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FRASER, Nelson and Margaret Kelly; Edward THOMPSON

The Fraser family story serves to illustrate the stamina and courage of an Irish pioneer women Margaret Kelly Fraser Thompson, who would see her husband and youngest child die at young ages, but go on to also experience the family’s climb to a better life through hard work and study. The Canadian Dream.

Nelson Fraser was born in Prescott, Canada West, and his wife Margaret Kelly was an Irish immigrant from Ballantrea, Derry, Northern Ireland.  In the 1851 Agricultural Census Arnprior. the young couple had a farm on Lot 10 or Concession 9, Fitzroy Township; 100 acres, 15 acres under cultivation.

1851 Personal Census- Arnprior/Fitzroy- Fraser Household: Line 10 to Line 16. Margaret is listed as Mary.

The young family at that time had four children, all born in Fitzroy Twp.: Isaac 5, Jane 3, William 1, Brock 12 and John 6. With the young couple just in their 20’s, Brock might of been a  “mother’s helper” or some such help to the family.

Fitzroy Harbour was a busy place. Incoming settlers came upriver from Montreal to Fitzroy and either came overland in parts of Renfrew County or continued by water up the Ottawa River. If Nelson wanted a larger farm, he and Margaret and children decided to move to Westmeath Township.

By the 1861 Census the fortunes of the Nelson family was now much more tenuous. Nelson was dead of unknown causes and the “Widow Fraser” is farming on Concession 8, Lot 18 –  Pleasant Valley Road, Westmeath.


1861 Census – Westmeath Township – Fraser Household. The Fraser Household is headed by “Widow” Fraser. What has happened to Nelson? Family is farming on Concession 8, Lot 18, Westmeath.

From: Enlargement of section of 1863 Lanark and Renfrew Map from Boston Public Library showing the farm property owned by Mrs. Fraser. Concession 8, Lot 18.

How hard was it for a women alone on a pioneer farm with small children? Margaret Kelly Fraser would have definitely suffered after the death of her husband.

However the next Census in 1871 showed Margaret had remarried the year before. 1870 Edward Thompson & Margaret Fraser Marriage  Edward Thompson and she had moved to Westmeath Village and he is a shoemaker and she a seamstress. The census-taker note in the right -hand column that “Mrs. Thompson was the Widow Fraser”

1871 Census Westmeath Village, – Thompson Household

The Fraser children still living at home were learning trades: William Fraser aged 20 was a Blacksmith; Thomas Fraser aged 18 was a labourer and George Allen Fraser aged 16 was a harness-maker.

Some info on the “Family of Nelson Fraser and Margaret Kelly” has been generously submitted by 3X great-grandson Richard to HWT Project website. Thank you Richard. His work has been augmented by information on the Census records.

Fraser-Thompson Stone in poor shape in the Westmeath Union Cemetery.

Nelson FRASER  Born 11 June 1826, Prescott County, Ontario. Died 11 Dec 1859 (presumably in Ontario).  Buried at Westmeath Union Cemetery.

Married to: Margaret KELLY,  daughter of William KELLY and Amelia ANDERSON. Born 1838 Mar 1828, Ballentrea, Derry, Ireland. Died 06 Nov 1898, Thamesville, Kent County, Ontario, buried at Westmeath.

Margaret Kelly Fraser Thompson died in Kent County at age 70 in 1898  of cancer in the care of  her son Robert Nelson Fraser , with whom she lived and who was also her medical doctor.

Nelson FRASER & Margaret KELLY had the following children:

  1. Isaac FRASER, about 1846, Fitzroy, Carleton County, Ontario, Canada
  2. Sarah Jane FRASER , born 15 Apr 1848, Fitzroy, Carlton County, Ontario, Canada. Died about June, 1900, location unknown.  Married Daniel MCKENZIE    1870 David & SarahMarriage.
  3. William Henry FRASER ; born 31 May 1851, Fitzroy, Carlton County, Ontario, Canada. Died 11 Mar 1940, Los Angeles, California, United States. Married Christina SOMERVILLE.
  1. Thomas FRASER Born 03 April 1853, Clifford, Wellington, Ontario, Canada. Died 06 Jul 1883, age 30, location not known, buried at Westmeath Union Cemetery with his mother and father.
  2.  John FRASER about 1853
  3. Robert Nelson FRASER; born 1859, Westmeath, Renfrew County, Died 04 Mar 1940, Vancouver, British Columbia.  He was a physician who ended up moving to Vancouver, B.C. where he was an alderman/reeve for several years.
  1. George Allen FRASER (1855-1910) married Catherine “Cassie” CASSIDY, 1880 George Allen & Catherine Marriage. In the 1881 Census George Allen Fraser was 26 and his occupation was sadler, Cassie was listed as from Ireland and brother Nelson who was living with them, was a college student.  1909 Allan Fraser Application for Alberta Homestead.   G.A. FRASER’s gravemarker is located in Vancouver stating he died in Lake Pontchartrain 24 Sep 1910, but no death record found in Louisiana;

i. Drayton FRASER born 1883

ii. Hugh Ellsworth FRASER, born:  1885, Westmeath Village, Ont.  1885 Hugh Ellsworth Birth.  Died 23 Nov 1921, Vancouver, British Columbia.

6. Charles Edwin FRASER,   24 April 1857, Clifford, Wellington County, Ontario, Canada. Died Oct 1877, of Typhoid Fever at age 20 years, buried at Westmeath Union Cemetery together with mother & father.  1877 Charles Death.