James FRASER, London, Ont., July 10, 1867.
Being spared so long as to be in my seventy-sixth year and hoping to leave a numerous number of families of progenitors and friends after me in this world, and also in this Province, I came to a resolution to leave a short history of my ancestors, and of my young days in the land of my childhood.
Born in Kiltarlity Parish, Lovat County, near Inverness, North Scotland, on January 18th, 1792 A.D. My father’s name was Donald Fraser (MacAlaster) and he told me himself he was bereaved of both his parents when about eight years old. But in a merciful Providence was received by Colonel Belladrum to his own mansion and kept under his own particular care and guidance, but kept him well in food and raiment, but gave him no schooling. He gave him a horse, saddle and buggy to be always ready for any message or business at home or abroad, such as going with letters to post office or stores or butcher shops or any other kind of errands. However, the Saviour of Sinners moved the boys conscience to attempt secret prayer and felt himself, young as he was, bound in duty to cast his care on his Heavenly Father, and to trust to His Care, more than any arm of flesh, who had often proved to him, almost miraculously his divine care by night and by day when alone and in company which left such sanctifying impressions on him all his life, and made him tender in conscience, watchful in behaviour, spiritual in meditations and powerful in prayer.
Many instances of wonderful answers of his prayers I could record here, but as they are now so long part I do not mean to give such pearls to so many suspicious minds as are common in this land, and this rising generation, who are too much strangers to the real and close communications with God, and satisfied by outward profession. When he arrived at manhood, he thought upon marrying, and when he settled his affections on a certain lady, he wisely told his master the intentions of his mind, as he was the best friend he had, and asked his master’s advice about the matter, who took it in a very kind manner, and told him he would give him little farm and a life lease, which I saw, and the place in which I was born, and lived on it until my father was taken away by death when I was about twelve years old although I was not a child of his first family, of which he had a son names John, and three daughters named: Janet, Kathrine and Mary, but Mary and John were taken away by death, before I could remember them, but I remember lovely Janet, who died a virgin about the age of 24 years, admired by all who knew her for piety, wisdom and purity of words and works. When I was about 14 years of age, Katherine married a beautiful pensioner who lost his eyesight by Egypt sand, when in the was with old Bonaparte, but his eyes got better later on, and he was sent a Catechist to his native country, the Isle of Sky, and had a great family. When my father was on his little farm (which was almost gifted to him by his good benefactor Colonel Belladrum) he could keep four horses of the Highland ponies, and four or five cows, and some sheeps, and himself and his little family felt very happy and within reach of abundance of the means of grace, within four miles to his own church at Kiltarlity and five miles to the church of Kirkhill, where the great Alexander Fraser, who made keys to the Prophecy of the Millenium, who goes beyond fullness of the 2000 years, and I believe the nearest to the truth that is yet printed, and also father had an opportunity every summer to attend at sacramental occasions at a dozen different Parishes, and at every place of them, four the great Ministers of the day, whose names are recorded in the Father’s of Rosshire and had great comforts in fellowship meetings at these Sacraments, which our Canadians know nothing of. Besides secret social prayer meetings in different parts of Parishes, and always on the first Monday of every month a public prayer meeting in every church of the Evangelical Ministers. These opportunities with many other privileges was making up the company and happiness in which my father delighted. But to show that this is not our resting place, death came and took away his first wife and left him a widower with four motherless children. At that time he and my mother never knew each other, for she happened to marry when about 24 years and the husband she took was sickly and died a few weeks after and she having no child engaged as a housekeeper to an excellent Schoolmaster in Abriachan, who was appointed by the Presbytery of Inverness of the Church of Scotland, as a Catechist, with liberty to hold the Sabbath services for the people of Abriachan and by his certificate, any of them would marriage, or baptism any church privileges, and my mother stayed with this good man Laughlin McLaughlin for about 20 years, and thought to abide with them for life, but God thought otherwise, for Laughlin and my father were intimately acquainted and set the scheme to get them together. So after a time these two became man and wife and lived together as happy as I ever knew. When I was born my mother was about 45 years old, but my father was not quite so old, yet he died when I was about 12 years old. When I was about 5 ½ years old they sent me to school to this same Laughlin McLaughlin over wild hills of heather, about two good miles, and we had no spelling books but the Shorter Catechism, with two lines of alphabet on the top of the first page, and then to begin to read the questions and providentially I was trusted to the care of an Arithmetician of the kindest disposition I ever knew, and he got me on the New Testament class in a short time, and before the end of the half year I could read the most of the Bible, and was put on the Bible class, but the winter would not allow me to go to school and my wise mother who could only read Gaelic, formed a scheme so that I could be kept from losing what I learned. She made a bargain with me, because I could read the Gaelic, that she would give me a good buttercake for every chapter I would translate from English into Gaelic, beginning at the beginning of Genesis, and in about a month I could make more than I could eat, and was still gaining fast. But that half year was all I got in the school of that good old Laughlin McLaughlin, and the other good lad who taught me the alphabet went away to the East Indies, and soon the tidings of his death came, and I felt I was grievous as any friend I ever lost, beside our own family.
