Sunday, 21 August 2016

Book Review: Forgotten Hero: Alexander Fraser

Military hero, ambitious, intelligent, capable, hard-working, trusted, politically-astute, loyal to the British crown.
Fiery tempered, sensitive as a school girl, petulant, vindictive, did not manage money well, convicted of drunk and disorderly conduct, sentenced to jail.
Did the man so described in the preface rightfully disappear from Canadian history after his death in 1872, even in his adopted home town of Perth, Ontario?
Obviously not according to the authors of this 2012 publication Forgotten Hero: Alexander Fraser.
Both authors bring a depth of local knowledge. Co-author genealogist M. E. Irene Spence was stimulated to start the investigation in finding out her family home was originally built for Fraser and named for his wife.
Lead author Ron. W. Shaw is a well known historian of Perth and area with five generation roots in the area and three other books on the topic to his credit. He is also a musician, evidenced by this song he wrote and performs on the occasion of the bicentennial celebrations of the Perth Military Settlement.
The book covers the full extent of Alexander Fraser's life. If his life in Perth was the extent of his prominence he would be not very different from many other half-pay officers who settled there. He stands out for the role he played during the nighttime raid at the Battle of Stoney Creek, considered a turning point in the War of 1812. That earned him a commission from the ranks to officer  -- without purchase, and a posting to New Brunswick where he met and married his wife from a Loyalist family. Placed on half-pay at the end of the war he took up land in the Perth Military Settlement.
The book makes the point that his actions were largely motivated by advancement for him and his family, a matter of some difficulty in Perth where he was considered not quite up to the social standards of the officer class.
Beyond the biographical material one gleans considerable information about the life and times in the early 19th century British military in Canada, and the various organisations which touched Fraser's life.
Genealogists often turn to an index on first picking up a book. Unfortunately that's lacking in Forgotten Hero.

This review is based on a copy received from

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It sounds like a worthwhile read though, for someone with my family history also of ancestors in the Perth Military Settlement. Cheers, BT