Jim was born in Toronto in 1944 and lived in Bloor West Village from around 1953 until he met his wife Christine in 1975. He played in a few bands in Toronto which helped him to pay for his Bachelor of Science degree at U of T. He was such a talented keyboard player and befriended the lead singer of Steppenwolf , John Kaye, who had recently immigrated from Germany, and Jim took him downtown to the music scene in the late 60's. He played with Ruby and the Romantics, John Lee Hooker and many more.
Jim and Christine got married and Jim got his teaching certificate and they moved to Northern Alberta to a native reservation where he was the principal and teacher to 20 students, most of who never showed up at school! The school was burned down so we moved back to Ontario, taking another teaching job in Hornepayne in Northern Ontario.
In 1989 Jim changed careers and went to Artic College in the NWT to take Renewable Resources Technology. He went up into the Artic with his class to follow the migration of the caribou. Each student had to shoot a caribou, cut it up and bring the meat back to the community for the elders. He portaged in the muskeg in the summer and took a course in marine biology at Bamfield Marine Station on Vancouver Island. He thrived on the beauty of the north and loved nothing more than being alone in solitude in the outdoors. While in Fort Smith, Jim and Christine ran a group home for teen girls who came from tiny northern communities to go to school in Fort Smith.
Jim became a Catholic on December 8, 1984 and from that day he was so faithful to praying his rosary every day and in retirement became a daily communicant. He read voraciously. He read all of Scott Hahn's and Michael O'Brien's books and all those of Pope Benedict and John Paul 11, as well as the early Church Fathers. He had a great love for writings about monastic life of the Carthusians and Benedictines.
In retirement and then illness, Jim's love for God's creation grew in beauty and simplicity. It was no longer the majestic St. Elias mountain range in the Yukon that caught him breathless, it was the tiny sparrow on the ground, blending in with the dirt or the little goldfinch swaying on the birdfeeder. We would sit on the front porch and talk about how perfect and good God is and how He is reflected in all that we see.
He would constantly give thanks for what God had given us here in Barry's Bay. We often drove to the lake to pray our chaplet and our rosary. Jim truly knew where he fell short, he knew his weaknesses and sins and always tried to do better and ask forgiveness for them. He was a quiet man with others and often felt socially awkward as he put it. I saw it as a cross that he carried all his life. In his sickness he offered much of it up in reparation for his sins, those of his children and for the conversion of sinners. He loved St. Charbel and St. Padre Pio and Brother Anthony Kowalchuck OMI. As he lay in hospital he promised to pray for me wherever he went. He knew in his last days of suffering that he was on the cross with Christ. What dignity he displayed. How patient he was! How much I love him but how thankful I am that we overcame all of our obstacles together and remained faithful to our vows til the last act of mercy was completed as he died. He knew that our true vocation was to help each other get to heaven. God bless you my beloved Jim. Wait for me on the heavenly shores.
Jim is survived by his wife Christine, his sons Luke, David and Philip, his brother Rick and cousin Bill.
To send flowers to James' family, please visit our floral store.