James was a clerk and fur trader for the Hudson Bay Company throughout the Washington Territory. He later founded Birnie’s Retreat on the Columbia River (now Cathlamet).
A history the early pioneers (including James) was written by Nancy Marguerite Anderson.
The special centennial edition (1846-1946) of The Eagle . The front page newspaper article reads: James Birnie, Father of Cathlamet, Landed Family, Servants, and Chattels From Fleet of Canoes, Here in 1816 .