New edition of “The Bravest Canadian — Fritz Peters VC“ Highlights Awards

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The recent re-printing of the book highlights two significant awards it receives in 2013 — one on Canada`s Atlantic coast, and one on the Pacific coast.

In February the book received a Heritage Award from the Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation at the annual heritage awards night in Charlottetown. Then in June the book won first place in the British Columbia Genealogical Society`s Family History Book Awards at a ceremony in Burnaby, B.C.

cover of second printing of The Bravest Canadian 001

 

 

Sculpture of Two Col. John Hamilton Grays Will Commemorate 150th Anniversary of Historic Charlottetown Conference

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by Sam McBride

Very pleased to hear that a bronze sculpture of Capt. Frederic Thornton Peters` grandfather Col. John Hamilton Gray will be erected on Great George Street in downtown Charlottetown as part of the celebrations in Prince Edward Island of the 150th  anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference of 1864 which set the stage for the birth of Canada three years later.

The contract for the sculpture has been awarded to Vancouver Island artist Nathan Scott, who did two Terry Fox sculptures in B.C., among other projects.

The sculpture will depict interaction between two Fathers of Confederation named John Hamilton Gray at the time of the Charlottetown Conference in September 1864.  By great coincidence, there were two non-related men of the same name. – one in New Brunswick and my ancestor in Prince Edward Island.   By further coincidence, both men were known as “Colonel Gray“ — the P.E.I. Gray because he was a retired British Army officer, and the N.B. Gray because he held the rank of Lt. Colonel with the New Brunswick militia.   The two men were also direct descendants of United Empire Loyalists – the P.E.I. Gray from Virginia and the N.B. Gray from Massachusetts.

The P.E.I. Gray was host and chairman of the historic conference, while the other Gray was one of the delegates from the neighboring colony New Brunswick.  Both Grays were strong supporters of Confederation at a time when most of the politicians in their colony were against it.   The N.B. Father of Confederation J.H. Gray later went to parliament as an MP, but the P.E.I. Father of Confederation J.H. Gray resigned as leader of the government when his colleagues changed their minds and opposed Confederation.   P.E.I. later joined Canada in 1873 to overcome a financial crisis associated with railway debt, but the former Premier Gray`s attempts to re-enter provincial politics were unsuccessful.

The lifespans of the two Grays were quite similar.  The N.B. Gray was born in 1814 and died in 1889, while the P.E.I. Gray was born in 1811 and died in 1887, a couple of weeks before his granddaughter Helen Peters Dewdney was born, and two years before the birth of grandson Frederic Thornton “Fritz“ Peters, who would become one of Canada`s greatest war heroes, and the subject of my book “The Bravest Canadian — Fritz Peters VC: The Making of a Hero of Two World Wars“.   Though Fritz never knew his famous grandfather, the stories he heard of him from his mother and aunts were strong factors in Fritz choosing a military career and considering going into politics.

Col. john Hamilton Gray, c. 1864

Col. John Hamilton Gray of Prince Edward Island, c. 1864

NB JHGray

Col. John Hamilton Gray of New Brunswick

The P.E.I. Gray never ventured West, but the N.B. Gray moved to Victoria, B.C. in 1872 to serve as a judge on the B.C. Supreme Court.   He is buried in Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria, not far from the gravesite of the P.E.I. Gray`s son-in-law Frederick Peters and granddaughter Violet Peters.   Established in 1873, the Victorian-style Ross Bay Cemetery has the graves of numerous frontier B.C. politicians and celebrities.  The P.E.I. Gray rests in Sherwood Cemetery, which today is very close to Charlottetown Airport, about three miles north of the city.

The new sculpture is in keeping with P.E.I.`s program to develop its history-oriented tourism industry.   Tourism in P.E.I. has increased substantially in recent years, largely due to the island province becoming a popular stop for cruise ships.

For further details of the statue project, view the links below.

