James McKitrick Thurlow
{ "" }
Share
Share James's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
JAMES McKITRICK THURLOW December 20, 1928 - April 5, 2011 Passed away peacefully on April 5, 2011 after a valiant battle with pneumonia. Dearly remembered and survived by his beloved wife Setsuko of 56 years, sons Peter (Abu Dhabi) and Andrew (Burlington) and granddaughters Laura and Katrina (Ottawa), and relatives, colleagues and friends in Canada and Japan. He was predeceased by younger brother Jack (London). Born in Edmonton, grew up in Toronto and St. Thomas, and graduated from the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto. In 1952 Jim responded to the call of the United Church of Canada to teach in Japan at Kwansei Gakuin, a United Church related school. He spent eight happy years teaching English at the high school and history at the university. Jim's time in Japan changed his perspective from a traditional western focused view to a broader, deeper world view. In 1955 he married Setsuko Nakamura of Hiroshima, and together they pursued their studies at the University of Toronto before returning to Kwansei Gakuin. In 1962 Jim returned to Toronto with his family where he had an opportunity to teach at Don Mills Collegiate Institute, and thoroughly enjoyed his teaching career as the Head of the History department until his retirement in 1991. He challenged students to think critically, both in the classroom and during many study tours to the USSR during the Cold War, as well as to other European, Asian and African countries. Deeply concerned about Canada's silence over the intensifying nuclear arms race, he became instrumental in mobilizing concerned colleagues in the mid-1970s to organize a disarmament education group, Hiroshima - Nagasaki Relived, with the support of the mayors of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Toronto. He established the James and Setsuko Thurlow Scholarship in Peace and Disarmament Studies at the University of British Columbia. He also became concerned about the plight of Japanese immigrants to the Toronto area and facilitated the founding of Japanese Social Services, a non-profit community-based agency in the Greater Toronto Area. Indeed he was a man of global vision and local action. What brought joy to Jim was traveling, feeling the ocean under his feet, and the accomplishments of his family. There will be a celebration of his life at 2:00 p.m. (visitation 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.) on June 11th at York Cemetery & Visitation Centre, 160 Beecroft Road, North York (north of Sheppard Ave., west of Yonge St., 416-221-3404). A reception will be held after the service. In lieu of flowers, donations to either of the following would be appreciated: Japanese Social Services (6 Garamond Court, Don Mills, Ontario M3C 1Z5 Canada, telephone: 416-385-9200, e-mail general@jss.ca, website www.jss.ca/english/about.html), or Hiroshima Day Coalition, 100 Bain Avenue, 51 Oaks, Toronto, Ontario M4K 1E8, website www.hiroshimadaycoalition.ca or a charity of your choice.


To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Toronto Star from Apr. 28 to Apr. 30, 2011.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Peter
Not sure what to say?
17 entries
April 18, 2019
I didn't have Mr. Thurlow as a teacher, but I did take two trips with him (Moscow/Leningrad & Greece). Each trip was amazing and eye opening and he showed us some amazing sites that had historical impact for where we were.
Colin
August 12, 2018
In memory of an excellent teacher...thank you.
J. Murphy
August 6, 2018
Today, while reading an article on Hiroshima featuring Setsuko Thurlow's personal horrific and emotional recount as a survivor of the atomic blast, I found out that one of my all-time favourite teachers had passed away in 2011. In 1973 Mr. Thurlow taught 20th Century History at Don Mills CI. You never fell asleep in his class...always interesting, always getting us to think of the events "then" and in "hindsight" decades after. A talented and caring educator...thank you.
J. Murphy
December 18, 2017
Mr. Thurlow was one of my teachers at DMCI and I recall his great passion for nuclear disarmament. He told us that his Wife had survived the United States' nuclear attack on the city of Hiroshima. It was news of her recent acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize for her organization's work against nuclear weapons that directed me to search for news about him and to this page.

I very much enjoyed learning from Mr. Thurlow and it sounds like he and his Wife continued to educate the World long after my graduation.
Grant Millard
April 4, 2017
My history teacher; very nice guy.
kim vaughan
October 27, 2012
Mr. Thurlow was my history teacher at DMCI and have always referred to him as my most inspirational teacher. I just came across a text book he had created for our class and looked him up to see if it was possible to find him and thank him all these years later. I am so sorry for your loss.

