James Edward Wigington
Jim was one of eight children and grew up with a cockney’s wit and humour in hardscrabble Poplar on London’s east side. At age 14, school and the opportunity to pursue a trade scholarship ended with the need to enter the workforce. Over the next few years Jim worked at various jobs until the outbreak of war in 1939 brought conscription into the British Army as a 1st Class nursing orderly. As part of the 140th field ambulance London Black Cat division stationed at Etchinghill in Kent, Jim met a young woman named Dorothy Tutt. The meeting was fortuitous. In 1942 Jim’s unit sailed from Scotland south to Durban, north to Iraq via Bombay and overland to join the Jewish brigades in Gaza. In 1943, he was part of the Allied invasion of Sicily, then Jim’s unit supported the push up through Italy including the fighting at Monte Cassino. While in Italy Jim began correspondence with Dorothy, then at an RAF radar installation near Hastings. After returning to England, in July of 1946 Jim and Dorothy were married at Lyminge, Kent, and settled in London. As a returning serviceman Jim was offered training and elected to pursue carpentry and cabinet making – a vocation previously denied due to financial hardship. Over the next several years the Wigington family grew with the birth of Janis, Richard and Ian. Post war England had its own hardships so in 1957 Jim and Dorothy decided to immigrate to Canada. With 3 children under 10 years of age and a modest sum of money from the sale of the family car, Jim and Dorothy settled in Calgary, eventually buying a home in Haysboro. As a self-employed carpenter money was often in short supply, however love was not and none of the children ever new want. One of the defining traits of Jim was that his children would have the opportunities he never had, and all graduated from university. With the children grown up, in 1979 Jim and Dorothy retired to the Okanagan, settling in Vernon where Jim, with Ian’s help, built a new home with a view of the surrounding hills. Jim and Dorothy embraced their new life with a passion, taking up golf and square dancing, and the Vernon home became a gathering place for family and friends, with many visits from their children and their partners, and later grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In 1998 at the age of 50 Janis died of cancer. It was a bitter blow, but the family came together as it always has with an acceptance that if life doesn’t always unfold as we might wish, it does offer much to be grateful for. In his later years, always one to embrace new technology, Jim became proficient on a desktop computer and subsequently an iPad, corresponding with his growing family and anyone else willing to listen to his jokes. At 95 and no longer able to drive, Jim was finally ready to slow down. After a final move to Vancouver to be close to family, while out for a walk on a beautiful February day, with Dorothy at his side, Jim left us. He is survived by his wife Dorothy, sons Richard and Ian, a sister Eileen, 5 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren, who all miss his humour, kindness, stubbornness, optimism and passion for life. He was truly a one-off.