Fenton, William Johnston

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Fenton, William Johnston

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      • Fenton, John

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      William Johnston Fenton was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in August 1925. He immigrated to Canada with his Mother, Amelia Arabella, Father, William James, and his Sister, Caroline. After first settling near Prince Albert in northern Saskatchewan, the family made its way to Vancouver in April, 1936. The connection between the Fenton Family and forest products began when William James Fenton got a job with the Canadian Western Lumber Company Ltd at Fraser Mills on August 1st, 1936, commuting from Vancouver via interurban streetcar. In 1938, the family purchased land and built a house on Alderson Ave in Maillardville so as to be closer to the mill. Over the next few years, the family grew to include Jim, Irene, Phyllis, Mickey, and Colleen. William James became Personnel Manager but his career was interrupted by ill health and he died on July 4th, 1955 at the age of 52.

      William Johnston Fenton (most commonly known as John Fenton) and all of his siblings worked at Fraser Mills or with other forest product operations in the area. John started as a casual labourer in the shipping department in 1942 and moved to the plywood plant shortly thereafter. He joined the Canadian Army in June 1944, was discharged in August, 1946, and returned to the mill. He worked as a clerk in the Traffic Department before becoming an Invoice Clerk in 1948. In 1952, he was assigned to Calgary not long after his marriage in 1951. They moved back to Coquitlam in 1954 and John then worked for the Sales Department of what was by that point, Crown Zellerbach. He moved through the managerial ranks, ultimately becoming Sales Manager for British Columbia. During this time, he built two houses on Quadling Avenue, and was a prominent community volunteer for the Coquitlam School Board and the local United Way.

      In 1966, he was transferred to Toronto to be the Manager of the Ontario Sales Region and soon was responsible for sales in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. He returned to Coquitlam in 1970 and held various management positions before moving to Kelowna in 1984, where he retired as Manager of Marketing in 1990. During the later years of his career, John became an industry guru regarding wood products, with a particular emphasis on plywood. He was active as an industry representative who facilitated market expansion in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, and Japan. His knowledge of plywood production and forest products manufacturing helped inform early negotiations with the United States on a Softwood Lumber Trade Agreement and he assisted in developing product standards through the Canada Standards Association.


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