History

In Canada's story, the Fraser's Highlanders have a uniquely romantic place. The Regiment played a daring and romantic role in the major battles of the Seven Years' War, a war which ultimately determined Canada's future. Although the regiment was disbanded in Quebec in 1763, it was the only Scottish regiment ever to be disbanded on foreign soil. The men of the 78th were first among the many thousands of "red-coated" settlers who remained in Canada. Since that time, their family trees have flourished placing their descendants throughout the country and the continent.

The 2nd Highland Battalion of Foot, commonly called Fraser's Highlanders was raised in Inverness Scotland in January 1757, under the Honorable Simon Fraser specifically for service in North America, and was numbered the 63rd Regiment of Foot.

At the behest of Lord Chatham, Colonel Simon Fraser, Master of Lovat, raised the Regiment under Warrant for King George ll. The 1,500 men were recruited largely from clansmen, who a dozen years earlier had fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie in the War of '45. When an official high in authority questioned the wisdom of arming former rebels, General James Wolfe defensively replied, "If a Highlander gives his oath, he can be completely trusted".

The regiment was marched to Port Patrick, where it crossed over to Ireland, in company with Montgomery's Highlanders, and sailing from Cork to land at Halifax before moving north to lay siege and then capture the mighty French Fortress Louisbourg in 1758.

Upon landing, it was proposed that there be a change in uniform. The Highland garb was said to be unfit for the cold severe winters and hot summers in North America. The regiment protested vehemently against any change to their uniform. Colonel Fraser was successful in explaining the strong attachment to the Highland garb to the Commander in Chief, and the regiment was allowed to retain its cherished national dress.

It was after the siege of Louisbourg in 1758, that the regiment was renumbered the 78th Regiment of Foot or Fraser's Highlanders. The men wintered in Connecticut and southern New York State before undertaking the Quebec campaign throughout the summer of 1759. It was the largest regiment on the Plains of Abraham and suffered the heaviest casualties. Fraser's Highlanders were the only Highland troops fighting on the Plains of Abraham on September 13, 1759. On the Heights of Abraham, they shared General Wolfe's day of glory. The General's body was carried from the battlefield in the plaid of a 78th Fraser Highlander.

During their short stay in Quebec, members of the Regiment were also responsible for establishing the first Presbyterian church in Canada and the first Masonic Lodge, as well as introducing the game of curling on the frozen rivers and lakes.

When word was received of the disbandment of the Regiment, (the order was received December 1763), at Murray Bay on the lower Saint Lawrence, many decided to stay on land grants and many married into French Canadian families. Their descendants are numerous in Quebec today, especially in the Fraserville or Riviere de Loup area. Others returned independently to establish business concerns, notably in the fur trade, where they or their descendants explored and opened the continent naming such rivers as the MacKenzie and the Fraser.

The influence of the original 1,500 men of this Regiment on Canadian and North American history is still evolving. The 78th Regiment now operates across Canada as a not-for-profit charitable corporation, its headquarters in Montreal, with the aims of preserving this part of Canada's military history and the Scottish traditions associated with the period.

The Fraser Highlanders take great pride in the achievements of the past, take comfort in adding understanding to the present, and look forward to a strong Canada with hope for the future!