James Cameron was born in 1816 or early in 1817, in the parish of Kirkmichael, Banffshire, Scotland. He was the eldest son of Alexander Cameron and Elizabeth, also a Cameron.
In 1836, sponsored by his uncle Angus Cameron, Chief Trader of the Hudson's Bay Company, he becomes a clerk in the HBC and works for a year or so at Fort Timiskaming, the most important fur trade post in Quebec.
After spending the first year at this fort, he was sent as master to the Flying Post in the Kenogamissi River District, in Ontario, where he remained for two years. He came back to the Timiskaming district and contributed to the development of the region. In 1847, he was appointed chief of the Timiscaming district and a chief trader. We owe to him the establishment of solid and friendly relations between the settlers and the First nations of the region.
James Cameron suffered the tragic accident on 28 January 1851. This accident led to his premature death at Ballilish on 2o May 1851, at the age of thirty four. His uncle, Angus, believed that the local doctor's frightful remedies were immediate cause of his death, and that with proper medical treatment hi might have lived. He was buried in Kirkmichael Church cemetery, and his uncle had a red granite tombstone erected over his grave,which paid tribute to him as one "Esteemed & Respected by all who knew him Red men as well as white men". Judging by the comments of his associates, this is not an exaggeration.
Among his descendants is James Cameron, named for his illustrious great-great-father, a Canadian director of Titanic and Avatar.