Obituary: Alexander Gordon Morison, Baron of Frendraught and Laird of Bognie and Mountblairy Estates

Alexander Morison

Alexander Morison

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Born: 1 May, 1920, in Canada. Died: 20 February, 2013, in Banff, aged 92.

Alexander (or “Bus” as he was known) Morison was one of two sons born to Duncan and Margaret Morison in Canada. His father had emigrated to there and become a fruit farmer at Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. Unfortunately, he went bankrupt and as a result Bus Morison left school at just ten years of age to work in various fruit orchards to help his mother create a living at the time of the Great Depression. His world revolved entirely around his life on the small holding which they had, including becoming a very skilled animal tracker at a young age.

The family received an unexpected visit around 1936 from a Scottish solicitor who gave the news that he may be in line to inherit some land in Scotland, which was news to him as his parents had never mentioned the UK or Scotland.

Nevertheless, he was summoned to Scotland (his first ever major trip anywhere) to be vetted by trustees – over the head of his father.

Obviously being deemed by the trustees to be acceptable, he returned with the possibility of moving to Scotland in the future. However, the onset of the First World War resulted in him being called up to the Royal National Westminster Regiment in Vancouver.

In the year before going overseas he received some letters from a lady pen pal of a friend of his – a nurse, Yvonne, who wrote to both Bus and his friend, but soon preferred communicating with him.

After a year’s worth of letters, they finally met in March 1941 and married within a month, before spending about two weeks together prior to him going off to fight for the Allies in Europe.

Morison was seriously wounded twice in fighting, first near Monte Casino at the Melfa river crossing, for which his regiment via Major Mahoney won the VC, then later at Arnhem.

Yvonne remained behind and gave birth to their first child, Diane; they were not reunited for five years, until 1946.

While, prior to fighting, training in England, Bus Morison took the opportunity to visit Scotland and liked what he saw. Ultimately, the family made the decision to move to Scotland in 1947, where he became the latest in the long line of one of Scotland’s oldest historical families, the Morisons of Aberdeenshire, who have been at Bognie for more than 500 years and at Frendraught for more than 350 years.

He became the Baron of Frendraught and Laird of Bognie and Mountblairy, as well as subsequently Chief of the Morison Branch of the clan.

However, Bus Morison felt his upbringing made him better suited to the practicalities of forestry and farming, particularly the former, than the day-to-day estate management.

As a result, the family moved to Mountblairy, which they also owned, and Bus lived there with his wife Yvonne for the rest of his days, ultimately for 71 years of marriage.

He spent his years backing Yvonne throughout her extensive career of community work of which he was hugely proud and for which she was given an MBE in 2007.

He was a very capable mechanic and spent many hours of his leisure time doing up a whole series of initially scrap, and subsequently fully restored, classic cars.

He rarely went on any long or foreign holidays, preferring instead to go off with Yvonne in the caravan or to take long walks in the mountains, doing a number of charity walks for the Scottish Mountain Rescue Association.

Mainly through his wife he became heavily involved in the Haddo House Operatic Society and particularly the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme, both as an instructor and organiser.

He also became head of the local Civil Defence in the 1960s and 1970s.

Mr Morison was laid to rest on Friday, 1 March at the family Mausoleum in Mountblairy alongside his wife.

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