|Date of Birth||August 22, 1877|
|Place of Birth||Dundee, New Brunswick|
|Next of Kin||John Fraser (step father), Dryden, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Railway brakeman|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Dryden, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Dryden, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||March 9, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||38|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||August 15, 1917|
|Age at Death||40|
|Buried At||La Chaudiere Military Cemetery, Vimy, France|
|Plot||IV. C. 5.|
John James Fraser was born on 22 August 1877 in Dundee, New Brunswick, a small sister community of Dalhousie in the county of Restigouche in northeastern New Brunswick. His attestation papers gave his father John Fraser as next of kin but John was actually his stepfather. Born in Nova Scotia, James’ father was David Grant Fraser, son of Scottish immigrants. The 1971 Canada census found David G Fraser living in the subdistrict of Dalhousie in the county of Restigouche along with two other lads from Nova Scotia, Edward Fraser (presumably his brother) and George Kane. Also listed in the household was locally born Isabella Connacher. Isabella had been found in the 1861 census living with the James and Jannet Shaw family in Dalhousie, working as a servant. By the 1881 census David was married and farming in Dalhousie, with household members given as wife Isabella, seven year old Anne, and 41 year old John Fraser whose birth place was given as New Brunswick. Although records are not available from that era, it appears that David had married Isabella Connacher, with Isabella later giving her maiden surname as Shaw.
By the 1891 Canada census, David, Isabella and children James and Mary, born about 1882 in New Brunswick, were living in Norman, Ontario, a small community that would later be absorbed by Kenora. David’s occupation was given as log scaler. The 1901 Canada census found David, Isabella, and James living in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), with David continuing to work as a log scaler and James working as a railway brakeman. James’ sister Mary had married provincial constable Maurice Emmons on 29 August 1900. Maurice was the son of John and Bridget (Kelly) Emmons with his birth place given as Toronto. On the marriage registration Mary’s parents were listed and David Fraser and Isabel Shaw. James’ father David died of heart failure on 08 April 1906. At the time he was down the Lake of the Woods at Camp No 3 of the Rat Portage Lumber Company. A valued employee of the company, he was survived by his widow, two daughters, and son James. By the 1911 census Isabella was living in Fort William, having married the widower John Fraser, Scottish immigrant of 1895, in 1910. (Isabella listed her parents as John Shaw and Mary Dixie but records could not be found for any such persons.)
John James Fraser enlisted with the 94th Battalion in March 1916 in Dryden, Ontario. With fair hair and blue eyes, he was single, 38 years old, living in Dryden and working for the railway as a brakeman. The 94th was based in Port Arthur and recruited throughout northwestern Ontario. The battalion left Port Arthur on 9 June 1916 and spent a short period of time at Valcartier, a large military camp north of Quebec City. James embarked from Halifax with the battalion on 28 June 1916 aboard the SS Olympic.
In England the men were all absorbed into reserve battalions to be used as reinforcements for other units. James was taken on strength with the 17th Reserve Battalion at East Sandling on 13 July 1916 and proceeded overseas for service with the 85th Battalion in late March of 1917.
The 85th Battalion was at the Somme in the summer and fall of 1916 and at Vimy Ridge in April 1917. Four months later they took part in the Battle of Hill 70, an intense and hard-fought operation to capture an almost impossible target. The Canadian Corps succeeded but suffered 9,000 casualties in the eleven-day battle (15-25 August 1917). Private John James Fraser was killed in action on the first day, 15 August 1917. He is interred in the La Chaudiere Military Cemetery, the cemetery located approximately three kilometres south of Lens on the northwestern outskirts of Vimy in Pas de Calais, France.
After the war James’ medals and decorations, plaque and scroll, and Memorial Cross were sent to John and Isabella Fraser at 824 Second Street South in Kenora. John and Isabella, as well as Mary and Maurice Emmons, eventually left the Kenora area.
Private John James Fraser is commemorated page 239 of the First World War Book of Remembrance, on the Kenora Cenotaph, on the Kenora Legion War Memorial, and on the 85th Battalion (Nova Scotia Highlanders) Memorial in Passchendaele, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
by Judy Stockham
Grave marker photograph uploaded to CVWM by John & Anne Stephens.
85th Battalion (Nova Scotia Highlanders) Memorial photographs by Jeerhard Joos