Valley Voices: Remembering Cap Fraser

Blucher Hall, now integrated into the general Squam Bay, and Upper-Louis Creek area has been its own small settlement since the 1820s

The post office in Blucher Hall that was opened and run for 22 years by Cap Fraser and his wife Jean. Names of those in the photo are unknown.

The post office in Blucher Hall that was opened and run for 22 years by Cap Fraser and his wife Jean. Names of those in the photo are unknown.

Blucher Hall, now integrated into the general Squam Bay, and Upper-Louis Creek area has been its own small settlement since the 1820’s.

Donald Fraser, better known as ‘Cap,’ became a prominent and enterprising Blucher Hall resident in 1896. He preempted land there, and constructed a home for his family.

Cap was born May 28, 1863, in New Brunswick; he was the eldest son in his family, and when he lost his mother at an early age, he left home in search of work. Cap found a job with the CPR when the construction of it worked its way from east to the west in Canada. Cap changed jobs over time, but eventually went back to the CPR. He was in Craigellachie when the ‘last spike’ was driven by Sir Donald Smith, a director of the CPR, on Nov. 7, 1885.  Cap was just 22-years-old at the time.

Cap learned of the Squam Bay area after he had tried farming outside of Kamloops.  The stint at farming did not work out well, so he decided to preempt land in the Squam Bay location and farm there.

Cap and brotherCap’s ancestral home was in Scotland, where he had inherited an estate called Levenhall, which he never claimed as his wish was to remain in Canada. However, due to his Scottish roots he named his new Squam Bay area Blucher Hall.

Farming was the way of life for everyone who lived there, but it was not easy.  It was a time when neighbors worked together to build and maintain a community, and Cap had a big part in that, living in the area for the next 72 years.

Until the early Fall of 1899 Cap had been a bachelor, but that changed when he met Jean Craig;  they were married in 1899.  Their life together was filled with hard work and great ambitions.

Jean and Cap opened a post office at Blucher Hall, where Cap was the postmaster from 1905 until it closed 22 years later. This closure was presumably because by that time the automobile was already replacing some of the horse and buggy transportation modes. The Frasers also built a general store, which they operated for 22 years. A record book of the general store’s operations is at the North Thompson Museum in Barriere, and visitors can view the book, and wonder about how simple it was then to run a grocery store.

When Jean became ill with tuberculosis it was a sad and difficult time for Cap. There were no other means available to care for her except to take her to Tranquille Hospital in Kamloops, where tuberculosis patients, with what was then an incurable disease, were treated. Jean passed away in April of 1924, and  Cap was once again alone.

It proved difficult for Cap to take care of his work besides being a lonely widower, but two years later, he met Henrietta Ash, who with two young sons, George and Bert, had come west looking for a home and a housekeeping job. Cap and Henrietta were married, and soon added four daughters to the family, Ann, Margret, Helen and Frances.  It is interesting to note that Cap was already 63-years-old at the time.

Cap was involved with building the first Blucher Hall School in 1927-1928, on land donated by George and Agnes Sheepway about half-a-mile from his farmhouse. Seven men from the community, including Cap constructed the school. It was a sturdy log building, where George and Bert (Henrietta’s sons) started school with 11 other students.

The school burned down sometime later, and for a while, the students were housed in another log cabin for their lessons until the second Blucher Hall School had been built.

The new school was a wooden structure, where the Fraser daughters started their education, and Bert and George Ash completed Grade 8.

After the Second World War, North Thompson Valley resident Keith Moore returned home from service with the 28th Canadian Armored Regiment BCR.   Not long thereafter he met Ann Fraser (Cap’s daughter) and they were married sometime later.

When Cap did not want to farm any longer, and the government was knocking at his door for back-taxes, Keith bought the farm at Blucher Hall.

There Keith and Ann started a family of four children, Gerald, Gordon, Trevor and Sherry. After several years, Keith and his wife separated, and the farm was sold to the Donald Fraser family (no relation).

Cap and his wife Henrietta, lived in a small cabin Keith had built for them. When Henrietta passed away, and Cap could not care for himself anymore, he went into a care home in North Kamloops, where he eventually passed away at the age of 106. Cap Fraser lived a life filled with hard work, with the family he loved, and spent most of that life in the small community of Blucher Hall among friends and neighbors.   Many of those who still reside in the Blucher Hall area still remember the “enterprising” Cap Fraser.

– Elli Kohnert,North Thompson Star/Journal