not a priority for the government, said Mrs. Arnold. "After the Frasers' request,
however, the provincial government combined a half-time social worker
position with a half-time palliative care volunteer coordinator
position." The full-time role, created in 1989, is still funded
and provides an important service for the Quesnel community.
Carol Weremy, another Quesnel nurse,
recalls that at the end of Alex's life, Gertrude discussed her
hope with the hospital administration
that it could build or designate a hospice unit for dying patients
and their families. Mrs. Weremy remembers, "Gertrude came
to us and said, 'I would really like to open a hospice with two
three beds.' The hospital said that although they would like to,
they were not able to fund a hospice. However, funds donated
the hospital in Alex's memory have been used since then to provide
palliative care education for local health professionals."
Nurse Lori Lawlor, who was also involved
with the arrangements of the funds at the time, said that Gertrude
and Alex "Were
some of the first few people who advocated for palliative care funding
generally within the government. They helped to make palliative
care a core service in BC health care." Linda Arnold notes
that the lasting benefits of these two legacies initiated by the
Frasers "Have benefited many, many people in our community.
The quality of the education for the volunteers, the university-educated
personnel for the community, the matching of volunteers with families,
all are a direct result of her efforts and focus when she had just
lost her life partner."
For the record, the Fraser River was not named after John A. Fraser's
family. It was named after the explorer Simon Fraser.