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2013-08-21/article-3358604/John-Hamilton-Gray-to-live-again-on-Great-George-Street/1

http://www.timescolonist.com/island-artist-nathan-scott-lends-talent-to-project-on-p-e-i-1.705881

http://www.sculpturebynathanscott.com/blog.html

 

 

 

Author of “The Bravest Canadian — Fritz Peters VC: The Making of a Hero of Two World Wars“ Interviewed Today By Radio Station in Winnipeg, A City Justly Proud of Its Valour Road

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by Sam McBride

Earlier today it was my pleasure to be interviewed by Dahlia Kurtz of AM680 CJOB Winnipeg regarding my book on Capt. Frederic Thornton “Fritz“ Peters. The live interviews were broadcast in two segments between 2 pm and 3 pm Central Time.

Dahlia read the book and was amazed by the incredible life of Fritz Peters, including three major awards for valour in both world wars, service with the Secret Intelligence Service, and surviving hundreds of threats to his life in wartime as well as between the wars in frontier Ghana in central Africa. Several times she asked: “Why don`t we know about this great Canadian hero?“

She noted that Winnipeg is particularly interested in Victoria Cross stories because of its distinction of having three Victoria Cross recipients who grew up on the same street, within a block of one another. In 1925, Pine Street in Winnipeg was renamed Valour Road in recognition of the courage of three young men who all lived on the 700 block of the street. Corporal Leo Clarke, Sergeant-Major Frederick William Hall, and Lieutenant Robert Shankland each received the Victoria Cross for acts of bravery during the First World War.

http://www.cjob.com/dahlia/

Memorable Images from Maritimes Book Tour

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Magnificent Cape Breton coast

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Enchanting covered bridge in New Brunswick

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The author signing books at Indigo East Point in Saint John (photo taken by Kathy Wilson of the New Brunswick Historical Society, who came by to chat and bought copies of the book as gifts)

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With help from the PEI Genealogical Society, we were able to find the tombstone of Fritz`s grandfather, the Father of Confederation Col. John Hamilton Gray, at Sherwood Cemetery near Charlottetown Airport.

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Next to the Col. Gray tombstone was one for his daughter Rosie, who died at age 4 in 1874.

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Spectacular pumpkin farm between Fredericton and Alma, NB.

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Legislature at Province House in Charlottetown, where Fritz`s father Frederick Peters and uncle Arthur Peters served as premier and attorney general

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Meeting room in Province House where Col. Gray and other Fathers of Confederation met in September 1864 during historic Charlottetown Conference.

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Views of the extensive collection of models and memorabilia of Fritz`s great-grandfather Sir Samuel Cunard at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

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McBride doing a slide presentation on the Fritz Peters story at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

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sam at fredericton on phone

Author McBride doing interview with CBC radio reporter while signing books at the Chapters Fredericton

Maritimes Book Tour Generates Surge of Interest in the Story of War Hero Fritz Peters

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by Sam McBride

My two-week book tour through the three Canadian Maritime provinces was a wonderful experience, and exceeded all expectations in publicizing “The Bravest Canadian — Fritz Peters VC: The Making of a Hero of Two World Wars“ throughout New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, as well as Prince Edward Island, where Fritz was born and his story is best known.

It was a thrill to meet so many people who came by my book signing sessions and either bought copies of the book or expressed interest in Fritz and the book.  These included several current members of the Canadian military, as well as relatives who told me about the heroes of their own family.

I particularly enjoyed meeting several third cousins for the first time, as well as leaders of the PEI Genealogical Society, the New Brunswick Historical Society and the Cunard Steamship Society who I have corresponded with extensively in the past, but not met in person.   Extremely pleased that my enthusiastic supporter in St. John`s, Newfoundland, Dr. David Peters,  came to my presentation at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and we had a good chat afterwards.

Several people I talked to noted that next year, 2014, will be present opportunities to raise awareness of the Fritz Peters story across Canada. These are 1) the 150th anniversary of the historic Charlottetown Conference, in which Fritz`s family had a central role; 2) the centennial of the start of World War One, where Fritz Peters earned three major honours for valour; and 3) the 75th anniversary of the start of World War Two, where Fritz again received three awards for valour, including the Victoria Cross and the highest medal of the United States.

