Classified Federal Heritage Building
Fort St. James, British Columbia
(© (Canada Parks Service, 1989))
Fort St. James, British Columbia
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1888 to 1889
Event, Person, Organization:
Hudson Bay Company, Roderick MacFarlane
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The General Warehouse is a large rectangular, two-storey, hipped roof with wooden shingles, exposed log structure with the main entrance on the long (south) side. An entrance on the west elevation links the building with the tramway and wharf on the lake. The warehouse consists of two large rooms, one on the ground level and one upstairs. The warehouse is a dominant and striking structure located among five other buildings, which are connected by a series of fences, boardwalks, gardens and spaces within the Fort St. James National Historic Park. These buildings were built between 1884 and 1889 as part of a general renewal of the facilities at the fort. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The General Warehouse is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations and its architectural and environmental values.
The General Warehouse is an excellent example of a typical fur-trading establishment in the history of the West Coast region and belongs to the largest extant grouping of wooden fur trade buildings in Canada. The General Warehouse and its companion structures are associated with the development of the Fur Trade in Canada. The General Warehouse, a significant trading center for receiving and sending both furs and trade goods along with the other buildings are all related to the central role Fort St. James played in the region as an administrative center.
The General Warehouse is an excellent and one of the finest large-scale examples of Red River Frame architecture in Canada. Its design is representative of the Hudson Bay style, which drew its form and massing from the British Classical tradition. The warehouse is characterized by its striking form and presence, and in its original materials and construction system.
The General Warehouse reinforces the present character of Fort St. James, which has been restored to represent the interdependent historic arrangement of boardwalks, fences, gardens, open fields, and buildings, which contribute to the function and character of the park. The General Warehouse’s striking scale and placement within the complex as a whole gives it prominence as an integral element of the fort’s cultural landscape. Its identity is maintained through the site’s general flat topography and the building’s relationship to the water and tree enclosure distinct from the adjacent modern community, to which it is well known as a National Historic Site.
Margaret Coleman, 5 Buildings, Fort St. James., Fort St. James National Historic Park, Fort St. James, British Columbia, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report 89-113; General Warehouse, Fort St. James National historic Site, Fort St. James, British Columbia, Heritage Character Statement 89-113.
The character defining elements of the General Warehouse should be respected.
Its role as an illustration of the fur-trade industry in Canada.
Its excellent Red River Frame construction, form and massing of British Classical tradition and original materials and craftsmanship as manifested in: the building’s large, rectangular massing and strong, simple forms. its framed log structure. its hip-roof and cladding. its exposed log detailing and the technique of squared upright logs and filler logs. the symmetrically placed windows. its interior open spaces.
The manner in which the General Warehouse reinforces the present character of Fort St. James and its historical setting with its striking scale and placement within the complex as a whole and through its known distinct identity from the adjacent modern community.
Heritage Character Statement
The heritage character statement was developed by FHBRO to explain the reasons for the designation of a federal heritage building and what it is about the building that makes it significant (the heritage character). It is a key reference document for anyone involved in planning interventions to federal heritage buildings and is used by FHBRO in their review of interventions.
The General Warehouse at Fort St. James was built in 1888-89 and is one of a number of buildings of the former Hudson's Bay Company Post located on Stuart Lake. It is administered by Parks Canada. See FHBRO Building Report 89-113.
Reasons for Designation
The General Warehouse at Fort St. James was designated Classified for its historical associations, its structural and functional type and its role in defining the character of the site.
The General Warehouse and its companion structures at Fort St. James are an excellent example of a Fur Trading establishment. The General Warehouse is a fine and large-scale example of Red River Frame construction, and its design is representative of the Hudson's Bay style, which drew its form and massing from the British Classical tradition.
The General Warehouse is a striking original structure within the National Historic Park. The site has been restored to represent the interdependent historic arrangement of boardwalks, fences, gardens, open fields and buildings, and retains its physical relationship to Stuart Lake.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage value of the General Warehouse resides in its striking form and presence, in its original materials and construction system, and in its functional role as a large scale Hudson's Bay facility used for storage of furs and goods for transshipment. The value of the building is also reinforced by its relationship to its setting.
The warehouse is a large, rectangular, two-storey, hip-roofed framed log structure. Features relating to its Red River frame construction, including the typical exposed log detailing and the technique of squared upright logs and filler logs, should be respected and repaired in kind when necessary. The effect created by bays and symmetrically placed windows should be maintained without additions or modifications.
Internally, the two floors were designed as open spaces to accommodate display and storage of goods and furs. Alterations which would compromise the impact of the original volumes should be discouraged. The interior finishes are original, and should be retained together with hardware and other features which reflect the building's original function.
The General Warehouse is connected to other buildings by a series of fences, boardwalks, gardens and spaces which contribute to the function and character of the park and which should be maintained for continued public use and interpretation. The site's generally flat topography should be respected, and its relationship to the water and tree enclosure maintained to ensure a historical identity distinct from the adjacent modern community.
Because of its size and placement, the General Warehouse is the dominant structure in the park, and should be maintained in its present position without changes, alterations or additions.