1877  — 1962

John Andrew Mary Fraser

Canadian Catholic missionary and founder of the Scarboro Foreign Mission Society.

Born in Toronto, Fraser studied with the Vincentian order in Italy, where he became interested in the missions. After ordination he volunteered for becoming the first English-speaking Canadian Catholic missionary in that country. From 1902 to 1918 he served in Ninghsien (Ningpo) and other cities in the province of Chekiang (Zhejiang). In 1918 he succeeded in opening a seminary to train missionary priests in Almonte, Ontario. One year later he founded a missionary journal, China (later Scarboro Missions).

In 1921 the seminary was moved to Scarborough, near Toronto. The Vatican assigned the new missionary society to the Chuchow (Lishui) area of Chekiang, to where Fraser set out in 1926 with five new members of his society. He was recalled by his board of directors in 1929 but returned to China in 1932. He worked in Kinhwa (Jinhua) until 1949, engaged in individual ministry, which was more suited to his temperament. After the Communist victory, he went to Japan, where he supervised the reconstruction of churches in Nagasaki, Fukuoka, and Osaka, where he died. By then, his society had approximately one hundred members, serving in Canada, Asia, Latin America, and the West Indies.


This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.


  • Grant Maxwell, Assignment in Chekiang: 71 Canadians in China, 1902-1954 (1982). Fraser’s autobiography and selected early letters are printed in consecutive issues of Scarboro Missions from January 1959 to January 1961.

About the Author

Achiel Peelman

Professor of Theology and Academic Vice-Rector, Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Canada