The next teacher I had was a son-in-law to McLaughlin, who was a very pious man, but morose and surly for a teacher and was not one third the teacher or scholar that McLaughlin, for he had no Latin, Greek or Hebrew as McLaughlin had, neither could he teach bookkeeping or anything but Dilworth’s Arithmetic and in a season or two I took up all that he could teach, and he honestly told my parents he could give me no more, and I almost confess although I was learning wonderful fast, I did not understand the benefit of learning, or of time or of future dangers or any responsibility. After awhile I was sent to another school a little further off but the teacher was young and bright with plenty Arithmetic, Latin and Greek but after my father’s death it put an end to my schooling, for a s soon as it was known to young Belladrum that my father was gone, then the life lease was at an end, and he gave the place to another man who professed religion, but never had the spirit of it, but put out the widow and her fatherless children, so we had to sell the crop, cattle, horses and all and leave the place altogether, and was put on the mercy of the world. But one of the neighbours invited my mother to come to his place and he would raise a house for us and he would make it as cheap as possible and that we might have a cow and as much as we would need for a garden and that I might earn money the best way I could and that we would have this for a home. And so it turned out, for it was there in that house my mother died. She was left with me until I was 24 years old and she saw and nursed my two oldest boys, Donald and Alexander, and I left her body in the same place as my father’s dust. I married when I was 18 years and my wife 17 years old but I got my mother’s consent and I believe yet it was particular good to my wife to be so close in company with my godly wise mother for five or six years and I can freely say I never knew them to have as much as a single cold word, and when my mother died my wife had many times more grief than I, who am her only child. All things are working together for good and the righteous shall be kept in everlasting remembrance and how glad must they be who are together, and all with Jesus, who is all in all, to all the redeemed.
Concerning my life at these times, I tried whiles at many things, such as canal work, harvest work, and serving high gentry farmers; then I took my wife and first child Donald and left them with my father-in-law, and we felt very comfortable in that way for a while but we did not see the secret council of God, for unknown to me and I began to work then. So one day at my work a letter was put in my hand and in it a Complete License to me to begin a school in the very station where I was born, and at such time that I would have two or three months to run off, of my hired time I felt afraid my master would not yield. I went in the evening to him as spread my papers before and after a great silence he asked me which I would rather this than to be “Giseve” or ruler over all his servants ‘Peeniary’ but how would I see the Rev. Donald Fraser Kirkhill who did so much for me disappointed when I believe he was doing so much for me for my father’s sake. Then he paid me honestly, and sent his men and horses with us to get home gratis. Having got home all safe we got into our own house and felt exceeding glad. We felt our debts of gratitude increasing fast and a work of teaching was growing daily. My delight to begin at nine every morning and let day school off at four, and then begin at six to teach any parents or children that could not attend in the daytime, until nine at night; however, I felt wonderful appetite for the work. Although some thought it troublesome I always felt a delight in it and was never healthier in my life and seeing my family always cheerful. Then three times in the year Fraser of Kirkhill and another Fraser of Inverness would come together to examine our school and report to the Society every time; also they allowed me to teach English, writing and arithmetic according to my own discretion but always in the day school. Also at night school you would laugh to see men with their cradles on the shoulders and women with their babes in the bosom, for to learn to read the Holy Bible in the Gaelic tongue. How delightful it was after such darkness among the poor, wild, warmhearted Highlanders when before that you could not get the old Testament in on volume in Gaelic. Not only that, God was seen in moving and enlightening men without schooling, in moving such great Society in Edinburgh of men who had no Gaelic and also moved the poor people to catch all the learning they possibly could. All these movements showed great measure of Sovereign Grace, mercy and love. Now the rules of the Society was to change their schools very two years, but upon Minister petitioning they might get the school for three years. I got leave to stay in Caplich three years and in that time my mother died and I felt it easier to turn away to any place. But I had only to turn to another corner of our own Parish Kiltarlity, called Glen Convich, in which they built a house for me and my family and for the school, although they knew it would only be for three years, and that section was very numerous. I had more than 150 scholars so I had to use ‘monitors’ and carried on all branches of English and Gaelic. When I had served there three years I was appointed to another portion of the same Parish called Port Aigears, in which place there were Paptists mixed on one side of the section and of whose children there were about a score in the school to learn to read our Protestant Bible, and all other things they could catch any useful knowledge. I felt the Parish parents and their children as lovely and warm as any people I had ever met, and when I left Scotland for Nova Scotia I saw them among the rest of the parents, in such distress when I parted with them after the evening Sabbath School accompanied by Burnabas Stewart who followed us from the church, knowing that we would never be together another day on earth, and when he saw the great company of parents and children sobbing and crying strength uncommon given to me, so that my hand nor my failing voice did not fail until I gave them all the parting advices I could think of. After Barnabas and I parted with the saddest crew I ever saw in my life. Then hearing them about a quarter of a mile, and then out of sight, the Barnabas spoke to me, being silent before “How do you feel” said he “Hold your tongue” said I, and just then my tears flowed and I was unable to speak for a while. Then he said “I am glad there are tears in you yet, for I could not stand what you have stood to save my life. I hope you are strengthened for American life and afflictions.” And so he told me great truths, for so I felt these last 47 years of my life, for I was only 29 then. As I had parted with the Society in an orderly way, and having had correspondence with them from Nova Scotia from my wife’s uncle, and that they had their school in readiness for me, I let the Society know it in time and then sent me a Clearance Card and 5 pound sterling as a parting gift, through the favorable account that the Ministers, Dr. Baine, Rev. Fraser, Kirkhill, and Rev. Fraser, Inverness, and Dr. McDonald, Mcintosh, who were all Ministers that examined often my schools. The Society seemed sorry to part with me, so that was a great consolation to me in parting with numerous friends, and lovely Scotland.
