Memorable Manitobans: John Foster “Jack” Fraser (1930-2021)
Born at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on 19 September 1930, after receiving a commerce degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1952, he co-founded the Saskatoon-based trucking company Empire Freightways. Selling it to Canadian National Railway in 1961, he bought Empire Oil, a petroleum distribution company. He moved to Winnipeg in 1961 and founded Jack Fraser’s, a menswear store. He was the President of Norcom Homes (1969-?), Federal Industries (1978-1995, later renamed Russel Metals). He also served as a director of the Bank of Montreal (1995-2001), Air Canada (1989-2005), Investors Group, Bank of Canada, Thomson Newspapers, Manitoba Telecom Services, Ford Motor Company, Coca-Cola Beverages Limited, Shell Canada, and Standard Aero, and was Chairman of the Crown Corporations Council (1995-?), President of the Manitoba Theatre Centre, and Chairman of the Council for Business and the Arts in Canada (1985-1990).
In recognition of his community service, he received the Peter D. Curry Award from the University of Manitoba (1984), was inducted into the Order of Canada (1991), received an honorary doctorate from the University of Winnipeg (1993), and received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002) and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012). In 1990, he was named National Transportation Person of the Year for his contributions to the advancement of surface transportation in Canada.
On 21 June 1952, he married Valerie Georgina "Val" Ryder (1930-2002) of Regina, Saskatchewan and they had a son and a daughter.
He died at Winnipeg on 24 July 2021.
“Four Manitobans appointed to Order of Canada,” Winnipeg Free Press, 26 December 1990, page 13.
“New chairman announced for Crown Corporations Council,” Manitoba News Release, 30 June 1995.
“Local businessman’s ‘legacy will live on’,” Winnipeg Free Press, 29 July 2021.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 31 July 2021