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THERESE MACADAM: Racing through life

Julien Frison is shown with his racehorse Classic Smiley. CONTRIBUTED
Julien Frison is shown with his racehorse Classic Smiley. CONTRIBUTED

Julien Frison has been around horses for most of his life.

Waking up each day at 5 a.m. to tend to each horse was never a chore but a passion. Frison had seven racehorses and some were champions.

“Sometimes, racing horses you don’t get home until two in the morning,” said Frison.

His horses have raced in Prince Edward Island, Montreal and Windsor, Ont. as well as at Foxboro in Boston.

“I had 1,812 starts. Behind the gate and about 265 of those races were wins and over 200 seconds.

“Box Office raced the top class in the Maritimes and lived to be 33 years old. She just passed on a year ago Christmas.”

Now Frison only boards horses in his barn but still tends to them every day.

Born in 1939 in Reserve Mines, Frison is a businessman who built a garage where he lives on Wilson Road. He is a mechanic by trade and started working as an apprentice mechanic when he was 15, after attending Central and Caledonia schools.

The garage became a service and gas station named Frison’s Garage in 1964.

He previously owned a business called Mr. Autoparts which he sold in 1964.

While he was building Frison’s Garage, Frison was a long-haul trucker carrying fish and produce throughout the eastern United States and Canada.

He remembers seeing lots of ideas for business ventures like sub shops, burger stops and coffeehouses before they were franchised in Canada.

Always with an eye on business, he thought the ventures would be profitable and if he had not been so focused on his garage he would have gone after one.

When Frison opened Frison’s Garage however, he was contracted by the local school board to drive a bus. While running his garage he drove the school bus for almost 40 years.

Frison was also a town councillor for the district of Reserve Mines and the Gardiner for 15 years. He worked very closely with the community in Gardiner Mines, helping the fire department, acquiring grants, and acquiring buildings when the old schools closed down.

He was active with the senior citizens hall in Reserve Mines until he ran out of time for other pursuits.

He volunteered for both the Cape Breton Miners’ Museum, the historical society and Old Town Hall museum in Glace Bay for about 20 years working tirelessly on their causes.

He is also into rental property but his advice on that business is to stay out because it is not profitable.

In his retirement years, he works as a driver for Carabin’s Tour Bus company. He drives tourists from all over the world around the Maritimes and particularly the Cabot Trail.

“I have learned a lot about the Maritimes and met very interesting people.”

He continues some of his volunteer work in his retirement along with tending to the horses.

Frison is of Belgium descent, his father, William, immigrated to Canada as a coal miner. His mother, Bertha, was a homemaker who worked odd jobs on the side. Frison had three sisters, Marie, Diane and Sandra.

He was married on Sept. 26, 1959 and he and Colleen had four children, Beverly, Johnny, Bobby and Donna. Bobby has continued in his father’s footsteps and now owns the garage.

Frison says he grew up just like everyone else did in town.

“Nothing out of the ordinary,” he said of his life.

Nothing out of the ordinary, he may say, but a life well lived nevertheless. It has been full of passionate pursuits and dedication to excellence. Frison’s life is not so ordinary.

Therese MacAdam is a Glace Bay writer with a deep interest in the community and its people. She can be reached at


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