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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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CARMICHAEL, JAMES CHARLES EDWARD, customs officer; b. Charlottetown, Feb 1821, s/o John Edward Carmichael and Frederica Ubrica Charletta Catherina Smith; m. 1853, Eliza Jane Williston, d/o John Thomas Williston and Elizabeth Muncey; d. St Andrews, N.B., 3 Aug 1902.

James C. E. Carmichael's mother was a daughter of Lieut. Gov. Charles Douglass Smith of Prince Edward Island, and his father, before marrying Miss Smith, was private secretary to the lieutenant governor. Unflattering biographical sketches of both Smith and Carmichael have been published in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. James C. E. Carmichael took pride in his ancestry, however, and especially in the fact that he was a grandnephew of Admiral Sir Sidney Smith, who helped drive Napoleon out of Egypt in 1799.

Carmichael joined the customs service in Saint John at age eighteen. In the 1840s he was in command of the revenue cutters Spitfire, Nighthawk, and Phantom in the Bay of Fundy and Passamaquoddy Bay. In 1852 he arrived at Chatham in the Phantom to take up a new appointment as landing surveyor and surveyor of shipping for the port of Miramichi. He retained this position until his retirement from the service on pension in 1881. He was always regarded as "an excellent officer" and was hailed as a hero in the summer of 1870, when the fisheries protection schooner Sweepstakes, under his command, "made prize of an American fishing schooner," off the west coast of Cape Breton Island, "with 180 bbls. of mackerel on board."

In the 1860s, Carmichael was a captain in the Chatham battery of the New Brunswick Regiment of Artillery. He hunted birds for sport and spent vacation time "shooting on the Tabusintac beaches." He and his family were affiliated with the Anglican church for many years, but they later belonged to Emmanuel Reformed Episcopal Church in Chatham, of which he was a vestryman in 1879. After he retired, they made their home at Bay du Vin. He died at St Andrews in 1902, at age eighty-one, and his widow, Eliza Jane Williston, at Bay du Vin in 1905, at age seventy-four. They had at least ten children. In 1877, their son Sydney S. Carmichael opened a store in Chatham. He was joined the next year by his brother Charles E. Carmichael. In 1881 Carmichael Bros added a store at Bay du Vin, but their success was short-lived. A daughter, Elizabeth Carmichael, married Thomas B. Williston of Bay du Vin in 1884, but most members of the family left the Miramichi in the 1880s.


[b/d] Commercial 30 Sep 1902 [m] NB Courier 28 May 1853 / Advance 17 Apr 1879, 30 Oct 1879, 6 Sep 1880, 30 Jun 1881, 15 Dec 1881, 25 Sep 1902; church records (re. death and burial of Eliza Jane Carmichael); DCB (re. John Edward Carmichael and Charles Douglass Smith); Fraser (C); Gleaner 19 Apr 1852; Hutchison's; JHA 1867 (re. militia); NB Artillery; World 30 Dec 1882