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.