To Nairne and Fraser, brave young Scots, who had done good service, Murray was specially attracted. Nairne, though only a lieutenant, till 1761, when he purchased a captaincy, was his junior by but a few years; Lieutenant Malcolm Fraser was three years younger than Nairne. The young men were seeking their fortunes but since they had very little money to buy estates, as Murray did, they could not expect to get land in the more settled parts of the country. For them Malbaie was a promising field and in September, 1761, they went down to have a look at it. The property was vested in the government, for which Murray could act. It was not wholly untrodden wilderness, for some land was cleared and a good deal of live stock still remained. The houses too had not been entirely destroyed by Gorham’s men. The war had not yet ended. It was still uncertain whether Britain would hold Canada. But, for the moment, there was little to do. It was possible that in Canada further opportunities of military service would not be wanting. As seigneurs in Canada the young officers would retain rank as gentlemen and would not sink to the social level of mere cultivators of the soil. The experience too of founding settlements in the Canadian wilderness had compensations. Good sport was always to be had. They could pay at least annual visits to Quebec for a few weeks, and were, perhaps, hardly more remote from the cultivated world than some of the chieftains in their own Scottish Highlands.
The survey of Malbaie must have proved satisfactory. It is true, as the young officers said, that there was an over-abundance of “mountains and morasses,” with good land scattered only here and there. But in their formal proposals to Murray they made this fact the plea for the grant of a larger area. Nairne apparently had greater resources than Fraser and, being now a captain, was his senior in rank. He asked for the more important tract lying west of the little river at Malbaie and stretching to the seigniory of Les Eboulements, Fraser for that lying east of the river and stretching some eighteen miles along the St. Lawrence to the Riviere Noire. The grants were to extend for three leagues into the interior. They were to be held under seigniorial tenure but Nairne asked for 3000 acres of freehold and Fraser for 2000. They thus close their petition to Murray: “This [request], if his Excellency is pleased to grant, will make the proposers extremely happy, and they shall forever retain the most grateful remembrance of his bounty; and [they] hope his Excellency will be pleased in the grant to allow them to give the lands to be granted such a name as may perpetuate their sense of his great kindness to them.” They got what they asked for. It may indeed be doubted whether Murray had any right to allot huge areas of land in a country which had not yet been ceded finally to Great Britain, but any defects of title in this respect were corrected long after by