The Chief Factor's House

A white two story house inside the fort palisade.
The Chief Factor's House at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

NPS Photo

Quick Facts
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
Home of the chief factors of Fort Vancouver

Benches/Seating, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Wheelchair Accessible

If one building best represented the power and dominance of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) 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. The business conducted in this building affected 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. As the center of economic, social, and 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 left Fort Vancouver and relocated to British Columbia.

The Chief Factor's House at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is a modern reconstruction built on the archaeological footprint of the structure that stood here from 1838 until the 1860s.

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Last updated: September 8, 2020