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Articles by Marie Fraser of Canada
Simon Fraser of Ste Anneís


You can now enjoy a delicious home cooked meal in Simon Fraserís house at 153 Ste Anne Street, Ste Anne de Bellevue, Quebec. This was Montreal by Lawrence M. Wilson reported the following advertisement in the Montreal Herald of June 8, 1816:

House & Garden to Let
To let, for several years and possession to be given the first day of May next, a large and commodious Stone House, 75 feet in length, & 45 in breadth, together with Out Houses, Garden, a young Orchard, and small Park of 2 acres. This property is situated in the Parish of Ste Anneís (Bout de líIsle) close by the Old Ferry to Vaudreuil, only 24 miles from Montreal, and admirably well calculated for a House and stand of Public Entertainment. For terms, apply to the proprietor on the Premises, or at this office.

(Signed) Simon Fraser

He was not THE Simon Fraser, although both were in the fur trade and both were partners with the North West Company. According to well-known historian and author, W. Stewart Wallace [The Pedlars from Quebec], Simon Fraser of Ste Anneís (c.1760-1839), who preceded Simon Fraser the explorer (1776-1862) in the fur trade, got no further west than Grand Portage, on the north shore of Lake Superior, and he was a Presbyterian, whereas the explorer was a Roman Catholic.

Through Simon McTavish (c.1750-1804), head of the North West Company, Simon Fraser came from Stratherrick, Inverness-shire to Canada to enter the fur trade. In 1789 Fraser was in the English River country, running a fur trading post, retiring as a "wintering partner" about 1799, resigning his share in 1805, after the union with former competitor, the XY Company, which in 1803 had formally become Sir Alexander Mackenzie and Company. Simon Fraser became a member of the Beaver Club in 1803, and in 1804 married Catherine McKay, daughter of a former non-commissioned officer in the 78th Regiment of Foot or Fraserís Highlanders, and a sister of William McKay (1772-1832) and Alexander McKay (d. 1811), both of whom were partners of the North West Company [according to W.S. Wallace]. Wallace had based his assumption that Donald Mackay was a non-commissioned officer in the 78th on Patrick Campbellís "Travels" published in Edinburgh in 1793 [W.S. Wallace, Canadian Historical Review, Vol. 18, 1937], which has since been refuted. See Reliability of Published Resources at http://www.electricscotland.com/canada/fraser/reliability.htm 

In 1807 Simon Fraser purchased from John Gregory the Fief Bellevue, on the Lake of Two Mountains, and apparently lived there until his house was burned down a few years later. He then purchased from Peter Grant, another North West partner, the property where he lived until his death in 1839, at the age of 79.

Subsequent to publication of an article about Simon Fraser of Ste Anneís in Canadian Explorer in March 1997, the following information was found by Paul Lessard regarding Simonís family in Canada.

The marriage record in Montreal Christ Anglican states that Simon Fraser, merchant, single man and Catherine Mackay, single woman, both Majors [21 or over] of the City of Montreal, were married by licence on the eighteenth day of February one thousand eight hundred and four - by me - J. Mountain. Consenting parties: Simon Fraser & Catherine MíKay. Witnesses: Simon MíTavish, Jo. Frobisher, Alexr. MíLeod [all signed]. This was confirmed by Articles of Marriage between Simon Fraser & Catherine McKay, dated 18 Feb 1804, before Notary J.G. Beek. By Catherine Mackay, Simon Fraser had issue:

Simon William Fraser (1805-1805); baptism & burial recorded in Montreal St Gabrielís Presbyterian.

Margery Elspie Fraser (1806-1854); baptism recorded in Montreal St Gabrielís Presbyterian. Margeryís father witnessed her marriage 1 Mar 1826 in Montreal St Gabrielís Presbyterian, to Joseph Bouchette Jr (1800-1881); burials recorded in Notre-Dame de Quebec R.C. Joseph Bouchette married 26 Apr 1855 in Quebec St Andrewís Presbyterian, as his 2nd wife, Eliza A. Evans, widow of the late Dr Charles Poole; she predeceased her 2nd husband in 1877, her burial recorded in Quebec Anglican.

Alexander Fraser (1807-1828); baptism & burial recorded in Montreal St Gabrielís Presbyterian.

Donald McKay Fraser (1809); baptism recorded in Montreal St Gabrielís Presbyterian; witnessed baptism of his sister Janet in 1821. In the inventory following the death of Simon Fraser, 25 July 1839 before Notary J.-Octave Bastien, Mary Elizabeth Fraser represented Daniel Fraser, brother, residing in Upper Canada.

