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Fort St. James National Historic Site of Canada

Natural Wonders & Cultural Treasures

The Officers House (1884)


© Parks Canada

In Fort St. James' early decades, the officers and men of the fur traders saw themselves in an isolated and hostile land. Daniel Harmon, in charge of Fort St. James in 1811-13, wrote in his journal about life at the post and revealed his attitudes towards his surroundings:

No other people, perhaps, who pursue business to obtain a livelihood, have so much leisure, as we do. Few of us are employed more, and many of us much less, than one fifth of our time, in transacting the business of the Company. The remaining four fifths are at our own disposal. If we do not, with such an opportunity, improve our understandings, the fault must be our own; for there are few posts, which are not tolerably well supplied with books. These books are not, indeed, all of the best kind; but among them are many which are valuable. If I were deprived of these silent companions, many a gloomy hour would pass over me. Even with them, my spirit at times sinks, when I reflect on the great length of time which has elapsed, since I left the land of my nativity, and my relatives and friends, to dwell in this savage country.


© Parks Canada

Some ninety years later, one indicator of the many changes in the post society is that A.C. Murray, the officer then in charge of Fort St. James, elected to retire in Fort St. James rather than to leave the district. Ultimately, his ties to the local community were stronger than his ties to his place of origin. Unlike earlier gentlemen such as Harmon, he regarded Fort St. James as his home.