James Robert MIDWINTER
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MIDWINTER, James Robert
"Captain Jim" died peacefully, with family by his side, at the Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital on March 1, 2017 after a long battle with primary lateral sclerosis. As with all the challenges he faced in his long and rewarding life, he tackled his illness head-on, with determination and equanimity.
Cherished husband of Sally (nee Heard), beloved father of Stewart (Julie Muller), James (Pamela Weber), and Jenny (Marc Desjardins); much adored grandpa to Nigel, Ceara, Derrick, Calvin (Justine Robles), Olivia Stille, Andrew, and Julia Stille; younger brother of Cliffe (Sheila); son of the late Harold Kitchener Midwinter and Florence Stewart (nee Cliffe).
Born in Brandon, Manitoba, Jim's parents soon relocated to Comox on Vancouver Island, where Florence had been born to descendants of the first pioneer settlers in the area, and where her extended family still lived. This is where Jim's formative years were etched. These were the Thirties and Forties…tough times in a country slowly rebounding from the Great Depression. Fortunately, Jim excelled at school and secured a scholarship to UBC, where he studied Economics and Geography. More importantly, UBC was where two pivotal events in his life occurred…he met the love of his life and future wife Sally, and in the same year was awarded the Rhodes scholarship to attend Oxford University for a Master's degree.
Oxford was an engrossing experience for Jim, burnishing his education and expanding his world view. Upon graduation, Jim was one of only two selected that year to join the Trade Commissioner Service of the Canadian Government. Jim and Sally were soon married and embarked upon a ten-year adventure, living and working in exotic foreign lands including Guatemala, India, and Chile. All three children were born abroad and, along with their own children in turn, have become keen world travellers. After their eventual return to Ottawa in the mid-1960s, Jim entered a new phase of his career, firstly at Industry, Trade and Commerce, where he played a critical role in setting up the predecessor entity to the Export Development Corporation, then on to a challenging position in the Privy Council Office as Senior Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet during the dynamic and often raucous Pierre Trudeau years. Meanwhile, Sally entered a 40-year career in residential real estate, helping house the many friends and acquaintances met during their travels.
Jim was an avid reader of all forms of literature, from science fiction to the classics, as well as a broad range of non-fiction topics; his was a household of books filling shelves in all the rooms. Family dinners were a frequent occasion for debating the issues of the day, often interrupted with someone running to check the facts in his much-used 24-volume encyclopedia. (These will now be donated to the Trump administration.)
After a change in government, Jim was appointed Inspector-General of Foreign Operations, Department of External Affairs, a position which rekindled his keen interest in Canada's role in the world. Rounding out his career in fine fashion, Jim was honoured to accept the appointment as Canadian ambassador to Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, where he served, with Sally the perfect companion, for two enjoyable years. Jim and Sally enjoyed entertaining, and their three children grew up seeing many smoky cocktail parties in their Westboro home. The hospitality continued at their welcoming Carlyle Avenue home, with convivial dinner parties attended by many world-wide friends.
Jim chose to take early retirement at the tender age of 56, and enjoyed over two decades of continuing to indulge his life-long passion of sailing, with increasingly adventurous sailing trips up and down the east coast of North America on his beloved 40-foot yacht Vailima, often ending in the Bahamas for an extended winter break with Sally, and with frequent visitations of children and grandchildren. Possibly his most challenging trip was across the Caribbean to South America, barely surviving a hurricane while sailing single-handed off the Turks & Caicos. In his early 80s, "Capt. Jim" was diagnosed with PLS, a neurodegenerative disease similar to ALS. Gradually this stole his strength, then his walking ability and finally his speaking ability, but his mind stayed sharp to the end. He revelled in the exploits of his grandchildren as they grew into adulthood and enjoyed the many family get-togethers over his last years, including the "big one" for Jim and Sally's 60th wedding anniversary in 2014.
Jim was blessed with a loving family and a long and fulfilling life; he has set sail on his final adventure. Fair Winds and Following Seas Capt'n Jim!
A Celebration of Life Reception will be held at the Nepean Sailing Club (Dick Bell Park, 3259 Carling Ave, Nepean, Ontario, K2H 1A6) on Saturday March 25 from 3-5 p.m. when family and friends will gather to remember a life well lived.
Donations to the ALS Society are greatly encouraged.
Hulse, Playfair & McGarry

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Published in Ottawa Citizen on Mar. 18, 2017.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
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9 entries
March 26, 2017
Our most sincere condolences to Sally, and to the family. Tennyson's words more perfectly express our sentiments ~
Roger and Therese Bull ~
"Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar."
March 25, 2017
Jim traveled with Peter Roberts on board ship to England when they were both Rhodes scholars. Somewhere I have a picture of them which I will send to you. Meantimes, my sympathies to you and your family. Glenna Roberts.
Glenna Robeerts
March 21, 2017
Dear Jenny,
We are so sorry to hear that your father has passed. We hope that you can find strength and comfort in the love of your family. May it help you to know how many lives he brightened with his kindness. Such a wonderful person will never be forgotten. He made such a difference to so many people in so many ways.
Dat Hoang
March 20, 2017
Dear Sally, Jenny and family,
Anne,Maya,Patricia and Jennifer send our warmest thoughts to you today. You and Jim were shining examples of how to live a great life! We always enjoyed your company and laughter whenever we spent time together, and those memories are something that will never go away.
From first meeting you in 1990 at C.A. Fitzsimmons, I always felt that when I got married , I would want my marriage to be a great one like you and Jim shared.
Sail on Jim, and Sally keep being the fun loving and easy to laugh person we all cherish!
Jeffrey Rosebrugh
March 19, 2017
Dear Sally,
You and Jim have been very much in my mother's thought this past week. We were all very saddened by Jim's passing, but so impressed with the bravery and fortitude he has shown batting his illness.
My mother holds you both very dearly in her heart. Your friendship was so important in her life all the way back to Chile where you met.
She and Shane and I send our love, thoughts and prayers to the whole family and give thanks for the remarkable man Jim was.
Alex Stephenson
Alexandra Stephenson
March 18, 2017
Dear Sally,
Let Anna and I join in your sadness. Friends, and very special friends, for more than half a century. You and Jim have shared a marvellous life together, and I am only grateful that we overlapped on so many occasions.
Love to you, and sympathy and support for all the family.
Anna and Allan
Allan Barry
March 18, 2017
Dear Sally and family . Sorry to hear of your great captain leaving your side .. I will alway see his smile and remember him alway joking and his little note he used to write . How he joke about he things that we did wrong when caring for him .Hom telling us we would get 5 slashes . He did have a sense of humour , hearty laugh and big smile alway threw his illness . Never let him down he was a strong man . Sally you where a wonderful wife and I know you will miss him..
Donna Doucet
March 18, 2017
Dear Sally, so sad to hear about Jim's passing, but one must celebrate a life well lived, on his terms. Remember fondly our time together at the Embassy in Caracas. My condolences for you and your family. Un gran abrazo, Eduardo del Buey
Eduardo del Buey
March 18, 2017
Dear Sally:
I am so very sorry to hear of Jim's passing. What a wonderful life you have had together!
The memories you have of your myriad experiences and the people you have met in your travels will sustain you through this very difficult time. My sincere sympathies to your whole family. Much love to you, Sally. Sylvia Milne
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