If you know anything about Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books, you know about the Frasers, and the Murrays. Well, I wish I could report that I had dinner with Jamie and Claire recently, but these Frasers are very much rooted in this century.
Recently my husband was asked to speak at a dinner commemorating the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, hosted by the 78th Fraser Highlanders, a Historical Regiment. Like Jamie Fraser, their lineage is traced back to the Old Fox – Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat (in fiction, the grandfather of Jamie Fraser).
Although the Scottish suffered tremendous losses at the Battle of Culloden, leaving them stripped of their culture when all things Scottish such as wearing of the kilt were banned, Lord Lovat managed to stay in the good graces of the British Crown and formed the 78th Fraser Highlanders.
78th Highland Regiment was raised under Royal Warrant in January, 1757 by Simon Fraser, Master of Lovat, specifically for service in the North American arena of The Seven Years War, known to many as the French and Indian War. The Regiment known as Fraser’s Highlanders, distinguished itself in several key actions, among them the Seige of Louisbourg, both Battles of the Plains of Abraham, at the taking of Montreal and the recovery of Newfoundland.
In December 1763, the 78th was disbanded as hostilities ceased.
In modern day, the 78th is alive and well! This Fort Fraser Garrison group meets a few times a year to commemorate battles they took part in as well as notable dates on the calendar such as Robbie Burns Day. They are also a registered charity which raises funds for important causes such as providing Christmas presents for children of prisoners or sending 20 underprivileged children to camp.
But to someone like me, the members of the Regiment would be described as Cosplayers!
There ain’t nothing like a man in a kilt! Except for maybe a man in uniform. So imagine a man in a uniform that includes a kilt!
Dinner was very ceremonial. We started with a procession as we were piped in. I was sitting at the head table beside the Officer Commanding, Jim Barrett. At the end of dinner, we toasted the Queen, The Regiment and the Royal Navy with our glass of port.
Pouring the port is a ritual filled with meaning. The carafe, which has a round bottom, is not to be set down by any of the guests at the table until it reaches the last guest where the silver carafe stand has been placed.
Before serving the port, the whole table was cleared of dishware, including glasses. I had asked for a glass of water during dinner as I was the DD.
My glass remained on the table in spite of the fact that there is a fear that people will toast placing their port glass “over the water” – this was a secret symbol of the Jacobites who were toasting Bonnie Prince Charlie, their chosen king, who was exiled over the water in France. Of course, being a descendant of a very old French Canadian family, I did not hesitate to secretly show my contempt for these English soldiers who defeated the French in Quebec City in 1759, thus ensuring that our country’s traditions would henceforth reflect British culture. All in good fun, you understand…
After the toasts, Leon addressed the audience on the finer points of the British Artillery’s role in the defeat of the French at the Battle of the Plains. The evening concluded with a serenade by the Piper called Lovat’s Lament.
For more information on the 78th Fraser Highlanders, please visit their website. Thanks to Paul Keenleyside for providing the photos.
The wine, bearing a special label, was produced and bottled by Chamberton Estate Winery, Langley, BC.