Fort St. James invites you to take a look back in history, and enjoy the depth of history that our local area has to offer.
A recommended route to view the first four sites:
- start at Cottonwood Park, to view The Junkers and the Tom Creek Steam Shovel.
- walk North along the beach to the Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Church (1873).
- up the road (on your right) you will see the Church Graveyard.
- continue up the road, past the docks, to the Russ Baker Memorial site (trails on the left).
- The tour will take approximately 30 minutes for the round trip. Bring your camera!
Junkers W34 Float Plane
The German Junker W34 Float Plane was used by bush pilots in the Fort St. James area from the 1930’s to the 1970’s. The bush pilots flew into uncharted locations and they survived by their wits and bravery. The Junker plane became known as the workhorse of the North, and the plane was also significant in WW2. Located at Cottonwood Park is a 1:3 scale model of the German Junkers W34 Float Plane.
Tom Creek Steam Shovel
The Tom Creek Steam Shovel has been preserved as a tribute to the pioneer families who contributed to the growth and development of our region during the first half of this century. The Steam Shovel was brought to the area in the mid-1930’s by Thomas A. Kelley. It traveled under its own steam to Fort St. James, then by barge by “Grandpa” David Hoy to Takla Landing, then a short 19 miles to Tom Creek. It was rediscovered in 1991. The first trip to locate and assess the condition of the shovel was carried out with the support of Northern Mountain Helicopter April 23 1993. The first rescue attempt was July 23,24,25 1993. The final trip was certainly not without its challenges; this trip was a success and the team arrived complete with police escort to the District works yard in Fort St. James on August 29 1994.
Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Church
Fort St. James boasts one of the oldest churches in British Columbia (located on Lakeshore Drive). It was built in 1873, by Father George Blanchet. Father Morice was the church priest from 1885 to 1904. The cabin where he printed Carrier Prayer Books and newspapers can still be seen behind the church. The church was in use until 1951. Mass was held on Saturday evenings during the summer months.
A few hundred yards past the church is the graveyard where headstones can be seen written in the Carrier syllabics developed by Father Morice. Visitors are reminded that this graveyard is consecrated ground, and still in use, and to please conduct themselves respectfully.
Russ Baker Memorial
This beautiful memorial was erected in honor of Frank “Russ” Baker. He was one of the first bush pilots in the Fort St. James area in the 1930’s. After World War II Russ Baker started Central BC Airways for $25, which became Pacific Western Airlines, and today is known as Canadian Airlines International Ltd. Russ Baker was only 48 years old when he died of a heart attack on November 15 1958.
First Nations Pictographs
These paintings on the cliffs of Stuart Lake date back to the past century. There are twenty-one sites of Native pictographs between Stuart Lake and Pinchi Bay. The paintings are of animals, fish and birds as well as symbols depicting guardian spirits and images received in dreams. The paint used for drawing was a vegetable based vermilion which weathers quickly, therefore archaeologists believe the paints do not date from much before the last century.
Fort St. James National Historic Site
Simon Fraser founded North West Company’s Fort in 1806; it was called the Stuart Lake Post until the name was changed by the Hudson’s Bay Company to Fort St. James. The fully restored Hudson’s Bay Company Post commemorates the partnership between the fur traders and First Nations from 1806 to 1952. Step back in time into one of the largest group of original wooden buildings representing the fur trade in Canada, and meet costumed interpreters working in the gardens and buildings.
The Mountie, the Logger and the Prospector
The mountie was carved in August of 1992 at the Vancouver PNE. The mountie represents a world-wide recognition of Canada, making the sculpture a photo opportunity for visitors.
The logger was carved in 1993 at Grouse Mountain resort. This sculpture depicts the importance of the forest industry to nearly every community in British Columbia.
The prospector was carved in two places in 1994: it started during the Forestry Expo in Prince George, and later moved to Fort St. James where it was finished in front of the RCMP station. This sculpture represents the importance of the Mining Industry in British Columbia.
Hudson’s Bay Cemetery
The Hudson’s Bay cemetery is the oldest remnant of the early fur trading era in Fort St. James. Not much is known about its history and content, or even when the first person was buried here. However, it stills tells of an historic life lived in Fort St. James. The graveyard is located on Stuart Drive, next to the Anglican Church.