Collinson, James Donald

The family of James Donald Collinson sadly announce his passing on March 12, 2024 in Nanaimo B.C.  He is survived by his loving wife, Carolyn, children, Greg, and Kathryn, sister Jeanne, and will be dearly missed by Hugh, Kara, Lyle, John, Islay and Nick.

Born in Souris MB on September 21, 1939, Jim was raised on the family dairy and grain farm. He graduated from the University of Manitoba (BSc Agriculture 1963), and the University of Michigan (MSc Resource Economics, 1966).

Learning to fly in the ROTP Regular Officer Training Plan (RCAF) was the beginning of a passion that lasted his lifetime.

His early career with the Manitoba civil service included senior positions focusing on rural economic development; federal/provincial agreements; land management and Northern development.  He transferred to the Federal Civil Service in 1975 and relocated to Saskatoon where he became the Assistant Deputy Minister in the new Department of Regional Economic Expansion (DREE) with responsibility for the western Region.  At that time, it included a vast area which necessitated that he flew frequently!

Throughout his career he was particularly interested in, and committed to providing a work environment where all were treated equally and given the resources and training needed to succeed to their full potential.

In 1982, having  transferred to Ottawa , he held senior executive positions in the Federal Provincial Relations Office, Parks Canada and State of the Environment Reporting.  He was mandated to initiate change, structurally and financially within an evolving market and his broad personal knowledge and extensive experience were ideally suited to these challenges.  During his tenure at Parks Canada, he was a very effective Chair of the World Heritage Committee.

Upon retiring from the federal government in 1994, he devoted his time to consulting, mentoring and advocating for issues that he deemed significant.   In particular, he focused on the complexities at the intersection of the environmental, economic, social and financial aspects of the evolving necessity for new and more effective ways and means of living sustainably in our world.

He described himself and Carolyn as gypsies! They moved regularly, and were perpetually on the road driving in their F350 and RV or travelling internationally. This lifestyle made for great adventures and many friends in all parts of the continent.

He loved and cherished his family and friends and was devoted to their well being.  He was, quite simply, very special.  His wonderful smile, keen intelligence, special (sometimes quirky) sense of humour, his abiding respect and acceptance of life and his gracious, and consistent delight and love of life and all its challenges, is an example we  cherish .

Although his accomplishments were many and varied, if you had asked him, he would have said that his most important and significant lifetime achievement was his over 37 years sober in Alcoholics Anonymous.  He credited the AA program and its principles with giving him the gift of sobriety and a life that enabled him not only to build and enjoy a life free of addiction, but also to be able to share that gift with so many others suffering with the same incurable and fatal disease.

Those of us who loved him and were fortunate to be blessed with sharing his life and love, are devasted, but forever grateful for that privilege.

In keeping with Jim’s wishes, a private interment will be held at a later date at the Souris and Glenwood Cemetery.  In memory of Jim, donations may be made to Souris Legion or to the Souris-Glenwood Foundation, Box 518 Souris, Manitoba R0K 2C0.

8 thoughts on “Collinson, James Donald”

  1. Our heartfelt condolences to you Carolyn and to your family.
    We have many fond memories of the time we spent together in China where we not only enjoyed your company but benefited immensely from Jim’s vast knowledge and your insights.
    We remember too the follow-up visits and the good times we had.
    All our best to you. We will remember Jim so very fondly.
    Russ and Bonnie Jones

  2. Truly a wonderful obituary and remembrance of what a great man Jim was. We had many great times with you and Jim when You were at Black Lake.

  3. Jim was a wonderful human being. His breadth of knowledge always took me by storm. We did not see each other regularly but when we met, it was always a delight. A life fully lived. He rests in a deserved peace.

  4. Dear Carolyn and all of Jim’s family.
    I’m so sorry to learn of the passing of this extraordinary man.
    He was a kind, intelligent, engaging, warm and funny man. Time flew when you were in his company. While they lived in Ottawa, I often had lunch with Carolyn and Jim (who did the cooking). At about 5pm I’d say “Oh My – I’ve overstayed lunchtime…Again!!)
    Jim’s final years where not easy. He’s at peace.
    My sincere condolences to all, but particularly to my dear friend, Carolyn.
    Much love, Nancy

  5. We’re so blessed to have gotten to know Jim and wife. What a special person in so many ways.
    He touched so many lives . I could listen to his life stories for hours.
    RIP Jimmy

  6. Deepest sympathies to all at this time.
    Having special friends across the very long Canadian-US. border has been a blessing.
    Sending affection & care during the days, ahead.
    Always, Gretchen & family

  7. My condolences to you Carolyn, Kara and all the family.

    I had the privilege of knowing Jim professionally in Parks Canada and then reconnecting with Carolyn and Jim in Newfoundland and Labrador.

    During this time we had many amazing adventures together especially in the spring on the beautiful Bonavista peninsula “Iceberg Hunting” which never failed to impress Jim.
    Other times we would go seeking “splashy waves” as he called them, which he absolutely delighted in and the bigger the wave the better for Jim.

    He delighted in every outing and even siting on the deck at my country home reading a good novel and watching the fishing boats come in the bay.

    He also always loved to tell us stories about the Polar Bears in Churchill, Manitoba and his flights and adventures to the North.

    Jim also got involved in heritage conservation in St. John’s and helped by speaking and writing publicly about the value of our 400 year old Ecclesiastical District National Historic Site in downtown
    St. John’s which forced the City to backdown from allowing development in the old burial ground dating from the 1500s.

    I was sad to see my good friends Carolyn and Jim leave St. John’s and now I am even sadder that we have lost Jim but I sure he is on a cloud adventure as we speak.

    Thinking of you all at this sad time.

    Love Heather MacLellan ❤️

  8. My sincere condolences to you, Carolyn, and your families. I worked for both you and Jim in Parks Canada and learned a great deal from both of you. Thank you. I was impressed with the honest reference to AA. I knew Jim both before and after he “took the pledge”- a difficult but hugely positive and brave action.

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