But one trial more that I never forgot, was to meet on the Monday morning (for I sent our luggage on Saturday) to a certain place where friends promised to come with their horses and wagons to send us to Cromarty. As they promised, so they did, and as we were making up our loads who did come but Mr. Alexander Hutchison, upon whom my own dear father had left my care when on his death bead and who was faithful to the trust and with whom I took my final leave at the church when I went back to the Sabbath School yesterday followed by Barnabas Stewart. As we were getting ready Mr. Hutchison saluted and as he was in a particular measure in the close, secret mystery of the Gospel, I thought that he had something to tell us. I addressed him accordingly. “I am surely glad to see you, so I am,” he said, “My mind was very much on you last night, and Barnabas came to tell me how you finished your course last night, and I was glad for the strength you got.” Well, said I, “I have nothing but what I have received but shall we get to America?” “Yes, he said, “But not all of you and I cannot tell who, but I believe it will be one of the children.” Then I felt resigned and having his hand in my hand and embracing each other, he said “Remember the way to the final judgment seat of Christ is as short from America as it is from Scotland.” Then we parted in bodies, and the child that was yet unborn was born on the Great Atlantic and lived for two days, and was put in a coffin, tied to a bag of sand and solemnly put in the sea like some other passengers. Here is one proof out of many that I know, that the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and keep close to the Throne of Grace.
So we got safe to Cromarty and as God’s care and his peoples prayers were about us, and when entering Cromarty I heard a weaver weaving “Stop” said I, “Until I speak to the weaver and get some information.” But the man began to mock me. What could a weaver know about our business, but I went in and saluted the man, and asked him if such a vessel came that was appointed to go with the Emigrants to America. He was very kind and said “No, and I would advise you to put in your luggage here and stay with us for if you go down town you will find things dearer there, and we have plenty of room for you and your little family.” Immediately I consented and the good man helped us and we let our friends way home and in a very short time we felt that we were in a very friendly Christian home and at night he led me to a beautiful prayer meeting and in a short time I had friends in Cromarty and the weaver had only his wife and daughter newly married that same year and her husband was in Greenland. They were a very pious family. We were with them about a week as comfortable as we could be any place, and I got acquainted with Cromarty in a measure and got acquainted with the Captain and Mates of the ship before hardly any passengers got in for two or three days, and the Captain understanding that I was a School Teacher, proposed to me to make the Clerk of the ship for the daily division of food and water and he would allow me the passage 1 pound sterling cheaper than the Agreement, and to come immediately to my berth, and have my board on the ship, and make up the lists for the whole voyage, which proved very well for me.
Was not all these favours in so short a time from my Heavenly Father’s love and grace. Could we have a right to his providential mercies, but through the merits and pleadings of Jesus, and could all His wonderful providence by any instrumentality be brought about, but by the guidance of His Holy Spirit, and although we are so blind many times as not to observe His hand and His counsel, are they less evident that we do not observe them all. We should be ashamed for not seeing Him always in His works, and always seeking our guidance from his word, and our comforts from his Spirit. The weaver took nothing for his trouble but sorry that we got away so soon, and all our voyage we had to admire God’s care of us and all our concerns, and when my wife got sick and gave birth to a beautiful male child, and in two days when his troubles were finished and he went home to Him to who said “Suffer little children come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven” and He who made Adams soul perfect at first, can he not make infants souls perfect any time He pleases, as well as if they were a hundred years old. Can He not do His own will to His own. It is only those who believe not that shall be damned. Before parting with lovely Scotland, let me inform you that my father’s country was Lovatts County where his relations may yet be found in the Parish of Kiltarlity, but my mother’s county was Urquhart or Lord Gants county, who owned and was commonly living in Strathspey. His father was married three times and had six children by each wife, and my mother was the eighteenth child of her father. I had but little acquaintance and never saw any of father’s brothers older than he, who listed in the army, who fought in the American War, and was with General Wolfe at the taking of Quebec, and they got liberty to stay about there as their time was served, and I saw a Fraser from about Quebec up above St. Mary’s and we could not make out our relationship, only his ancestors came from Lovatt County. Such therefore is all the information I can leave to posterity. I can also say that I never knew of any scandal laid to the charge of any of both relatives but I can testify of many of them that they manifested to have received the Lord Jesus Christ as their Redeemer and that they loved His cause and people, and I hope well of them I left behind Scotland. Therefore let us in Canada beware that we shall not disgrace them, nor each other, nor the cause of our Glorious Redeemer, or lose our own souls, or be in danger of being parted forever from our beloved pious friends, who love us for they cannot forget us who left us behind, for their memory is perfected. I should also remember many glorious sights that I happened to see in the church and in the state, such as the local militia, in which I have served my time for five years, that is we were called in summer for a month to Inverness, and got a regimental clothing and all manner of arms and our own regiment was ruled by Col. Lovat, and drilled as well as any of the Regulars, only we were for a home army. When the Regulars were sent to fight the French all over the world until they finished it at Waterloo. Often the tidings were sad, but in the church matters were many glorious sights to be seen by those who had a delight in observing it such as great gatherings of from 5000 to 15000 people in the open fields to hear the Gospel and receive the Sacraments, and to hold fellowship meetings and prayer meetings, and often seem deeply impressed with sobbing and crying, and many of them truly converted from sin to Grace, from darkness to light, from bondage to liberty, and from Satan to God.
