FRASER, Hugh and Elizabeth Selves Fraser
Hugh Fraser, a native of Berwick-on-Tweed, Scotland, had come to the British Colony of Canada as a young bachelor-soldier and fought with his regiment, in the War of 1812-14, along the St Lawrence River. As a Sergeant with the Royal Marine Artillery, he was in charge of the ammunition stores at John Crysler’s Farm.
He had gotten a taste of what the New World could offer. After the war he was given a grant of land in Pembroke Township on Lot 14, Second Concession, and served as the first Pembroke Township Clerk. These land grants were commonly given to ex-soldiers as a recognition of “Service to the Crown”; as the government of the day sought to populate these new regions with people loyal to the Crown. His sons Robert and John took up adjoining farm and all farmlands were under cultivation. The locals referred to Hugh Fraser as “Highland Hugh“.
Fraser bought timber limits from the government. His sons all had farms and all engaged in lumbering with their father. He also built a general store in Westmeath Village. Three of the sons, ALEXANDER, JOHN and THOMAS, lived in Westmeath for many years and took an active interest in everything that concerned the welfare of the village and farming community.
An excellent summary of Hugh Fraser and his family was prepared by Dr. Alistair Fraser and archived in the notes of Westmeath Township historian Evelyn Moore Price. It was submitted to this registry by Gail Hennessy Ethier.
“Hugh Fraser, a native of Berwick-on-Tweed, Scotland, was stationed in the British Artillery in Kent, England, with the rank of Chief Gunner. During the War of 1812-1814, he was placed in charge of the Armouries Store at Crysler’s Farm on the St. Lawrence River. At the close of the campaign the regiment returned to England where he married a Welsh girl in Gosport, Kent, named Elizabeth Selves. Both of her Christian names have been carried by many of her descendants.
“Within a year, a daughter was born who later became Mrs, Robert Coburn. At this time they were living in the Army barracks. Married men with children were frowned upon in the Army of that day and Hugh Fraser was released from Army service. It was natural that they would move to a new country, as England had suffered too many years of war. Elizabeth had lost two of her brothers in the Battle of Waterloo.
“Before they reached Canada on a slow-sailing vessel, another child, Robert, was born at sea in 1822. Upon their arrival in Canada, their first home was in Nepean. While there three more children were born: Richard, Margaret and John and in 1830 twins were born- only one survived – Alexander.
“Hugh Fraser had been trained as a land surveyor and practiced this work while in Bytown while Col. John By was building the Rideau Canal from Bytown to Fort Frontenac.
“Lured by tales of lumbering operations on the Upper Ottawa, the family moved on up the Ottawa River and in 1832 and settled on land close to the new settlement – Campbelltown and adjoining Miramichi (later named Pembroke). The land -100 acres- was located on Lot 14, Concession 2, as it is today. It was some time before the land survey was completed and the farm deeded to Hugh Fraser, Yeoman of the Township of Pembroke – District of Bathurst – Province of Canada – for the sum of 40 pounds.
“The first log cabin was built on the river banks, far from what is now the bank of the Ottawa River. Early settlers have related that they came up by canoe where Hwy.17 is today and after studying the swampy terrain we realized there was an island where Cotnam Hill is today. When the trees were felled, the land was drained into a creek entering the Ottawa River on Lot 15.
“On this creek Hugh Fraser built and operated a lath mill. The adjoining two farms were acquired by two sons, Robert and John and the entire property farmed.
“Hugh Fraser worked at surveying the townships and later with his sons, built a store at Westmeath. The Island Hill was chosen as the family cemetery and eleven are buried there. In later years these were disinterred, some buried in Westmeath and others in Pembroke cemeteries.
“Shortly after the first log cabin was built on Lot 14, the youngest child was born on Aug.6, 1832. His name was Thomas. When the five sons of Hugh grew to manhood, the father boasted that he, with his five sons, measured 36′ in height.
“Hugh Fraser as the first man to own an ox-cart in Pembroke.
“Margaret Fraser married John Murphy and after the birth of three children: twins Hannah and Jane and John, he went off to sea and nothing more was heard of him afterwards. Hannah m. Gideon Adams, Jane, twin of Hannah, married Henry Whitmore. John, unmarried, went to Western Canada with Hugh Coburn and family and worked with the Coburns. After John Murphy’s departure, Alexander Fraser took Margaret’s three children: Hannah, Jane and John to Ottawa to live with them. They all received good educations, Hannah studied music and became an accomplished pianist. When she married Gideon Adams and came to live in Westmeath, she taught piano to many village children.”
HUGH FRASER (1788-1861), born Scotland, married in Gosport, England, to ELIZABETH SELVES (1791-1869); she was from Kent, England, of Welsh extraction. They are both buried at Westmeath. The family came to Canada as “Immigrant Ancestors” in 1822.
