Jim Wright 5 Nov 1942 – 1 Sep 2007

Written by  //  September 12, 2007  //  Absent Friends  //  1 Comment

How could they?
Westmounters remember many facets of Jim Wright
Compiled by Don Wedge
The loss of Jim Wright is not going to pass easily, whether in Westmount, his country home in the Laurentians or at McGill. His impact on so many lives will leave an indelible mark and it has been recorded many times over.
In addition to the official statement on his passing, which was reproduced in the Examiner last week, Mayor Karin Marks arranged for the City web site to accept messages so that anyone could post a personal tribute. www.westmount.org).
Marks herself wrote the first message, outlining what so many felt about him.
“Having had the pleasure and the fun of working with Jim Wright on city council and in other organizations over the last 20 years, I will miss his good sense, his good humour, his boundless good will and his friendship.
“It is hard to imagine that we won’t see him, above the heads of all others, the most visible person at Family Day, at the Vin d’honneur, the McEntyre awards, and at so many other community activities.”
3 September 2007
Two perish in explosion near Rawdon
Strength of blast threw victims 50 metres from summer home
KAZI STASTNA, The Gazette
A 64-year-old Montreal man died Saturday afternoon in an explosion at his summer home in Entrelacs that also killed a family friend in her 30s and seriously injured his wife.
The bodies of James Wright, his wife, Nancy, 62, and their friend Meriem Maza, who had arrived the day before from Morocco, were thrown 50 metres from the house by the strength of the explosion, which might have been caused by a propane leak, the Sûreté du Québec said.
Police found several large, intact propane tanks around the perimeter of the house, about 100 kilometres northwest of Montreal, but had yet to establish whether there were tanks inside, as well.
“The house is totalled,” said SQ Sgt. Chantal Mackels. “There is debris all over – 100 feet around the house, in the trees, everywhere. We have to sift through the rubble.”
No explosives were found on the property, she said.
James Wright died at the scene, while Maza succumbed to her injuries later in a hospital. Nancy Wright was taken to a hospital in Ste. Agathe des Monts and is expected to recover from her injuries.
It was unclear whether the three were inside or outside the house at the time of the explosion, which occurred around 4:30 p.m.
The chalet is in a remote area at the bottom of a hill and near a lake on Chartier Rd. in the small community of about 800 people near Rawdon.
The Wrights were among the town’s estimated 1,500 summer occupants and had been coming to the chalet for more than 40 years, said neighbour Gérald Brown.
Brown was at the back of his house when he heard the blast. He said Chartier is a mix of summer chalets and permanent residences where propane tanks are not uncommon.
“There are still people who use propane to heat and cook,” Brown said.

4 September 2007
McGill community mourns board member, former student

Explosion at Laurentians home. Wright, 64, oversaw scholarship program
Many in the McGill University community were devastated to learn yesterday that the victim of a weekend explosion in the Laurentians was James Wright, a prominent governor emeritus of the university’s board and active participant in campus and community affairs.
Wright, 64, a former Westmount city councillor, served on the McGill board of governors and various university committees from 1997 to 2006 and was named governor emeritus in January.
He died Saturday afternoon in a powerful blast at his family’s vacation home in Entrelacs, 100 kilometres northwest of Montreal.
An Algerian student, Meriem Maza, 33, who became friends with the Wright family while studying at McGill on a scholarship from the Sauvé Scholars Foundation, which Wright directed, was also killed.
Maza, who spent the past year in Britain pursuing a master’s degree in science communication, arrived in Montreal Friday for a conference and was spending the weekend with the Wrights, with whom she had lived during her studies at McGill in 2003-04.
Wright’s wife, Nancy, is in Sacré Coeur Hospital and is expected to recover from her injuries. She is also well-known in Westmount and the city’s volunteer community. Her late father, Peter McEntyre, was a mayor of Westmount.
Police say the blast could be linked to a propane leak. Several intact propane tanks were found on the property.
“The lake residence was the heart of the family,” said Wright’s sister, Mary Wemp, 61.
Students from the Sauvé scholarship program Wright oversaw, which brings scholars from around the world to McGill for a year of study, were also frequent visitors.
One of them was Sarah Meyer, 26, a Sauvé scholar from Australia who spent a lot of time at the lake and Westmount homes of the Wrights during the past year, attending home-cooked dinners, pumpkin carvings and the many other events the couple organized for students. “The extent to which he opened his home and his family to us is unbelievable,” Meyer said.
Trained as a real estate lawyer, Wright left the firm of Martineau Walker (now Fasken Martineau) in 1999 to devote himself to community work.
He became involved in EPOC, a non-profit organization that helps unemployed young people acquire work skills and jobs, and in 2003 was appointed director of the Sauvé program.
From 1991 to 1999, he served two terms as city councillor in Westmount and continued to be involved in municipal affairs.
“He was always available to anybody who needed him,” said Westmount Mayor Karin Marks, who served alongside Wright as councillor. “They’re both really community people … it’s not quite as common (now) for people to give the kind of time that Nancy and Jim have given over their entire lives.”
Born Nov. 5, 1942, in Vancouver, Wright graduated from McGill University in 1965 with a bachelor of arts degree and went on to earn a law degree from Université Laval. He married Nancy, a childhood friend of his sister’s, in 1975.
He is survived by his three children, David, 29, Kathleen, 27, and Melanie, 24; his brother George, 63, and sister Mary, 61.
Meriem Maza’s uncles Lazhar and Lamri Cheriet, who live in Montreal and Sherbrooke, respectively, said yesterday the permanent Canadian resident, who planned to settle in Quebec to pursue a career in science journalism, regarded Wright as her second dad.
The uncles were waiting yesterday for the coroner to release her body so they could accompany it back to her home town of Setif, Algeria. Maza is survived by her parents, sister Ines, brother Mourad, a niece and nephew, and six other uncles and aunts.
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One Comment on "Jim Wright 5 Nov 1942 – 1 Sep 2007"

  1. Diana Thébaud Nicholson September 12, 2007 at 8:47 am · Reply

    Westmounters remember many facets of Jim Wright
    The loss of Jim Wright is not going to pass easily, whether in Westmount, his country home in the Laurentians or at McGill. His impact on so many lives will leave an indelible mark and it has been recorded many times over.
    In addition to the official statement on his passing, which was reproduced in the Examiner last week, Mayor Karin Marks arranged for the City web site to accept messages so that anyone could post a personal tribute.

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