It was pleasant to observe the brotherly love that prevailed among professors in these times of which I did not see nor feel the like of it in America. All revivals that I saw in America I counted them abominations, then when we sailed away from Cromarty with Captain Kirk, in the ship called “Diligence” the sea sickness began heavily on almost all the passengers, and seeing the operation, I asked the Mate, “Is it possible to escape this ugly sickness.” Then he drew a bucket of salt water and said, “Drink as much as you can of that sea water,” and so I did, and in a little time I had to go and spue it out in the sea and felt no more danger, but had a comfortable healthy passage of five weeks, until we came to land in Pictou, Nova Scotia, and the three children were in good health also, but my wife was poorly most of the passage until she was delivered of the boy we left at sea, and after that she got wonderful health coming to land and long after that. We had one night on the north of Scotland, which was very terrible, by storm, so that the hatches had to be shut and covered with tar cloth, like to suffocate us and our helms-man had to be tied to his seat, and the most of the passengers fell to crying and praying so that I thought prayer was a new exercise to them, it was only by fear; however, the Lord spared us and gave us a cheerful morning, only the waves were incredible high like mountains, and no man can understand the glory of the sight, but them who saw the same and understand the 107th Psalm aright. Another curious sight we had, birds to be seen every day on the sea and also we happened to come through a shoal of whales, perhaps a thousand, spouting out water the height of a tree in the air and some of them seemed to be as long as our ship and also like to turn our ship upside down. Came so near us that Captain and some of the men took out their guns to shoot them and by and by they left us, or we left them without any reluctance, and we thought then all danger was over, but no, the worst was before us yet. When about the banks of Newfoundland we saw a ship coming from the south and driving towards us, our Captain said to us on deck, “That ship must be astray.” Then he sent a boy to put up colours, but the other ship gave no sign. Then he said, “It must be a Pirate, I wish I had my cannons.” Then he called all hands and gave all possible speed to our ship, and we sailed all night, but in the morning the ship was in sight and about the same distance and coming straight for us, and we were that way all day. But at night the Captain put more canvas to our ship and we never saw them again, and in a few days we were in Pictou, and immediately our Captain sent a message to Halifax and a Man-of-War was sent to hunt for them, and found them, and brought them to their doom. See how many were God’s mercies to every one of us, for we were about 120 passengers on ship and there were four bodies left in the sea, two of them were old people and two were infants, and another two infants born there and lived, so we came out the same number that went in. Let us magnify and praise Him who has all power in Heaven and earth. It was in 1820 A.D. that we left Scotland and came to Nova Scotia and in closing into the Harbour of Pictou we found the coast to be foggy. I asked the Mate, “How should we use ourselves about entering a new soil” and he said, “Dig a hole in the earth and smell of it for a few minutes, till the lungs get filled with it” and whether that was any help or not we had very good health for the ten years we lived in Pictou. But the fatherly care of God’s Providence was always to be felt and seen, if I would keep my mind in right exercise, for as soon as our ship anchored in the harbour, we could see canoes and boats in great numbers round about us by whites, red and yellow Indians, and fishermen of all sizes and ages, but we could not imagine that any one would own us, at least till we got on shore, and put our things in some place for safe keeping, and make a search for our friends who we knew were more than 20 miles from Pictou town. However, before we were many minutes on anchor, a little boat came and tied itself to our ship and two smart young men sprang on deck and searched and saluted the passengers, and asking our names, I then asked their names. They told me their names were Fraser, and I told them that my name was Fraser, too. The told me, “You are a School Teacher”, I said, “I was so in Scotland.” Well they said we came for you, wife and children, and they showed me their father’s house on the shore, and that I should get out my luggage on the wharf, and they helped me with it, for the boat could not take but the wife and children, being small, until they could come again and so they went away with my family and I saw them going safe on land. Just then a storm began so that the little boat could not come back that evening and had to stay with my luggage until morning, but were soon surrounded by fishermen running in from the storm and night. All white men and Scotchmen, too, and I quenched my hunger on dry cod fish I found in the boat, but early in the morning which was cheerful day they came and took me and my things away unto their father’s house, where we all found kindness and friendship and then there was intimation sent to my wife’s uncle, and he sent his sons and team and we got home when they were beginning hay-making, and I could now as well as any of them. And the School was idle at the time until harvest would be over, but they had no Minister at the time and the best man they had before was taken away by death a few weeks before I came. I told some of them if they would gather at the schoolhouse I would endeavour to lead in the worship of God for all the vacant Sabbaths, for Dr. McGregor was to preach to them one Sabbath in every month. Two years before I came to East River, Pictou, Nova Scotia, a great division came between the people who used to be hearers of Dr. McGregor, for they were all, before they left Scotland of the Established Church of Scotland, and never saw secedars, and when Mr. McGregor came he told them he was a Presbyterian, and some of the people liked him well, for he was a worthy man and laboured very faithfully as a Minister for twenty years before there was any disturbance made, and he got other secedar Ministers from Scotland to help him and they took possession of pieces of the country round about, and began a College in Pictou and was doing well and the Government of Halifax gave 400 pounds to help them, and all going on cute and quiet for years. But it happened that a Minister or two from the Established Church and preached boldly and showed the people that they were stolen out of the church of their fathers and made them secedars unknown to themselves, which grieved the majority of them that Dr. McGregor would do this for so long a time, and some of them put the question, “Why did you not tell us you were a secedar?” He answered, “Would it not be time enough when you would ask me of it?” He knew well what he was doing on the simplicity of the people, and if he had honestly told at first, the matter would surely be better, for the rancour of the division never settled until the union of the churches in 1860. Kept up for more than forty-two years, between some of God’s own adopted children, who are now peacefully, joyfully, constantly, and faithfully striving together to praise Him who loved us and gave Himself for us, and washed us from our sin in His own blood. Be Glory, Dominion and Power for ever and ever, Amen.
It is in such a position as this I found the country, and I felt sorry for it, for the people who were all Highland Scotch were divided, almost every second family. And our uncle’s family stood firm on the side of the Church of Scotland, and although I never saw any secedar in Scotland, still I could like Dr. McGregor and went regular to hear him when he would come once a month to preach to us. Some of them would like that he would be in the church, but I never yielded to that, for I was striving to give as much as I could of the example of love and peace. Although I could not join or take Sacrament with the secession, nor did, until we got a Minister of the Church of Scotland, but I went the round of Cathechist every Sabbath evening, over all the settlement, and was accepted in every secedars house, so I was socially in friendly acquaintanceship with minister and people for the ten years I was in Nova Scotia, the history of which would make a Historical volumn by itself, for we felt very happy and healthy most of the times, and got five children added to our family, and came all safe to London, Ont.