The Frasers initially settled in Nepean Township, Carleton County, 1824Nepean,Carleton Land Grant, and when surveys were completed and tracts of land came available they moved northwest to Renfrew County and were the seventh family to settle in Pembroke Township in 1834.
This account of Hugh’s early history is taken from Ancestry.ca:
He was sent with his regiment to Canada to fight in the War of 1812 where he served at Chrysler’s farm on the St. Lawrence River in charge of munition stores, holding the rank of Sergeant (not Major as some historians have suggested). He was transferred back to Kent at the end of the war.
Apparently while serving in the war in 1815, Hugh was able to recapture “several rafts of square timber and planks, which were the property of his Majesty” from the U.S. and petitioned for reimbursement for his trouble and risk in the amount of three pounds, 12 shillings. It was suggested that on his way to England he stop in Quebec and speak to the proper authority. However he didn’t have the opportunity as he was ordered to take the Niger Frigate.
In 1820 he wrote, expressing a willingness to appear to plead his case. Whether he eventually was reimbursed is not known.
On his return to Kent, Hugh was stationed at Fort Monkton at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour with the Royal Marine Artillery. Just when he met and married Elizabeth Selves, of Welch decent, is unknown. The Fraser family felt that he had married beneath him. Perhaps they looked askance at the affairs of her father, William Selves, son of William and Elanor Jessop Selves. On the 25th of February 1780, William married Jane Clark, 18, who was seven months pregnant at the time. She died at age 26 and a year later he married Elizabeth Chantler, our great great great grandmother, the daughter of Thomas and Ann (baker) Chantler on the 23rd October 1789. Their first child, a boy was baptised on the 25 of July 1790. Another young lady in the community had an illegitimate son by William Selves, who she named William. Baptised on 6th September 1789. He died at age six in 1794.
Hugh and Elizabeth’s first child was a daughter, Emma, born 24th December 1817, baptised at Alverstoke on 11th January 1818. According to Hazel Bromley (Fraser), married men living in barracks were frowned upon so Hugh obtained a discharge and he and Elizabeth and Emma sailed to Canada on a slow boat.
Elizabeth’s and Hugh’s second child, Robert, was born at sea in 1822. Elizabeth had been a governess in England and apparently taught the children aboard the ship and later her own children before the first school was built.
Because of his service in the army, Hugh received a land grant of 100 acres. “hugh Frazier (spelled incorrectly) of the township of Napean in the country of Carleton in the district of Bathurst, a tract of land situate in the township of Goulborn in the county of Carleton in the district of Bathurst” dated August 1824 for the sum of 40 pounds.
Hugh and Elizabeth Fraser’s family consisted of two daughters and five sons:
1. Emma “Emmy” Fraser (1817-1888) m. Robert Coburn Sr. (1812-1890) from Ireland. Settled in Western Canada. Copies of correspondence between the Coburn cousins and their Westmeath cousins were found in a collection of old documents.
1907, December 30, – H.F. Cobourn to J.B. Fraser H.F. Coboun letter to JB Fraser, Ottawa, ON., December 30, 1907. These two first cousins (& grandsons of Hugh and Elizabeth Fraser), are corresponding. Coboun is writing from Alberta and explaining the hardships and successes of cropping on the prairies. He is replying to inquiries by JB regarding the buying of land in the West. The Post Script mentions John Murphy, their cousin and son of their Aunt Margaret Fraser Murphy (1827-1874). H.F. wonders what to do with him and his drinking.
1908, December 28, – H.F. Cobourn to J.B. Fraser In this letter between the cousins, H.F. explains some land that is for sale – even outlining it on a map – which contains the potential for a coal mine. He also tells of the hardships faced by a Davis family which he has been helping; but says they don’t have $20 between them and wonders how can they get on.
2. Robert Fraser (1822-1887), born at sea on route to Canada, m. Hannah Currie (1829-1890). They had a large family of 12 children and settled in Pembroke Township. See CURRY entry.
i. Hugh Fraser in 1889 was married to a Margaret “Maggie “Cotnam, from Allumette Island, daughter of George Cotnam and Catherine Lee. 1889 Double Fraser-Cotnam Wedding.
ii. John Fraser (1847-1918) m. Alice Amelia Huntington (1853-1890) also of Westmeath, daughter of Samuel Addams Huntington (1811-1894) and Ann Catherine Bower (1823-1908). See HUNTINGTON entry. Also Bower Genealogy.
iii. Additional sons & daughters – unverified.
