Alexander Fraser.

The clan Fraser in Canada : souvenir of the first annual gathering, Toronto, May 5th, 1894 online

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With the Maple Leaf Entwined for Canada.]


of the
First Annual Gathering

Toronto, May 5th, 1894.



Mail Job Printing Co.


The chief object aimed at by the publication of this little volume is to
furnish, in a concise and inexpensive form, information regarding the
Clan Fraser not readily accessible to clansmen in Canada. It is also
hoped a perusal of the contents will strengthen the clan sentiment, and
deepen the interest in the ancient clan bond and in the long and
illustrious history of the Clan. But the book being essentially an
account of the first Annual Gathering held by the Clan in the Province
of Ontario, it will be an interesting souvenir of that pleasant event;
and probably the hope may not be too sanguine that its appearance will
mark an onward step in the record of the Clan in the Dominion.

The publication has been undertaken under the auspices of the
newly-formed Clan Fraser in Canada, and the thanks of the editor are due
to Professor W. H. Fraser, of Toronto University, and to Mr. Alexander
Fraser (of Fraserfield, Glengarry), the Printing Committee of the Clan;
also to Mr. J. Lewis Browne, for the music to which the "Fraser Drinking
Song," written by Mrs. Georgina Fraser-Newhall, has been set.

A. F.
Toronto, February, 1895.


Introduction 9
Fraser's Highlanders 11
Seventy-First Regiment 15
Fraser De Berry's Organization 16

Formation of the Clan Fraser in Canada 21

First Annual Clan Dinner 22

Toast of "The Clan," containing references to: -
Origin of the Clan, Change of Surnames 31
Origin of the Name "Fraser" - The Norman-French Theory 37
Mr. Skene's Position Criticised 39
The Bond between Lord Lovat and the Marquis de la Frezelière 40
Scottish Origin of the Name 42
Mr. Homer Dixon's Argument 43
The Frasers in the Lowlands 45
The Clan Fraser Established in the Highlands 49
Succession of the Chiefs 50
Alexander of Beaufort 56
Succession of the Strichen Family 58
A Curious Prediction 59

Reply to the Toast 62

A Guest Honored 65

Toast of "The Clan in Canada." 67
" "Distinguished Clansmen" 73
In Art 74
In Science 76
In Literature 81
In Theology 87
In War 88
In Politics 90

Organization of the Clan 92

Georgina Fraser-Newhall 93

Fraser's Drinking Song 96

Simon Fraser, Discoverer of the Fraser River 98

Simon Lord Lovat, Beheaded on Tower Hill 103

Brigadier Simon Fraser 104

Second Annual Dinner 107

Constitution and By-laws of the Clan 109

List of Officers 112

Frontispiece - Armorial Bearings of the Clan
Menu and Toast List Card 23
Alexander Fraser (MacFhionnlaidh) 33
Robert Lovat Fraser 63
Ex-Mayor John Fraser 75
William A. Fraser 79
Georgina Fraser-Newhall 94
Simon, Fourteenth Lord Lovat 102
Brigadier Simon Fraser 105


The Gael has proved himself not less a pioneer of civilization, and
adaptable to changing conditions of living, than a lover of the
traditions of his race, holding tenaciously by ancient usages and
manners, and stirred profoundly by racial sentiment. As a pioneer he has
reached "the ends of the earth," possessing the unoccupied parts of the
world. As a patriot he has established not a few of his cherished
customs in the land of his adoption. His love of kindred is probably his
most notable characteristic; it found embodiment in the clan system,
under which his race achieved its greatest triumphs and enjoyed its
greatest glories, and the bond of clanship, with its inspiring memories,
the true clansman will never disregard. While the clan system, as such,
would be impracticable in the British colonies under present-day
conditions, even more so than in its old home in the Highlands of
Scotland, its spirit lives, leavening the system of government and
exercising no small influence in the fusion of heterogeneous elements
into new and distinct peoples.

These observations are applicable in a peculiar degree to Canada, where
a very large number of clansmen have found a second Highland home. Many
of the forests which rang with the clash of the claymore in the struggle
for British supremacy, fell afterwards to the axe of the Gaelic settler.
His trail lies across the continent, from ocean to ocean. His energy and
intelligence have been honorably felt in every walk of life, and his
enterprise and skill have done much to develop and upbuild the Dominion.
No body of people occupies a more distinguished place in this respect
than the Frasers; indeed, even among the clans, no name is more closely
identified than that of "Fraser" with the early days of Canada. To tell
of their services on the field, in government, in commerce, in the
professions, would occupy a large volume, as would a similar story of
other clans, and an attempt to do so, in an introductory chapter, would
be altogether out of place, but there are a few events of importance to
the country in which the Frasers figured to which it will be well to
allude with fitting brevity.

