Archives provinciales du Nouveau-Brunswick

Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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FISH, WILLIAM ELLIS, land surveyor; b. Newcastle, 9 Jan 1850, s/o James Alexander Fish and Elizabeth MacAllister; brother of James Ogilvie Fish, Hiram Alexander Fish, and Charles Elijah Fish; half-brother of John Fish; unmarried; d. Chatham, 27 Mar 1932.

William E. Fish attended the Newcastle Grammar School when it was conducted by John Hardie, as well as the Fredericton Collegiate, and he was reputed to have studied engineering at McGill University. He spent two years with a party which made its way on foot from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Ocean, surveying the 49th parallel portion of the Canada-U.S. border. He was a New Brunswick provincial land surveyor in 1879 when he laid off 3,000 acres in the Sugary Settlement. In 1883 he went to British Columbia to work with the construction engineers who were engaged on the western end of the Canadian Pacific Railway. His assignment was for about two years, and after it was completed he spent the winter of 1885 in California.

Fish returned to the Miramichi, and between the 1890s and 1920s he was responsible for much of the land surveying done in the town and county. Fish Brook, on the Lower North Branch of the Little Southwest Miramichi, was named for him and possibly Fish Lake too, near the head of the Little Southwest, where he conducted surveys in 1894.

In 1913 Fish was engaged by the Universal Radio Syndicate Ltd of London, England, to find a suitable site between Moncton and Campbellton for the erection of a 'wireless station'. This was to be a key link in an intercontinental communications network using the Poulsen (as opposed to the Marconi) system. Newcastle was selected as the best location for the facility, and in 1913-14 a powerhouse and seven huge towers, the largest 500' tall, were erected. However, the outbreak of World War I brought work on the project to a halt and also bankrupted the URS.

Fish was a bachelor and "a great reader and conversationalist." His death, at age eighty-two, occurred in the Hotel Dieu Hospital in Chatham, where because of a spinal injury he had been a patient for seven years.


[b/d] church records / Advance 4 Dec 1879; Advocate 24 Jun 1885, 30 Mar 1932; Hetherington; Leader 1 Apr 1932; Rayburn; World 21 Jul 1883, 12 Jul 1913


i) See J. D. B. Fraser Mackenzie. ii) It was stated in Fish's obituary in the North Shore Leader that he was a graduate of McGill University in engineering. The university advises that he was not a degree holder, but until 1878, engineering graduates of McGill were granted diplomas. Since the university archives does not have a list of the names of those who received diplomas, his attendance or graduation cannot be confirmed.