Commemorative Garden restoration underway

Information about the project as submitted by Terry Ann Houghton

Commemorative garden area to be restored and enhanced.

Commemorative garden area to be restored and enhanced.


This project of the Friends of the Fort St. James National Historic Site Society (FSJNHSS) has just received $3,700 from the Heritage BC grant. This funding will go towards restoring gardens in their original location adjacent to the Officer’s building at the Ft. St. James Historic Site.

The garden boxes will be built per the historically accurate design, with slightly raised log beds. The beds will be filled with herbs and local flowering plants.

They will also contain indigenous medicinal plants that would have been transplanted into the gardens during the time the Fort was in use.

These gardens will be incorporated into the educational part of tours when the Historic Site is open. Maintaining and using them will be part of the interpretation program in the Site.

About the Society

Friends of the Fort St. James National Historic Site Society (FSJNHSS) is a volunteer society formed September 30, 1992, with an 11-member Board of Directors.

The Friends of FSJNHSS is comprised of community members from a variety of backgrounds who all appreciate the importance of preserving our National heritage.

Fort St. James served as a northern trading hub and as the first provincial Capital. Documents from persons who lived and worked in the Fort, provide insights into their life and into the relationships with the local aboriginal people.

The Friends of the FFJNHSS members share a desire to educate local, national and international visitors in the important role Fort St. James played in Canadian and British Columbian history.

The Friends of the FSJNHSS maintains a modest budget for annual projects and events associated with raising community awareness about, and supporting, the Historic Site. The Society has some funds allocated for this project; this application is for the initial costs of restoring the gardens, including building the log beds, stocking them and putting together the commemorative signs and information.

Any future maintenance costs will be integrated into The Friends of the FSJNHSS’ annual budget. Much of the maintenance will be done by volunteers with watering, being taken care of by park staff as part of the interpretive work that they do onsite.

Garden ready for June 2017

Project work will start after the frost goes, in May 2017.

The garden is a manageable size and will be completed in time for the Historic Site opening in June 2017.

Community engagement

The Friends of the Fort St. James National Historic Site Society works hard to engage the community In the Historic Site. The Historic Site is the location of annual Metis Day and Aboriginal Day Celebrations.

Schools from the area and further afield bring students of all ages visit the site. Youth experience history in real time through working with the interpreters during instructional days and various fun days throughout the year.

This Commemorative Garden project will feature signage designed by local high school students (from Fort St. James Secondary School) to inform visitors about the Garden’s purpose and contents.

Local aboriginal elders will be invited to participate in instructional days throughout the Site’s open season, sharing information with visitors, about the medicinal plants in the gardens, such as where they are found and what they were used for. There will be a section in the visitor’s brochure that directs visitors to this important and beautiful garden area of the Historic Site.

Lasting legacy

The Fort St. James National Historic Site draws many visitors every year. They include area residents who have never explored our local historic gem; who discover a profound sense of national connection through physically experiencing the location some of their ancestors may have called home.

National and international visitor signatures and comments fill the guest book in the visitor’s lobby. Many express their appreciation of the beauty and hospitality of the town as well as their enjoyment of the Historic Site.

Residents are proud to share this with them. The Commemorative Garden will showcase treasures from the region that many would never see otherwise. It will inspire both locals and visitors to explore the region to experience seeing them in their natural surroundings.