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The eldest son of James E. Dickie and Harriet Tupper, Alfred Dickie was born in Upper Stewiacke, Nova Scotia, on 28 March 1860. Dickie was educated at Dalhousie College and went on to become a prominent businessman who was known for a time as the ‘lumber king’ of Nova Scotia.
After college, Dickie assisted with his father’s businesses; he worked in his father’s general store and lumber business in the Stewiacke area and in 1886 became secretary of the Stewiacke Valley and Lansdowne Railway Company, of which his father was president. He married Alice Amelia Dickie, his father’s second cousin, on 8 September 1885 with whom he had five children: Rufus, Walter, Aileen, Ethel, and Harold. Rufus and Walter would each work for the family lumber businesses, although Walter would eventually leave to practice medicine.
Alfred Dickie ventured out on his own between 1889 and 1904 to establish several lumber companies, notably Alfred Dickie Lumber Co. based in Lower Stewiacke and Grand River Pulp and Lumber Co. located in a small trapping community along the shores of the Grand River in central Labrador. (Interestingly, a conflict between Quebec surveyors and the company escalated into a dispute between the Dominion of Canada and the colony of Newfoundland over the boundary between Labrador and Quebec. The dispute came before the Imperial Privy Council who eventually mapped out the current boundary between the two provinces in response.)
Despite the early, rapid expansion experienced by Dickie’s business ventures which grew to supply local, national, and international lumber markets with a variety of timber products, he experienced a down turn between 1904 and 1906. Slower markets and difficulties with bankers forced Dickie to reorganize his business assets. He sold many of his timber limits; obtained a few new woodlots in Nova Scotia under the names of his wife and son; established new companies such as the Albion Lumber Company; diversified his interests by investing in utility and insurance company stocks, currencies, and real estate; and he established the Colchester County Steam Ship Company with the boats previously used for his lumber business.
In addition to his many business ventures, Dickie also had political ambitions and was active in the community. He ran unsuccessfully for Parliament several times and served as mayor of Stewiacke for four years. In 1914 Dickie and his family moved to Halifax where he became active in local charities, boards, clubs, and other organizations.
Towards the end of his life, health problems Dickie had experienced since his forties began to affect his activity. Although his longstanding banking problems were resolved and he and his son Rufus formed the Canadian Lumber Company, his time as lumber king had passed. Alfred Dickie died in 1929.
Scope and content
This fonds consists of records which document the personal and business activities and interests of Alfred Dickie and, to a lesser extent, those of his immediate family and employees. Although the records span Dickie’s lifetime, few relate to his childhood, education, or final two years of life. Some items, in particular those concerning his export lumber business or his travels, derive from various places in North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and South Africa, though by far the majority are found to be located within Nova Scotia.
The fonds includes correspondence, business and administrative records, speeches, photographs, legal documents, and plans, among other materials. Records are chiefly in English, although a very small portion are in French, Norwegian, Finnish, Spanish, and Italian.
Immediate source of acquisition
To improve accessibility, records have been arranged by archival staff into series which reflect Dickie’s work, interests, and activities. This arrangement is based upon the original order of the documents when received, although there was no fully developed or coherent system in place.
In some instances, cross references have been created to indicate when enclosed or other associated items are no longer within their original contexts.
Note also that the correspondence received from Lois Dickie McMillon (accession 1977-058) was originally MS-4-123, The Forest Exploration Lumber Co. fonds.
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- James E. Dickie and Company. (Subject)