Monday, February 26, 2024

James Duncan Wilson Blyth 1919-2010


James Duncan Wilson Blyth 1919-2010Blyth, James Duncan Wilson
January 9 1919 – April 4 2010

Died peacefully at Sunnybrook Veterans Hospital on Easter Sunday.

Born in Regina Saskatchewan to James Blyth and Janet (Burns) of Glasgow Scotland Jimmy worked hard his entire life, first as a summertime labourer on the Trans Canada highway and then as golf caddy for Ginger Rogers at the Banff Springs Hotel.

He attended the University of Saskatchewan before joining the Canadian Armed Forces 14 Canadian Hussars (8th Reconnaissance Regiment) in 1939 as a 2nd Lieutenant prior to the beginning of the Second World War. In 1943 at the age of 24 he earned the rank of Major and fought through France after landing in Normandy on D-day plus 7.

Wounded at the battle to close the Falaise Gap Jimmy returned to England and married his wife of 65 years Jean Rodgers. Jimmy ended the war as Acting Lieutenant Colonel on route to the Pacific theatre when Japan surrendered.

Already in Canada Jimmy hastily went about receiving his Chartered Accountancy from the Province of Saskatchewan, after which he was hired as Controller with Monterey Light and Power in Mexico. In 1947 Jimmy returned to Canada and went into private practice.

After the birth of his daughter Penelope, Jimmy became the first Controller of BC Hydro.

After refusing political incentive in defense of sound civil leadership Jimmy left BC Hydro for Toronto to be Controller with Brazilian Traction now Power Corp. This was to lead into a prosperous career in the brewing and soft drink industry. He was VP Finance for Carling Brewery in Ohio, VP Finance of Canadian Breweries in Toronto, and VP Finance for Schlitz Breweries in Milwaukee and VP of Schlitz International. In 1962 he acquired Labatt Breweries for Schlitz International but was taken to court by Robert Kennedy under the Sherman Antitrust Law which limited corporate interests to prevent monopolization.  Such action would now be regarded as ridiculous due to the fact that today only a handful of entities own the majority of the world’s breweries. However the action was successful and Labatt’s was resold 6 months later.

In 1967 he joined Canada Dry and was made CEO when Canada Dry, Hunts Foods and McCall Corp. merged to form Norton Simon Inc. in 1968. During his tenure with Canada Dry he was able to make Canada Dry the official supplier of water to NASA for the Apollo Missions, water which interestingly enough came from Caledon Ontario.

Working in New York City Jim found opportunities to expand further. He was one of the first Canadian businessmen to enter into negotiations with Communist China prior to President Nixon’s historic visit in 1972. His experiences in China were of suitable insight and intrigue into the potential of what the Chinese economy could become. Although he saw the possible opportunities to deal with China it wasn’t until much later and perhaps too late that more proactive policies were even considered with regard to trade with China.

Upon retirement Jimmy became an avid sailor on Georgian Bay spending most of his summertime at Meaford Harbour. He was a director of the board for the National Ballet of Canada and Ballet Florida and founding director with his wife of the African Students Foundation. In 2002 to he was a proud recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.

He was loved and will be missed by his wife of 65 years Jean Mary Blyth his daughter Penelope Jean Blyth, his grandson James Duncan McIntosh and his four footed pals Jet and Frey.  Cremation and a private family service have taken place.

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