I have attached scans of a sample of print publicity from the book tour, and the links below have some, but not all, of the TV, radio and social media coverage.  I did about 10 interviews by phone before i travelled, and then about another dozen while in the Maritimes between September 24th and October 5th, 2013.

 

http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1013315&binId=1.1145463&playlistPageNum=1

http://thechronicleherald.ca/book/event/1154374-the-bravest-canadian-fritz-peters-the-making-of-a-hero-of-two-world-wars-by-sam-m

https://www.facebook.com/myWaterfront

http://www.armyrats.com/posts/tag/battalion/

http://www.news957.com/category/listen/rick-howe-show/page/2/

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Local+Shows/Maritimes/ID/2408922242/

https://twitter.com/ns_mma

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front page of Moncton newspaper, with long story on inside pages

 

 

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from PEI events BUZZ

 

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one of many newspaper listings publicizing the book tour events

 

Book Signings Going Well in PEI, NB and NS

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Our book tour for “The Bravest Canadian — Fritz Peters VC: The Making of a Hero of Two World Wars” has generated a flood of publicity in the newspapers and broadcast media, including several stations of CTV and CBC in the three provinces.  Most of the people who bought books at the book signing sessions said they saw or heard about Fritz Peters in a recent media story.

The tour is winding down, but I am looking forward to returning to Prince Edward Island for a booksigning at the Indigo Charlottetown on Oct. 5 from 11 am until noon, and also meeting with representatives of the PEI Genealogical Society.  With the 150th anniversary of the historic Charlottetown Conference coming up in 2014, there is a great amount of interest in Fritz’s grandfather (and my great-great-grandfather) Col. John Hamilton Gray, who was head of the PEI government in 1864 and served as host and chairman of the conference.  On the evening of Saturday, Sept. 3, 1864 Gray invited the Fathers of Confederation home to his residence known as Inkerman House (named after his father-in-law’s famous victory in the Crimean War) for an after-dinner party, where much liquor was consumed and the conference delegates got to know each other on a social basis.  As they arrived, they were introduced to Gray’s family, including two-year-old Bertha, Fritz’s mother.  Later in life, Bertha introduced herself to new acquaintances as “a Daughter of Confederation.”

My presentation at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic was well-received by about 20 interested attendees who came out for the event despite heavy rain in Halifax.  I had not been to the museum since 1992, and was greatly impressed with his improvements, including a wonderful section on Fritz’s grandfather Sir Samuel Cunard.

 

 

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Maritimes Book Tour of “The Bravest Canadian — Fritz Peters VC“ Begins Wednesday, Sept. 25th in Charlottetown

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Here is the updated schedule of the upcoming 10-day book tour.

 

Prince Edward Island (pop. 140,204)

Wednesday, Sept. 25, 12-1pm – Charlottetown Bookmark store, book signings; 172 Queen St., Confederation Court Mall, Charlottetown, PE  C1A 4B5.  (902) 566-4888

Saturday, October 5, 11am-noon – Charlottetown Indigo, book signings; 465 University Ave., Charlottetown, PE  C1A 4N8  (902) 569-9213

 

New Brunswick (pop. 751,171)

Friday September 27, 3-4:30pm – Chapters Fredericton. book signings; Regent Mall, 1381 Regent St., Fredericton, NB E3C 1A2.  (506) 459-2616,

Saturday September 28, 12-2pm – Chapters Moncton, book signings; Crystal Palace, 499 Paul St., Dieppe, NB  E1A 6S5

Sunday September 29, 12-2pm – Indigo Saint John, book signings; East Point Centre, 41 Fashion Drive, Saint John, NB E2J 0A7. (506) 693-6987

 

Nova Scotia (pop. 921,727)

Tuesday October 1, 12-1:30pm – Chapters Bayers Lake, Halifax, book signings; 188 Chain Lake Drive, Halifax, NS  B3S 1C5.  (902) 450-1023

Tuesday October 1, 2:30-4pm – Chapters Mic Mac Mall, Dartmouth, book signings; 41 Mic Mac Boulevard, Dartmouth, NS B3A 4Y8.  (902) 466-1640

Tuesday, October 1, 7:30pm – presentation, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic; 1675 Lower Water Street, Halifax, NS  B3J 1S3.  (902) 424-7490

