Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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FISH, CHARLES ELIJAH, lumber scaler, businessman, police magistrate, MLA, and MP; mayor of Newcastle, 1916-17 and 1921-23; b. Newcastle, Jan 1854, s/o James Alexander Fish and Elizabeth MacAllister; brother of James Ogilvie Fish, William Ellis Fish, and Hiram Alexander Fish; half-brother of John Fish; m. 1881, Anne E. Willard, d/o Oliver Willard and Sarah Ann Patten; d. Newcastle, 3 Jul 1933.

Charles E. Fish studied at the Newcastle Grammar School and Harkins Academy and also had commercial training. He worked in his father's business for a time and was then on his own. In the early 1880s he purchased the quarry at French Fort Cove and began supplying stone for the construction of larger buildings at different locations in eastern Canada. Buildings made of his stone included the Langevin Block in Ottawa, St James Street Methodist Church in Montreal, St Dunstan's Cathedral in Charlottetown, and the post offices in Newcastle and Chatham. In 1887 he provided the stone used in the construction of the railway bridge over the St John River at Fredericton. This came from the quarries at Indiantown and Nelson's Hollow, as well as French Fort Cove.

In 1899, again as a business venture, Fish built a modern flour mill on the site of a former grist mill at French Fort Cove. From 1899 onward he also worked as a provincial lumber scaler. In 1910 he was occupying the salaried position of chief lumber scaler for New Brunswick, while at the same time doing contract work in different parts of the province. His practice was to bid for construction jobs for which he would then subcontract the work involved. When he failed to get a contract from the Chatham Town Council in 1915 for the pilings for a dam, he accused Councillor James L. Stewart, the editor of The World, of opposing his bid. Stewart denied personal involvement, and his newspaper delivered a stinging rebuke by reporting that "some members of the Council looked upon Mr. Fish as an undesirable contractor, saying that lawsuits had followed his Moncton contracts and would probably follow the Chatham contract if he got it." For this reason they were "opposed to his being given the contract at any price."

Fish served for a time as a county councillor and was warden in 1886. He was elected to the first Newcastle Town Council in 1899 and later served two separate terms as mayor. He also won a seat in the Legislative Assembly in 1899 and sat until 1903, when he failed to get re-elected. In 1925 he ran successfully in a by-election under the Conservative banner for the Northumberland County seat in the House of Commons. He sat for a year, but when he was defeated in the election of 1926 he retired from political life. In 1931 he was appointed police magistrate for Newcastle. He was still occupying this office when he died at the county courthouse in 1933, at age seventy-nine.

Fish was a lieutenant in the Newcastle Field Battery in 1879. He belonged to the Masonic fraternity and was worshipful master of Northumberland Lodge in 1881. He was a member of St James Presbyterian, and later of St James and St John United Church. He and his wife, Anne E. Willard, were the parents of Frances Lillian Fish and four other daughters, all of whom were highly educated and occupied successful positions in life.


[b/d] church records [m] official records / Advance 28 Aug 1879, 24 Aug 1899, 2 Nov 1899; Advocate 8 Apr 1931, 5 Jul 1933; Arbuckle (re. Langevin Block); Biog. Review NB; Graves, Leader 26 Jun 1974; Manny Collection (F182); Ready Ref.; World 24 Aug 1887, 9 Oct 1915


i) Fish's baptism record shows his birth date as 25 Jan 1854. Elsewhere it is given as 5 Jan 1854. ii) It was stated in several publications, e.g., in the Union Advocate of 29 Dec 1937, that Mrs Charles E. Fish was a granddaughter of the Rev. Elijah Willard, president of Harvard University. The Harvard president was Joseph Willard, 1738-1804, who could not have been Mrs Fish's grandfather. iii) After her retirement in Newcastle, Fish's daughter Ann Mildred Fish was referred to as Dr Fish, and an MD was sometimes appended to her name, e.g., in Graves. In an article in the Canadian Home Journal in 1930 the only academic qualification which she claimed in respect to her work in the field of bacteriology was a bachelor of science from "a New York university."