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Special Collections: Guide to the Oscar F. Fellows Papers

Arranged and described by Brenda Howitson Steeves

Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Department

December 2003

Introduction and Summary Information

Collection Title: Oscar F. Fellows Papers.
Dates of the Collection: 1899-1926 (inclusive); 1905-1925 (bulk).
Provenance: The Oscar Fellows papers came to the University of Maine Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections as a gift of Frank Fellows in 1969.
Collection Number: MS 175.
Box Numbers: 1 (formerly Cage Box 2).
Size and Arrangement: The collection consists of one archival record carton (1.2 cubic feet).
Conservation Note: The collection has been re-housed in acid-free folders and an acid-free box.
Preferred Citation: Oscar F. Fellows Papers, Special Collections, Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine.
Restrictions on Access and Use: Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval.


The collection contains the papers of Oscar F. Fellows from his work as counsel to the International Commission Pertaining to the St. John River. Born in 1857, Oscar Fellows was an attorney in Bucksport, Maine and later established the law firm of Fellows & Fellows in Bangor with his sons, Frank and Raymond. A Republican, Fellows was in the Maine House of Representatives from 1901 to 1903, serving as Speaker in 1903. He also served as president of the Maine Bar Association. He died on December 28, 1921.

The Commission, the papers of which make up the bulk of this collection, was formed in 1906 “to investigate and report upon the conditions and uses of the Saint John River, and to make recommendations for the regulation of the use thereof.” The need for the Commission arose from difficulties over use of the St. John River for log driving and as an international boundary. From the date of the Treaty of Peace between the United States and Great Britain in 1783 to the Treaty of Washington in 1842 the question of the location of the international boundary as defined by the first treaty gave rise to bitter controversies. By the treaty in 1842, commonly called the “Ashburton-Webster Treaty,” the St. John River was declared to be the line of boundary, with the navigation of the river free and open to citizens of both Canada and the United States. Altercations between lumbermen, controversies over construction of dams, control of water levels, and development of mills along the river led to the need for resolution to these continuing problems.

The Commission began work in 1909; George A. Murchie of Calais, Maine and Peter C. Keegan of Van Buren, Maine were appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to serve as U.S. commissioners. Two commissioners, Alexander P. Barnhill and John Keeffe, both of St. John, New Brunswick, were appointed by the government of Canada. Oscar Fellows was appointed as counsel on behalf of the U.S.

Twenty-one public meetings of the Commission were held at Van Buren, Calais, Bangor, Augusta and Houlton, Maine, and at Fredericton and St. John, New Brunswick. In order to familiarize themselves with the subject, Commission members traveled on the river and some of its chief tributaries, particularly that part which makes up part of the international boundary between New Brunswick and Maine. In 1910 the Commission’s work was expanded to include investigating the feasibility of building storage reservoirs on the river to facilitate driving logs. The Commission completed its work in 1915 and adjourned with the release of its report on February 16, 1916. The report concluded that there was a need to increase water storage, smooth and remove boulders to facilitate log drives, and recommended a joint international corporation to regulate and improve the river.

The collection also contains some material belonging to Raymond Fellows, Oscar Fellows’s son. Raymond was born on October 17, 1885 and served as Maine Attorney General from 1925 to 1928. His part of the collection concerns an application made in 1924 to the International Joint Commission, the bi-national organization established in 1909 to prevent and resolve disputes about the use and quality of boundary waters of the United States and Canada. The law firm of Fellows and Fellows served as American counsel for this Commission. An application to the Commission by the New Brunswick Electric Power Commission sought approval to build a dam at Grand Falls on the St. John River. Under Article III of the treaty of 1842 approval for projects affecting the natural level or flow of boundary waters had to be granted by the Commission.

Scope and Content Note

The collection is arranged in two series: Papers of Oscar Fellows and Papers of Raymond Fellows.

The first series begins with drafts of the report of the International Commission Pertaining to the St. John River as well as plans and maps accompanying the report and transcripts of a few of the proceedings of the Commission. Correspondence to and from Oscar Fellows, as well as correspondence of Commissioner Keegan and information about Commission expenses and Fellows’s compensation is also included. Information collected by Fellows in his work for the Commission completes this series.

The second series, the papers of Raymond Fellows, includes the application of the New Brunswick Electric Power Commission to the International Joint Commission, 1924, reports and correspondence about the planned construction at Grand Falls, and various petitions, responses, and resolutions filed in reaction to the application.