Yvette Jancso
June 15, 2011
Most sincere sympathies, Setsuko, to you and your family. I have been reading the comments of your husband's former students, and I see he was just like you, compassionate and most caring. Beverley Shipton
May 26, 2011
The best high school I had. Inspiring, kind, and brilliant. He left a lasting impression and inspired the desire to know more and search for truth.
Leslie Rice
May 23, 2011
RIP Mr. Thurlow. I remember you from my years at DMCI. Though I wasn't one of your students I recall saying hi to you a few times. My condolences and blessings are with your family, friends, colleagues and former students. God bless.
Donald Barrie
May 22, 2011
A gracious, lovely man who inspired the brightest of my classmates to think in new and broader ways about history and world affairs. He was an excellent teacher and an inspiring man, for many of us one of our most valued mentors in the years of development leading to adulthood.
Salem Alaton
May 4, 2011
I remember Mr Thurlow's energy as being calm, peaceful, open, curious, compassionate and interested. That has stayed with me long after his lessons in history have faded. I had no idea of everything he had done in his life - I'm grateful to be aware of that now. I send care to his family and friends at this time. Another Don Mills Student
Glenda Mattinson
May 2, 2011
If Mr. Thurlow taught it, I took it. I remember his patience, kindness and compassion both in class and in crowded hallways. I remember spirited debate, critical thought and respect for differing perspectives. I remember when he told me I had the right to change my mind because I had a change of heart and then helped me reconstruct an essay to support what I felt and believed. And in the thirty years since I was his student, the personal, political and philosophical choices I make are a result of the answers I find to the questions Mr. Thurlow taught me to ask -- not only of those around me, but most importantly, of myself. James M. Thurlow was a teacher in the truest and largest sense of the word and if his goal was teach generations of students a wider world view and that humanity and compassion are important components of critical thought, he succeeded many times over. I am saddened by his passing and I offer my deepest condolences to his family and friends for their loss.
Lisa Dutton
May 1, 2011
Thanks to Mr. Thurlow I found a love of History and went on to study it at the University of Western Ontario before becoming a grade-school teacher for a short time. I have never lost my love of History and now write historical fiction. Thank you, sir, for that early inspiration at DMCI. My deepest condolences and respects to the Thurlow family.
Tim Reynolds
May 1, 2011
I was very fortunate to have had the chance to be taught by this amazing man. He allowed me to think for myself and not just accept history as written by the "victors". Very sorry for your loss.
Paul Sharp
April 30, 2011
Once upon a time a first-year teacher was lucky enough to have a boy named Peter in his class who came with a set of wonderful parents who were interested and involved in their son's education. Enough so that Peter's mother hosted his classmates and teacher to an unforgettable interactive experiential Immersion in Japanese culture afternoon. At the end of the year Peter's father wrote his teacher a wonderful note expressing thanks for what he felt had been a particularly good year for him. How fortunate for that struggling teacher to have been touched by Jim Thurlow's kind, thoughtful and appreciative spirit and gesture. I still have Jim's note which I know encouraged me to continue teaching elementary school, hopefully touching lives in the ways Jim was doing in his own classes and then going on to teach teachers at the university level and as an educational consultant working with principals and teachers to improve their learning environments.
Along came Andy and other opportunities to remain in touch with Setsuko and Jim. What wonderful humanitarian examples they both have been for Peter, Andy and all of their students, friends and colleagues. My sincere condolences to you all in your loss. I know Jim has left a legacy in you that will live forever.
Brian Care
April 30, 2011
More DMCI students here, with memories of a super and caring teacher with a knack of making us really understand the dynamic between historical events, nations, 'superpowers' etc. Our deepest sympathies to his family.
Adrienne (Greenwood) Cruise and Martha (Greenwood) Joyce
April 28, 2011
My condolences to Mr Thurlow's family. I had the pleasure of being one of his students at DMCI and remember him as one of my favourites both for his personality and enthusiasm for teaching what can be a rather dry subject, he always managed to liven it up.
Kelly Mitchell - Slattery
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences