Benton Fraser (born 1962) is a constable of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Born and raised in the Northwest Territories, he works as Deputy Liaison Officer at the Canadian consulate in the American city of Chicago. He lives in a dangerous neighbourhood at apartment 3J at 221 East Racine and later at the consulate itself. Fraser's strange habits, such as tasting evidence and holding the door for anyone and everyone, add hilarity and whimsy to Due South.
As Fraser often explains, "I first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of my father, and for reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, I have remained attached as liaison with the Canadian Consulate." Fraser is a strait-laced Northerner, and his faith in the honour and goodness of others tends to lead to interesting and humorous moments. Described as an "outdoors Sherlock Holmes," his behaviour often leads to the frustration of his de-facto partner, Chicago detective Raymond Vecchio. His other companion, a deaf half-wolf named Diefenbaker after Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, reads lips in both English and Inuktitut, and often assists in the capture of criminals. In the third and fourth seasons of the show, Fraser teams up with Detective Stanley Raymond Kowalski, after Ray Vecchio goes undercover with the Las Vegas Mafia.
Fraser wears his uniform stetson hat both in uniform and out. When he loses it, he seems to get into trouble. Fans of the show have thus nicknamed it the "stetson of invulnerability." Fraser carries his paper money inside his hat. He frequently only has Canadian currency with him.
Benton Fraser was portrayed by Canadian actor Paul Gross who half-jokingly declared: "So much of tv or just life in general seems dominated by cynicism, it's only refreshing that he's someone who's actually good. And it's great to play because I was a very miserable, bitter, vicious, unhappy guy and now that I'm playing this part, I've become really nice and generous and I love everybody."
YouthEditBenton Fraser was born in Inuvik, Northwest Territories where he lived until the age of six. His mother Caroline was murdered by a smuggler at this point, and his father Robert Fraser, a RCMP officer, could not raise him on his own. The child was entrusted to his grandparents George and Martha Fraser who were travelling librarians. He spent time in Tuktoyaktuk, Aklavik and Alert among others, and travelled extensively across northern Canada, reading many of his grandparents' books and perfecting his education. The three settled near the Nakina River when Fraser was ten, and he there met his Tsimshian friend Eric who took him to a sweat lodge ceremony and helped him discover other Native traditions. The following year, the family moved to the eastern part of the Northwest Territories (now Nunavut) where Fraser made friends with an Inuit boy named Innusiq, a skilful caribou hunter he would later speak of with great fondness. At the age of twelve, he met his mentor Thomas Quinn, a Native Yukon man who initiated him to the art of tracking by smelling and tasting evidence. At thirteen, Benton Fraser spent more time in Inuvik and befriended Mark Smithbauer who would become a professional hockey player.
Fraser once tells of the many books his grandparents gave him for his birthday and Christmas instead of the toys he asked for. Martha Fraser, a former school teacher, invested time and effort in her grandson's upbringing, insisting on chivalry and good etiquette; she even taught him boxing from a book. However, the boy was not allowed to hunt with his friends and felt frustrated about this. He once rebelled and left on a hunting trip on his own. It is then that he first met Thomas Quinn who helped him see his motivation for hunting was wrong.
In one of the communities Fraser lived in, an Anglican minister would hold picture shows, and Fraser got to see Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life and The Passion of Joan of Arc, two films that would greatly nourish his idealistic temperament.
CareerEditFollowing in his estranged father's footsteps, Benton Fraser became a Royal Canadian Mounted Police constable in 1981. He worked in many remote Inuit hamlets including two-person detachments and became known for his endurance and skill. He was once transferred to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, but the city life was more than he could handle, and he soon asked to be sent back North. It was in 1992, while stationed at the Prince Rupert detachment, that Fraser met Diefenbaker, the timber wolf hybrid who saved him from drowning and became his police dog and faithful companion. Robert Fraser was assassinated by a Chicago hired gun in the Yukon in 1994. Fraser asked to be transferred to the Canadian consulate in Chicago in the position of Deputy Liaison Officer so he could take part in the murder investigation. He then got to meet Chicago detective Raymond Vecchio with whom he would create a solid bond in spite of their remarkable cultural differences. This investigation led the constable to uncover some serious corruption within the RCMP. His father was aware of this and meant to denounce the scheme, resulting in his death ordered by RCMP Superintendent Gerrard. Fraser was advised to remain in Chicago until the dust settled and he did remain for five years, working under the authority of Inspector Moffatt, then Inspector Margaret Thatcher who would grant him a transfer back North in 1999.
It is relevant to mention Benton Fraser remained a constable all this time, never attempting to reach a higher rank in the Force, as most officers do during their career.
Investigation Methods EditBenton Fraser's unique investigation methods consist mainly in smelling and tasting evidence to find the whereabouts of suspects. To Ray Vecchio's concerns about the safety of such practices, Fraser once answers: "I admit it's a calculated risk, Ray, but I'm a professional. This is not for amateurs." Smelling a dead man's hands and breath instead of performing a full autopsy is a method he finds less intrusive. He justifies this unusual approach by the fact that remote northern communities rarely have access to sophisticated post-mortem equipment. Trying to remember specific sounds is also a way of deconstructing the events of a crime and making sense of them. Observing a man's hands to determine his occupation is a technique he frequently uses. Benton Fraser is an artist and can easily draw sketches of witnesses and suspects to help identify and locate them.
Personal LifeEditBenton Fraser somewhat resents his father for having George and Martha Fraser raise him and putting his police duty first. He has a desire to know his father better, and starts reading the deceased officer's diary in 1994. Robert Fraser's ghost begins appearing and communicating with him later that year, enabling the young constable to find healing and forgiveness.
Fraser has an unfortunate recurring relationship with Victoria Metcalf, an Alaskan bank robber with whom he became infatuated after pursuing her into and then helping her survive a blizzard in the Yukon in 1985. After the storm was over, Fraser turned Victoria in to the authorities and she was sent to prison. She later resurfaced in Chicago, blackmailing Fraser into helping her use the money from the bank robbery to buy jewels on the black market, threatening to have Ray Vecchio framed for corruption. She left Chicago soon after her plot unraveled, and was not seen again.
Having little experience with romantic matters, Fraser appears to have suppressed his emotions, often for comic effect in the series, and buried himself in the masculine pursuits of law enforcement and camp craft. His super-human detective abilities provide humorous contrast with his inability to interact with women. His fixation upon the criminal Metcalf, and later, his superior officer, Margaret Thatcher (no relation to the British prime minister), was unreasonable, and he may have used his attraction to an unavailable woman as a mechanism for avoiding change in his own life.
In the ITV documentary South Bound co-star David Marciano said it was vital that the character of Fraser be both innocent but also unemotional. Actor Daniel Kash (Detective Louis Gardino in the series), in the same documentary observed about Fraser that "You'll never see that character cry. You'll sense that he'll be crying inside but you'll never see tears going down his face. He's just too buffed for that, and too reserved."
In the episode Bounty Hunter, Fraser meets Janet Morse, a sturdy woman who seems very compatible with him, but his father warns Benton off. It is later revealed that Morse is a married woman. Fraser Sr. tries to get his son to understand that the woman is not the one who is vulnerable, but Benton. For all of his son's physical self-reliance, the young constable needs emotional maturing.
Fraser eventually discovers he has a half-sister, Maggie MacKenzie, born of an illegitimate union between Robert Fraser and a married Inuvik trapper two years after Caroline's death. Because Robert Fraser is her father, MacKenzie can also see his ghost. Just like her father and half-brother, MacKenzie is a member of the RCMP. She arrives in Chicago pursuing the killers of her husband under circumstances similar to Fraser's own arrival in the city. She soon returns to Canada unlike Fraser who remains in Chicago for some time after this. The constable's homesickness and loneliness seem to reach their peak after meeting his sister, and his desire to obtain a transfer back North from his superior certainly has to do with his wish to be reunited with MacKenzie, the only family he has left.
Fraser eventually returns to Canada, and along with Stanley Kowalski, sets out on an adventure to find the hand of Sir John Franklin, an explorer who disappeared while trying to discover the Northwest Passage. As the series ended with the beginning of their expedition, it is unknown what has happened to Fraser or Kowalski since then. Fraser's closing remark is: "If we find it...we'll let you know."
Benton Fraser appears in all Due South episodes.