3. Alexander Richard Fraser (1825-1892) was born in Nepean Township and was commonly called Richard. He would have three wives and father 10 children. He married (1) Jane Armstrong (1833-1869) of Sheenboro, Pontiac County, Quebec. She died of consumption at age 36 years.1869Armstrong Death Cert. Richard would die in 1892 and is buried at Westmeath. 1892 Richard Death Cert
The children of Richard Fraser and Jane Armstrong were:
i. Elizabeth Fraser (1857-1882) died at age 25.
ii. Thomas Fraser (1859-1945) would in 1889 marry a second Cotnam sister Annie Elizabeth “Lizzie” Cotnam (1864-1956), from Allumette Island. 1889 Double Fraser-Cotnam Wedding. They had four children: Olive Fraser (1899- ), Inez Selves Fraser (1896-1973), Harvey Fraser (1900-died as infant), Hazel Fraser (1901-1993).
iii. Foster Fraser (1860-1934)
iv. Hugh Alexander Fraser (1862-1932) at age 35 years would marry Annie Hogan, daughter of Thomas & Sarah Hogan of Waltham, Quebec. Their child was Richard Thomas Fraser (1899-1972).
v. William Armstrong Fraser (1864-1896) m. Margaret Bulmer, daughter of John and Mary Bulmer. Child: Isobel Armstrong Fraser.
vi. Robert Burns Fraser (1864-1896) m. Estelle Chatterton.
vii. John Richard Fraser (1866-1941) m. Annie Louisa Smith (1873-1913). They are buried in Westmeath.
The children of John Richard Fraser and Annie Louisa Smith are:
a. Harriett Nancy Fraser (1899-1943)
b. Alice Fraser (1904- ) 1904 Alice Fraser Birth Cert m. Clinton Rupert Hennessy (1906-1948), Clint was a son of O.M.Hennessy and Emma Elizabeth Carlson Hennessy. See HENNESSY entry. They lived in Temiskaming, Ont. Clint and Alice are buried in the family plot in Haileybury ON. They had one son named Hugh who died in Thunder Bay circa 1989. He was married but had no children.
c. Annie S. “Kitty” Fraser (1908-1979) m. Hector Hickey (1904-1982). Hec was the son of Peter Ethier and Cassie Anderson of Westmeath. See ETHIER entry. They also, like Alice and Clint, raised their family in Copper Cliff but are buried at Westmeath.
After he was widowed, Alexander “Richard” Fraser then married the sister of his late wife (2) Nancy Armstrong (1838-1874) in 1871, who like her sister Jane, was also a daughter of Foster Armstrong and Catherine McInnes of Sheen Township, Pontiac County, Quebec. Sadly Nancy would die a short three years later. 1871 Richard-Nancy Marriage.
Alexander Richard Fraser again married (3) Christina Ferguson Carmichael (1843-1921) and their children were:
viii. Annie M Fraser (1878 –
ix. Jane Armstrong Fraser (1881 – 1964)
x. James Fraser (1881 –
4. Margaret Fraser (1827-1874) m. John Murphy who would be lost at sea. Three children:
i. Hannah Murphy m. Gideon Adams. See ADAMS entry.
ii. Jane Murphy m. Henry Whitmore and lived in Greenwood area, Westmeath Township. See WHITMORE entry.
iii. John Murphy went to Western Canada with his Aunt Emma, (his mother’s eldest sister), and Uncle Robert Coburn. (See his cousin H.F Cobourn’s letter to J.B. Fraser, included in #1. Emma “Emmy” Fraser (1817-1888) above.)
5. John Roderick Fraser (1827-1896) – unmarried. Employed as Wood Superintendent in the Fraser Lumber Company headed by his youngest brother Alex. Buried at Westmeath Union Cemetery.
6. Thomas Fraser (1832-1907) married Margaret Mathieson (1832-1935) in 1854 in Beachburg, Ont. She was the daughter of William Mathieson (1800-1871) and Catherine McLaughlin (1810-1885). Margaret lived to within a few months of her one hundred and second year and was an outstanding personality. Thomas Fraser owned a sawmill in Westmeath and served as Westmeath Township Reeve and a member of Renfrew County Council.
1871 Census of Westmeath Township:
|Margaret H. Fraser||12|
Thomas Fraser & Margaret Mathieson Fraser had 11 children in all:
i. Catherine “Cassie” Fraser (1855-1930) – a spinster.
ii. Alexander “Red Alex” Fraser (1857-1936) m. Agnes McDonald (1860-1925). He is listed as a merchant on his death certificate. He carried on the Westmeath store that his Uncle Alexander had built and the contracting business in partnership with Mr. John Paterson. See PATERSON entry. But the heady early days of huge squared timbers being hauled out of the tributaries of the Ottawa River were over.In the succeeding lumbering hey day in the Upper Ottawa Valley, the numerous Lumber Shanties needed to be outfitted with all supplies and the horses working in those camps needed to be feed. Everything from salt pork, beans, and tea; and huge amounts of hay and oats, were contracted through the firm Fraser & Paterson Store. Fraser became well known to area farmers and producers as he bought their crops to then sell on to the lumber companies. After their death, the business was sold to Gordon and Stella Schultz. For more on the store: Fraser Paterson Store.
