James Forbes was born in Wick, Scotland, and was a saddler by trade. He had lived in the USA and then headed to Vancouver Island where he did a stint in Victoria before moving to the Lower Campbell Lake area in 1910. James purchased land from the Cudahy Timber Company from their holdings in the area. James worked in the area for the timber company, along with various other jobs.
James settled on this insignificant section of land on the shores of Lower Campbell Lake at the outermost reaches of civilization, alongside a trail that was used by local surveyors to access the outermost reaches of an area that would come to be known as Strathcona park. It was becoming evident that Strathcona park was to become a reality, the surveyors and miners who used this trail were joined by potential businessmen looking to invest in resorts and hotels on the edges of the Strathcona park wilderness. Unknown yet to James was the potential for his property.
In 1911 he met and married Elizabeth Sutherland. Their life in this wilderness area was rough at best with the couple beginning their marriage living in a 3 x 4-meter float house on the lake. Whenever one of these surveyors required a place to lay their head, the Forbes family were happy to oblige with an offer of the modest comforts of a wood stove and a clean floor.
Soon the couple realized that they could not supply accommodation for the volume of men traveling through their property. So along with the assistance of numerous guests and a few friends, they began to build a lodge on the lake.
The lodge was well underway in 1912, built with logs obtained from the timber company. Lumber was brought to the southern shores of Lower Campbell Lake by horse and wagon and from there to the building site by canoe; slow and tough progress. Three of Elizabeth’s brothers came to the area in 1912 and helped with the building of the new lodge, after helping in the construction of the lodge, the brothers built and operated a number of tourist cabins on Upper Campbell Lake for many years.
The original Forbes Lodge burned down in the great forest fire of July 1938 and another was built and opened in the spring of 1939. It was moved to higher ground in 1948 when the level of Lower Campbell Lake was raised about 65 vertical feet by a hydroelectric power dam.
In 1972 the Lodge was sold to Jack Slade from Haney BC and then was again destroyed by fire on September 2, 1974, and a well-known historic landmark was lost. As a young man, I used to spend time here, there was a great little bar with shuffleboard and darts along with awesome vistas.
Today the foundations of the old lodge can still be seen, with some of Elizabeth’s original rose bushes still in place. Forbes landing is privately owned and maintains itself as a popular destination for camping, trout fishing and relaxing on the shores of Lower Campbell Lake, surrounded by forest and water on three sides the site has the feeling of an isolated island in the middle of a lakeside oasis.
There are a few homes here and over the years I have had friends and family members live here at Forbes Landing, this still allowed me to enjoy the fishing and views.