The IMHA sadly announces the loss of Lewis (Skip) Fischer, one of its founding members, who passed away on 11 February 2018.
Lewis Fischer has been one of the driving forces behind the growth of maritime history for the past forty years. As a teacher, scholar and organizer Skip was involved in many of the new initiatives in maritime history since the mid-1970s.
Lewis Fischer spent most of his career at Memorial University of Newfoundland, an institution he joined in 1976 as part of the Atlantic Canada Shipping Project (ACSP), the first – and still one of the most ambitious – computer-based projects in maritime history. He has also taught extensively overseas, especially in Norway which became the focus of many of his writings. He retired at the end of 2015.
Professor Fischer is the author or editor of more than 200 publications. Foreshadowing his later career, he also edited three volumes of ACSP papers and eleven volumes of Canadian shipping records. A desire to place the Canadian experience in an international context led him to Norway in the mid-1980s to collaborate with Helge Nordvik, with whom he published twenty-nine essays, many of which focussed on maritime labour markets and the profession of shipbroking.
For much of his career he explored comparative maritime history. Skip was also active in both national and international organizations. One of the founders of the Canadian Nautical Research Society, he served as its vice president and secretary, and as the founding co-editor of its journal, “The Northern Mariner/Le Marin du nord”. He was one of the original members of the steering committee of the International Maritime Economic History Association, now IMHA, and co-editor of its newsletter, which in 1989 became the “International Journal of Maritime History”, a journal he served as editor-in- chief for twenty-five years.
He also founded and edited the Association’s on-going series “Research in Maritime History” and several other book series. Along with Peter Davies, he organized the first International Congress of Maritime History in 1992 and served on the organizing committees of several others. Between 1990 and 1995, he was secretary general of the International Commission for Maritime History.
His contributions to the profession have been honoured by an honorary doctorate from the University of Liverpool (2005) and a festschrift: Gelina Harlaftis, Stig Tenold and Jesús M. Valdaliso (eds.), “The World’s Key Industry: History and Economics of International Shipping” (London, 2012).