February 5, 1932 – November 23, 2018
Frances Jean was a trail blazer, an astute business woman, an historian, author, and fearless ambassador for Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada and the Queen. She was the beloved matriarch of her family and was held in high esteem by all who knew her.
Frances was born in Westbank, British Columbia on February 5, 1932. In 1967, she and her late husband Bernard moved to Fort McMurray where they raised their family and became pioneers of the community. Over the years, Frances owned and operated over a dozen successful businesses including the first newspaper in Fort McMurray, the McMurray Courier, where she acted as reporter, writer and editor. Copies of this paper are currently held in the National Archives in Ottawa.
2018 marked her 50th year as a Fort McMurray businesswoman. Although never elected to public office, she was a powerful force at every level of government. Frances served as a director on multiple municipal, provincial and federal boards and volunteered thousands of hours on numerous non- profit boards. She received countless awards and accolades from all levels of government. She was a vigorous advocate for the Fort McMurray long- term care facility at Willow Square, and in 2005, initiated a government petition to twin Highway 63, funding for which was announced federally and provincially in 2006. She fell in love with northern Alberta and loved to be on the Clearwater river with her family.
To celebrate her 80th birthday, she launched her book, “More than Oil: Trappers, Traders & Settlers of Northern Alberta”. She also loved her garden and loved to travel. She had travelled to over 150 different places and every continent. A strong but humble Christian, she read her bible faithfully every morning and over the years quietly donated millions of dollars to Christian charities. She believed that true happiness could only be found in doing things for others.
Frances worked full-time in her business up until her passing. She is survived by her children Mark, Phillip, Evelyn and Brian and step-children Mary, Charles, Lawrence, Blair, Guy and sister Isabelle. She has been blessed with scores of grandchildren and great grandchildren who will remember her fondly. Frances was adored by her family for her love, kindness, patience, firm honesty and of course, her weekly home-made bread, scones and jam.
A celebration of life was held on December 1st at NorthLife Fellowship Baptist Church in Fort McMurray, Alberta.