In the 1891 Census for Westmeath Township:
The children of Alexander Fraser and Agnes McDonald are:
1. Ethel Fraser (1882-1970) would live on in the Village of Westmeath, marrying Dr. W. B. Timm, and their large red-brick home with large surrounding gardens, initially built by Dr. John Graham, on the Main Street, is a village landmark. Timm, Ethel Fraser.
2. Thomas Fraser (1884- ) m. Maria Akesson (1882- ), the daughter of Ola Akesson and Hannah Jackson (1844-1915). Their daughter Katherine Abigail Fraser (1911-1981) m. Eldon Barr (1917-1973). 1911 Katherine Fraser Birth , Katie Barr would teach for many years in the local school S.S. # 2 in Westmeath Village. Barr, Katherine She and Eldon had two children; son Fraser Barr and daughter Margaret “Peggy” Helen Barr Anderson. Katie’s granddaughter and her family still live in the family home on the Main Street of Westmeath Village.
3. Edna Fraser (1886- 1972) m. John Alfred Wickens; lived in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan. WICKENS,Edna Mae Fraser
4. John Alexander Fraser m. Gladys Irene Davidson. See DAVIDSON entry,
5. Alexandra “Zan” Fraser MacKinnon. Alexandra Fraser m. Daniel MacKinnon
6. Margaret Ross, Margaret Fraser m. Horace Ross and they farmed on the Seventh Concession, Westmeath, Twp., now Pleasant Valley Road.
7. Burns Fraser m. Lila Ross and lived in Toronto.
iii. Margaret Hannah “Anna” Fraser (1859-1937) m. William Cunningham Kilpatrick (1859-1914). They raised 6 children and lived in Nippissing District and Sudbury, Ont.
iv. William Mathieson Fraser (1862- ) m. (unknown spouse) and had two children. Resident in Kimberly, Saskatchewan, in 1916 Census.
v. Martha Emma “Em” Fraser (1863-1937)
vi. Hugh “Burns” Fraser, MD (1866-1922) m. Alice Ross Young (1870-1936). He trained as a doctor in Toronto and was married in 1897 in Waterloo, Ont. They then lived in Montreal, Quebec.
vii. Mary Fraser (1867-1951) m. Alexander McKillop, son of Archibald “Archy” McKillop (1819-1895) and Marion Templeton (1836-1902). They had seven children and lived first in Ottawa and then in Moosejaw and Swift Current, Saskatchewan.
viii. Alice Ellen Fraser (1870-1923) – a spinster.
vix. Nina Sarah Fraser (1876-1960) m. James A. Bennie (1871-1959). He was born in Rochu Fendu and they married in Sudbury and later lived in Beachburg. They had five children.
7. Alexander “Alex” Fraser (1830-1903) – the surviving twin at his birth – m. Sarah Elizabeth Chamberlain (1835-1910), daughter of Hiram Wyman Chamberlain (1812- 1854) and Elizabeth Minerva Hayes (1816-1898). See CHAMBERLAIN entry. When Chamberlain unexpectedly died of cholera, the young son-in-law Alex took over the Chamberlain lumber merchant business. The youngest of Hugh’s sons, would go on to become a man of wealth and stature in colonial Canada.
The Fraser family’s influence in and around the young Westmeath Township was strongly felt. Alex joined his father and brothers in lumbering and store-keeping. The Westmeath village store that his father Hugh Fraser had first built was replaced with a more modern building of lumber frame. His nephew Alexander “Red Alex” Fraser (1857-1936), son of his brother Thomas Fraser, partnered with John Paterson and they expanded the Fraser-Paterson General Store further. See PATERSON entry.
Alex founded the Fraser Lumber Company. His brother John was Woods Superintendent while Alex was Financial Manager. He became one of the Upper Ottawa Valley’s well-known timber barons using the wealth and knowledge of his father before him. During the peak of the lumber trade on both sides of the Ottawa River, many families owed their livelihood to the company. Winter shanty life in the lumber camps became the stuff of legend and song, throughout the Valley.
In the section on Lumbering in this website, read the details of Alex Fraser’s climb to the top of that industry. Timber Baron Alex Fraser, Arklan Farm & Fraser’s Landing.
In David Lee’s excellent Lumber Kings and Shantymen: Logging and Lumbering in the Ottawa Valley, the distinction is made between the “Timber Barons” who made their fortunes in the squared-timber trade and the “Lumber Kings” who in later years expanded the output of their sawmills and maintained high levels of lumber production. Lee asserts that: “Only 50 or so succeeded in building their forest operations to a scale where they could be considered barons or kings.” David Lee goes on:
Timber men were markedly conservative. Even those who had amassed enough money to invest in large scale lumbering preferred to stick with their first interest. For example, one well-known timber baron was Alexander Fraser, who sent rafts down the Ottawa River every years for nearly 50 years; despite his success in timber (he left an estate of three to four millions dollars), he never ventured into lumbering (though his sons did, on a minor scale).
The two properties north of Westmeath Village owned by Alex became the summer home for his family and also the working farm, “Arklan Farm”, supplying a number of jobs to area men.
