Every year, at the Moe Fraser Long Distance Race, newer club members ask "who was Moe Fraser?". Moe was one of the four founding members of the Mississauga Sailing Association - the forerunner of the Mississauga Sailing Club. He was Commodore of the MSA twice and was continually involved in all operations of the club. He also taught occasional sailing seminars when asked by the club. Moe was born on July 2, 1921 and was raised in the Hamilton-Grimsby area. Before World War II, he apprenticed with the Imperial Bank of Commerce, where he once found himself locked inside the bank with a would-be robber.
After taking his first flight in a small airplane, he fell in love with flying. During the Second World War, he was initially assigned to be a fighter pilot in the Aleutians. At the last minute this was changed and he was assigned as an instructor training Air Force pilots at flying schools in southern Ontario and so remained in Canada. Sharing knowledge and skills with others was to become a theme in his life. He figured the Air Force owed him several trips across the country because, unlike many of his friends, he never got to travel out of the province, much less overseas. After the War he returned to work in various businesses. There were simply too many pilots and not enough flying jobs. His first love remained flying though, and he flew with the St. Catharine's Flying Club and the Air Force Reserve. Eventually he was able to secure a flying job and, for the rest of his career, Moe made his living as a Commercial Pilot. This was not without risk as one of his early jobs involved flying construction materials, including dynamite, into Northern Ontario as part of the construction of the TransCanada Highway. Later work involved flying corporate aircraft for companies such as INCO. He was married to Corinne (Corky) and they had four children - Mary, Susan, Elizabeth and Cameron.
Somewhere along the way, his curiosity was piqued about sailing. I think he was intrigued by the subtleties of a sail, which works the same way as the wing of an airplane, except that it's almost infinitely adjustable. He went to the Boat Show every year and bought books on sailing. While waiting at the airport for clients, Moe would read sailing books and thereby taught himself how to sail. After visiting the boat show for years to "kick the tires", Cameron said one year while he was busy looking at a boat across the aisle he turned around to see his Dad writing a cheque for a CL16. Cameron asked, "does Mom know about this". "Sure she does", he reassured Cameron as he completed the purchase of his new boat. He installed it on a trailer in the backyard on the trailer while he worked out all the details of rigging and operation. After a few weeks of familiarizing himself with everything on the boat, Moe took Cameron along and they headed for Marie Curtis Park.
The boat was launched for the first time in a howling wind with chop on the water – Moe sailed for the first time. Cameron, a non-swimmer (and non-sailor at the time), was his crew. Moe started launching his boat at the Port Credit ramp on the west side of the Credit River where he met and talked with other sailors. From these discussions, Moe and three others approached the City of Mississauga about establishing a sailing club to be associated with the City's Parks & Recreation. In 1972, they arranged our first site next to the generating station where the fishermen are today. As the current park was developed and landfilled, the MSA site moved a bit further west until we arrived at our present location. We became the MSC when we had to incorporate in order to lease land from the City of Mississauga for our clubhouse and compound. As a member of the Long Range Planning Committee, which oversaw negotiations with the City, Moe was instrumental in all discussions and meetings.
Moe was an intelligent, quiet & friendly man with a slightly mischievous grin just before he would make a comment. My boat had a gouge in it after a slight altercation with another boat on a training course run by Moe after a sail past. When Herb and I came down the next evening to fix the gelcoat, we met Moe leaving the site. We rolled down our car windows to chat. He asked if we were there to fix my boat. Upon answering yes, he said "don't bother it's already done". He had come down to fix his own boat and did mine at the same time. That was typical Moe. Moe had always wanted a keel boat and eventually acquired his Hinterholler 28 named "Piece of a Dream". Moe made himself and his boat available as the committee boat when MSC ran regattas.
A few years ago the Club decided to run a long distance race near the end of the sailing season for all classes of boats, as some MSC members also had keel boats in addition to their dinghies. In 1988, Moe Fraser won his race for his size and class of boat. He returned his boat to the Port Credit Marina and was driving to the "Char Pit" restaurant with another club member as passenger. Before we had a clubhouse this was our local rendezvous after racing. Along the way to the restaurant Moe had a heart attack and died on Sunday Oct. 23, 1988, aged 67. He had spent the last two days of his life doing what he loved most - flying and sailing. He is sorely missed by his friends and the MSC as he was an integral part of our lives and our Club. It is a fitting memorial that the race has been named the "Moe Fraser Long Distance Race".
(Written by Beth Ruch with additional information supplied by Cameron Fraser.)