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Articles by Marie Fraser of Canada
Grandpa Sandy Fraser - Poet


Alexander (Sandy) Fraser was born in Newton, Lanarkshire, Scotland on 15 July 1875, the oldest of eleven children (8 boys and 3 girls). At the age of 10 he went to work in a coal mine, claiming to be 12, was found out, and so got a job on the railroad construction crew for two years, before going back to the coal mines.

In his own words: "I was married on 25 Sep 1896, and had four children when I sailed for Canada. In May 1906, I landed on the prairie north of Lethbridge, at Carmangay, Alberta. [He worked in various mines, before opening his own mine in 1918 and retiring in 1944.] I served on the Municipal Council of Barons District for 15 years. My wife died in early 1949. Since then I have been a wanderer and expect to plague my family, the finest ever, until I reach the end of the road. I was the father of ten children, two of them died young."

Fraser Family
Alex m. Jean Adams; Joe m. Emma Sanderson; Bessie m. Harvey Hicks;
Ritchie m. Gertrude Frank; Jim m. Edith Jones; Maggie m. Henry Wobick;
Elizabeth (Finlayson) Fraser; Bill m. Gertrude MacLean;
Alexander (Sandy) Fraser; Janet m. Bert McGaw

For many years the family orchestra provided music for dances over a considerable portion of southern Alberta. Grandma Fraser used to say that she gave the boys pots and pans and spoons, put them in the living room and closed the door. Mrs. Eva-Mae (Fraser) Graff, a grandmother herself, is justifiably fond of her grandpa Sandy. She recently donated a booklet of Treasured Poetry by Alexander (Sandy) Fraser, written between 1906-57, and lovingly compiled by his family. Here is one of my favourites:

Rice Pudding Deluxe

I’ve been batching for a month now, and I find it pretty tough
And to put it very frankly, I think I’ve had enough,
And unless you’ve gone through it, you don’t know how it feels
To work outside, and twice a day, come in and make your meals.

The weather had been very hot, and I’d begun to tire.
So when it cooled a little bit, I thought I’d build a fire;
And what to cook, I didn’t know, I wanted something nice;
And there upon a shelf I spied a ten pound sack of rice.

I searched around a little, till I found the biggest pot;
I filled it up with water, of the rice I dumped the lot.
A cup of salt I added, then I put it on to cook,
And ‘till it started boiling, I sat down to read a book.

Now if anything was needed to prove I was a dunce,
I proved it when I started cooking so much rice at once.
But then I had it figured, that when cooked I’d eat my full
And the balance I would put into the frigidaire to cool.

Now I’m partial to rice pudding and I like it best when cold,
And I always think it has a better flavour when it’s old.
But here’s the truth about this act, so silly, so to speak;
I didn’t want to look at stoves or cooking for a week.

Well, the rice commenced a-swelling, even though it didn’t boil
And I hunted through the cupboard for the dishes I would soil;
And as soon as boiling started, every bowl and every cup,
Just as fast as I could ladle, every dish I filled them up.

I filled the wife’s wash boiler, and every pot and pan,
And then I filled a bath tub, but still the blamed thing ran,
And when I’d nothing left to fill, and I was filled with ire;
A brilliant thought just struck me, Why not take it off the fire?

It slackened quite a little when I set it out to cool,
But there was I, and every dish within the house was full.
I couldn’t make no coffee and even the water pail
Was brimming full of swollen rice; to swear did no avail.
An empty dish I couldn’t find, although I searched the digs,
So I had to spend an hour feeding pudding to the pigs.

When I got through, though hungry, I perched upon a stool
And tried to figure out just why I could be such a fool
To think that I, who never cooked a meal in all my life,
Had fancied I could get along a month without my wife.

Then a funny feeling struck me, as I sat down upon my perch,
That I had made some big mistake, and so I made a search,
And found a little later, just before I called a halt,
That I’d used baking soda in the rice instead of salt.

I’ve got my fill of batching, and you can bet your life
That you’ll never catch me living another month without my wife.
Now when benedicts are boasting what it feels like to be free,
And you cannot fully answer, send the sons of guns to me.

Elizabeth Cullen (Finlayson) Fraser was born on 9 July 1881 to Richard and Margaret (Cullen) Finlayson. Liz passed away in Calgary on 22 Feb 1949, aged 67. Sandy died in 1958 at the age of 83.

In July 1996, the family of James & Edith (Jones) Fraser gathered for a family reunion in Carmangay, Alberta. Although 30 were unable to attend, 100 appeared for the group photo - each dressed in a different coloured T-shirt - representing the children and grandchildren of Eva and her siblings, Yvonne, Shirley, Helen & Len. Her sister Helen was the only great grandmother.


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