Josiah Fowler Co., Ltd.
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

Allen Klenman states in his article about Josiah Fowler on page 25 in the March, 1998, The Chronicle:

Just over the Maine border is the Canadian area of New Brunswick.  In the nineteenth century it was supported by the huge ship building trade.  Upwards of five hundred wooden ships, including some world renown sailing ships were made there.  Among the workmen in the area were a number of top quality blacksmith families.

These master iron workers and edge toolmakers came to Canada as United Empire Loyalists, American colonists who remained loyal to the British crown after the united States War of Independence.  Josiah Fowler was a third generation U.E.L.  He opened his first shop in 1860 and in a number of partnerships, was active in St. John  as late as 1922.  Good specimens of his axes are still located by sharp-eyed collectors.

There was a large trade of edge tools between the United States and Canada over eight decades at least, up until World War I.

One of Josiah's descendents, Betty Dunfield, came across some of his records in her reconstruction of the family tree, including some letters he wrote while serving in the American Civil War as a bugler. See below:

Josiah Fowler Josiah Fowler during his time as a bugler in the Civil War.

Letters from Josiah Fowler to his eldest brother, Nathen Fowler, Betty Dunfield's great grandfather. Special thanks to Betty Dunfield for providing the letters:

The two illustrations below are from the same article.

Some photos of a Josiah Fowler broad axe in the museum's collection:



John Gardiner of the Mystic Seaport when he was visiting the Jonesport Wood Co. store (now leveled) in W. Jonesport, Maine, in the late 1970s provided similar information abut Josiah Fowler.  He also indicated that J. Fowler was an important New England area ship's carpenter toolmaker whose adzes are, by oral tradition among Maine shipwrights, considered to be the finest ever made.

DATM (1999) lists Josiah Fowler as working in St. John 1881 - 1920.

The text "St. John the Metropolis of NB" published in 1908 lists on pg. 56-7 that Fowler made tools as early as 1864.

Block poll adz in the collection of The Davistown Museum

Broad ax in the collection of The Davistown Museum

Tools of the Josiah Fowler Co., Ltd. in the Museum collection.