But to return, the very first I engaged in the month of Sept. 1820 and got a lot of 200 acres of Crownland about 1½ miles from the schoolhouse and got a house put upon it, so that in a month or two we got it ready to live in, and there was a good Govt. salary coming to which I could add the scholars pay of whom there were always from 50 to 60 children attending very constantly and making very good progress, and the people were all very friendly, for they were all Gaelic, which I count yet the best kind naturally, that ever I met with in my long life, although I met and dealt with many nationalities, and as I was getting on I took our food from the parents of the scholars, according to their share of school pay, and as we could not use the half of it in the way, I agreed with them to work for their share in clearing land, and chopping in the winter, and more that 20 acres cleared and under crop, such as spring wheat, oats, grass-seed and potatoes, and any other seed we pleased to try. But the soil was so stumpy and stoney, when the fired burned up the moss, no harrow could be used but the hoe, and would be as much as ever a man could do to cover in a day about a bushel of wheat or two of oats, and the roots were so much on the surface of the ground, especially the beech roots, that hoeing itself it was hard to cover the seed. As the year was passing around through the summer and harvest, I came to notice the poverty of the soil, and the unfitness of such a place for my young children to be kept on such a barren place, for the good lots of land were taken up and all the poorest left to the last. Although I could live very well indeed as long as matters would keep on just as they were now, it might please anybody. But it was for my children I ever thought of America, and was I sure of living long with them and so many things moved my mind, that I told the trustees before the first year of the school was at an end, that I was thinking of leaving the settlement and going to a place where I was to get a school and a piece of 150 acres of good land to be easily bought, and near the schoolhouse and soon. They asked me, “Did you promise them to go to them?” and I told them I could not do that unknown to you, and it is to prepare me for that, I called you here today, so I can answer them tomorrow or any day. Two men of them went aside, and spoke to each other and then came back and said, “Would you be pleased if you had such land as the schoolhouse in on?” I said I would and I would take any quantity of it at going price. Then said he, “I will sell you 60 acres within ½ mile of the schoolhouse for 60. Then the other man said, “I will give you 100 acres connected with his for 50 pounds and we intend to give you plenty of time to pay it,” and so we agree. When we made a new agreement, I thought I was called to stay for life, as I could not but see the people were friendly in earnest, as they had no cause in the world to sell their land, but to keep me among themselves and their children. And I never got any cause to change my opinion of them, although I stayed only nine years more among them, which was a very comfortable time of my life only we had no minister of our own church. But our new situation put us beside our uncle, who was a very kind hearted man, and so was all his family, yet he was not any of the men who kept me and gave me of their land. That same fall we got up a good square loghouse and a good stable for our horse and cow, and next summer we got a good frame barn for all necessaries were handy and easily got, and the man who gave the 100 acres was an Elder before the Division came, and he stuck to the Established party, and the other man was a miller, and of the secession party, and I never felt any trouble from either party, not so much as a single argument. But matters went on among the settlement peaceable, and the Established party along with many other sections round about, sent a petition to Scotland for a minister. At last we got a young many from Inverness who had Gaelic and properly sent to us, in whom the people were well pleased, and who had about a thousand souls on his charge, in two congregations. He came among us a single man and some years afterwards married a lady from Prince Edward Island, and me and my wife went to his wedding as my only brother-in-law was in the Island, the paymaster sergeant of the Artillery, and who on the eve of finishing his time in the Army and making ready to go home to Scotland with his family and a good pension for life. Thus we caught the two matters with one journey, and got our passage free, and thanks for going, and also the good company of the ministers with their wives but got a great scare by a sudden storm that caught us when going. But we got all our arrangements well done, got all safe at home, and still getting deeper Debts of Gratitude to the chief Lord of Heaven and Earth and Sea and all that are therein. O What shall I render to God for all His mercies and care and keeping. Oh how little can I see of what He did for me. Sometime afterwards there came to be a Presbytery, and set on me to serve as Catechist to go to the vacant parts of the country, and to be from home for months at a time, and labour among the people of public or private or sabbath or the week, as my boys were able to keep things in order at home. It was a work which I felt a great responsibility and yet a great delight indeed, and I was preserved from the climate and men and dogs and wild beasts. Are there not great and many matters here for admiration and thankfulness. For the first six years I kept steady teaching in common school in the same schoolhouse but when they set on me to go out as a Catechist I gave up the common school, and went far and near, even to Antigonish which were mixed much with Papists and most of them highland Scotch, having a Priest and Bishop, a namesake of my own, who talked as bold and friendly to any of us ministers or members about spiritual or temporal matters and who lodged in one of our ministers house and argued with him often, and also was the biggest and strongest man I ever saw, and had his people at his full command, and were almost altogether in that one settlement of Antigonish which was as good a part of soil and convenience as were in all the Province. Bordering on this were stations of Protestants among which I laboured for two or three years and also in another place called St. Mary’s a long river going through it more than twenty miles from north to south, for it rose aside the origin of East River of Pictou, the two little lakes from which they sprang were near each other in the woods, hardly worth the name, lakes but marshes and when I laboured in St. Mary’s I cannot forget one man of the name James Campbell with whom I have often lodged with great pleasure who came to Nova Scotia in the time of the American War and was young an unmarried and a complete blacksmith trade, and having a good lot of tools on the ship. But when 3 or 4 miles off Cape Breton the ship began to sink, having hundred of passengers and attempted to save themselves by the boats but the