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James Lowrie

July 21, 1932 - December 16, 2019

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Service Date: December 30, 2019

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James (Jim) Lowrie July 21, 1932 – December 16, 2019

If you attended a Barrie public school in the 1970s, 80s or 90s you likely came across Jim Lowrie. Over his career as a teacher at over 10 different Barrie primary schools, Jim helped educate hundreds of Barrie children. His last years’ teaching focussed on special education for learning disabled and gifted children.

How he became a teacher was an unlikely story … Jim was the second of three boys, born and raised ‘farm-poor’ by his parents who in 1929 were forced to live on their parent’s farm in Essa Township because of the Great Depression. Initially Jim flourished in the two-room school at Holly, but as a teenager his family moved out to Woodbridge, and he became a small fish in a big Toronto high school. He consequently dropped out and performed a series of jobs over a decade: construction; driving ambulances, snowplows and delivery vans; and even a short stint as a funeral embalmer. Then, in the mid 1950s, he took the courageous and rare step of embarking on a round-the-world journey by passenger ship, stopping along the way to work in New Zealand and Australia. Returning home, he began working at what is now known as Toronto Pearson airport, and it was there that he first noticed air hostess and Barrie native Shirley Hook, whom Jim eventually married.

Taking another courageous step, at age 29 Jim returned to high school to complete his diploma, then onto teacher’s college. While working full-time and raising a family, he continued to study at nights, on weekends and over the summers over the next 20 years until he obtained an equivalent of a Master’s Degree in Geography and Education.

Not one to sit still, Jim loved to travel and discover new places and provided many experiences for his family: a one-year teaching exchange in Australia, bicycling across Canada, canoeing down the Nahanni River, sailing around the Caribbean islands, among the several cross-country family driving vacations to The Yukon, BC and Nova Scotia.

By age 55 Jim had led several lives, but his thirst for adventure was not yet quenched and he retired from teaching to begin an entirely new career as a fully qualified ship’s captain on the 1800s British Navy replica ships H.M.S. Bee and Tecumseth based out of Discovery Harbour in Penetang. Over 20 years Jim became a leader and stalwart member of a community of eccentrics and buccaneers who took the ships to festivals around the Great Lakes to participate in re-enacting the historical battles. On shore, he built a wooden sailboat in the garage!

Jim was blessed with a powerful and curious intelligence. He believed in fairness and would on occasion unveil a simmering disdain for dysfunctional bureaucracy and politics. He was content in solitude while reading a good political thriller, but his life also showed a strong social conscience: from choosing a new immigrant doctor to deliver their first-born child, to devoting his career to educating children, or volunteering at RVH and with the Canadian Red Cross.

He was a loyal friend, devoted family man, and a quiet role model in our community. We his family celebrate and remain inspired by his life. He is survived by his wife Shirley, two sons Sean (Sandra) and Steve (Cathy) and four grandchildren, Alex, Will, Finian and Nikolas.

Friends will be received at ADAMS FUNERAL HOME 445 St. Vincent Street, Barrie on Monday, December 30, 2019 from 2 p.m. until the time of service to celebrate James’ life at 3 o’clock p.m. Memorial donations to the RVH Foundation or a charity of your choice would be appreciated. Condolences may be forwarded through adamsfuneralhome.ca