Fenton was born in Aberdeen, Scotland about 1817. He joined the Puget's Sound Agricultural Company, an affiliate of the HBC, in June 1841 as a millwright and miller. He was employed for a number of years at various locations in the Columbia District, including Fort Vancouver, and, in 1842 he accompanied a party led by James Douglas to assess several sites on southern Vancouver Island for the location of a new fort. Six years later he returned to the site where he was engaged to supervise the construction of both a saw mill and a flour (grist) mill. In the spring of 1848 Fenton and Finlayson identified a site on a stream (later named Millstream) some distance from the fort and construction of a saw mill commenced. However, as the flow of water required to power the mill was subject to seasonal fluctuations, the mill could only operate during the winter and spring months. Fenton left Fort Victoria on April 24, 1849, bound for California. Although some sources indicate he intended to return to Scotland when his contract expired, the last record of him is at Fort Nisqually in 1850.