George Fraser Plaque and Garden Dedicated in Ucluelet
Jo Ann Foster
Comox, British Columbia, Canada
About 100 people were in attendance in the picturesque town of Ucluelet on Vancouver Island, British Columbia where the bronze plaque commemorating the posthumous Pioneer Achievement Award to George Fraser, one of the town's early pioneers, was unveiled. This Pioneer Achievement Award has been presented only four times by the American Rhododendron Society - to Joe Gable, Guy Nearing, Cecil Smith and George Fraser. The dedication ceremony in Ucluelet on May 15th honored their plantsman most appropriately.
Bill Dale of the Victoria Chapter and two friends, Stu Holland (deceased) and Fran Gundry, have researched George Fraser's work for over eight years. Some of the corroborating material, 64 letters between Joe Gable and George Fraser, are now on file in the British Columbia provincial archives.
George Fraser Plaque and Garden.
Photo by Bill Dale
The actual bronze plaque commemorating this event is placed on a cedar log which fronts the newly established memorial garden on the main street of Ucluelet which is roped off by ship's rope from one of the area's old trading vessels. The entire Ucluelet project resulted from diligent hours of preparation on the part of Bob Sinclair, Carol and Darcy Thompson and local president of the Ucluelet and Area Historical Society, Mary Karpoff.
Fraser's actual home site was destroyed by fire and his nursery has been subdivided; yet throughout Ucluelet in several private gardens, large specimens of George Fraser's rhododendrons are still growing. Part of the dedication ceremony program was a walking tour to view some of these rhododendrons. At the conclusion of the ceremony, rhododendron trusses were placed on the George Fraser headstone in the graveyard located just four kilometers from Ucluelet.
It is very appropriate that the American Rhododendron Society has such prestigious presentations as the Pioneer Achievement Award to remember the people who have left such magnificent legacies to us - their love and documentation of knowledge of rhododendrons.