Former Roughrider Stewart Fraser felt at home in Saskatchewan because of the people in the prairies.
Canadian Football Hall of Famer Ron Lancaster invited Fraser to one of the team’s luncheons and the Minto, NB native was asked: ‘Being from out East, being a Maritimer, what do you think of Saskatchewan people?’
“I got up and paused for a moment: ‘I’ll have to say that the people I’ve met in Saskatchewan are as close to Maritimers as I’ve ever met in this country,'” Fraser recalled on The Rod Pedersen Show.
“There was a little bit of a pause… ‘We like that, that’s a good answer.'”
Fraser spent parts of six seasons with the green and white Riders. He was primarily a receiver, but the five-foot-10, 180-pounder completed one pass, ran the ball, punted, and returned for Saskatchewan while being an emergency option on defence.
“I was a disaster defensive back, that means if three of the guys got hurt, they’d throw me in — never practiced one down as a defensive back. I was a wide receiver initially, then inside receiver, returned punts, held for converts and field goals,” Fraser explained.
For years, Fraser was the holder for Canadian Football Hall of Fame kicker Dave Ridgway. The pair spent a lot of time together at practice and one day wanted to try a fun way of kicking field goals. Fraser laid down on the Taylor Field turf and pinned the ball between his finger and nose for Ridgway to kick it through the uprights.
“He was deadly accurate as you all know. You have to trust each other, don’t you? He trusts me, so I trust him. I don’t know if [Glen] Suitor ever did that, I’m not sure Suitor had the gumption to do that,” Fraser said with a laugh.
“I got a lot of airtime for a guy that didn’t play a whole bunch, so people got to know me. Perhaps my nature ingrained me to the Saskatchewan people. I had so much fun, my wife Patty and I, we just love Saskatchewan.”
Fraser can never be thankful enough to Lancaster for telling him he was good enough to play for the Roughriders. The proud New Brunswicker believes he’s the only player to have played all of his amateur football in the maritime province to go on to the CFL.
“I used to sing some old sea shanties when we had a winning game: ‘What do you do with a drunken Rider?’ That one was a popular one that we always sung after we won. It was the best place for me to play,” the University of New Brunswick graduate said.
Fraser caught 82 passes for 1,096 yards and three touchdowns while returning 256 punts for 2,008 yards and one major. That return touchdown went 78 yards, it was the standout play of Fraser’s career and took place against the Montreal Concordes in 1982.
“I caught the ball going towards our own end zone, over my shoulder, pirouetted once, made one move and ran down their sideline in front of the bench,” Fraser said.
“It was a highlight, I’ve never seen it, so if anybody can find it out there, I’d like to see it.”