J.E. Fitzwater was born in Surrey, England. He worked for the CNR and was posted to Kamloops in 1920. He served as alderman, school trustee and hospital director before serving as Mayor of Kamloops from 1952 to 1961. In 1936, he was elected B.C. Grand Master of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He was named Freeman of the City of Kamloops in 1962.