Born in Chatham, New Brunswick, Raymond Fraser attended St Thomas University where in his freshman year he played on the varsity hockey and football teams, and in his junior year was co-editor with John Brebner of the student literary magazine Tom-Tom. His 20-year correspondence and friendship with the poet Alden Nowlan date from this period.
While living in Montreal in 1966, Fraser and poet Leroy Johnson founded the literary magazine Intercourse: Contemporary Canadian Writing. In 1971 he was one of the founders of the Montreal Story Tellers Fiction Performance Group and the Rank Outsiders Poetry Extravaganza. His first book of fiction, The Black Horse Tavern (1973), was published in Montreal by Ingluvin Publications.
During the sixties Fraser worked as a lab technician, a high school teacher, and as editor and freelance writer for a number of tabloid newspapers.
In his 1985 essay "In the End, a Beginning: The Montreal Story Tellers", critic Keith Garebian writes: "Raymond Fraser's booming Maritime vigour and directness seem, with subtle undertows of psychological configuration, like a roaring tide battering the literary shore... Fraser's narrative ancestors are not only the old salts of every Maritime tavern or watering-hole, but also the more commemorated figures of Mark Twain and Hugh Garner."
To date (2016) Fraser has published thirteen books of fiction, three of non-fiction, and six poetry collections.
"Virtually all Raymond Fraser's fiction deals with a time and a place over his own lifetime, and is part of a larger entity covering a very wide range of inner and outer experience, providing endless pleasure, entertainment, and insight, both comic and tragic." ROBERT GIBBS, author, critic, & Professor Emeritus of English, UNB
Fraser’s writings have been praised by such literary figures as Farley Mowat, Irving Layton, Louis Dudek, Alden Nowlan, Sheila Watson, Leonard Cohen, Hugh Garner, and Michael Cook. Over the years he's received four Canada Council Grants, six New Brunswick Arts Board Grants, and the Canadian Writers’ Trust Woodcock Grant.
His novel, The Bannonbridge Musicians (Ingluvin Publications) was a finalist for the 1978 Governor General's Award.
"The Bannonbridge Musicians is well-written, it's touching, it's full of life, and it's funny." ANDRE VIGNEAULT, CBC Radio
"A rollicking tale, well told." WILLIAM FRENCH, Globe & Mail
In 2009, following publication of his novel In Another Life (Lion's Head Press), he received the inaugural Lieutenant-Governor's Award for High Achievement in the Arts for English Language Literary Arts.
"In Another Life is heart-warming and heart-wrenching all at once. It’s the real deal, a genuine masterpiece of storytelling, sadly beautiful, and perhaps Fraser's finest work to date." — Stephen Clare, The Book Club, Halifax
"It's a work of great love... a beautifully wrought story, tragic, poignant and full of rich detail. It's just masterful.” — Robert Lecker, Greenshields Professor of English, McGill University
Five of Fraser's books were listed in Atlantic Canada's 100 Greatest Books (Nimbus Publishing, 2009), a distinction shared by only three other authors.
Farley Mowat called him "the best literary voice to come belling out of the Maritimes in decades." Alden Nowlan wrote of him: "Raymond Fraser is one of the most gifted writers I know, and among his gifts are two that are all too rare: a zest for life and a sense of humour. He belongs to the timeless tradition of story tellers."
In assessing Fraser's poetry book, I’ve Laughed and Sung Through the Whole Night Long Seen the Summer Sunrise in the Morning, the poet and critic Louis Dudek wrote: "The poems have wit and a perfectly authentic consistency — a subtle play against a constant background bass of despair or cosmic absurdity. Unfailingly interesting and impossible to put down once I started. Wonderful stuff!"
Of Fraser's novel, The Madness Of Youth (2011), film-maker Philip Desjardins of Philip Desjardins Productions, wrote: "I'll go out on a limb and say this is the best writing Fraser has ever done ... There are great gobs of sadness, original comic touches and just the right blend of plot and narrative comments to make this a huge pleasure to read and a learning experience to boot. Fraser has always "owned" the restless, wandering Maritimer as a fictional character, but this complex, exasperating 'split personality character Quann' and the believable world(s) created for him is a real coup. There are so many fresh and honest insights into relationships that I haven't come across before in fiction. And having lived in 1960s Montreal — he's nailed that one solidly .... Great job!"
Besides the Miramichi and Montreal, Fraser has lived in Dublin, Paris and various parts of Spain and New Brunswick. He now lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
In 2012 he was made a member of the Order of New Brunswick, the province's highest honour, for his contributions to literature and New Brunswick's cultural life.
In May, 2016, he received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from his alma mater, St Thomas University.