Alexander Fraser’s long and very successful career as a well respected merchant and lumberman is outlined in the Obituary and Funeral Summations, 1903. Taken here from Ancestry.ca. Fraser, Alexander Obit & Funeral.
Alexander Fraser (1830-1903) married Sarah Elizabeth Chamberlain (1835-1910) and their six children are:
i. Emma Fraser (1857-1859) – died at 2 years.
ii. John Burns (J.B.) Fraser (1859-1939) m. Beatrice Bertha Curran (1860- 1933) in 1884 in Hamilton, ON. She was the daughter of Jonathan and Mary Curran. 1884 JB and Beatrice Marriage On the marriage reg. he is shown as working in Nipissing District. He gained a full working knowledge of the forests and the lumbering industry of eastern Ontario having gone into the his father’s business as a young man. 1933 Beatrice Curran Fraser Death
In the 1891 Census for Westmeath Township JB is listed as a merchant. He and his brother W.H.A. ran the Fraser Lumber Company. They also collaborated with Western Quebec lumberman George Bryson forming the Fraser-Bryson Lumber Company.
Ottawa Citizen JB Fraser Funeral -From Ancestry.ca.
Children of JB and Beatrice Fraser are:
a. Hugh Neil Fraser (1885-1970), the eldest son would became a rancher in Okanagan Falls, British Columbia.
In 1914 he had joined the military and served overseas in World War 1. 1914 Hugh’s Attestation. He was interned in the Prisoner of War camp at Crefeld in German-occupied Denmark.
He initially thought he would not marry and thus would not inherit from his father’s estate.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette – 27 January 1940 – Gives Up Riches to Remain Single, Okanagan Falls, B.C. January 26, 1940 (Canadian Press)
Major Hugh N. Fraser, rancher and heir to nearly $1,500,000, prefers to remain single than marry to collect the money.
He said today his father, John Burns Fraser, a former President of the Bank of Nova Scotia, who died November 2, left half his estate, valued at nearly $3,000,000, to Major Fraser, in trust until he married. If he dies a bachelor, his share goes to his brother, Lieutenant Colonel John D. Fraser, the other principal beneficiary.
Mr. Fraser said he “will try and not marry” explaining he would receive the income from his share of the estate anyway.
At age 36, he married Lillian Phyllis Williams in 1922. 1922 Lillian & Hugh Marriage. No children. The marriage did not last, ending in divorce, and Phyllis remarried in 1927 to Percy Clarence Fauquier.
b. Lt. Col. John Donald “Jack” Fraser (1893-1970) m. Loretta Cecelia Dowling (1894- ) in 1916, the daughter of Dr. J.F. Dowling.
Jack Fraser was one of the hundreds of young men leaving for the Western Front in October of 1915. He was a member of the 8th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles (CMR) on review by the Governor General on Parliament Hill, Ottawa. The Fraser Family Collection of photos includes a series taken of that event. 1915 8th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles (CMR), Ottawa.
Following his military service in WW1, Jack took over the businesses started by his grandfather, father and uncle. Jack joined the Reserves and became a commanding officer of a militia regiment. He and his family enjoyed the society of Ottawa with his serving as the honorary Aide du Camp (ADC) to the then Governor General, Lord Tweedsmuir.
Jack, Loretta and the two girls enjoyed summers at Arklan Farm, Westmeath.
“Captain Fraser”, as the locals all called him, liked sports in general and took time to enjoy his timber limits, canoeing and hunting throughout the Fraser Lumbering Company holdings as his father, uncle and grandfather all had. A family summer camp was built by the Frasers, – much more rustic than the Arklan Farm summer house – situated upriver from Westmeath, north of Point Alexander and Deep River, located on the Quebec side, in Malakoff Township. That name was used also for their log lodge and the family enjoyed their time at “Malakoff”.
The children of Jack and Loretta are:
1. Joan Elizabeth Fraser (1918-1972) served in London during WW2 as a member of the Red Cross. Joan’s RedCrossService1939-45
2. Beatrice Bertha Fraser, known as “BeBe”, also took up Red Cross work and in the 1945 Voter List for Ottawa West, she with her parents and sister Joan, are living in Apt. 11 of the Roxborough Apartments in Ottawa. BeBe Fraser (1922- ) m. David Arthur Deziel (1915-1990) of Windsor in 1945. 1945 Bebe & David Marriage.He had been Missing in Action in 1942 and had a newspaper article written in his hometown of Windsor, ON. to that effect. 1942 Windsor Newspaper Capt. Deziel MIA.
c. Beatrice Isabel Fraser Patridge Mitchell Bulmer of Florida had three husbands and lived her adult life in the USA. Beatrice Fraser m. (1) Donald Partridge of Montreal; two daughters: Gloria Partridge and Elizabeth Fraser Partridge.
