Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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RUSSELL, JAMES DOUGLAS, sawmill owner and military officer; b. Russellville, 16 Jul 1893, s/o James Russell and Mary Blanche Henderson; m. 1919, Vera Lillian Ferguson, of Amherst, N.S.; d. Newcastle, 9 Feb 1963.

There was a Russell sawmill in operation in Newcastle parish as early as 1831. In the 1851 census J. Douglas Russell's grandfather, James Russell Sr., was enumerated as a mill owner at Russellville, and the family continued to conduct a sawmill there for more than 100 years.

In World War I, J. Douglas Russell served in both the army and the Royal Flying Corps. In 1919, when he was a 2nd lieutenant in the 206th Squadron, he was mentioned "for gallant and distinguished service in the field." After demobilization he joined the family business at Russellville, which subsequent to his father's death in 1924 was incorporated as the James Russell Lumber Co. Under his management the Russell mill produced spool bars, laths, and "the Russell shook," a crating lumber used by Miramichi fish packers. He was president of the company, which also conducted a general store for nearly forty years.

Russell joined the North Shore Regiment of militia in 1928 and the regular army again in 1940. In 1942 he was assigned the task of raising and commanding one of several provincial forestry companies. He recruited woodsmen, millmen, edgermen, filers, and other trades, including cooks and clerks, escorted them overseas, and engaged them in lumber manufacturing operations "somewhere in Scotland," to help supply the needs of the armed forces.

Russell returned home and resumed his business activities in 1944. In the provincial election of that year he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Conservatives. He did not run for office again but remained involved in politics and was elected vice-president of the Progressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick in 1950.

Russell, who was discharged from the active forces as a major, was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1946 and appointed commanding officer of the North Shore Regiment of militia. He was in command until 1948, when he was succeeded by Lieut. Col. W. George Stothart. From 1949 to 1952 he was president of the Miramichi Hospital Board. He was a member of the Chatham branch of the Canadian Legion and a director of the Highland Society. When he died in hospital in Newcastle in 1963 he was survived by his wife, Vera L. Ferguson, and a daughter.


[b] census [m/d] Russell biog. data / Advocate 3 Mar 1925; Bird; Commercial World 22 Jan 1942; Gill; Gleaner 11 Oct 1831; Leader 22 Feb 1924, 30 Apr 1948, 15 Feb 1963, 5 Nov 1975; NB Elections