Those who hold the Norman theory believe the first of the name of
"Fraser" in Scotland, "came over with William the Conqueror," and they
ask no better proof of the antiquity of the name. If the early
connection of the Clan with Canada be any satisfaction to clansmen
there, then it may be stated with truth that the first settlers of the
name "came over with Wolfe the Conqueror," and their services were as
conspicuous in the military operations conducted by the intrepid young
General, who gave his life for his country on the Plains of Abraham, as
were those performed by any brave knight, whose name may be found on the
roll of Battle Abbey.

The story of Fraser's Highlanders forms one of the most romantic
chapters in the annals of the clans, and should the time come when it
is fairly and fully given to the world, it will prove a valuable
addition to the history of Highland life and of early Canada.

For the part taken by the Clan in the uprising of 1745, Lord Simon was
beheaded on Tower Hill and the Fraser estates were forfeited to the
Crown. The Master of Lovat appeared at the head of the Clan on the
Stuart side; but, as he was young at the time and had acted by his
father's command, he was pardoned, and in 1757, in accordance with the
wise, conciliatory policy of Mr. Pitt, he was commissioned to raise a
regiment of his clansmen, of which he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel
commanding. In General Stewart's Sketches a brief but interesting
account of this, the old Seventy-Eighth Regiment, is given, an extract
from which will show the strength of the clan ties then existing, and
the high character of the men who were raised on the Lovat territory.
General Stewart says: "Without estate, money or influence, beyond that
influence which flowed from attachment to his family, person and name,
this gentleman (the Master of Lovat), in a few weeks found himself at
the head of 800 men, recruited by himself. The gentlemen of the country
and the officers of the regiment added more than 700, and thus a
battalion was formed of 13 companies of 105 rank and file each, making
in all 1,460 men, including 65 sergeants and 30 pipers and drummers."
All accounts concur in describing this regiment as a superior body of
men; their character and actions raised the military reputation and gave
a favorable impression of the moral virtues of the sons of the
mountains. The uniform was the full Highland dress, with musket and
broadsword, dirk and sporran of badger's or otter's skin. The bonnet was
raised or cocked on one side, with a slight bend inclining down to the
right ear, over which were suspended two or more black feathers.

The regiment embarked at Greenock, and landed at Halifax in June, 1757,
and followed the fortunes of the war for six years. "On all occasions,"
says Stewart, "this brave body of men sustained a uniform character for
unshaken firmness, incorruptible probity and a strict regard both to
military and moral duties." Their chaplain was a man of note as of
stature. His name was Robert Macpherson, but he was known in the
regiment as _An Caipeal Mor_, being of large physique. He exercised the
traditional authority of a Highland minister, and we are told that the
men were always anxious to conceal their misdemeanors from him.

The cold climate, it was feared, would prove too severe to the Frasers,
who wore the kilt, and an attempt, kindly conceived, no doubt, was made
to change the "garb of old Gaul" for the trews. The proposal aroused
strenuous opposition; officers and men opposed the change and finally
were successful. The strength of feeling awakened may be judged from the
words of one of the soldiers in the regiment: "Thanks to our generous
chief, we were allowed to wear the garb of our fathers, and, in the
course of six winters, showed the doctors that they did not understand
our constitution; for in the coldest winters our men were more healthy
than those regiments that wore breeches and warm clothing." A somewhat
amusing anecdote is related of how the Nuns of the Ursuline Convent,
where the Frasers were quartered in 1759-60, endeavored to induce
Governor Murray to be allowed to provide sufficient raiment for the
kilted soldiers, but, of course, without success.

At Louisburg, Montmorenci, Ste. Foye and on the Plains of Abraham, the
Frasers distinguished themselves greatly. One of the most eloquent
tributes to their prowess was spoken by the Hon. P. J. O. Chauveau, the
French-Canadian, at the inauguration in 1855 of the Statue of Bellona
sent by Prince Napoleon for the monument erected on the famous
battlefield. The French-Canadian historian Garneau, and other writers in
whose veins courses the blood of the vanquished at Quebec, have borne
generous testimony to their military bearing and good conduct. Garneau
writes of the battle of Carillon, 1758: "It was the right of the trench
works that was longest and most obstinately assailed; in that quarter
the combat was most sanguinary. The British Grenadiers and Highlanders
there persevered in the attack for three hours, without flinching or
breaking rank. The Highlanders above all, under Lord John Murray,
covered themselves with glory. They formed the troops confronting the
Canadians, their light and picturesque costumes distinguishing them from
all other soldiers amid the flames and smoke. The corps lost the half of
its men, and twenty-five of its officers were killed or severely
wounded;" and the genial Le Moine, half Highland and half French, says:
"The Frasers of 1759 and of 1775 readily courted danger or death in that
great duel which was to graft progress and liberty on that loved emblem
of Canada, the pride of its forests - the Maple Tree. If at times one
feels pained at the ferocity which marked the conflict and which won for
Fraser's Highlanders at Quebec, the name _Les Sauvages d'Ecosse_,[1] one
feels relieved, seeing that the meeting was inevitable, that the sturdy
sons of Caledonia, in Levis' heroic Grenadiers, did find a foe worthy
of their steel. Scotchmen, on the field of Ste. Foye, in deadly
encounter with France's impetuous warriors, doubtless acknowledged that
the latter were not unworthy descendants of those whom they had helped
to rout England's soldiery on the fields of Brangé, Crevant and

