The Chief Factor's House

Chief Factor's House after dark
The Chief Factor's House after dark, at the park's annual Campfires & Candlelight event.

Photo by Christopher Communications

 

If one building best represented the power and dominance of the Hudson's Bay Company in the mid-nineteenth century Pacific Northwest, it was the Chief Factor's House - known by many as simply the "Big House." Here, amongst the fort's highest ranking gentlemen, news was shared, guests were entertained, policies were enacted, strategies were discussed, and agreements were made affecting lands, resources, and people from Russian Alaska to Mexican California and the Pacific Coast to the crest of the Rocky Mountains - the HBC's vast Columbia Department.

Everything about this house was designed to impress - the height, the staircase and veranda, the paint colors, the flower garden, and the cannons placed in front.

At the center of economic, social, political activity, this building housed the top two officers at the post and their families. The building's central feature - a large hall - provided facilities for officers of the HBC and their guests to dine and enjoy holiday celebrations, religious services, weddings, and even an election under the provisional government.

Dr. John McLoughlin, the longest-serving Chief Factor at Fort Vancouver, moved into this building upon its completion in the spring of 1838 - along with James Douglas and his family. Later chief factors, including Peter Skene Ogden, used this building until 1860, when the HBC abandoned the site.

 
Costumed reenactors on the Chief Factor's House Veranda
Costumed reenactors on the Chief Factor's House veranda.

Photo by Christopher Communications

Last updated: August 19, 2016

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