Fort St. James
Feature Type:District Municipality (1) - A populated place with legally defined boundaries, incorporated as a district municipality under the provincial Municipal Act.
Status: Official
Name Authority: BC Geographical Names Office
Relative Location: SE end of Stuart Lake, Range 5 Coast Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 54°26'39"N, 124°15'33"W at the approximate location of the Municipal Hall.
Datum: WGS84
NTS Map: 93K/8
Related Maps:
Origin Notes and History:

Fort St. James (Post Office) adopted in the 18th Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, 31 March 1924, as labelled on G.M. Dawson's 1875 Geological Survey map, and on subsequent Dominion and provincial maps, and as listed in the Postal Guide of 1906. Incorporated as a Village Municipality 19 December 1952; form of name confirmed as Fort St. James (Village) 2 June 1955. Re-incorporated as a District Municipality 1 January 1995, called The Corporation of the District of Fort St. James.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

Founded as a trading post by Simon Fraser of the North West Trading Company in August 1806. It was referred to simply as Stuart Lake post until 1822 when it became Fort St. James. Labelled "Fort James" on Trutch's 1871 map of British Columbia, presumably a mistake. Fort St. James Post Office was opened 1 May 1899, seems to have closed the following year then re-opened 1 May 1905.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

The reason for the new name is not known. Governor Simpson, visiting here in 1828, described the post as "the capital of Western Caledonia." It was in fact the administrative centre for the Hudson Bay Company's department of New Caledonia. The original buildings have all disappeared, but the local people are making a commendable effort to preserve the three surviving buildings which date from the late nineteenth century.

Source: Akrigg, Helen B. and Akrigg, G.P.V; British Columbia Place Names; Sono Nis Press, Victoria 1986 /or University of British Columbia Press 1997

Fort St. James was founded by Simon Fraser and John Stuart and is one of the oldest settlements in British Columbia. Fraser referred to the post as "Nakazleh", the Indigenous name, in his letters, but the settlement was usually referred to as "Stuart Lake" at the time. The name was changed to Fort St. James in 1822, but the reason for the name change or the origin of the name was not recorded, evidence suggests the name does not commemorate James Douglas.(Information from A Note on the Change in Title of Fort St. James by Walter N. Sage, The British Columbia Historical Quarterly (1938) Volume II, pages 55-56)

Source: included with note