James Bay is Victoria’s second largest neighbourhood in both size and
population. It is a high density neighbourhood and the oldest residential neighbourhood on the West coast of North America that is north of San Francisco. James Bay occupies the south side of the Inner Harbour close to downtown.
In addition to government offices, the James Bay area was also home to a number of industries, including Sehl's furniture factory at Laurel Point, Pendray's Soap Factory, and later Bapco Paint.
The original inhabitants of James Bay were the Swenghwung people who were part of the Lekwungen people of the Coast Salish and whose descendants today are known as the Songhees First Nation. Even after the aboriginal inhabitants allegedly sold the land to the Hudson's Bay Company, remains of fortifications at Holland Point and of burial grounds at Laurel Point remained. The neighbourhood takes its name from the shallow inlet James Bay that forms part of Victoria's Inner Harbour, named for James Douglas. Settled early after the establishment of Fort Victoria in 1843, much of the present day neighbourhood was originally part of Ogden's Fields Farms, subsequently known as Dutnall's Farm and then Beckley Farm.