Catherine Fraser (1812-bef. 1839); baptism recorded in Montreal St. Gabrielís Presbyterian; not mentioned in inventory following death of her father, probably died before 1839.

Duncan McGillivray Fraser (1813-bef. 1839); baptism recorded in Montreal St Gabrielís Presbyterian; not mentioned in inventory following death of his father, probably died before 1839.

Mary Elizabeth Fraser (1814-1898); baptism recorded in Montreal St Gabrielís Presbyterian; died at the residence of her niece, Mrs M.S. Blaiklock, Senneville; burial recorded in St Georgeís Anglican, Ste Anne de Bellevue, witnessed by Morris Stansfeld Blaiklock & Jessie Tunstall.

Thomas Fraser (1818); baptism recorded in Montreal St Gabrielís Presbyterian. Thomas was present and signed documents in 1847 & 1849, along with his brother John and his sisters Mary Elizabeth & Janet Fraser. According to W.S. Wallace, Thomas was supposed to have died young, but how young is young?

John Fraser (1819); baptism recorded in Montreal St Gabrielís Presbyterian; witnessed his fatherís burial in 1839, and signed documents in 1847 & 1849. According to W.S. Wallace, John was alive in 1890, but where?

Janet (Jessie) Fraser (1821-1909); baptism recorded in Montreal St Gabrielís Presbyterian & burial recorded in St Georgeís Anglican, Ste Anne de Bellevue. Her sister Mary E. Fraser witnessed Janetís marriage 10 Oct 1849 in Montreal Christ Anglican, to Gabriel Christie Tunstall (1824-1884), s/o Christie Tunstall & Mary Roarke, his burial recorded in Vaudreuil Anglican.

The Montreal Gazette, 9 May 1839, reported: At St Anns, Bout de líIsle, on the 6th instant, Simon Fraser, Esq., formerly a partner of the North West Company, and subsequently one of the firm of Fraser, Caldwell & Co., of Albany, aged 79.

Simon Fraser died 6 May 1839; his burial on 8 May, recorded in the register of Lachine St. Andrewís Presbyterian, was witnessed by his son John Fraser, and by Peter Grant. Fraserís widow, Catherine McKay, continued to live in the house until her death 29 May 1846; her burial on 31 May, recorded in Lachine St Andrewís Presbyterian, was in presence of Wm Simpson; there is no indication of her age, or any record of family members in attendance. Their daughter Janet (Jessie) Fraser (1821-1909), in 1849, married Gabriel Christie Tunstall (1824-1884), but she didnít like living in the big house down in the village, and so built another home in the country, in Senneville. In the 1861 Census for Jacques Cartier County, Ste Anne Parish, p. 99, the household consisted of G. C. Tunstall (37), Jesse Fresher (35 - s/b 40), James Tunstall (11), Simon Tunstall (9) & Mary Fraser (46) sister.

The Simon Fraser house was subsequently converted into a duplex and rented to a succession of residential tenants, until 1906, when the Bank of Montreal established a branch in it. In 1954, when the Bank moved a few doors down the street, Simon Fraserís great granddaughter moved in. Mrs James Stewart or Jessie Blaiklock was the daughter of M.S. Blaiklock and E.M. Mary Tunstall, d/o Gabriel Christie Tunstall & Janet Fraser. Morris Stansfeld Blaiklock and Elizabeth Margaret Mary Tunstall were married 12 Nov 1889 in St James the Apostle Anglican; their daughter, Jessie Blaiklock, widow of James Stewart, died 5 Jan 1978 [The Montreal Star, 9 Jan 1978].

William Stewart Wallace (1884-1970) had initially believed that Simon Fraser of Ste Anneís was related to Simon McTavish, who was known for sponsoring family members with the North West Company. However, after further research and meeting with Simon Fraserís granddaughter [Mary Tunstall or Mrs. M.S. Blaiklock], then still living in Montreal, he abandoned the idea of a direct relationship, although he did speculate that they may have been distantly related through Simon Fraserís mother, Janet MacGillivray. The papers left by Simon Fraser had been destroyed by fire many years earlier, but Wallace obtained from Mrs Blaiklock, a memorandum left by her brother, which ran as follows:

"Simon Fraser was a son of Major Fraser of the Fraser Highlanders, who was present at the capture of Quebec under Wolfe in 1759. Simon Fraser was one of the chief factors of the Honourable Northwest Company, and his brother, Thomas Fraser, was an officer in the Royals, and acted as Aide-de-Camp to the Duke of Kent when he was in command of the forces in Canada. Thomas Fraser rose to prominence in Military Circles, and died while serving as Major General in India."

