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Oscar F. Fellows Papers

Identifier: SpC MS 0175

Scope and Contents

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.


  • Creation: 1899-1926
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1905-1925


Restrictions on Access

Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval.

Use Restrictions

Information on literary rights available in the Library.

Biographical Note

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 and 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 binational 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.


1.2 cubic feet (1 record carton)

Language of Materials



The collection contains the papers of Oscar F. Fellows from his work as counsel to the International Commission Pertaining to the St. John River. The collection also contains some material belonging to Raymond Fellows, Oscar Fellows's son.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Oscar Fellows papers came to the University of Maine Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections as a gift of Frank Fellows in 1969.

Guide to the Oscar F. Fellows Papers
Box And Folder List Available
February 2004
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for uncoded script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Repository

5729 Raymond H. Fogler Library
University of Maine
Orono ME 04469-5729 United States