Friends of Hydrography

Friends of Hydrography

Canada Flag


Home > Vignettes

Mr. RJ Fraser

An Autobiography


  1. Summer employment with the Outside Service of the Canadian Hydrographic Service, from April 17 to August 6.
  2. Assistant to Captain F. Anderson, CGS Bayfield. Surveys in Lake Superior - Eastern Entrance Nipigon Bay and the coastline between Simons Harbour and Point Isacor. On June 23 the Bayfield grounded on a well known rock in the eastern channel of Nipigon Bay. Sailing Masters between March 1908 and March 1909 were Captain W.O. Zealand, Captain Alex McNab and Captain J.F. Lunan; Chief Engineer was Mr. John Nisbet who had been Chief on the first Bayfield from 1886 -1902, and the second Bayfield from 1903-1921. Other assistants included Messrs Bachand and Humphrey.
  3. Assistant to Captain F. Anderson, CGS Bayfield. Re-survey of Lake Ontario from Presqu'ile and Point Peter and harbour surveys enroute from Lake Superior as follows:- Goderich, Rondeau,Port Stanley, Burwell, and Colburne. A shoal off Sarnia was examined, and while in Lake Ontario the summer base was Brighton, Ontario. That fall the Bayfield wintered at Prescott, Ontario. Other assistants were Messrs. Bachand and Lighthall.
  4. A. Assistant to Captain F. Anderson, CSS Bayfield. Surveys Lake Ontario - Presqu'ile Island to Main Duck Island and then detached for duty in connection with Port Churchill and Nelson River in Hudson Bay.
  5. B Assistant to Mr. H.D. Parizeau, in charge of the three-masted hydrographic survey schooner Chrissie C. Thomey, Captain Thos. Gushue of Brigus, Newfoundland. The Thomey sailed under her own power to Port Burwell where she met the main survey vessel Stanley. Commander I.B. Miles, R.N. in charge. From Burwell to Nelson River she was towed across Hudson Bay by the Stanley where she arrived July 28 to commence its survey. On September 12 the Thomey departed for Halifax and survey party went ashore under canvas. On January 20, 1911 the party left Nelson for Winnipeg by dog train and arrived in Ottawa March 4.

  6. Assistant to Mr. H.D. Parizeau - surveys Nelson River. Enroute to Hudson Bay the Thomey, with Captain Thos. Gushue, and survey assistants Messrs. Fraser and H.H. Lawson, sustained serious ice damage and was forced into Wakeham Bay, Hudson Strait, for temporary repairs. She did not arrive at Nelson until August 11, and while there was used in the sounding of the inner end of the port from March Point to Same Cr. The Minto, the main vessel of the Hudson Bay Expedition, under Captain F. Anderson, completed the outer entrance to the river. On September 7 the Nelson River party having completed the survey of the Nelson River, departed on the Thomey for Churchill where further temporary repairs were made to her. She was towed across Hudson Bay by the collier, Erik, and after calling at Red Bay for further repairs, she reached Halifax October 25.


Re. HUDSON BAY EXPEDITION - Ships and Officers

  1. The Government icebreaker Stanley, Captain Dalton, was loaned to the Hydrographic Service for its first northern survey expedition. Captain S.W. Bartlett of Brigus was engaged as Pilot Officer for this voyage. Two hydrographic parties were transported north, both under the Commander I.B. Miles, R.N. detached from duty CGS Cartier in the Lower St. Lawrence River for this assignment. The Churchill Harbour party was in charge of Mr. G.A. Bachand, and assistant Mr. Charles Savary, and the Nelson River party was in charge of Mr. H.D. Parizeau and assistant Mr. R.J. Fraser.
  2. Three vessels comprised the Hudson Bay Expedition in 1911.
    1. The Government loaned Icebreaker Minto, in charge of Captain F. Anderson with assistants Messrs. Savary and Windeler. Sailing Master was Captain John MacPherson, and Ice Pilot Captain S.W. Bartlett. The Chief Engineer was Mr. Joseph Ferguson. The Minto was the main hydrographic vessel and assisted the Thomey with its survey of Nelson River and Churchill and the transporting of field parties. Home bound she sustained heavy ice damage crossing Hudson Bay.

      The schooner Burleigh, Captain Thos., Butler of Halifax, in charge of expedition Mr. W.E.W. Jackson of Toronto Observatory, assistant Mr. F. Ashbury. The vessel sustained severe ice damage in Hudson Strait and after calling at Lake Harbour left for Halifax for repairs.

      The Chrissie C Thomey, like the other two vessels, sustained heavy ice damage to her hull enroute to the bay and had to put into Wakeham Bay for repairs.

