George Fraser: Pioneer in the Wild
by Bill Dale - June 2000

Another chapter in the recognition of George Fraser as a great pioneer took place in Victoria this past spring.

Last September, several Scottish groups in Victoria sponsored the placing of a stone marker in Beacon Hill Park in honour of George Fraser who had been the foreman when John Blair had been given the job of designing and building this park which today is over 110 years old and the recognized jewel in this, ‘Canada’s city of gardens’.Also contributing to the cost of the stone was Mr. George Christie of Fochabers, Scotland.

It was at Christies Nursery that Fraser got his start in gardening as a 17 year old lad in 1871.There is a bronze plaque at the entrance to Christies nursery, commemorating this fact. 


On February 11, 2000 the Fochabers Fiddlers gave a concert at the Victoria conservatory of music hall which was formerly the Metropolitan Church.A large audience was in attendance given by the band of Milne School in Fochabers, Scotland.It was quite evident that a large number of the audience was from the local Scottish community.They were treated to a foot stomping evening of Scottish music.


Featured in the music by the fiddlers was a song written in George Christie’s honour and the young lass who performed a Scottish dance was none other than the Christie’s grand daughter, Fiona.


Two mounted pictures were given to Fiona by Bill Dale for her to take to her grand parents.These were of the stone marker in Beacon Hill Park, and of the rhododendron ‘George Fraser’.


The local Gaelic choir also took part in the concert, singing three songs in that ancient language.


On Wednesday, April 12, the band was given a civic welcome when they were welcomed to the city by Pam Madoff, the acting mayor.Pam’s mother had come from Edinburgh as a war bride.


Alec Provan, who is also a member of the Gaelic choir, arranged for Fiona, Bill Dale, and James Alexander, the leader of the band, to go to Beacon Hill Park where Fiona placed a bouquet of heather at the stone, honouring George Fraser.All in all a fitting tribute to this pioneer rhododendron expert who had been given, posthumously, the Pioneers Achievement Award in 1990 by the American Rhododendron Society.