Box List

Series I:  Papers of Oscar Fellows

Box 1


1                      Drafts of Commission report

2                      Report of the Commission, Feb. 16, 1916

3                      Index of evidence taken before St. John River Commission

4                      Plans and maps accompanying report of the consulting engineers

5                      Plans and maps accompanying report of the consulting engineers

6                      Index to St. John River Commission books and papers

7                      Transcript of informal examination of Prof. H.S. Boardman, Feb. 24, 1910

8                      Transcript of proceedings at session of St. John River Commission; held at Bangor, Mar. 24, 1910

9                      Rules of procedure of the International Joint Commission ... promulgated Feb. 2, 1912

10                    [Testimony] in the matter of the International Commission pertaining to the St. John River before the full
                        commission at St. John, N.B., July 30, 1915

11                    Correspondence re driving logs on the River, 1905-1909

12                    Correspondence to and from Oscar Fellows, 1909-1918

13                    Letter from Peter C. Keegan to William J. Bryan, Secretary of State, July 18, 1914

14                    Correspondence, etc., re Commission expenses, 1912, 1924

15                    Correspondence re compensation for Oscar Fellows, 1912-1924

16                    Reports, notes, etc., of Oscar Fellows, 1909-1917

17                    Copy of letter from Sir W. Colebrooke to Lord John Russell, June 18, 1841, re St. John River and boundary treaty

18                    Copies: Excerpts from Report of Land Agent of Maine 1841, 1842; Webster-Ashburton Treaty, Article III, 1842

19                    Copy of Report of the Commissioners, 1843, for ... surveying boundary lines between Maine ... and British Provinces

20                    Opinion of Maine Supreme Court re Senate’s powers to regulate river flow, etc., 1907

21                    Letter to Governor General of Canada, 1908, re memorial of the St. John Lumber Co., Van Buren
                       Lumber Co., and Kennedy Island Mill Co.

22                    Report of development of water power on the St. John River at Pokiok, N.B., for the transmission of electricity
                        to Fredericton and St. John, Aug. 18, 1911, by Arthur Adams, consulting engineer.

23                    Copy of article: British diplomacy and Canada [from “United Empire, the Royal Colonial Institute Journal,” Oct., 1911]

24                    Brief of law relative to matters pertaining to the St. John River, undated

Series I:  Papers of Oscar Fellows cont.

Box 1 cont.


25                    An act to incorporate the St. John River Hydroelectric Co., undated

26                    Report of Telos Canal and Chamberlain Dam, undated

27                    Copy of map surveyed under instructions from the Commissioners & agents of Maine & Mass. & then
                        copied & reduced by Geo. W. Coffin, 1835

28                    Map of northern Maine especially adapted to the uses of lumbermen and sportsmen, 1899, by Lucius L. Hubbard

29                    Map: The New England commercial and route survey, 1905

30                    Map: Public Works, Canada: Booms and piers, River, St. John, N.B., 1908

31                    Plan of the River St. John at Van Buren, undated

Series II:  Papers of Raymond Fellows

32                    Application of the New Brunswick Electric Power Commission to the International Joint Commission ...
                       re construction at Grand Falls, 1924

33                    Correspondence, notes, etc., of Raymond Fellows re Grand Falls project

34                    Reports, correspondence, etc., re construction at Grand Falls, 1925-1926

35                    Plans: New Brunswick Electric Power Commission. Grand Falls Development, 1924

36                    Petition by International Paper Co. & Grand Falls Co. before the International Joint Commission re application
                        of New Brunswick Electric Power Commission, 1925

37                    International Joint Commission. Statement in response on behalf of the state of Maine, Apr. 24, 1925,
                        re application of New Brunswick Electric Power Commission

38                    Copy of Maine resolution re project at Grand Falls, 1925

39                    Part of transcript of Commission report, pp. 133-199: Parliamentary acts re St. John River and logging companies

40                    Maine Public Utilities Commission. Special water power investigation, 1918

41                    Maps: Topographical quadrangles, Bar Harbor, 1920, and Orland, 1923

42                    Raymond Fellows: Miscellaneous material

Finding Aids for selected manuscript collections in the Special Collections Department at Fogler Library are accessible online in URSUS, in a browsable Guide to Manuscript Collections. Please contact Special Collections at or (207) 581-1686 for further information.

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Special Collections Staff: | Revised: 03/17/2015
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