To his credit, Wallace noted that family tradition, unsupported by documentary evidence, is not a wholly satisfactory medium for the transmission of historical truth; and this memorandum did not seem to be very helpful. He discovered that Thomas Fraser had obtained a commission in the 97th Foot in 1794, transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Foot or Royal Scots in 1795, rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and was killed in an attack on one of the Mahratta forts in India on March 19, 1819. [Trans. R.S.C., W.S. Wallace, read at May meeting, 1945].

In the papers of Alexander Fraser (1860-1936), a native of Inverness-shire who emigrated to Canada in 1886 and became the first Archivist of Ontario, I found a letter from Dr J.F. Kennedy of the Public Archives of Canada, dated 3rd February 1934, stating that Mrs M.S. Blaiklock [living at 1321 Sherbrooke St W] wanted to know if there was any relationship between Janet MacGillivray and the Hon. William McGillivray (1764-1825) and his brothers Duncan (1768-1808) and Simon (1783-1840), whose parents were Donald McGillivray and Ann McTavish [a sister of Simon McTavish]. Unfortunately, no response to Mrs Blaiklockís enquiry was found in Colonel Alexander Fraserís papers.

Simon McTavish [s/o John McTavish of Garthbeg, a Lt in the 78th Frasers], emigrated to British North America in 1764 with his sister Elizabeth McTavish and brother-in-law Hugh Fraser [who had also served with the 78th]. Simon Fraser of Ste Anneís was descended from Hugh Fraser, progenitor of the Frasers of Foyers, who was an illegitimate son of the 1st Lord Lovat. In 1721 the Frasers of Foyers formed an alliance with the Mactavishes [Clan Tavish] of Stratherrick.

The Inverness Journal for June 3, 1814 reported: "Died, at Bunchegovie, Stratherrick, on the 14th ult., Captain Alexander Fraser, aged 87. He was an officer in the war of 1757, and may be considered the last survivor of those serving in America under the command of General Wolfe." Actually, Alexander Fraser was gazetted an ensign on January 15, 1757; promoted to lieutenant on September 27, 1758; wounded at Ste-Foy on April 18, 1760; retired on half-pay in 1763. It is likely that Alexander later became a captain in the local militia. For a brief description of his career in the 78th Regiment of Foot or Fraserís Highlanders, see the 78th Officers page on the CFSC web site at http://www.clanfraser.ca

The Limited Will, at Somerset House, Kent, of Thomas Fraser (1769-1839) of the Parish of Boleskine, Co. Inverness - left instructions for a monument to be placed to his parents, Capt. Alexander Fraser, late of Bunchegavy who died 2 May 1814 and his wife Janet MacGillivray who died 8 May 1791. "I, Thomas Fraser, bequeath to my sister Ann FraserÖ to my brother Simon Fraser of Montreal in British AmericaÖ also to the children of my cousin William Fraser at Borlum, of Fort Augustus and of Mrs Christian McIntosh, his wifeÖ" There is a small discrepancy with respect to the actual date of death for Alexander, between Thomasí Will and the Inverness Journal.

It is interesting that Thomas does not refer to Simon as his brother german, which could explain why Simon may not have been the son of Janet MacGillivray. Alexander Fraser (c.1727-1814) and Janet MacGillivray (1742-1791) were married 8 Feb 1769 (ctr. 1 Feb 1769); their son Thomas was born 18 Dec and baptized 23 Dec 1769 at Dores, Inverness-shire. No baptism record was found for the daughter, Ann Fraser. From a review of the Boleskine parish register, it appears that after the death of his wife, Alexander Fraser had an illegitimate daughter, 11 Sep 1801, called Janet Fraser, by his maid servant, Anne Fraser.

Although no proof has been found, it is believed that Tom Moore, the Irish poet, wrote "A Canadian Boat Song" while visiting Simon Fraser at Ste Anneís. The tradition is strong enough that the local IODE Chapter honours Tom Moore by carrying his name, and the poem is the groupís marching song.

The Simon Fraser / Tom Moore House in Ste Anne de Bellevue, classified as a historical site in 1961, was acquired by The Canadian Heritage Foundation. It has a tea-room run by the V.O.N. Auxiliary, and a museum run by the Historical Society of Bout de líIsle, which should ensure its preservation for many years to come.


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