Fonds MS-4-64 - Alfred Dickie fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Alfred Dickie fonds

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  • Cartographic material
  • Graphic material
  • Textual record

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  • 1857-1937, predominate 1890-1927 (Creation)

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Physical description

27 m of textual records - ca. 8 photographs.

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Biographical history

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 known for a time as the ‘lumber king’ of Nova Scotia.

After college, Dickie assisted with his father’s businesses; he worked in the 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. On 8 September 1885 he married Alice Amelia Dickie, his father’s second cousin, with whom he had five children: Rufus, Walter, Aileen, Ethel and Harold. Rufus and Walter would both work for the family business, although Walter eventually left to practise medicine.

Between 1899 and 1904 Dickie established several lumber companies of his own, notably Alfred Dickie Lumber Co. 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. A conflict between Quebec surveyors and Dickie's company escalated into a dispute between the Dominion of Canada and the colony of Newfoundland over the Labrador-Quebec boundary. In response, the Imperial Privy Council eventually mapped out the current boundary.

Despite the early rapid expansion experienced by Dickie’s business ventures, which supplied local, national and international lumber markets with a variety of timber products, his business experienced a downturn between 1904 and 1906. Slower markets and difficulties with bankers forced Dickie to reorganize his assets. He sold many of his timber limits; obtained 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 established the Colchester County Steam Ship Company with boats previously used in his lumber business.

In addition to his business enterprises, Dickie had political ambitions and was active in the community. He made several unsuccessful runs for Parliament 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, chronic health issues affected Dickie's activity. While 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.

Custodial history

Records in this fonds were received in about seven accessions. Sales binders were received from the Nova Scotia Museum in 1981. In 1972 Alfred Dickie’s grandson, Don Dickie, donated correspondence, miscellaneous papers, company perspectives, photographs, maps, and poems in three accessions. In 1975 Edwin Dickie, another grandson, donated the majority of the correspondence and miscellaneous papers in the fonds, while Lois Dickie McMillon, Alfred Dickie’s granddaughter, donated some further correspondence in 1977 which had been in the possession of her husband’s cousin, Nancy McMillon Pope. Pope’s husband was the nephew of Robert Klock, a manager of the Forest Exploration Lumber Company who had corresponded with Alfred Dickie. In November 1995, Edwin Dickie made a final donation of a letter book.

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.

Notes area

Physical condition

Some items indicate damage by pests; have been torn, cut, or have become dilapidated, especially along folds. Many items have been damaged slightly from staples, pins, or other metal fasteners.

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.

Language of material

  • English

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Restrictions on access

There are no access restrictions on these materials. All materials are open for research.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Materials do not circulate and must be used in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room. Materials may be under copyright. Contact departmental staff for guidance on reproduction.

Finding aids

Associated materials

See also MS-4-63, James E. Dickie and Company fonds, and MS-4-65, Rufus Dickie fonds.


General note

Preferred citation: [Identification of item], Alfred Dickie fonds, MS-4-64, Box [box number], Folder [folder number], Dalhousie University Archives and Special Collections, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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