December 6, 2014
by Canadian Architect
It is with great sadness that the family of James Drewry Stewart, Ph.D, D.Sc(H) announces his passing on December 3, 2014, after a courageous and determined battle with Multiple Myeloma. Jim exited this life with the same panache as he lived his whole life, with a Celebration of Music in his home known as Integral House, surrounded by family, friends and colleagues from near and far.
Born in Toronto, Jim was encouraged in his studies by his artistic mother, Vera and his father Kenneth, a Professional Engineer. He was a brilliant scholar, earning his B.Sc, M.S. and Ph.D in Mathematics from Stanford and the University of Toronto. He was also a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of London (England) for several years. Jim was a teacher revered by his students during his years at McMaster University, where he attained the status of Professor of Mathematics Emeritus and was awarded an honourary D.Sc. It was also here that he discovered he had an amazing talent for writing math textbooks. His text for first year calculus students became and still is the world’s biggest seller. He went on to write a number of other books, all of which received academic acclaim and economic success. This enabled him to indulge his other three great loves; music, architecture and philanthropy.
Music came naturally to Jim. He took up the violin at an early age and was so successful that he became the concertmaster of the McMaster Symphony Orchestra and played as a professional violinist in the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. This love of music encouraged him to share the beauty of music with others. He regularly hosted music nights at his home, often inviting up and coming performers to perform along with established artists. This led Jim to desire a larger and more conducive space, in which to host these evenings and this involved his next love, architecture. He bought and renovated several homes to accommodate his passion for music. His pièce de résistance was his decision to build a home from scratch incorporating a concert space and acoustics usually only found in concert halls. He commissioned renowned Canadian architects Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe to build this home on a Rosedale ravine property with only two directives; he wanted curves and he wanted a concert hall to hold a gathering of 150 guests. And thus was born Integral House, a home and music centre in one, a home that has garnered praise and awards as one of the greatest private residences in Canada.
Jim was a humble and quiet individual who believed in giving back to the communities in which he was educated, lived and worked. During his life, he donated generously to the University of Toronto, McMaster University (which named their Mathematics Building “The James Stewart Mathematics Centre”), and the Fields Institute of Math (which named their library “The James Stewart Library”). He also financially supported young musicians in their career development, many of whom are now recognized as outstanding performers. The largest part of his estate will continue this philanthropic ideal with bequests to educational, architectural, musical, medical and social programs. Jim has touched the lives of many and he will be mourned, but he will not be forgotten. His legacies will live on to enrich the lives of others still to come.
Prior to his passing, and to recognize his lasting contributions to so many facets of Canadian life, Jim was nominated to receive the Order of Canada, sponsored by the Honourable Eric Hoskins, MPP and Minister of Health and supported by other great Canadians such as Stephen Lewis and Adrienne Clarkson; a distinguished and deserving award for an outstanding Canadian.
Besides his many lifelong friends and colleagues, he leaves behind a family that often vacationed with him in places such as Carmel and Scotland and regularly gathered to celebrate birthdays and holidays. His sister Sally and her husband Don and brother Alan and his wife Sharon will remember fondly Jim’s greatest frustration in not being able to get the family to sing Happy Birthday in key. He also leaves nephew Kelly and his wife Kimberly, niece Jacqueline and her husband Nino, great-nephews Callum and Dane and great-niece Mackenna, all of whom will sadly miss him not only as a close relative but as a man they loved and admired.
Jim accomplished the neat feat of organizing and participating in his own wake. He said, “with a lineup like this, there’s no way I’m going to miss it!” So he emceed A Final Celebration Salon, with 200 of his close friends and family sharing in an evening of food, drink, comradery, and of course music, performed by renowned artists from several genres. Having already said goodbye, Jim requested there be no funeral or visitation. He wished to be cremated and his ashes spread over the grounds of his beloved Integral House.
The family would like to express their deep appreciation to Dr. Lisa Hicks and her team at St. Michaels Oncology Department who made Jim comfortable and at peace during his final months, and Dr. Goldman and Dr. Wales and their dedicated nurses from the Mount Sinai Palliative Care Unit for providing care in his home.
In lieu of flowers or other expressions of sympathy, Jim would prefer that you donate to St. Michaels Hospital Cancer Care Unit or to a charity of your choice.
james drewry stewart (1941-2014)