people thronged into the boats so that every boat sank, and this James Campbell seeing all this and knowing his own strength and knowledge of swimming he determined to stand on the ship as long as any man could stand on it, and at last thinking that he was alone and horrified by seeing the multitudes scattered on the waves and sinking in all directions with all the screeching and shrieking possible, and finding the water on deck coming above his knees he tried to throw himself on the Bosom of God’s mercy and then on the bosom of God’s sea, and never noticing a young lady standing beside him, having hold of his jacket which he was buttoning tight for swimming but when he began swimming he found she had hold of his clothes. At first the thought of kicking her away for she was no relative of his, but then he thought that might be murder then he told her to come up more at his side, and to keep from his feet as well as she could, and so they followed on the best way he could till they came over three miles of sea to shore, not come out of the water from weakness, until she crept over his shoulder, out on the rock and help to pull him out. When Mr. Campbell and his lady made their journey through the long island of Cape Breton as brother & sister and being the only ones saved of all the hands or passengers, and finally came to Pictou town where was a great demand for blacksmiths and great wages given. Immediately he got work and they boarded together and he sent her to learn sewing and followed that way until next summer and she was helping him in washing and mending his clothes and he taking care of and paying for her board and schooling, no doubt intended to marry her, although they never conversed on that subject. But in next May a cousin of his came from Scotland, having written documents of his handwritten promises. He saw immediately she could use the law upon him and spoil his doings. Then very reluctantly he cleared the other girl free from all debts and they parted from each other very sorrowful but fair and honourable, she to hire out in the country as servant maid and was not long until she got married to a young farmer, and come to have a beautiful family on Mount Tom, West River, which he often saw afterwards, and he married his cousin, but never got a child though he got rich and had a great farm in St. Mary’s, and he told me himself, a Devil of a wife. This I saw and understood myself while lodging in his house, to be too true. Many a cold and wet journey I went through in these counties, but I was young and strong with a very healthy constitution and feeling a delight in the service and in the cheerful friendship of the people everywhere and now and then coming home and finding matters as well as I could expect and my wife so fond of my prospering in my missionary labor as could be, which gave me double energy, knowing that her faithful care and prayers were always behind me, and that I was on the care of God’s people everywhere looking continually at the promise, I am with you to the end of the world. His merits and pleadings and promises, was, and is my mainstay always. To whom shall we got but unto Thee, who has the words of Eternal life. Whom have I in heaven but Thee and one on earth whom I desire beside Thee. Who is the Teacher, the Hearer, and the Answerer of prayers, for I had often to notice his providential preservations on unworthy me, from many dangers among wild beasts and Indians, and sever climate, when others suffered. Then who made the difference. What have we but what we have received. Can I but acknowledge his goodness, patience, forbearance, and long suffering. O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men. For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul, with goodness. Let us exalt Him in the congregations of his people, and praise Him in the Assembly of His people, sincerely, Amen.
I also got acquainted with good people from Scotland, who stayed for a little while in Pictou, and after a few years made off to Canada, and were writing back to some of my neighbors concerning the difference in the climate and mildness of the winter and the excellency of the soil, and the greatness of the yielding of the crop of every kind, only that the roads in Canada were often back, but everything else very good. I could not doubt their testimony, especially old Mr. Barclay, myself, and some two or three families took a notion that we, having great families of sons and daughters should sell out and come to Canada. So I consulted with my wife as serious as we could and some of my stations were getting ministers of their own and getting a strong Presbytery and also took into their counsel to destroy the secession College of Pictou, by applying to government to keep back the 400 lbs. annual given them, and as the case was before the Parliament of Halifax, and two of our ministers went into Halifax to watch and plead with the lawyers about the case, tidings came out that the country should be searched all over to see what the majority of the people would subscribe for the College, or against it, and in this service our Mr. McRae who was at home pitched on me to go and search for the Established party, and so I consented and laboured faithfully on horse-back all day, and a part of the night, and got all I could. On the road at night I met my opponent of the secession party, a good man I believe, but we stood a long time, and both smart enough for argument about our doings. Law was on my side, but I believe right was on his side. However I could silence him, and we parted. We would fight with nothing but the tongue but that is an evil which no man can tame. But when I parted with Duncan Cameron I could not quench my own conscience, and had a bitter night of it, and a new light upon the matter. On Sabbath morning after that, I gave my papers to Rev. Mr. McRae, and when dismissing us, he called us to meet, all of us, tomorrow at the church at the usual time for a special matter which he could not speak of now. And we did and when he opened the meeting in worshiping form, he said that we must know that our ministers while in Halifax would be very expensive, that the business was ours as well as theirs, and that he called us together for money to help them. He demanded some of them to speak to answer him. I arose immediately very near him, and took out a quarter and told him “although this shilling would pay the whole sum, you will not get it from me.” Why destroy their college, why don’t you make a college of your own? Under great astonishment he said, “I thought you would be the last man to speak that way.” I told him I took the honor of being the first man, and after that he had to dismiss the people without getting a copper to my knowledge. After that we made up our minds for Canada, and then through that winter I gave out my lots of land for sale, and by next May we got ready with the other three families, and also some unmarried lads, and we never repented of it. And although we all met with difficulties and bereavements, but that comes to us anywhere, and we with our families might be in a far