Brian Fraser had one last ride with his friends today.
Fraser, 56, died suddenly on July 22 at the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, B.C. His friends and family gathered at Lougheed's Funeral Home to bid farewell to the man whose nickname was Bear. A lifelong rider, it was only fitting that his final ride would take place in a motorcycle hearse.
Hank Brouwer, of Brandtford, Ont., is the owner of Boot Hill Hearse, and he offers a unique service to those whose sendoff requires something a little different than the traditional Cadillac. A motorcycle hearse is just what it sounds like – a Harley Davidson Road King Trike tows behind it a unique funeral hearse complete with glass windows that make the interior visible to any onlookers.
Brouwer has been offering the service in Ontario for two years.
“I fell into the business by accident,” he said.
He was burying a friend in Detroit, Mich., where he first saw a motorcycle hearse.
“My entrepreneurial mind was going a mile and minute, and I decided to bring one to Canada,” he said.
The hearse was custom built in Pennsylvania. It's the only one in Canada right now, Brouwer said, but there are about 35 of them in the U.S.
“We've had it for two years, and we've done a lot of promotions at motorcycle shows,” he said. “We are talking to more and more funeral homes, and they all think it's a great idea.
“The motorcycle world loves it.”
He said he takes joy in being able to take a “brother to the grave.”
“For us, this is a lifestyle. I've buried many guys, and we always do a bike procession, but I always felt having a Cadillac up front wrecked the statement we were trying to make.”
Fraser's wife, Tobey, said this is the sendoff her husband wanted.
“He loved motorcycles his entire life,” she said. “Two years ago, he got his first Harley Davidson and named it The Black Pearl.”
The couple first saw photos of the (Boot Hill) hearse about a month ago, when a friend who had attended a funeral in southern Ontario posted photos of it online.
“When Brian saw it, he said that's what he would like at his funeral,” she said. “Little did I know, a month later, we are using the hearse.
“Brian was an amazing man, and I wanted to give him the sendoff he deserved,” she said. “All of his friends wanted to go for one last ride with him, and I hope in Heaven, he's riding around on a Harley, looking down on us, and saying 'right on.'”
Motorcycles had been a major part of their relationship, Tobey said. They met at a motorcycle rally in Port Dover, and they have travelled long distances across Canada and the U.S.
The motorcycle hearse led the procession from Lougheed's to Chelmsford then to Dowling.
“Brian was a Dowling boy,” Tobey said. “That's where we're going to say our final goodbye. He's being cremated and then buried in Port Dover next year.”
In May of next year, another ride, complete with the motorcycle hearse, will take place before burying Fraser's ashes.
Fraser is survived by his children, Dayna and Bryan Fraser of Chelmsford, and Hannah Cederblad of Australia.