Fraser Drive

Fraser Drive is named after Dr. Donald B. Fraser, a man of intellect and style

Stratford-Perth Archives

Residence 36 Mornington St.

Dr. Donald B. Fraser

Dr. Donald Blair Fraser (1848-1933) was a well-known figure in town. In winter, in the pre-snowplow era, he made his house calls with horse and sleigh. D. Galbraith, of London, who was a youngster  in Stratford in the early 1900s, remembers the scene in great detail: "One of my most vivid memories of Stratford is of Dr. Fraser driving in his sleigh to the hospital. Sleighs were used well into the 1900s for the simple reason there were no snowplows. Autos had their wheels removed and were then placed on wooden blocks and tucked into garages at the first snowfall. 

I watched my father do this with his 10-passenger Studebaker sports sedan. On Dr. Fraser's sleigh, a tiny dark-skinned man in a fur cap and gauntlets sat on the driver's seat, handling the horses' reins. A long whip curled up into the air, but it was never used. Dr. Fraser, with clipped grey beard, black Persian lamb toque, a fur rug over his knees, sat on the back seat, nonchalantly smoking a cigar. He was the epitome of elegance.

"Over the back seat, a beautiful black, plush rug, patterned in red and pink roses, hung low, waving slightly in the wind. Then, loping behind, came three, black, spotted coach dogs. This was how Dr. Fraser drove to the hospital and made his calls. I was a little girl and, with my mother, watched him through long, lace curtains." Source: Stratford-Perth Archives, Stratford Beacon Herald, May 28, 1980.

Dr. Fraser was the doctor who examined Mary Peake who was murdered by Frank Roughmond. The trial and execution was a Stratford sensation. See Flashback  Second Hanging: Frank Roughmond 

Dr. Fraser was born in North Easthope Township to Scottish immigrant parents, John (1801-1857) and Elizabeth Anderson Fraser (1805-1863). His parents were married in 1836.  Dr. Fraser attended elementary school in Northeast Hope and then high school in Stratford. He taught elementary school in North Easthope and Wallace Township before attending university.

In 1871, the 23 year old Donald B. Fraser went to Trinity Medical College at the University of Toronto. When he graduated, and after graduate work in Edinburgh, an article appeared in the March 12, 1875 edition of The Stratford Beacon Weekly. 

“North Easthope - Graduated with Honors – Letters received from `Auki Reckie' convey the pleasing intelligence to the friends of Dr. D. B. Fraser, of this township, that the gentleman has passed a most successful examination at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Edinburgh, and graduated with honours. Dr. Fraser was a gold medallist at the University of Toronto, and will enter professional life with the prestige of a most successful college course attending him. We expect to see him yet distinguish himself among the medical fraternity.”

Dr. D. B. Fraser became a surgeon on a ship bound for Australia but returned to Canada and, in 1876, set up his practice in Stratford at 48 Ontario St., where he worked until his death in 1933.  He was also elected as chair of normal and pathological history and taught at Western University for 22 years. In Stratford, it was noted that he was not only a "beloved physician" but "the first doctor in Stratford to have a telephone.” 

Dr. Fraser married Emily M. McCulloch (1855-1940), daughter of Col. William Frederick McCulloch (see Water Street), one of the most influential and wealthiest men in Stratford. Their son Donald (1893-1943) practised medicine in Stratford with his father for a decade probably beginning in 1922 after graduation from McGill. After his father's death in 1933, he continued the practice on his own, before he became a medical officer in the Second World War. Capt. Donald Fraser of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps died of cancer in Toronto in July 1943.

Dr. Donald B. Fraser became a nationally known physician. His offices were in the Albion Block, at the junction of Lakeside Drive with Ontario and Erie streets. The John Northway and Son ladies store (see Northway Circle) was later in that block, at 48-56 Ontario St. (see Ontario Street), just west of the post office, at 60 Ontario St. 

 Dr. Donald B. Fraser discovered the antidote to carbolic acid poisoning, a common method of suicide, when one of his patients consumed a large amount of alcohol prior to ingesting the acid. According to Dr. Fraser's obituary, “He won wide recognition in the medical world by his discovery of the antidote for carbolic poisoning. The discovery was made during his practice in Stratford, and was hailed as an important addition to the knowledge of medical science in treating the ills of mankind.” 

That discovery was important, but it is the image of the doctor mentioned earlier that many remember. He was as stylish as he was intellectual. Sources: Adelaide Leitch, Floodtides of Fortune; Stratford-Perth Archives, Stratford Beacon-Herald,  May 15, 1980;  Dr. Donald B. Fraser (1848-1933) - Find a Grave Memorial; Cindy. J. Sinko,  Reflections: The Three Doctor Frasers, Stratford beacon Herald September 9, 2023. 

Dr. Fraser takes township to court over his salary, and wins 

In 1937, Dr. Donald Fraser, the son of Donald. B. Fraser, was medical officer of health for Downie Township. He received a favourable judgement from Perth County Judge James Killoran under the terms of the Public Health Act, which awarded the doctor an increase in salary. The judgement was believed to have been of widespread significance for municipalities. The increase, awarded without appeal, was based on what Judge Killoran thought was a  fair and reasonable sum for what the job entailed.

Dr. Fraser had recently had his salary reduced as a cost-cutting measure by the township, and that did not sit well with him. His pay of  $135 a year had been reduced to $90. In addition to being medical officer of health for Downie Township, his duties included oversight and care for the indigent, and sanitary inspector, in that there were no other appointees for those jobs.

After hearing from both sides, Judge Killoran awarded Dr. Fraser $200 for his salary as medical officer of health, $50 as indigent health officer until one could be appointed, and $50 as sanitary inspector until one was appointed, plus $20 in costs. Source: Stratford-Perth Archives, Stratford Beacon-Herald, April 28, 1937. 

A third Dr. Fraser in Stratford: Dr. Donald Martin Fraser (1846-1908) was unrelated to Dr. Fraser, father and son .  

Another Dr. Fraser who was not related to father and son above, Dr. Donald Martin Fraser (1846-1908) grew up in Middlesex County, attended McGill and came to Stratford in 1871, where he spent the rest of his career. According to his obituary, “His work in connection with the hospital was of great value to the public.” Also, “He was for many years Grand Trunk physician for this district, and won the regard of the officers of the company and the employees and their families by the diligence he displayed in his work.”  

Besides his work with the hospital and Grand Trunk Railway, he also had a medical practice with a Dr. Deacon on Downie Street, near Waterloo Street, according to the Stratford Vernon directories. 

This Dr. Fraser married Caroline Michie on Dec. 22, 1873, in London and had five children. His son Maxwell and his brother John were also physicians. He passed away at his home on Downie Street on Dec. 9, 1908, at the age of 62.  Sources: Cindy. J. Sinko,  Reflections: The Three Doctor Frasers, Stratford beacon Herald September 9, 2023.  Dr Donald Martin Fraser (1846-1908) - Find a Grave Memorial.