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Simon Fraser - Explorer by Barbara Rogers
Simon Fraser's Snuff Box by Hughie P. MacMillan
Bowering's Guide to Eastern Ontario (St. Andrew's West & Simon Fraser)
Questions answered on Simon Fraser - Vancouver Sun many years ago
Simon Fraser - Explorer Written by James Saunders and edited by Barbara Rogers, 28 December 1995.
History of the Settlement of Upper Canada, With Special Reference to the Bay of Quinte
The Cornwall Freeholder, notices the death of Mr. Frazer, of St. Andrew's, C. W., the discoverer of Frazer river, and of Mrs. Frazer, who departed this life a few hours afterwards. Mr. Frazer was one of the few survivors of the find old Northwesters, and his name, as the first explorer of the golden stream which bears it, will be remembered with honor long after most of the provincial cotemporaries are forgotton. The Freeholder says: Mr. Frazer was the youngest son of Mr. Simon Frazer, who emigrated to the State of New York, in 1773. He purchased land near Bennington; but upon the breaking out of the revolutionary war, he attached himself to the royal cause, and served as captain, at the battle of Bennington; where he was captured by the rebels. He died in Albany jail, about thirteen months afterwards, his end being hastened by the rigorous nature of the imprisonment. He was [p.102] married to Isabella Grant, daughter of Daldregan, and had issue, four sons and five daughters. The widow, with her children, came to Canada after the peace of 1783. Simon Frazer, the elder, the father of the object of this notice, was the second son of William Frazer, the third of Kilbockie, who, by his wife, Margaret, daughter of John McDonell, of Ardnabie, had nine sons:1st. William, the fourth of Kilbockie: 2nd. Simon, who came to America, as we have seen; 3rd. John, who was captain in Wolf's army, shared in the honors of the capture of Quebec, and was subsequently for many years, Chief Justice of the Montreal district; 4th. Archibald, who was Lieutenant in Frazer's regiment, under General Wolfe, was afterwards captain of the Glengarry Fencibles, and served in Ireland during the rebellion in 98; 5th. Peter, a doctor of medicine, who died in Spain; 6th. Alexander, who served as captain in General Caird's army, and died in India; 7th. Donald, a Lieutenant in the army, who was killed in battle in Germany; 8th. James, also a Lieutenant in the army, and one of the sufferers in the Black Hole of Calcutta, in 1756; 9th. Roderick, who died at sea.
Tuesday, December 15, 1998 - Page 25 KEN MCKENNA
John McDonald of Garth, the subject of two previous columns, has descendants in this area, among them Grant Campbell, QC and his brother Atholl Breadalbane Campbell, as well as their sister Mrs. Lorna Pierce of Kingston and their families. As noted previously, Garthand Simon Fraser met for the last time in 1859 and composed a short memo of their years of friendship and adventure.
To most Canadians, Simon Fraser is connected only with the river that bears his name. Few know that he lived in Glengarry and lies buried in St Andrews West churchyard.
Heres how Hugh MacLennan in Rivers of Canada describes the 800-mile Fraser River: This is the most exciting country in Canada,,and I dont see how anyone could visit any part of it without longing to return. Its beauty makes you catch your breath. But it was a westerner, Bruce Hutchison, who remarked that the beauty of the most spectacular parts of the Fraser River is that of a nightmare. This is the savagest of all the major rivers of America. It is probably the savagest in the world.
This is the river that Simon Fraser, John Stuart and their NorWesters, voyageurs and Indians navigated for 36 days in birch-bark canoes in 1808, thinking that it was the Columbia and that it would provide a safe route to the Pacific. They quickly realized that they had made a terrible mistake, but there was no way to stop. For hundreds of miles, the river, has few real banks, the rushing water swirling between sheer cliffs a, thousand feet high.
Fraser recorded the terrible fear that they would not survive the tremendous gulfs and whirlpools... ready at every moment to swallow a canoe with all its contents.
When they finally passed through the last of the terrible rapids now fittingly known as Hefls Gate and reached calmer water, they abandoned their canoes and bought dugouts from a friendly tribe. Finally, they concluded that their expedition was a failure. They returned to their beached canoes, and retraced their way back up the river!
This journey was even worse. They were running out of food and the Indians had become hostile, raining rocks on them from the cliffs. But they made it.
Bill McIntyre, publisher of The Glengarry News, is the only man I have ever met who has followed Frasers exploit down this fearsome river. He tells me that the large inflatable raft that held him and his companions was tossed about so wildly that they sometimes found themselves completely turned around and carried up against the current.. Sometimes the raft dropped suddenly and they found themselves staring up at a wall of water towering over their heads. But at least they knew~ that others had survived this terrifying ride and that they would eventually reach calmer water and safety. Simon Fraser and his companions in their fragile birch-bark canoes had no such consolation.
Fraser was not born in Scotland but in Bennington, Vermont, the son of Highland settlers who had come to what was then British North America. When the American Revolution began, Simon Frasers father,. an army officer, was captured by rebel forces and thrown into prison. He eventually died there and Simon and his mother Isabella, ne Grant, fled to Canada and settled in Glengarry.
There is a strange sidelight to Frasers family history which involves Alexander Macdonell of St Raphaels, the man who became the legendary Big Bishop, and the mystery of the origins of James MacPhersons 18th century publications of what he said were translations of the pre-Christian Gaelic poems of Ossian. The most popular of MacPhersons Ossianic verses was the epic Fingal. It became a best-seller; it was Napoleons favourite reading and he carried it on his campaigns.
MacPhersoh always claimed that he had (or had seen) the Gaelic originals, but never revealed them. Cynics claimed that he was a fraud. The controversy has never been resolved. But some clues may (or may not) be found in the following possibilities.
Simon Frasers father was reputed. to have brought with turn to Vermont what might have been some of the original Gaelic verses that had inspired MacPherson. They were destroyed when the Fraser home was. burned by the American rebels.
Bishop Macdonell in his memoirs claimed that as a boy in Glen Urquhart, he often visited an aunt who would let him read an ancient leather-bound collection of Gaelic poems, said to have been studied by MacPherson. She was a Fraser of Culbockie, and the collection was later alleged to have been taken to America by a relative. That relative may have been Simon Frasers father.
Chart by F. R. McDonald