Beatrice Partridge m. (2) Archibald Mitchell
Beatrice Mitchell m. (3)____ Bulmer.
iii. Jessie Fraser (1860-1949) m. Rev. Samuel Daw (1858-1947) and they lived in Hamilton, Ontario.
They had 7 sons; 2 of whom died in action in WW1: Alexander Fraser Daw (1885–1968); Herbert Bethune Daw (1887–1916); Philip Ford Daw (1889–1944); Charles Edmund Daw (1890–1972); Walter Seymour Daw (1894–1926); Frederick Pole Daw (1896–1916); William Henry Daw (1902–1986).
iv. William Henry Alexander (W.H.A.) Fraser (1863-1918) married Mary Anne Porter (1865- 1920). She was the daughter of James Porter and Eliza Bower. 1885 William & Mary Marriage.
On their marriage registry of December 30, 1885, in Kemptville, Grenville County, Ontario, he is listed as a “lumber merchant” for the firm Alexander Fraser. The family spent their summers at the Fraser’s summer home Arklan Farm, north of the Village of Westmeath, on Rapid Road and their winters in Ottawa, Ontario, with the children in private schools. However he would come to Arklan on lumbering business frequently during the winter season using the good rail links. Steam engine trains came to Beachburg & Pembroke and a train also ran up the Quebec side of the river to Waltham.
He was always known by his initials “WHA” to outsiders but within the family he was affectionately known as Willie.
WHA’s responsibilities with the lumbering business was to outfit the lumber camps – a massive job to source, purchase and transport all the required equipment and necessities for men and horses for the whole winter season.
A dedicated outdoors-man, he saw as much of the company’s holdings for himself as he could; often traveling into the lumber camps or onto the timber limits to assess them for himself. In person he could size up the worth of a man. And the worth of a stand of timber. His home base was at Westmeath and he knew all the farmers, teamsters and jobbers of the area.
WHA Fraser died of pernicious anemia – the inability to take up vitamin B12,- at the young age of 54 years. This is a draining condition causing fatigue and weakness in the sufferers. To a man who spent so much of his time in the bush crossing rough terrain to check the timber limits, this untreatable, (at that time), and therefore fatal disease, would be devastating.
Pembroke Standard, February 7, 1918.
THE PASSING OF W.H.A. FRASER — PROMINENT BUSINESS MAN — NATIVE OF WESTMEATH TOWNSHIP
Mr. W. H. A. Fraser died Monday evening at his home, 180 Metcalf street, Ottawa, after a brief illness.
Mr. Fraser was born at Westmeath, Ont., April 7, 1863 and was a son of the late Alexander Fraser. He spent most of his life at Westmeath, in the county of Renfrew but removed to Ottawa in 1898, still retaining his interest in his birth place, an dividing his time between there and the city.
The late Mr. Fraser was a partner in the firm of Fraser & Co., a director of Fraser-Bryson Lumber Co., and the Ottawa & Hull Power Co., as well as being interest in various industrial enterprises.
He married Mary Ann Porter in 1885 by whom he is survived. He leaves one daughter, Mrs. B. M. Armstrong, of Winnipeg. Mr. J. B. Fraser, of Ottawa, is a brother and Mrs. Daw of Hamilton and Mrs. Fee, of Los Angeles, are sisters.
He was an Anglican in religion. He was a director of the County of Carleton General Protestant Hospital.
The funeral takes places on Thursday afternoon at 2:30 to Beechwood cemetery.
Those in attendance at the Ottawa funeral from Westmeath were: Alex Fraser, Peter Ethier, Soloman Jones, J.R. Fraser, Mathew Barr and from Pembroke attending were:
E.A. Dunlop, MPP; J.G. Forgie, Foster Fraser. 1918 February 8, WHAFraser Funeral
In 1898 a horse thief, who was a former employee at the Fraser farm on Rapid Road, was sentenced to 3 years in Kingston Penitentiary. 1898 Fraser Horse Thief Sentenced.
In the 1901 Census for Westmeath Township the family is made up of: W.H.A. Fraser age 37; Mary A. Fraser age 35; two domestic servants: Elsie Leach and Tillie Burke and Fraser children:
1. Charlotte “Lottie” Ethel Marie Fraser (1886-1963) m. Bartle Mahon Armstrong (1878-1930). 1963 Charlotte Death Reg
2. Mildred Jessie Fraser (1889-1913) m. Brice Sheppard Evans. Child: Brice Evans. This grandchild would be taken into WHA and Mary’s household and raised there with provisions in WHA’s Will made for him.
3. Alexander Gordon Fraser (1890-1916). The family suffered a huge loss when at age 26, the only son was killed in action while, serving with the 21st Battalion, First Infantry Brigade. He died of wounds at the Battle of Courcelette (Battle of the Somme), and is buried at the British Military Cemetery at Puchevillers, France.
