James Hayward St. Lawrence – August 22, 1944 to December 7, 2018
Jim was fascinated by tales of his Irish heritage. Family lore had it that sometime in the 11th century, an ancestor changed his name to St. Lawrence after winning a battle on that saint’s feast day, thereby securing Howth peninsula just north of Dublin. (Many years ago, he visited Howth Castle just to muse about what might have been.) Jim was equally proud of his English heritage on his mother’s side. His grandfather was a renowned British bandmaster, composer, and a founding member of the American Bandmasters Association who had moved his family to Toronto when he became music director of the Queen’s Own Rifles Band. Jim undoubtedly inherited his love of music from his grandfather but his penchant for story telling he inherited from his Irish side.
Music dominated the early part of his life; as a boy soprano he sang in church choirs, took lessons at the Conservatory, and became a member of the Canadian Opera Company. He even sang with Canadian star Jon Vickers in Puccini’s comic opera, Gianni Schicchi, which aired live on CBC in 1956. That experience inspired Jim’s second great passion, which dominated much of his adult life: television.
Throughout his years at North Toronto Collegiate Institute, Jim played oboe in the school orchestra and was leader of the band for 2 years. He was a long time member of the Royal Regiment of Canada but, as band oboists were a rare breed, he played with many others – trying hard not to turn up for a concert wearing the wrong uniform. His musical skills helped pay for his Honors BA in Philosophy and English at U of T.
There’s no direct career path from a degree like that but it did lead to a marriage that lasted almost 52 years. When Christine’s dear friend and college roommate introduced them, Jim charmed her with his wit, passion, and ability to mimic a Liverpudlian accent. In the days of the Beatles how could anyone resist? They were married after graduation and honeymooned in Montreal at Expo ’67. Those were the halcyon days of “Europe on $5 a day” so after 2 years they’d saved enough to head to England. Four years later they returned to Toronto enriched by a wealth of amazing adventures in the U.K, Europe, East Africa and India, where they met extraordinary people, learned to appreciate totally different cultures, and worked at strange and unlikely jobs such as crewing a charter yacht in the Mediterranean. It was a profoundly life-changing experience.
Not long after returning to Canada, Jim had a ‘Eureka’ moment that set the next course of his life as a passionate evangelist for media education. At TVOntario he was instrumental to programs like Night Music, Media Circus, and Media 77 culminating in Fast Forward, produced in 1978/9. As creator and director/producer of the first 13 programs of this prescient series about the coming information revolution, Jim was extremely proud…but mentally and physically exhausted. So, once again, Jim and Chris headed for new adventures traveling across the U.S. and working in Vancouver for a year before accepting an invitation to become producer in residence of the New York Institute of Technology Video Center on Long Island. It was a fascinating experience working with brilliant computer scientists and artists at the NYIT Computer Graphics Lab where many of the early algorithms and techniques for 3D computer imaging, now so ubiquitous, were just being developed. Jim and Chris later started their own video production company and what followed was a varied and productive life traveling across the country making programs for educational organizations and computer companies and documenting innovative uses of technology in classrooms for the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment – ultimately going to all but 2 states.
For many years, always mindful of his passion for media education, Jim wrote a monthly column on production technique for Videography Magazine, worked with Lincoln Center setting up a distance-learning program, and then went on to create web-based learning programs and direct student web services for Polytechnic University in Brooklyn. Watching from across the East River as the Twin Towers fell on 9/11 was deeply distressing as was the political aftermath. So, after 25 years, Jim and Chris decided it was time to come back home to Canada.
In 2005 they made what they both agreed was the best move of their lives and settled in Stratford. Quickly embraced by this vibrant, creative community, they enjoyed all it has to offer, made many fast friends and never looked back. There are many who will miss his freshly baked bread, movie nights, Last Rose of Summer party, and joining him for a glass of wine on the porch. In spite of a few health challenges in the past few years, Jim was steadfast in his appreciation for the stimulating and rewarding life he had: a life rich in experience, accomplishments and the love of family, colleagues and many, many friends for whom he was grateful beyond measure.
Think where man’s glory most begins and ends,
And say my glory was I had such friends.
William Butler Yeats
Jim’s heart failed, blessedly quickly, at University Hospital in London, on December 7, 2018 at the age of 74. He is survived by his wife Christine, his sister and brother-in-law Sheila and Stuart Niermeier and nephews David (Ada and children Katie and Tori) and Christopher (Victoria) and by two generations of Christine’s nephews and nieces. He loved and was loved as a wonderful uncle.
At his request there will be no funeral. Instead, in keeping with Jim’s Irish heritage – and distaste for winter – a celebratory wake will take place in the spring or summer at a time and place to be announced. As a final expression of Jim’s gratitude to Stratford, memorial donations may be made to Stratford Perth Rotary Hospice Foundation at Canada Helps or through the W.G. Young Funeral Home 519-271-7411 www.wgyoungfuneralhome.com
Your cheque can be mailed to:
W.G. Young Funeral Home
430 Huron Street
Stratford, Ontario N5A 5T7
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