History of
The Anciennes Troupes Militaires
de Montréal

THE 78th FRASER HIGHLANDERS


The 78th Fraser Highlanders was raised in Scotland by Simon Fraser, Lord of Lovat, for service in North America during the Seven Years War. It was present in Halifax early in 1758 and fought successfully during the taking of Fortress Louisbourg. The following year, the regiment was part of the expedition to take Quebec. First regiment to reach the heights of the Plain of Abraham, it suffered the largest number of casualties. In September of 1760, it was the first regiment to enter Montréal by the Récollets door of the walled city. The regiment was disbanded in Quebec in 1763 and, as many French soldiers had done before, some 400 men (officers and soldiers) decided to remain in what was then the new “Province of Quebec”, mostly in regions like Charlevoix and Bas-du-Fleuve. Officers were granted seigneuries and soldiers farmed their lands. A great number of men married into French Canadian families, somewhat faithful to The Auld Alliance. They were the beginning of the Scottish presence and influence on Quebec and Montreal societies.

DISCOVER THE INNOVATIVE PROJECT OF
David M. Stewart

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The innovative project of David M. Stewart

In the late 1950s Quebec there did not exist, what are known today as, groups of “historical reenactors”.  The nearest example was the Fort Henry garrison in Kingston, Ontario (a mid-19th century English troupe) and some American groups (Seven Years’ War and American Revolution) invited to Fort Ticonderoga (Fort Carillon ) from the State of New York.  In 1962, as part of Canada’s participation in the Seattle World’s Fair, the Canadian Army was to present a show recalling the country’s military past.

While organizing his history museum, David Stewart had already conducted some research on Canadian military history with Marcel Baldet, secretary-general of La Sabretache, a French organization with specialists in French military history and uniforms of all ages.  Mr. Baldet convinced his Canadian friend that one should focus on the Naval troops, present everywhere in New France from 1683 to 1760, rather than on the Carignan Salières Regiment, who remained in the colony for only four years (1665-1668).

Mr. Stewart, working with experts from the Canadian Parks Service, suggested that the Canadian Army reconstitute a Compagnie franche de la Marine to illustrate the French military presence in Canada.  For example, a company of the Royal 22e Régiment was dressed, equipped, armed and trained for the needs of the Seattle World’s Fair.  The following year, David Stewart decided to “reconstitute a garrison and an atmosphere of old time …” for his museum on Île Sainte-Hélène.  By repatriating all the equipment that served the Royal 22e Régiment in Seattle, he inaugurated the first program of historical animation in Québec.

As early as 1963, students from the Montreal area were hired and trained by a sergeant from the R22eR to maneuver in the museum’s courtyard.  The transmission of knowledge and know-how by the students has continued from year to year since that time.

With Expo ’67 approaching, David Stewart completed his military heritage animation project in 1965 by organizing a squad of pipes and drums.  The squad was outfitted with the uniforms of the 78th Fraser Highlanders, a regiment that took part in the conquest of Canada throughout 1758-1763 and was disbanded in the colony.  Nearly 400 men settled in the colony, integrating, for the most part, with the Francophone population and form the origin of Quebec’s Scottish heritage.

Throughout the duration of Expo’67, the two reconstituted units were present daily at the fair site and operated continuously thereafter on Île Sainte-Hélène.  This museum program was cancelled by the McCord-Stewart Museum in 2013.  Having been taken over by the Lac Saint-Louis Historical Society, and today by the Old Military Troops of Montreal, the Compagnie franche de la Marine and the “78th Fraser Highlanders” have enlivened the Chateau Ramezay Museum and Old Montréal since 2014.

The main objective of the Ancient Military Troops of Montreal is to perpetuate the work of David Stewart by allowing young people to experience a unique work experience in connection with history and heritage.