At 7 p.m. on the 15th of September, 1916, he went up with a party carrying ammunition and was to take command of Sunken Road Trench. When between Sunken Road and the Sugar Refinery a shell burst near him, wounding him in the head and several parts of the body. He was taken to No. 3 Casualty Clearing Station where he succumbed to the effect of his wounds on the 18th September, 1916. From Bower Genealogy.
4. James Porter Fraser (1891) – infant death.
Last Will and Testament of W.H.A. Fraser: William Henry Alexander Fraser died a very wealthy man, even by today’s standards. In his will, probated in Carleton County (Ottawa) in 1927, he generously provided for his brother John Burns Fraser, his wife Mary Ann Fraser, his daughter Lottie Ethel Marie Armstrong and his grandson Brice Evans, born to his predeceased daughter Mildred Jessie Evans. Brice Evans was only 4 months old at the time of his mother’s death and W.H.A. had custody of the child and maintained and supported him in the Ottawa Fraser home. He sets out full inheritance provision to this grandchild.
His sisters Caro F. Fee and Jessie Daw are also remembered in the will. Two non-family persons are mentioned in the will: a friend Miss Mary Hendrie Haslett of Hamilton and his “servant” Peter Hickey (Ethier) of Westmeath. Peter Hickey had worked for many years for Mr. Fraser and was held in high regard. See ETHIER entry. See Page 8, Item 19 in the 1918 Will.
In his lifetime Mr. Fraser and his wife had given funds to the Westmeath Methodist Church and other good causes and in his Will he bequeathed sums to Ottawa Hospitals.
Of note in the 1918 Will is the timely stipulation that:
“no portion of the assets shall be distributed or paid during the war to any beneficiary or creditor who is a German, Austro-Hungarian, Turkish or Bulgarian subject or other alien enemy wherever resident, or to any one on his behalf or to on behalf of any person resident in Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey or Bulgaria….”.
It was wartime and while the Great War raged in Europe, the British Empire and its Allies wanted to be assured no help would be given to its enemies. He had already paid heavily in the loss of his only son. To read the full Last Will of W.H.A. Fraser of Westmeath and Ottawa: W.H.A. Fraser’s Probated Will, 1918. For more on W.H.A. Fraser go to: http://bowergenealogy.ca/11/14922.htm.
v. Caroline “Caro” Fraser (1866-1949) m. J. Fee
vi. Martha “Madge” Fraser (1867-1904), in California, USA. She is commemorated on her parent’s tombstone at Beechwood Cemetery. Madge Fraser Obit
Further Notes on the Fraser Family
Alexander Fraser Sr.
“Alexander Fraser, of Ottawa, one of the leaders of the square timber trade, was the son of Hugh Fraser, a Highlander who served in the War of 1812 and afterward settled at a point near Ottawa, where Alexander was born in 1830. He embarked in the lumbering industry and in 1853 took out his first raft of square timber on Black River. His career was successful from the start, and his operations rapidly increased until during the ’70’s he had frequently a dozen or so rafts simultaneously on the way to market. He was known from the headwaters of the Ottawa to Quebec. He was a man of great energy and determination of character, was possessed of a keen foresight and sound business judgment and often by tacit consent was accorded a leading part in the management of large enterprises in which he was interested. He was one of the founders of the Bank of Ottawa, the Lachine Rapids Hydraulic Company and the Ottawa Trust & Deposit Company and was also heavily interested in the Upper Ottawa Improvement Company and the Keewatin Lumber Company.
“Mr. Fraser sustained great reverses from time to time, but his strong financial standing enabled him to bear them easily. In 1895, upon his retirement from active business, his sons, J. B. and W. H. A. Fraser, organized the Fraser Lumber Company. Mr. Fraser died June 1, 1903, aged seventy-three years.”
“A steamboat tug named the Alex Fraser both moved passengers and towed timber on the Lower Allumette Lake for many years. The company also had a steamboat paddle-wheeler named the John Fraser operating on Lake Nipissing which suffered a fiery end.” http://www.pastforward.ca/perspectives/Jan_262001.htm
Editor’s Note: There is a discrepancy in the research. Below, Evelyn Moore Price names Alexander’s father as a Richard Fraser, a non-commissioned officer with the rank of Sergeant, while other writings name him as Hugh Fraser and a “Chief Gunner” in the artillery regiment, or Master Gunner, with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer. Still other writings give Hugh Fraser the rank of Major.
A strange incident occurred in 1892 when an inquiry was held into a possible hoax. 1892 Fraser Dynamiting Inquiry.
by Evelyn Moore Price, The Pembroke Observer, Feb. 1983.
Alexander Fraser was one of the pioneer lumbermen of the Ottawa Valley born in Goulborn Township , Ontario, in July 1830, son of Mrs. and Mrs. Richard Fraser. His father was a non-commissioned officer in a highland regiment of the British Army. Early in the 19th Century they came to Canada with the sappers and miners who were brought out to work on the construction of the Rideau Canal.