worse part of the world than Canada, although it was very dark and dismal 47 years ago. We got hardship in getting a schooner with one little mast for sailing, and only three hands to work it, all the way from Pictou to Quebec, and met a horrible stormy night on Bay Chaleur, where we passed a ship with three big masts and all riggings, and said to have 500 passengers from Ireland on board, and were all lost and drowned that very night. We got out of our course very far among the Magdala Islands, east to Anticosti, and spent many days coming the St. Lawrence by flowing and ebbing, until we got to Quebec, and after delaying for some hours I ran up and saw all I could see of the Lower town and Upper town of Quebec, and thought very little of the whole, after the great name we had of Quebec, with its narrow, steep and dirty streets, Halifax was then a view beside Quebec, although others do not think so, every man to his fancy. But we felt because for thankfulness, when we found ourselves safe in Quebec, and were told of the total loss of the big ship of Bay Chaleur, which we envied when running like a pigeon past it at the mercy of the wind. But he who rideth on the wings of the wind, and maketh the clouds His Chariot and sits on the Throne of the Universe, spared and cared for us. By this along with innumerable other mercies we were daily put under our everlasting debts of gratitude more and more. We were directed to go to an agent of the Canada Co. for to engage with him for land in the Huron Tract and our passage to Hamilton was secured by paying him in Quebec and gave us a card for that money, to stand for us so much in the paying of the land, which stood true after a few years, and we had our passage from Quebec to Hamilton quite gratis and were sent in the first steamer we ever saw from Quebec to Montreal, and our voyage was by night and I slept very well indeed. Early in the morning we found ourselves in Montreal, and with the other agent of the Canada Co. a Highland Scotchman, and we thought he had no Gaelic, and when he praised Buchanan, and comforting us for our bargain, he told us we would have to wait in the storehouse for two days until their boats would come back from Hamilton. Then my neighbors felt angry for the delay, and spoke ugly in the Gaelic about the agents and the company. When I heard their senseless filthy words, I turned around and rebuked them, and Mr. McPherson never let on that he noticed, and when the supper time came on us in the store house, there came in to us a young man, with a good tin-dishful of milk in his hand, and asked for Fraser, and when I answered him he said “Here is a dish of milk which Mr. McPherson sent for your children, and keep this dish until I come for it in the morning.” I took it and thanked him, and as soon as the boy went out, I told them, surely the man has Gaelic, and understoon every word you said, and it is for my rebuking that I got this. But the dish of milk came every morning and evening while we were there until the boats got ready, and we felt more vengeance, for there was two boats, and two Frenchmen in every boat, and the boat that luggage and had plenty of room to spare. The other three families were crowded in the other boat and the French captain gave no heed to any intercession I could make for them, but according to the orders of McPherson which kept them crowded until we got to Prescott and got off these little boats, and to the steamers of Ontario. Such as this should teach everybody how they should use their tongues, and always remember that although men should not catch our evils, still to remember, Thou, God seest me, and that every one must give an account of every idle word we speak, and that God searcheth the hearts, and trieth the reins of the children of men and also that the carnal mind it enmity against God, and cannot be submissive to his will. We had many troubles to come in these little boats, places at which canals have been made, but since the 1830, for that was the year in which we left Nova Scotia, and came to London, Upper Canada, which is called Ontario. And when we got to the steamers, we felt comfortable from Prescott to Hamilton, which was a small village up near the bottom of the Rocky Mountain, and the Bay the next morning looked the ugliest water I ever saw by a scum as green as any frog spue I ever saw, which would cause ague to any one.
Having got to Hamilton I had no rest in my mind to stay any time there, and I went out early in the morning and got the only teamster that could be got in Hamilton, and the beginning of harvest was come on, and none was willing to leave home, and the one that I got would not come but one day but in that day he put us as far as Oxford, and parted with us at tavern, whose keeper seemed to be very kind (but could get no one to take us to London) but would secure our luggage as we spoke of travelling to London, and then sure of getting friends there to come for it. So early in the morning we got up to catch all we could of the cool of the day, and carried our bread, tea and tea kettle, and one or two of the children who could not walk much, as so we travelled three or four miles until we thought to prepare for breakfast at a house we saw before us in the woods. So we lighted on this house, and found a cheerful young woman with a child or two, and we asked her if we could boil our kettle and she said freely we might, so we made breakfast and while at it she asked us about our affairs, and we told her we were almost out of money, but that we had webbs of calico (or print) in our luggage at Lewis Charles Inn. Then she told us to wait until she would go and speak to her husband who was in the field beginning to mow, and soon they came in, and her husband seemed to be as friendly as herself, and proposed to go with me for the luggage today to bring it to his own house, and that he would put us all to London tomorrow. We agreed to him readily, and so he brought and paid him by cloth to his wife, and took their own offer, which was far more that what we paid for it in Pictou, and got our lodging and plenty to eat gratis, and covered our load by their own quilts and next day we came snugly and safely to Westminster, where they told us that London Bridge was broken and that they saw it today as they were at the hanging of Soverin, who murdered his family but two children who were out at service, and that we would have to follow on to Hall’s Bridge, which was good, and the Mr. Barclay was west on the other side of the river near Hall’s Bridge, which we found to be true. Being near night, and all strangers and horses tired we all proposed to stay and got leave to put the horses into a good pasture beside us and the night was beautiful, and the farmers house too small and we had plenty to eat and to cover us, so we slept outside by the fence. Men, women, and children, eleven person and found ourselves quite comfortable in the morning, and started off to Hall’s Bridge and got safely to Barclays about breakfast time and got so far to our journey’s end, and our friend the teamster, who told us he was a Yankee went home.
