Vancouver History: James Murray Yale


Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 — 1:10pm PST
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On this day in 1833, James Murray Yale – namesake of Yale, BC and Yaletown in Vancouver – took command of the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Langley. He was 36 years old and had been with the company for half his life already.


1900s – Yale, BC. VPL Number: 41974. Photo credit: Edwards Brothers.

At the time he took command, Fort Langley was located 4km down the right from where it stands today but it was moved to its present location under his supervision in 1838. Unfortunately, the fort then burned to the ground in 1840.

Here’s an indication of Yale’s independent spirit: When colleagues James Douglas and John Work offered him help after the fire, Yale “had only two requests to make, that they would supply me with six good axes, and be off out of our way as quick as possible.” So the present site is the third Fort Langley. Under Yale the fort thrived, shipping salted salmon to Hawaii. A lot of the men who worked at the fort married women from the Kwantlen nation. Yale was one of them: he and his native wife had two daughters. [Source: Chuck Davis’ Vancouver History]

The town of Yale, just at the start of the Fraser Canyon, was named after him thanks to his long and loyal service. Yaletown in Vancouver was then named after Yale after CPR workers were sent down to Vancouver to work on the rail line’s extension.


1953 – Yaletown yards from the air. VPL Accession Number: 47516. Photographer: The Province.

James Murray Yale was also distantly related to Elihu Yale, after whom Yale University in Connecticut is named.

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One comment

  1. DEBRA says:

    JAMES MURRAY YALE WAS MY FOUR TIMES GREAT GRANDFATHER. MY SON IS NAMED AFTER HIM

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