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JAMES EAYRS Scholar, journalist, broadcaster and intellectual gadfly, James Eayrs died peacefully February 6, 2021 at the family home in Toronto where he and his wife Elizabeth spent 64 of their 70 years of married life. Born October 13, 1926 in London, England to an American father, E.K. Wild, and an English mother, Dora Whitefield, he became a Canadian citizen in 1933 following his mother's re-marriage to Hugh Eayrs, president of the publishing firm Macmillans of Canada headquartered in Toronto. Educated first at Upper Canada College and Lakefield College School, he served in the Royal Canadian Navy based in Halifax, NS during the final phases of WW II, continuing his studies at the University of Toronto, Columbia University and the London School of Economics, where he earned his PhD. His first academic appointment in 1951 was as Lecturer at United College, Winnipeg followed by a lengthy and distinguished career as Professor in the Department of Political Economy at the University of Toronto from 1952 to 1980. He then joined the Department of Political Science at Dalhousie in Halifax until his retirement in 1992. A prolific and influential author in the field of 20th-century Canadian foreign policy and diplomacy, his multi-volume In Defence of Canada won the Governor-General's Award for Non-Fiction in 1965. He was co-editor, along with Robert Spencer, of the International Journal for 25 years. In recognition of his remarkable academic work he received numerous grants, lectureships and fellowships both in Canada and abroad, including the prestigious Canada Council Molson Prize in 1984. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and in 1985 was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada. He lived his long life according to the motto posted over the entrance to his study, 'Nulla dies sine linea' - not a single day without a line. In addition to his prodigious scholarly output he ventured into journalism, producing a weekly column for the farm publication The Family Herald, ruefully remarking that his columns on international relations had to compete for attention with the hog and grain prices on the page opposite. This inaugural foray led to his becoming a nationally syndicated columnist, first for the Montreal Star and latterly for the Toronto Star under the editorship of Peter Newman. A collection of these columns was published by Anansi Press in 1973 entitled Greenpeace and Her Enemies. His journalism led to broadcasting, first as a writer for the CTV series Here Come the Seventies, then as co-host with Charlotte Gobeil of the CBC national public affairs programme, Weekend. His most important career move was unquestionably his marriage in 1950 to the comparably gifted Elizabeth Lofft, whom he met while they were students at Trinity College, U of T. They were first brought into each other's company by their mutual aversion to playing golf and bridge. He always wisely deferred to her encyclopedic command of history and literature, as well as her real-world experience of politics, happily supporting the campaigns that saw her repeatedly elected a Toronto City Councilor for Ward 1. While speaking engagements took him to Washington, Africa, Japan and New Zealand (these last two accompanied by Elizabeth), he remained a homebody. Their bustling household of five children overlooking High Park was his haven in the often heartless world he analyzed as a scholar. Besides covering thousands of miles by bicycle - never having owned a car - his other recreational activity was covering every square inch of wall with the works of major modern Canadian artists, a collection he began in the 1950s. The relentless drive to research and write remained throughout his extended retirement despite his failing eyesight. The result was Lands and Minds: Essays and Articles 1950-2010, a compilation spanning his six decades of authorship. The completion of a biography of the Canadian Methodist missionary to Japan, Charles Eby, continued to preoccupy him to the very end. James Eayrs was predeceased by his half-brother Michael Eayrs, son James Wild Eayrs and infant grandson Frederick Eayrs. He leaves grieving his wife Elizabeth, son Jonathan (daughter-in-law, Dr Beth Eayrs), daughter Betsy, daughter Emily (son-in-law Theodore Babiak), daughter Susanna (son-in-law Rob Paynter); and grandchildren Adam Babiak, Daniel Babiak, Miles Paynter, Alex Paynter, Sylvia Eayrs and Edith Eayrs. Heartfelt thanks go to Cherry Pascual, and Anna Pioroda who provided the care and dedicated support that enabled James to live out his days at home.
Published in The Globe and Mail from Feb. 13 to Feb. 17, 2021.
Memories & Condolences
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8 entries
February 22, 2021
Dear Elizabeth and family. I was saddened to read of James' passing. You would not know me (you might remember my brother Mark from Dartmouth Avenue in Halifax), but I very much remember, respect and admire James. He was one of my (and many thousands) very best political science professors at UofT in the mid 70's. His classes were tremendous and had a long term effect on my life's direction to the world of "foreign affairs". We just happened to also be Trinity Grads and I had the distinct pleasure of playing on one of the Trinity College hockey teams with son James. He sure could play. You know that Life is a wonderful journey and James helped to fulfill mine, a bit later after graduation. After a short stint as an officer in the RCN, I applied (for the second time) for a job in External Affairs. I needed a reference, of course, and just by coincidence James was in Halifax in the Political Science Department (living above Mark on Dartmouth Ave.). I went to see him in his office and happened to be in uniform. James greeted me warmly and remarked very quickly about how his time in the RCN during the war changed his life afterwards, providing him a way to university and his life thereafter. What serendipity. He actually remembered me from my years at UofT and Trinity but perhaps more for my boxing prowess than from my course results - we had a good chuckle and a great conversation that day. Needless to say, the reference that I asked for was given and had its influence I am sure; I was accepted into External. Therefore, I owe my careers; the many adventures, postings, international /work travel to him in large part. Indeed, I could claim that my family (I met my wife on my first posting to The Hague) and our wonderful lives stem from that day in Halifax. My thoughts and prayers go out to you all. Warmest regards, Tom DeWolf
Thomas and Maryke
February 20, 2021
Dad on his beloved bike.
Susanna Eayrs
February 18, 2021
A wonderful human being - interested in everything and in spite of his great intellect, always so down to earth and unpretentious, with a good sense of humour.

Jim was an enormous help to me personally when I was starting out as an artist in Bloor West Village, Toronto, back in the 1990s. He bought many of my watercolours -large and small -always had encouraging words and inspired me to carry on.

He became, in fact, my mentor in the field of art. All artists should be as lucky as I was to run into someone like him. I owe Jim a tremendous debt and I can honestly say that I will never forget him.

Sonia Day
February 14, 2021
I'll remember him as a wonderful teacher and wonderful man; I learned much from his graduate seminars and from serving as his teaching assistant for two years in the late 60s. His insightful pieces in the Toronto Star were often gems of commentary.
David Shugarman
February 13, 2021
Cluster of 50 Memorial Trees
Plant Memorial Trees
Sympathy Gift courtesy of
Brian and Karen Grys
February 13, 2021
My deepest sympathy on the passing. A towering man. Susie our thoughts and prayers are with you
David Burns
February 13, 2021
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived. Susie your Dad was such an inspiration, his passion for art and history will be remembered forever. I will never forget how much of an impression his art collection made on me. I am very glad to have those memories. I wish you much love and thinking of you, your family and your Mom. xo Natalie
Natalie Olanick
February 13, 2021
He was a very gracious and courtly man, not at all puffed up about his many achievements. Modest yet witty, brilliant yet warm, he made himself revered by all who met him. He will be greatly missed.
Dennis Duffy
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