Fort St. James National Historic Site
(Picture BC photo)

Fort St. James

Culture & History

Fort St. James has a long history of national and provincial significance.

The community is the largest continually habituated European settlement west of the Rocky Mountains, which line the area between British Columbia and Alberta.

Fur Trade

In 1806, during the fur trade boom, one of the first fur posts in the province was built in what is now Fort St. James. Of course, this was before the province was even established. In 1821, this fur-trading fort became the Hudson Bay Company, a centre for trade and commerce. It served as the centre of what was then called New Caledonia. The company ceased operations here in 1952. Visit the restored Fort St. James National Historic Site during the summer. Travellers from all over the world come to see this part of Canada's history.


In the mid-1900s, Fort St. James became a floatplane base helping workers access mining, forestry, trapping and hunting locales in the area. Check out the Russ Baker Memorial, a model of the Junkers W34 floatplane in Cottonwood Park (close to downtown on the waterfront) for a taste of the aviation history.

Fort St. James Today

Fort St. James locals are hardworking and proud of where they live and what they've accomplished over the years. They love the geographic icons of the area such as Stuart Lake and Mount Pope, and revel in the recreation opportunities around them. A few local young men have grown up to play in Canada's National Hockey League. As well, many artists and painters live in the community.

Well-attended local events include Murray Ridge's Slush Cup and bathtub races in March, the annual Stuart Lake Fishing Derby in July and the Cottonwood Music Festival in mid-July. Watch musicians from around the region perform on the waterfront at the Cottonwood Music Festival. In the summer, the Fort St. James National Historic Site also offers a spooky ghost walk around town. Tour historical buildings in town and meet characters from the past.