  3. Assistant to Mr. Charles Savary, CGS La Canadienne, Sailing Master Captain Brown, Chief Engineer Mr. Joseph Cosford. Other assistants were Mr. Jodoin. The La Canadienne left Quebec June 14, and while passing through the Welland Canal met with a serious accident June 20 that resulted in the loss of two lives. She was not able to leave her dry-dock at Port Dalhousie until July 28. Surveys for the remainder of the season were undertaken on Great Duck Island, Lake Huron; Caribou Island and the coastline between Copper Island and Lamb Island, Lake Superior, and Little Current in the North Channel. In the fall the vessel returned to Owen Sound to winter.
  4. Assistant to Mr. P. Jobin, in charge of the James Bay Survey. Other assistant was Mr. L.T. Bowes, Mr. Fraser with a crew of men was sent ahead as an advance party to Rupert River, with instructions to erect several triangulation stations, study and observe the breakup of the ice in the Rupert River, and to prepare the schooner Chrissie Thomey for summer service. The Thomey was wintered here since the fall of 1912, and when the ice in the river broke she became a total ice casualty and had to be abandoned. Camping was resorted to for the rest of he season, and surveys were made between Point Comfort and Stratton Islands. Mr. Jobin and party left Moose Factory September 30, reached Cochrane October 10 and Ottawa October 16. The men left behind to see the schooner safely frozen in reached Cochrane January 1.
  5. Assistant to Mr. P. Jobin, James Bay Survey. Other assistant Mr. L.T. Bowes - party with eight men left Cochrane May 24 and arrived at Moose River May 29. Surveys this season were completed of the Charlton and Stratton Island group and the Moose River area. The party departed James Bay October 13 and arrived at Cochrane October 21. A chartered schooner Annie E. Geede was hired, but of little use to them.
  6. Assistant to Captain F. Anderson, CGS Acadia. Other assistants were Messrs. Prittie and J.L. Foreman. Charting east coast of Nova Scotia between Sambro Island and Egg Island, including Halifax Harbour and Approaches. Three oceanographic cruises were made from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland for oceanographic data and special war work for R.C.N. Sailing Master, Captain W.A. Robson; Chief Engineer Mr. John Scott.
  7. Assistant to Captain F. Anderson, CGS Acadia, same assistants as in 1915 - extension of same surveys on east coast of Nova Scotia, together with special oceanographic cruises for R.C.N.
  8. Shore party survey on the northwest shore of the Bay of Fundy early in the season, and then to the St. Lawrence River where with the aid of the Beliechasse of the Ship Channel Branch, fifteen sections of the River were measured in detail for the purpose of enabling computations for backwater to be carried on.
  9. Overseas in World War 1, from May 1, 1918 to October 7, 1919 - Lieutenant R.J. Fraser, RNVR.
  10. Hydrographic Surveyor - 1st Class, HMS President, In charge Thames River Survey.
  11. In charge of CGS Bayfield when Mr. H.D. Parizeau transfeerred to the Pacific Coast to fill the vacancy created with the death of Commander P.C. Musgrave, R.N. early in February. Surveys completed that season in Lake Superior - Michipicoten Harbour, Gargantua Harbour and the north coast between this harbour and Pt. Isacor. Sailing Master Captain N. Barrett; Chief Engineer John Nisbet; Survey Assistants Messrs. N. Wilson ….. That fal Mr. Fraser and an assistant completed investigations in Lake St. Lois, St. Lawrence River for marine obstructions, located and marked them on the charts.
  12. In charge of CGS Bayfield, Assistants Messrs. N. Wilson ….. Sailing Master Captain N. Barrett; Chief Engineer S.G. Guenard (Mr. John Nisbet retired May 1921, having been with the Hydrographic Service on the first Bayfield in 1886). This season survey operations were transferred from the Great Lakes to the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Enroute from Lake Superior a new shoal was examined near Cove Island in Georgian Bay, and the boundary monuments in the vicinity of Lake St. Clair and St. Clair River relocated. Tidal and current investigations along with hydrographic surveys were made in the Magdalen Islands, and before proceeding to Charlottetown, P.E.I. the Bayfield commenced the re-charting of Miramichi Bay, Last surveyed in 1885.
  13. For lack of funds, the Bayfield was not commissioned this year. Shore party surveys in Miramichi River were extended for part of the season. Later, the party proceeded to the Richalieu River to triangulate from the St. Lawrence River to Lake Champlain. Party this season consisted of Messrs. R.J. Fraser and assistant Mr. N. Wilson.
  14. This season Mr. Fraser carried out hydrographic investigations in the St. Lawrence River between Sorel and Lake Ontario in connection with official complaints of groundings in this section of the river. A report was submitted on his findings and recommendations.
  15. For lack of funds the Acadia this season was not commissioned. Mssrs. R.J. Fraser and R.W. Bent completed shore party surveys of Lockport and Lunenburg Harbours, N.S.
  16. Earlier this year Mr. Chas. Savary, Officer-in-Charge of the CGS Cartier, Gulf and Lower St. Lawrence River Surveys since 1913, resigned and Mr. R.J. Fraser was appointed to succeed him. Assistants this season included Messrs. E. Ghysens, H.L. Leadman and M.A. MacKinnon. Sailing Master was Captain James Roach and Chief Engineer, Mr. J.E. Belanger. Surveys of Anticosti Island were completed by the Cartier, and while she was in dry-dock at Pictou undergoing repairs, Mr. H.L. Leadman continued surveys in the Magdelan Islands. It was intended to use the Cartier this year for special current investigations but due to the lack of funds this project was not carried out. At the end of the season the Cartier returned to her winter port of Charlottetown, P.E.I. This season Mr. G.A. Bachand had charge of a shore party working in the Mingan Islands.
  17. LAST FIELD SEASON FOR MR. FRASER. With Captain F. Anderson's appointment as successor to Mr. Wm. J. Stewart, Canada's First Chief Hydrographer, Mr. Fraser was given command of the CGS Acadia. Assistants were Messrs. Leadman, MacKinnon and F.C.G. Smith. The Sailing Master was Captain James Roach of the Cartier, and the Chief Engineer was Mr. J.S. Cann. Surveys were completed in Northumberland Strait and Mingan Passage, and the D.F. Stations on Belle Isle and St. Paul Islands were calibrated. This season a shore party with Messrs. Ghysens and Smith surveyed Outarde Bay, P.Q.