Wednesday October 2, 12-1:30pm – Coles Truro Mall, book signings; 245 Robie St., Truro, NS B2N 5N6. (902) 895-4929 

Wednesday October 2, 3:30-5pm – Coles Highland Square Mall, New Glasgow, book signings;   689 Westville Rd., New Glasgow, NS  B2H 2J6


 

Strong Maritime Heritage of Fritz Peters, VC

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Canada has many war heroes, but the only one to receive multiple awards for valour in both world wars, including the highest honour of the Victoria Cross, is a true child of the Maritimes: Captain Frederic Thornton “Fritz“ Peters, VC, DSO, DSC and bar, DSC (U.S.), RN.

Born in Charlottetown in 1889, Peters has a special place in the hearts of Prince Edward Islanders as the only P.E.I.-born Victoria Cross recipient, but he came from a family which also has an extraordinary impact on the history of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Three sides of his family were United Empire Loyalists who stayed loyal to King George the Third in the American Revolution, and had to move en masse to the Maritimes after the victory of the rebels. Both of Fritz`s grandfathers – Col. John Hamilton Gray and Judge James Horsfield Peters – were direct descendants of United Empire Loyalists, as was his paternal grandmother Mary Cunard. His other grandmother, Susan Ellen Bartley Pennefather, was born in Jamaica, raised in Anglo-Irish aristocracy, and was residing in India when she married John Hamilton Gray, who brought her to his native Prince Edward Island after resigning as a British cavalry officer.

Ancestor James Peters led a large group from Long Island, New York who settled in the future site of Saint John, New Brunswick in the spring of 1783. Later settling in Gagetown, New Brunswick, his sons and grandsons included attorneys general, magistrates, militia chiefs, lawyers and assembly members who would dominate public life in New Brunswick in the late 18th century and through the 19th century.

Judge James Horsfield Peters

Judge James Horsfield Peters

Fritz Peters` paternal grandfather, Gagetown, N.B.-born Judge James Horsfield Peters, married Nova Scotian Mary Cunard of Bushville/Miramichi, who was a daughter of the famous Halifax-based industrialist Sir Samuel Cunard, and they settled in Charlottetown, where James Horsfield Peters was lawyer and agent for Cunards before his judicial appointment. Two of their sons – Fritz`s father Frederick Peters and his brother Arthur – would serve as premier and attorney general of P.E.I.

Fritz`s maternal grandfather, Charlottetown-born Col. John Hamilton Gray, earlier served as premier and had the distinction of hosting and chairing the famous Charlottetown Conference of 1864 that set the stage for the creation of Canada as a self-governing, sea-to-sea country. Gray`s father Col. Robert Gray was a Loyalist from Virginia who helped raise a King`s regiment and was in the thick of fighting against the rebels in the Revolutionary War.

Col. john Hamilton Gray, c. 1864

Col. john Hamilton Gray, c. 1864

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Sir Samuel Cunard

Another ancestor, Loyalist shipbuilder Abraham Cunard from Pennsylvania, met his future wife Margaret Murphy from South Carolina on a Loyalist evacuation voyage to Nova Scotia in 1783, and they settled in Halifax and later in Rawdon, N.S. Several of their sons were deeply involved in businesses that were central to economic development in all three Maritime provinces , most notably Sir Samuel Cunard, the founder of Cunard Steamship Lines and one of the greatest businessmen in Canadian history.

As a boy, Fritz Peters heard stories of his famous ancestors and resolved to live up to their standard of leadership, excellence and public involvement.

The biography titled “The Bravest Canadian – Fritz Peters VC: The Making of a Hero of Two World Wars“ by Fritz`s greatnephew Sam McBride is based on a recently-discovered treasure trove of family letters of the Grays and Peters going back to the 1700s, including 27 letters written by Fritz that give insight into his personality and motivations that resulted in exceptional courage and coolness in battle.

The author will sign books and meet with Maritime genealogy and history buffs in a book tour September 25-Octotber 5, 2013 through Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, including a presentation on Tuesday, Oct. 1st at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax.

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