Holden was acclaimed to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in a by-election on July 16, 1906. He was re-elected in the 1909 Alberta general election. He retired from provincial politics prior to the 1913 election.
Holden briefly moved to Vancouver to get into the shipping business, but moved back to Alberta when it went bust.
After his provincial political career, James had a substantial municipal career serving various terms as Mayor of Vegreville, Alberta between 1917 to 1945.
Holden attempted run for federal office 3 times. The first time he ran for the Canadian House of Commons was in the 1917 and 1921 federal elections in the Victoria Alberta electoral district. He also ran in the 1935 Canadian federal election finishing in last place in the Vegreville district.
Holden married Ms. Gertrude Jane Worth.
The town of Holden, Alberta is named in his honor.