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Kimberley Families

The Hugh Fraser Family
as told by Hugh

Hugh was born on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. He left home when he was fifteen years old and served a five year apprenticeship in Glasgow as a marine engineer. Hugh became interested in boxing during his apprenticeship and by the time he was seventeen, he was the light-weight champion of Glasgow. At one time, Hugh took part in three fights in a preliminary Monday night card and won them all by KO's. On Friday of the same week, he won the semi-final by a KO and won the Championship on Saturday. Hugh completed his apprenticeship in 1922 and worked as a journey man until 1923.

He joined the Territorials, a peace time branch of the Army, and took a more active part in boxing and won the Divisional Championship. After this he moved into a more competitive area of boxing and entered the West of Scotland Championships. He won the Championship in 1923 by defeating four opponents in one day.

In 1923 massive unemployment took place in Scotland and Hugh was laid off work. About this time immigration had reached an all time high to other countries so he decied to go to Canada. In April, 1924, Hugh, with hundreds of other people, sailed for Canada on the S.S. Marloch.

Landing in Quebec, he gradually made his way to Toronto. During his stay there he took part in the 1924 Olympic boxing trials. He won his way to the finals but lost out to Cliff Graham, the Canadian champion.

Going further west, Hugh went to Winnipeg and continued boxing there. He won the Manitoba Welter-weight championship in 1925 and 1926 and was chosen to represent Manitoba at the Dominion championships in New Westminster in 1926. Arriving in New Westminster, Hugh fought in the middle-weight class and won by a KO. All these engagements were on the amateur level.

Work was hard to get in those days, and in order to keep the wolf from the door, Hugh turned professional. He boxed in Vancouver, Bellingham and Britannia Mine with a good measure of success.

Hugh had sent an article to the Nelson Daily News regarding boxing engagements in that part of B.C. In June 1927 he and a friend were able to get work in Cranbrook as carpenters. Johnny McDonald of Kimberley and also a native of the Isle of Lewis, found out that Hugh was in Cranbrook and immediately rounded up some friends to go and find him. In short order Hugh was working at his trade in the Concentrator Machine Shop in Kimberley.

It didn't take long for Hugh to get acquainted in Kimberley and he was boxing again, this time at McDougall Hall. Two of Kimberley's more ardent boxing fans, Sam Alexander and Mickey Edmonds, soon lined up a match with Nick Contina from Trail which Hugh won by a KO in the third round.

From this point on, McDougall Hall became a bee hive of boxing for many young men in Kimberley. Some of these were Gordie Scott, Murdo and Angus Morrison, John McGowan, Johnny McKay, Grant Shaw and others.

Hugh took on an Indian fighter from the Fernie area who lasted two rounds and then a boxer from Vancouver who also lasted two rounds. Boxing in Kimberley had now reached a place where some better competition was needed.

Hugh was also a member of the Kimberley Pipe Band when they made their first public appearance in the Kimberley Day parade on July 1st, 192.7.Other members of the band were Pipe Major Angus Scott, Dick Burke, Jim Ewan, Alex Fergus, Gordie Taylor and Hamish Scott.

A boxing match was arranged with Jimmy Cottrell of Spokane, Washinton. Cottrell was recognized as one of the better welter-weights in the country and won the fight by a decision.

On July 1,1928, Sam Alexander, Herb Stanton and others promoted an open air boxing card with the main event between Hugh and Basil Danes of Calgary, the recognized welter-weight champion of Western Canada. Hugh won the fight by an unanimous decision, but Danes wasn't satisfied with the decision and demanded a return bout. The bout was held in Calgary on January 1, 1929 and Hugh won it by a KO in the first round.

During 1929 Hugh had two more fights, he lost a decision to Don Fraser of Spokane, Washington on points, and won an unanimous decision over Scotty Inkster of Vancouver on November 30th.

These would be Hugh's last fights, he was 27 years old, and in ten years of amateur and professional boxing he had fought in over a hundred bouts. He had lost eleven fights on points and earned a draw on five other bouts and was never knocked out!

In 1929, Hugh attended a little gospel mission in Kimberley and made a decision that would completely change his life. Instead of trying to knock his fellowmen unconscious, he would serve his God and work to tell others about their eternal welfare.

Hugh attended Bible College in San Francisco for two years and returned to Kimberley in 1932 to conduct pastoral and evangelistic services. In 1934 he met Lillian Taylor from Edmonton, who was assisting the pastor of the Kimberley Pentecostal Church as deaconesss. Hugh and Lillian were both in the ministry and they became engaged and were married in August 1934. They ministered in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan for three years until the war broke out in 1939.

With a big demand for skilled tradesmen in the ship yards, Hugh left the ministry and went to work in 1941 for the Pacific Dry Dock as an engine fitter. After the war he signed on as a marine engineer for a year and sailed to England, Europe and South America.

In 1948 Hugh started work with the Kelly Douglas Co. and was made Chief Engineer of their new plant in Burnaby, B.C. He retired in 1973 after twenty-five years service, but at the age of 76, Kelly Douglas still calls him back for part time work on special services.

The Fraser's have three children: John is the oldest and is married and has four children. They are living near Langley, B.C. Iona married Bob Brooks, they have two boys and live in Vancouver. Neil is the youngest and is also married and has two daughters, they live at 100 Mile House.

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