Description of Historic Place
The Fish Cache at Fort St. James is a simple, one-storey square block, composed of logs, posts and beams and slats, held above grade on four corner supports, with a pyramidal roof clad with wooden shingles. The entrance to the structure is reached by an exterior wooden stairway. The interior of the building is a single room, with cross beams at ceiling level that were used for hanging fish and meat. The Fish Cache is a unique structure located among five other buildings, which are connected by a series of fences, boardwalks, gardens and spaces within 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 Fish Cache is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations and its architectural and environmental values.
The Fish Cache 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 Fish Cache and its companion structures are associated with the development of the Fur Trade in Canada.. A structure designed to safely store dried fish, the mainstay diet during the 19th Century at Fort St. James, the Fish Cache along with the other buildings are all related to the central role Fort St. James played in the region as an administrative center.
The Fish Cache is an excellent example of Red River Frame architecture with its form inspired by native structures combined with Hudson’s Bay Company design and construction, which drew its form and massing from the British Classical tradition. Its overall simple massing and form, materials and construction system characterize the Fish Cache.
The Fish Cache 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 Fish Cache’s unusual shape, style, height and placement within the complex as a whole give 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;Fish Cache, Fort St. James National historic Site, Fort St. James, British Columbia. Heritage Character Statement 89-113.
The character defining elements of the Fish Cache should be respected.
Its role as an illustration of the fur-trade industry in Canada.
Its excellent Red River Frame construction, unique form and massing inspired by traditional native structures combined with Hudson’s Bay Company construction, original materials and craftsmanship as manifested in;
-the simple massing of a square block with pyramidal roof, held above ground on four corner supports;
-its strong, simple forms;
-its roof cladding;
-its frame of squared log uprights, filler logs, posts and beams and slats;
-its exterior wooden stairway;
-the symmetrically placed windows;
-its interior single room space.
The manner in which the Fish Cache reinforces the present character of Fort St. James and its historical setting with its unusual shape, style, height and placement within the complex as a whole and through its known distinct identity from the adjacent modern community.