March 25, 1961 – May 18, 2020
Robert Wayne Fraughton, who went by Wayne, passed away suddenly on Monday, May 18, at Moose Creek Lodge, Yukon, where he lived with his wife, Maja.
Three months before his death, he was skidooing through a blizzard in North Fork Pass – at forty below, and in a year with record snowfall – to rescue his daughter and niece from a snowshoeing trip gone wrong. People familiar with Wayne will know that he did this with love and laughter and good humour. Everyone knew: he was the man to call in a disaster.
Wayne was born in Ontario in 1961, into a family that would grow to six children: Joe, Arthur, Wayne, Barry, Sherry and Ray. His brother Arthur sadly passed away shortly before Wayne was born. The family lived in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia until Wayne was eleven, when they moved to Beaver River. Even as a child he was happiest outside, and during their first summer out of the city, Wayne built lean-tos in the woods behind their house, lined up his sister’s barbie dolls to practice shooting with his pellet gun, and live-trapped geese and raccoons, which he kept in the barn until the astonished game warden forced him to release them. He also convinced his parents to let him have two carrier pigeons, provided they were of the same sex. By accident or design, they were not, and the family was soon overrun by birds. During their years in Beaver River, Wayne met Terry Deveau, who would become his lifelong friend (and occasional lobster-fishing partner).
When he was twenty-one, shy and wearing an old leather hat, Wayne followed his older brother Joe to the Yukon and fell in love with the wilderness there. He and his first wife, Joanne Bell, ran a trapline in the remote Hart River region for many years. They travelled the mountains on foot and by dogsled, snowshoe and canoe, and when their daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, were born, they added diapers, dolls, books, and the occasional pet cat to the ridiculous mix. This, too, Wayne did with love and laughter and (mostly) good humour.
Wayne met Maja Nafzger in 2005, and when they fell in love he became Moose Creek’s handyman, sometimes-cook, and all around fix-it wizard. Although he pretended to be grumpy about working with the public, he was kind and patient with tourists, and always happy to tell them (partially true) stories about his adventures. Here, too, he was on-call for people’s emergencies. Whether you had locked yourself out of a vehicle, needed to butcher six pigs in an afternoon, or were watching your dog struggle to give birth, he was always ready with a slim jim made out of haywire, a shotgun, or just expertise and advice. The only reward he ever accepted was a cold beer (which he called his “barley stew”). He spent many happy years helping on friends’ properties – Dan and Evelyn at McQueston Lodge, Sylvia and Berwyn at their birch camp, and Danny McDiarmid on his trapline.
During his years working for Yukon Highways, he became known for being a hard worker who liked to laugh. In between patching potholes, he identified plants and birds, and had an uncanny eye for spotting wildlife on the hillsides.
Wayne and Maja were romantic and business partners for almost fifteen years before marrying, in a joint ceremony with his brother Joe and his wife Donna, in 2019. Together he and Maja raised chickens, travelled to the Hart River, Nova Scotia, and Maja’s home country of Switzerland, and survived long winters together by laughing and crafting many a tablecloth, scarf, and model boat.
Wayne was beloved by friends and family, and his loss will be felt for many years. He is survived by his wife Maja, his daughters Elizabeth Engel (and her children Wesley, Robbie, Miles and Emily), Mary Fraughton (Sam) and Kyrie Robinson, his brothers Joe (Donna), Barry (Cindy), and Ray (Melisca), his sister, Sherry Goudey, and numerous nieces and nephews.
A celebration of Wayne’s life will be held in June (date and time TBA) at Moose Creek Lodge.
Cards and condolences may be sent to Maja at Bag 1, Mayo, YT, Y0B 1M0.
“Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight / And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, / Do not go gentle into that good night.” – Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”Obituary