Dr Robert L. Fraser’s family emigrated from the Highlands of Scotland in 1855 at the end of a long process of social, economic, cultural and political transformation known as the “Highland Clearances.” Someone once noted, wryly one presumes, that it says something of a family that after 800 years in a Highland glen, it left, it came to Hamilton where it has spent the next 160 years! Educated locally, he attended McMaster for his BA (there was no other choice, Carleton for his MA, and U of T for his PhD. Trained as an historian – he acquired his love of the past from the stories of his Fraser grandparents – he took a position with the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (www.biographi.ca) in 1976, where he has worked ever since. He has been the Executive Officer of this long running historical research project since 1994. He has taught Canadian history part-time at both U of T and McMaster, and at Woodsworth College (since 1985).
Fraser has been associated with the Argylls since 1980 and has served in numerous capacities: chairman of the Regimental Historical Committee, Regimental historian, President of the Officers’ Mess, member of Senate, director of the Regimental Foundation, and member of the Honorary Colonel’s Advisory Group. He has also served on other boards and with other organizations over the years.
He has written two books: Provincial Justice and Black yesterdays the Argylls’ War. He has written numerous articles on Upper Canadian history (his supposed speciality) and participated in public history relating to it as well as giving numerous talks.
He once enjoyed hockey and still makes a stab at fitness. His great passion is wilderness canoeing in northern Canada.
Many years ago, whilst driving his young children to swimming lessons, he commented, yet again, on two local sites related to the War of 1812. His son was contemptuously and immediately dismissive – “Dad, we’ve heard it 100 times before”: his normally serious and respectful daughter observed: “Dad, seriously, you need to get a life!” He’s still trying!