History of the 48th Highlanders (1891 – 1900)

History of the 48th Highlanders of Canada by Alexander Fraser, covering the period from 1890, one year before the founding of the regiment, to 1900. The book cover is the Davidson tartan, worn by the 48th Highlanders, with lettering and a cap badge in red.

Alexander Fraser (1860-1936) was a journalist, historian, lecturer, Official Secretary and Aide-de-Camp to the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario from 1914 to 1933, and first Archivist of Ontario, from 1903 to 1935.

Fraser was born on November 2, 1860, in Kinaras, Inverness shire, Scotland to Hugh Fraser and Mary Mackenzie. He was educated at the local parish school, Inverness High School, Davidson’s Classical Academy, Perth, and Glasgow University.

In 1886, he moved to Canada and worked as journalist for the Toronto Mail, later the Toronto Mail and Empire. He became its city editor in 1889, resigning in 1898 to become an independent journalist and writer. He was also an editor of the Scottish Canadian, Massey’s Illustrated, the Presbyterian Review, and Fraser ‘s Scottish Annual. In addition to journalism, Fraser also preached and lectured in Gaelic at Knox College, University of Toronto and Celtic literature and history at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

In June 1903, Fraser became the first Provincial Archivist of Ontario and continued in this position until his retirement in 1935. As Provincial Archivist, he was the author of the First Report of the Bureau of Archives for the Province of Ontario (1904), which set out his vision for the Archives. It included the first inventory of documents held in government departments and identified nine key areas of work for the Archives.

Fraser was involved in the formation of the 48th Highlanders of Toronto in 1891, and was involved in historical, fraternal, religious, educational, and Scottish organizations and causes. He was president of the Gaelic Society, the St. Andrews Society, the Canadian Fraternal Association, the Burns Literary Society of Toronto, the Clan Fraser Society of Canada, the Toronto Shinty Club, the Toronto Inverness-Shire Association and the Empire Club.

He is the author of several books and articles including the illustrated official guide of Toronto entitled Toronto, Historical, Descriptive and Pictorial (1899) and a two-volume History of Ontario (1907).

He was awarded honorary degrees from the Alfred University (New York) in 1912, St. Francis Xavier University, (Antigonish, Nova Scotia) in 1914 and the University of Toronto in 1919.

He married Christina Elizabeth Frances Ramsay on March 7, 1889 in Toronto. The couple had ten children.

Fraser died on February 9, 1936 at his home in Toronto.


Associated place
Toronto, Ontario
Associated event
Associated name(s)
Alexander Fraser,M.A. , PhD, Aide-de-Camp
1891 – 1913 Early years
Location of artifact
Case 23 Literature
Regimental Publications, Documents

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