When we rested about a week about Barclay’s who were very kind to us, we were directed to an empty house that was near, and to write for a lot of land that was nigh on hand. All the time our neighbours kept coming in for a week or two from Hamilton and they were set on going to the Huron Tract, and spent their time in that view. As there was no minister of any kind, I told the neighbors to gather at Mr. Barclay’s house and we would spend the Sabbath the best way we could, until the rumour spread out about the Nova Scotians, and then one from the tenth concession London township came to our meeting and asked me would I consent to go up and hold a meeting at this house, and that he would invite his neighbors on Sabbath next. So I consented and he told me he would keep me from home two or three days more, and not let the wife be uneasy for my staying a few days. So I did, not understanding what was his plan until I came on Sat. night. Then he told me that there was a lot on the 12th con. With a house and a barn, and a well stoned up about 22 feet deep and about 24 acres cleared and fenced and could be got cheap as the lot I sent for, and the men that had it for sale was some of his neighbours, and could give any time I would like to pay it. We passed the Sabbath in his house together, and the meeting was full, and he got the men to meet us at this place, and we agreed and arranged how to get the matter settled, and the men who were James McFarlane, and Robt. Scriminger went with me to Colonel Talbot who put my name on the map, and gave all lawful authority to settle on it, and to take out my deed any time I was prepared, He would give a certificate for that purpose, and I came to my wife and family, and got help to move my family and come to this place, on which I am yet, and about one month after coming into London, I was settled in this which has been my home for 37 years now. The man who began this scheme was Mr. Duncan Donaldson wo is gone home to rest. And when I look back on the guidance of Providence in all my journey I cannot but admire and adore the labour and the teachings the fatherly care and the chastening and comforting by which he bore with me in all that he gave me in all that he took away from me, of every kind of mercies by which He dealt with me, Although it is only broken reminders that I can mind of them. My children can mind some of what past before this circumstance, and perhaps more than I can mind of what happened since that time. But I should mind it with admiration, deep humility and thankfulness. O for the pure resignation that I would like to exercise constantly. The first year we had nothing of our own to feed upon, but Duncan Donaldson gave us two acres of chop, and grain to pay us for doing it, and was my Donald about 18 years, and Alexander about 15 years, two of us could go chopping and the boy stay at home, and taking care of firewood, one cow, and a pair of oxen I got, but which I got about 4 acres of fall wheat put in, in October and another two acres to chop from Henry Ferguson and we got a very fat deer killed among his browsing and we got 15 acres to chop in Lobo, and by all we got through as safe and full as any year of our life, for grain, cows and oxen were as good to us as money would be and I was getting five dollars and our board for every acre, and every man gave us that except Ferguson and God gave us the deer for that, as he tried to cheat us out of it. By these 95 dollars worth of grain, and cattle we got on to a beginning and Alex at home spoiled the woods of 4 or 5 acres, browsing and feeding the oxen and cows, and in every 4 days Donald and I made an acre abroad. So that in less than three months we had it all done, and I never heard a complaint on our work. On Sabbath I had to attend at the Barclay house and every second Sabbath at John McDougal’s house in Lobo, and that passed the first year for us in wonderful happiness. But by the ninth day of Jan. 1832 my lovely wife was taken away by death, and I and eight motherless children were left to feel and lament our bereavement, and we had no girl older than 12 years to keep myself and the family in order. But I came to see that I could not keep house at all, and I often put my case before the Heavenly Father, and he directed my way, through Barclay’s recommendation, and I was prosperous in getting my second wife on the 25th day of Sept. 1832 who was a helpmate from the Lord to me and my family until they could do for themselves and she was left with me until the 5th day of Feb. 1862, near 30 years having five children who are spared yet, and in families of their own. So I had in all fifteen children, of who eleven are spared yet. Also there are five families of my grandchildren, so that I saw a number of the 4th generation. O that He would be my God and the God of my seed, according to His gracious and glorious promise, and that He would take possession of us all, and of all our future generations to the end of time, by His holy, almighty spirit as he promised Him to every one who asketh Him, and may His grace be sufficient for us, and His strength made perfect in our weakness and qualify us all for his glorious Kingdom in Heaven for ever. O for His cause to prosper in our land, and in all the world, henceforth and forever, and his grace to prosper in our hearts and his worship to prosper in every family, is my earnest desire and prayer, Amen.
Both on sea and land, both in Britain and America should never be forgotten and after having two years here in London without a minister nor not knowing how or where to look for one, the Lord moved the secession church in Scotland to send out the Rev. Wm. Proudfoot and the Rev. Thos. Christie and before we knew that they would come to see us at all, information was brought to us at Barclay’s house on the Sabbath day that a Presbyterian minister would preach to us at one o’clock and as we began at eleven we were ready before he came and when he did come and preached with great light. I did not know what part of the world he was from, only I thought he had a Scotch face appearance until he finished service, and when addressing each other I understood, and my mind was moved immediately to plan how to get him to be within our reach as a minister. So it happened to be the means of having his services about seven years, once a month, until we were guided in Providence to find the lovely James Skinner, who served us earnestly and honourably for 25 years with his energy as a missionary. He was known all over this part of the country. He was the first Presbyterian minister seen and heard, from the boundaries of Lake Erie to Goderick to Startford or Hamilton, and the most of the boundaries between them, and the satisfaction of seeing the country filling up with ministers and members, families and churches, and also his own family raised to take care of themselves. New Churches built, and free, and his two congregations able enough to keep a minister or two if they would honestly try, and then satisfied and resigned finished his course and went home to be with his Master, who he served so faithfully here below.
Thus I have tired to leave a skeleton that may give my children and their children an idea how they came to this, and what obligation lies on them. I might have written more than twice the quantity in every portion of the narrative, but my old hand trembles and tires and it is only lovely minds that cares anything about such, and such is scarce.
* This file also contains a copy of deed transfers from Hugh Fraser and Alexander McDonald to James Fraser (School Master East Branch of East River),1827
|Contributor:||Teresa MacKenzie | View all submissions|
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|Uploaded on:||January 13, 2017|