“On severing his connection with the Armed Forces, Sgt. Fraser went up the Ottawa River as far as Pembroke, locating himself on land that later became a valuable and extensive farming property. As a boy Alexander Fraser grew to know the ways of the woodsmen, the ways of rivermen and in fact acquired knowledge of the lumbering industry, which being as it were a second part of his nature, contributed largely to his successful career as a lumberman.
“While still young he left the parental roof and was employed as a clerk in the general supply store of Hiram Chamberlain in the village of Pembroke. Being of a shrewd and canny businessman, at the age of 18 he was made manager. Later he married Miss. Sarah E. Chamberlain. Supplies were brought to Pembroke by Canoes in summer and by sleds in winter. Through his training he became thoroughly immersed in the many factors dealing with supplies for lumber camps, and in the business of bringing out logs and rafting them for transportation to Quebec City.
“Following the death of his father-in-law, Fraser continued to conduct the supply store with the same business acumen. Although only 24 years old, Quebec lumbermen had a profound respect for this shrewd young Scotsman. James Ross of Quebec one of the largest operating lumbermen, was ready to render financial aid to Fraser at any time, as he was trustworthy. In a short time Fraser was one of the powers in the lumbering industry on the Ottawa River.
“There was a steamboat, “The Alex Fraser”, sailed on the Lower Allumette Lake used for carrying passengers on certain days and also for towing logs on the Ottawa River. It was in service from 1891 to 1915 when it was dismantled and rebuilt at Quyon. In his later years, Fraser embarked on other enterprises such as the Lachine Power Co., the Ottawa Trusts and Deposits Co., and was greatly interested in the Hull and Aylmer Electric Railway.
“His sons John B. and W.H.A. Fraser assumed lumbering operation and management, forming the firm of Fraser & Co. and built a sawmill at Deschenes. His daughters were Mrs. J. Daw, wife of Rev. S. Daw, Mrs. J. Fee and Miss Madge Fraser. He was a Methodist and when in Ottawa was a member of the board of trustees of Dominion Church. He was a Conservative in polities. He was buried in Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa, and many of the pallbearers were dignitaries and associates of the lumbering industry.
“Alex Sr.’s son W.H.A. Fraser, then in charge of the Fraser Lumber Company, knew the importance of retaining his skilled woodsmen the year round. He established Fraser’s Farm downstream from Westmeath, with homes provided for living quarters during the summer months. The men worked on Fraser’s Arkland Farm. The original six-sided building which housed the water system to supply running water to both the large summer home of the Frasers and the workmen’s homes, still stands on the east side of Rapid Road.”
Evelyn Moore Price’s 1984 book on the History of the Corporation of Westmeath Township, tells of a wild-west-style cattle drive, over the six miles route from the Village of Westmeath to the Waltham Ferry operating at Spotswoods, on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River. Cattle for the lumber camps of the Pontiac, in Western Quebec, were moved in this fashion. Cattle were purchased by buyers and moved on the hoof to the ferry where they were herded into a corral.
It was an exciting experience for Westmeath youths hired to ride herd on a drove of possibly 50 head, down the unfenced River Road, (now renamed Rapid Road), with dense bush on either side. Should an animal suddenly go berserk and head into the woods, it had to be followed – and if it could not be returned it had to be slaughtered.
Only eight cattle could go across on the ferry at one time so the hurdles of this cattle drive were numerous! It was the duty of the young herdsmen to guard against any animal leaping overboard during the ferry crossing and, if that happened, they were to get the animal back out of the river. Then after they were safely corralled at the Waltham side, they were driven up Black River to the lumber camps, to be butchered as needed; fresh beef to feed the hungry men. Before the age of refrigeration it was best to take them into the camps alive.
A Mystery to Solve:
In the Westmeath Union Cemetery a Nelson Fraser (1826-1859) lies buried. This pioneer lived a short life, dying at age 33 years. He is also mentioned in the TATE entry, with James Tate working for Nelson. How was he connected to the rest of the Fraser family?
Could Nelson have been a son of Hugh and Elizabeth Selves Fraser? With Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson a British naval hero and noting that Elizabeth had lost two brothers in the Battle of Trafalgar; might they have named a son Nelson in honour of Lord Nelson?
The gravestone lists Margaret Kelly Fraser Thompson and both her husbands; Nelson Fraser and Edward Thompson. Her son with Nelson; Thomas Fraser (1853-1883) also died young and he is memorialized on the left side of the stone. Charles Edwin Fraser (1857-1877) presumedly another son who died as a young man, is listed on the back of the stone. WHO IS NELSON FRASER? Family of Nelson Fraser and Margaret Kelly.
In the 1851 Census for Fitzroy Township, Carleton County, the Nelson Fraser family are settled and farming – but at sometime between that census and his death, eight years later in 1859, Nelson and Margaret Fraser might pulled-up-stakes and came to Westmeath Township.