[Footnote 1: It is but fair to state that Fraser's Highlanders showed no
more ferocity than the usages of war justified. There were barbarous
atrocities committed, undoubtedly, but for these, the Highlanders were
not responsible. - A.F.]

At the close of the war many of the officers and men settled in the
Provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia, having obtained their discharge and
grants of land in the New World. It was not long ago computed that the
descendants of these Highlanders in the Province of Quebec numbered
3,000, but merged in the French-Canadian peasantry to such an extent
that even the names have lost their original form. In Nova Scotia the
name Fraser flourishes in every township of every county. There have
been many accessions to the Clan since the days of the Seventy-Eighth
and the Battle of the Plains, but at least four-fifths of those bearing
the Clan name in Canada to-day, trace their descent from the victorious
clansmen of Cape Breton and Quebec.

On the outbreak of the American War the Royal Highland Emigrants were
embodied, and in that regiment, commanded by the gallant Lieut.-Colonel
Allan MacLean (son of Torloisk), 300 men who had belonged to Fraser's
regiment enlisted. In the interval between the cession of Canada and the
American War, the Lovat estates were restored to the Master of Lovat,
for his eminent services (the title was kept in abeyance), and he was
asked to raise a regiment, the Seventy-First, of two battalions. This he
speedily accomplished and soon found himself at the head of a double
regiment numbering 2,340 officers and men. They behaved with the highest
distinction throughout the war and earned flattering encomiums from the
commanding officers. General Stewart, than whom no more competent
authority has written of Highland regiments, and but few who have
understood Highland character better, whose Sketches have furnished
facts to all subsequent writers on the subject, speaks of the
Seventy-First, Fraser's Highlanders, thus: "Their moral conduct was in
every way equal to their military character. Disgraceful punishments
were unknown. Among men religious, brave, moral and humane, disgraceful
punishments are unnecessary. Such being the acknowledged general
character of these men, their loyalty was put to the test and proved to
be genuine. When prisoners, and solicited by the Americans to join their
standard and settle among them, not one individual violated the oath he
had taken, or forgot his fidelity or allegiance, a virtue not generally
observed on that occasion, for many soldiers of other corps joined the
Americans, and sometimes, indeed, entered their service in a body." The
Seventy-First did not leave many behind as settlers, and the reference
to it here is only permissible as illustrating the high character of the
Clan, of which the Seventy-Eighth, which left its quota of settlers
behind, formed an important part. General Simon Fraser's intimate
connection with Canada, as commanding officer of Fraser's Highlanders
(1757), and in other interesting respects, may suffice as a reason why a
good anecdote of him may be here related. When the Seventy-First
mustered at Glasgow, Lochiel was absent, being ill at London. His
absence had not, evidently, been explained to his company, for they
demurred to embark without their chief; they feared some misfortune had
befallen him. General Fraser had a command of eloquent speech and he
succeeded in persuading them to embark with their comrades. It is
related that while he was speaking in Gaelic to the men, an old
Highlander, who had accompanied his son to Glasgow, was leaning on his
staff gazing at the General with great earnestness. When he had
finished, the old man walked up to him and, with that easy familiar
intercourse, which in those days subsisted between the Highlanders and
their superiors, shook him by the hand, exclaiming "Simon, you are a
good soldier, and speak like a man; so long as you live, Simon of Lovat
will never die;" alluding to the General's address and manner, which was
said to resemble much that of his father, Lord Lovat, whom the old
Highlanders knew perfectly.


