Fonds F27 - Alexander McPherson fonds

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Alexander McPherson fonds

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  • Textual record

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Reference code

CA ON00329 F27

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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  • 1825-1843 (Creation)
    Alexander McPherson

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Physical description

2.5 cm of textual records

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Alexander McPherson was born to William, a carpenter, and Janet (nee Fraser) at Tain, Ross Shire in Scotland on November 25, 1803. By April 1825, McPherson left Scotland by way of an indenture for British Guiana where he was manager of Planation Nos. 17 & 18 in Berbice. The cotton planation was owned by James Blair, a slave owner and Minister of British Parliament from 1818 to 1830 and 1837 to 1841. Plantations 17 & 18 included 350 slaves and covered an area of 2000 acres. McPherson also served as a Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion of the Berbice Militia.

Following the abolition of slavery in 1833, McPherson made plans to leave British Guiana. He appears in the British Parliamentary Papers as a claimant receiving £63 for owning one slave at the time of abolition. McPherson arrived in Canada sometime in early 1835 and settled at Whitby, Canada West by 1837 when he was appointed Post Master.

McPherson married Fanny Moore at Whitby in November 1837 and together they had eight children. While in Whitby, McPherson was made Lieutenant-Colonel of the 1st Battalion of the Ontario Militia and served as Councillor for the North Ward in 1858/59. He held the position of Post Master until his death in 1861. He is buried in Union Cemetery, Oshawa.

Custodial history

The fonds was sold, letter by letter, to the Archives at Whitby Public Library over a period of several years by a relative of Alexander McPherson.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of 12 letters written by Alexander McPherson to members of his family, including his mother and his brother-in-law. The majority of the letters were written while he held the position of Manager at Plantation Nos. 17 & 18 in Berbice, British Guiana and the remainder represent the period following when he settled at Whitby.

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Physical condition

Most letters appear to be in good condition and are legible. Some letters are torn/ripped and so legibility is decreased.

Immediate source of acquisition


Record are arranged in chronological order.

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    Script of material

      Location of originals

      Archives Reading Room

      Availability of other formats

      All letters have been transcribed. Five letters have been digitized.

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      Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

      Finding aids

      Associated materials

      Digitized letters available here:

      Profile Summary from Centre for the Study of the Legacy of British Slavery available here:

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      No further accruals expected.

      General note

      Content warning: Racism, Slavery, and Colonialism
      The Alexander McPherson letters contain discussion of slavery and managing a plantation and may contain violent descriptions. Some of this information may be difficult to absorb. These ideologies are not condoned by Archives at Whitby Public Library, but the Archives has preserved such records in the hopes that, by encountering them, people will begin to think critically about and challenge historical and current racism.

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