The “Battle of the Brians” Revealed to be a 200+ Year Rivalry

12 February 2017
by Ancestry

The eyes of the world were on Calgary in the winter of 1988.

Two athletes – Canadian Brian Orser and American Brian Boitano – faced each other in the “Battle of the Brians,” one of the greatest athletic battles in worldwide winter sports competitions.

Three decades later, Ancestry researchers made a remarkable discovery: Over 200 years before the “Battle of the Brians,” their ancestors were fighting on opposing sides of the American Revolution.

A Rivalry for the Generations

Long before Brian Boitano and Brian Orser faced each other on the ice, their ancestors were fighting on opposing sides of a revolutionary war.

Brian Orser was born and raised in Ontario. But five generations ago, his family lived in the U.S. His 5th great-grandfather, Joseph Orser, was actually born in Tarrytown, Westchester, New York.

During the American Revolution, Joseph Orser sided with the British Crown.

After the end of the war, like many fellow United Empire Loyalists, Joseph Orser was granted land in Canada, in Ontario.

Painting depicting United Empire Loyalists, ca. 1783

Thus the Orser family left New York and settled in Ontario, setting the stage for the Canada-US rivalry on ice generations later.

Meanwhile, Brian Boitano’s 5th great-grandfather, Noadiah Seward, fought against the British.

Records on Ancestry (the US Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783) show that Noadiah Seward enlisted in the Continental Army in 1778, at the age of thirty-six.

The records even describe him as being 5’7″ tall, with a light complexion, and living in New York at the time of his enlistment.

The Fishkill, New York encampment, where Noadiah Seward’s regiment arrived in June of 1778, was located only 35 miles downriver of Joseph Orser’s (Brian Orser’s 5th great-grandfather’s) land near Tarrytown, New York.

What Surprises Might You Uncover?

Few suspected that the 1988 “Battle of the Brians” was preceded by an over 200-year rivalry between the same two families.

You could be similarly surprised: A search on Ancestry might reveal you have family ties to a famous historical figure.

Or maybe your family’s origins aren’t exactly what you thought. With Ancestry, there’s no telling what you might discover.