Published: 12/01/2016 08:55 - Updated: 12/01/2016 09:06

MSP uncovers Canadian's Rafford roots

MORAY MSP Richard Lochhead bumped into a man with Forres area connections after heading over the Atlantic recently.

Richard Lochhead MSP (left) with Edward Gunn in Quebec
Richard Lochhead MSP (left) with Edward Gunn in Quebec

Mr Lochhead, who was in Quebec on Ministerial business, met Edward Gunn, whose mother came from Rafford. Mr Gunn had gone along to the Canadian Parliament building when he heard that Mr Lochhead was visiting the city, and wanted to meet him to share the story of his family from Scotland.

He was born Charles Edward Fraser Gunn in Quebec City in 1933, the son of Jane Matheson Taylor, who was born at Rafford in 1894 and Hector Fraser Gunn, who was born at Sibster Mains Farm, Caithness, in 1891.

Mr and Mrs Fraser, who were married on November 13, 1931, in Quebec City – died in Canada in 1962 and 1964 respectively.

Hector was the second son of John Sinclair Gunn of Banniskirk, farmer, and Millicent Fraser who was the daughter of the Rev. Hector Fraser, Minister of the Free Church of Scotland in Halkirk, Caithness.

Hector Gunn emigrated to Canada in 1912 and started a career with the Bank of Ottawa, later incorporated with the Bank of Nova Scotia.

During WWI, he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force and was transferred to a Scottish regiment, the Seaforth Highlanders, where he attained the rank of lieutenant. He fought in the trenches of France and, during an attack by mustard gas, his bronchial tubes were badly burned, a condition that affected him for the rest of his life.

He returned to Canada in 1920 and continued his career with the Bank of Nova Scotia in Quebec and Ontario.

With his health failing, he left the bank and, in 1947, returned to Quebec City where worked for a while as an accountant for the Maurice Pollack family business.

Jane Matheson Taylor (who preferred to be called Jean) was the daughter of Helen Carnegie Wilson and the Rev Charles Edward Taylor (1854-1920), Presbyterian Minister of the Free Church of Scotland at Rafford from 1881 to 1908, when he resigned and was placed on the Probationers’ List in 1912 and then appointed to Torrance, Campsie, in 1916.

He died there in May 1920. Jane emigrated to Canada on November 13, 1931. The Canadian laws of the time prevented a woman to immigrate on her own; she had to be sponsored. She bravely took care of this problem: on the day of her arrival, she went directly from the boat at L’Anse aux Foulons to Chalmers-Wesley Church where she married her sweetheart Hector.

After their marriage, Hector and Jane lived on Fraser Street in Quebec. They were not rich but happy to be together at last. Six years later, they had two sons, Edward (Ted) and John (Jock).

Further, Jane’s sister, Agnes, had come from Scotland to live with them. That’s when the bank gave Hector an interesting promotion and they moved to Ontario.

When they returned to Quebec City, there was a serious shortage of rental apartments and they were compelled to share one with another family. This was a very difficult period until they found an apartment that could better accommodate them.

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