Explore Fort Vancouver

Bring the family and be part of Oregon Country as early civilization began along the Columbia River. Explore all that this National Historic Site have to offer, inside the four towering walls of Fort Vancouver.

Read about Fort Vancouver below or
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Click here to hear podcasts from Fort Vancouver's park rangers.

See Fort Vancouver photos on Flickr

Bakehouse

The bakehouse was a two-story structure set in the east wall. It contains two firebrick ovens. As many as for men baked sea biscuits for the 200-300 Fort employees. Biscuits were also baked for the brigades, ship crews and other posts and for trade.

Indian Trade Shop and Dispensary

In keeping with Hudson's Bay Company practice, the Indian Trade Shop was under the immediate charge of the Forts' doctor. This building housed the fur trading operations at Fort Vancouver, the hospital, doctor's office and doctor's residence.

Blacksmith Shop

This shop served as the Fort's principal smithy. Here blacksmiths made items of iron and steel that were needed for the fur trade. They made hardware for construction at the Fort and other Hudson Bay Company posts in the Columbia District.

Wash House

The wash house appears on several maps of Fort Vancouver drawn in the early 1840s. Very little is know about its appearance and use.

Chief Factor's Residence

Early visitors to Fort Vancouver call the home of the post's the most senior officer “very handsome” and “commodious and elegant.” Built to replace an earlier structure, the Big House was impressive – with white clapboard siding and a large front veranda. Grapevines climbed on iron trellises, and two spiked cannons stood in front. Clerks and officers ate meals in a large mess hall, where parties and dances were also held.

Kitchen

Few details are known about kitchens used at Fort Vancouver over the years. The 1845 kitchen evidently contained a cooking area, pantry, a larder, and living quareters for some of the kitchen staff. The kitchen provided meals for the gentlemen of the Fort and for special guests.

Fur Warehouse

The multitude of animal pelts, primarily beaver, brought to the Fort were kept in stores or warehouses. The furs were cleaned and pressed into bales before being transported to England.

Counting House

For its first 18 months this building served as quarters for the Capt. Thomas Baillie of the British sloop HMS Modeste anchored at Fort Vancouver. With Baillie's departure, the building became the administrative center for vast Columbia Department. Clerks kept records of incoming and outgoing goods, employee pay and expenditures and completed annual reports.

Jail

Individuals who committed mostly minor crimes, such as petty theft, were confined here. The Fort's Chief Factor decided punishments for violators. These included jail time, fines, deportation, or even flogging.

Carpenter Shop

Three to four carpenters and several apprentices were employed at the Fort. These skilled carpenters and other laborers constructed buildings for the Fort. They also produced window frames and sashes, doors, furniture, cars and wagons, and wooden parts for tools.

Farming

Many of the Pacific Northwest's agricultural firsts can be traced to Fort Vancouver. Both McLoughlin and Simpson agreed that the post should be self-sufficient. Fences enclosed more than 2,500 acres. Peas, oats, barley, wheat, and vegetables fed the Fort community. The Northwest's first orchard included apples, pears, peaches, plums, and cherries. Cattle, horses, sheep, hogs, and goats made up the livestock.

Bastion

The 1845 bastion was built to protect the Fort against threats and to fire salutes to arriving ships. It was three stories high; the top floor held eight three-pounder cannons.

Palisade

Expanded at least five times, by 1845 the Fort's palisade enclosed an area of 734 feet by 318 feet. Douglas fir posts about 15 feet high afforded privacy as well as protection from theft and attack.

Shipping

Transportation was vital to the Hudson's Bay Company's success in the Pacific Northwest. Ocean vessels crossed the treacherous bar at the mouth of the Columbia River, bringing supplies and trade goods. On return trips they loaded the year's returns of furs, tallow, lumber, flour, salmon, and other products of the Fort's economy.

The Village

This community of up to 300 Company laborers was home to a culturally diverse people: French-Canadian, local American Indians, Iroquois, Europeans and Hawaiians.