Pipe Major Fraser portrait

Pipe Major James Robb Fraser, 1913 – 1952

A mounted 8inch by 10 inch (25.4 cm) black and white portrait of Pipe Major James Robb Fraser.

In 1913, after 21 years service with the Gordon Highlanders in Scotland, Fraser replied to a notice from Lt. Col. William Hendrie asking for a “competent” piper to be the Pipe Major of the 48th Highlanders. Fraser sailed for Canada and enlisted on 30 May 1913. Roles in addition to Pipe Major included equipment, clothing, and instruments for the Pipe band; caretaker of arms and caring for all the 48th rooms at University Avenue Armouries. He served the 48th Highlanders for 39 years, retiring on 29 Feb. 1952.

During the First World War, Fraser trained and sent three bands overseas. For the Second War, he trained the first pipe band sent to Europa and two future pipe majors, Archie Dewar and Ross Stewart. During his tenure, Fraser hand-printed all 140 pages of every band member’s music book.

Prior to his service with the 48th Highlanders, Fraser enlisted at the age of 17 on 1 August 1892 with the Gordon Highlanders in Aberdeen. In September 1894, although he wished to be a piper, he was in India as a private fighting on the Punjab frontier. On 20 October 1897 near the Khyber Pass, the Gordons assaulted up the cliffs to take the Dargai plateau. When two pipers were hit, Fraser was ordered to collect his pipes. He was the only piper to reach the top unwounded, but was there shot in the leg and fell behind a rock, where he played until victory was declared. Subsequently, Fraser served as a Gordon in Egypt and the Boer War in South Africa. Returning to Scotland, he rose to become Pipe Major of the 3rd Battalion of the Gordons.

Associated place
Dargai, Khyber Pass, Egypt, South Africa, Toronto
Associated event
Associated name(s)
PM James Robb Fraser
1891 – 1913 Early years, 1914 – 1919 (WW 1), 1920 – 1938 Interwar period, 1939 – 1945 (WW 2), 1946 – 1999 Late 20th C.
Location of artifact
Case 26/27 Bands
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