We have now seen the origin of the Frasers in Canada; they came in war,
but the swords were readily turned into ploughshares, and the arts of
peace cultivated with a constancy and success that equalled their
intrepidity and valor on the battlefield. Years rolled on, the Clan
multiplied and prospered, and, in the course of time, a project was
entered upon for the formation of a new Clan Fraser on Canadian soil.
The leading spirit of the movement was the Hon. John Fraser de Berry, a
member for the Legislative Council of the Province of Quebec. A meeting
of Frasers was held in response to the following public advertisement:


THE FRASERS of the Province of Quebec are respectfully requested to
meet at the office of Messrs. THOMAS FRASER & CO., at the Lower
Town, Quebec, on SATURDAY, the twenty-fifth day of January, 1868,
at TEN o'clock A.M., to take into consideration the advisability of
organizing the "CLAN" for the Dominion of Canada.


At this meeting preliminary steps were taken to further the object in
view, and another meeting was held on February 8th, 1868, of which the
following report has been taken from the _Quebec Mercury_:

At a meeting of the "Frasers" of the Province of Quebec, held at Mrs.
Brown's City Hotel, on the 8th February, 1868, Alexander Fraser, Esq.,
notary, ex-Member for the County of Kamouraska, now resident in Quebec,
in the chair; Mr. Omer Fraser, of St. Croix, acting as Secretary.

1. It was unanimously resolved:

That it is desirable that the family of "Frasers" do organize themselves
into a clan with a purely and benevolent social object, and, with that
view, they do now proceed to such organization by recommending the
choice of

A Chief for the Dominion of Canada;
A Chief for each province;
A Chief for each electoral division;
A Chief for each county;
A Chief for each locality and township.

2. That the Chief of the Dominion of Canada be named "The Fraser," and
that he be chosen at a general meeting of the Frasers of all the
provinces; the said meeting to be held on the second Thursday in the
month of May next, at ten o'clock in the forenoon, in such place in the
City of Ottawa as will then be designated.

3. That it is desirable that the Chief of the Province of Quebec and the
Chiefs of the electoral divisions represented at said meeting be chosen
forthwith; and that the Chief elected for this province be authorized
and empowered to name the Chiefs for such divisions as are not
represented at present, the said selection shall, however, be subject to
the approbation of the Frasers of the division interested, who will
make the same known at a meeting to be called without delay, by the
Chief of the Province of Quebec, with the view to proceed to the
nomination of the Chiefs of counties comprehended in the said division.

4. That Chiefs of counties be obliged to convene also without delay, a
meeting by which shall be chosen all the Chiefs of parishes or

5. That it shall be the duty of the Chief chosen for a parish or
township to report to the Chief of his county as early as possible, the
number of Frasers residing in his parish or township; and of the Chief
of the county in his town, to report to the Chief of his electoral
division, who will transmit it, together with his own report, to the
Chief of his province; the said report to contain the number of Frasers
in his division, in order that the force of the Clan in each province
may be ascertained on the 14th of May next, at the meeting at Ottawa.

6. That it is advisable that the meeting at Ottawa, representing all the
Clan, be composed of all its divers Chiefs from the Chiefs of provinces,
even to the Chiefs of parishes or townships inclusively, and any other
Frasers who may desire to attend at the same.

7. That the above resolutions and the nominations, which are to take
place this day, or which may be made hereafter by the Chief of the
province, shall be considered as preliminary and temporary, as they are
made with the sole object of organizing the Clan, and not to bind in any
manner whatever the Frasers, who will be at perfect liberty to
reorganize themselves completely anew at the Ottawa meeting.

8. That the Clan shall not be considered to exist until and after the
next anniversary or Dominion Day, the first of July next, under such
rules and regulations as will be adopted at the meeting at Ottawa; the
Frasers of this meeting protest energetically against any intention,
which might be attributed to them, of dictating their will to their
namesakes of this province; they are simply attempting to organize and
with a benevolent object, to adopt temporarily the above resolutions the
better to attain that end.

9. That the sister provinces of Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
be respectfully requested to organize themselves, and to send delegates
to the meeting at Ottawa, on the fourteenth of May next, that time
having been selected because in all probability the parliament will
still be in session, and the members may attend the session before

10. That all proceedings be respectfully submitted to the "Fraser"
family, which is one of the most ancient, one of the most noble, one of
the most influential, and one of the most numerous families of the
Dominion of Canada.

11. That all the newspapers throughout the Dominion of Canada, who have
subscribers of the name of Fraser, are requested to publish the
proceedings of this meeting.

After which the meeting proceeded to the nomination of the following
officers, who were unanimously elected:

I. To be the Chief of the Province of Quebec:

The Honorable JOHN FRASER DE BERRY, Esquire, one of the members of the
Legislative Council of the said Province, etc., being the fifty-eighth

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Online LibraryAlexander FraserThe clan Fraser in Canada : souvenir of the first annual gathering, Toronto, May 5th, 1894 → online text (page 1 of 8)