Being a volunteer re-enactor at Fort Langley National Historic Site is in James Adam’s blood.
That’s because 60-year-old Adam has a personal connection to the fort.
He is a distant blood cousin of governor James Douglas’s wife Amelia, who had a lengthy association with the fur trade.
Amelia was the daughter of Chief Factor William Connelly and married James – who was the first governor of B.C. – in 1828.
Adam said three Connolly brothers came to Canada from Ireland in the late 1700s, initially with the Northwest Fur Trade Company.
Then when Hudson’s Bay and Northwest amalgamated, the brothers stayed on with the Northwest company.
“Amelia’s father William Connolly, he was chief factor of the northern forts and the other two brothers were just traders and trappers,” Adam explained during this past weekend’s Brigade Days celebration at the fort.
Adam’s blood relative married a Sto:lo woman from the river.
With his ties to the fort’s history, Adam said he comes to the site all the time.
“The first year I was here, I had 680 [volunteer] hours,” he said. “I’m here a couple hundred hours every year. It’s my heritage. I’m here and I can talk to people.”
Adam said he’s learned a lot about the history of B.C. in his time volunteering at the fort.
“When gold was discovered and the Victorian English were moving in, they started taking political and financial power. And those of us who were involved in the fur trade, we were discriminated against and pushed out because we were mixed blood,” Adam said. “The English didn’t want that.”