740 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 80 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2022
Jim often told friends about his time on the rivers, seeing parts of this
province that “we” don’t generally get to see. In the last few months of his
life, Jim lobbied his high school friend and long-time law office partner, new
provincial Cabinet minister Bruce Ralston, to draft a bill for the legislature
in Victoria to consider changing B.C. river names from their colonial namesakes
to the correct Indigenous names, those names having echoed in the
ears of First Nations people for thousands of years. We can only hope this
proposal will be taken up by Bruce and his colleagues; they might call it the
“Millar River Reconciliation Bill”.
Jim’s company, Canadian Wilderness Experiences, attracted attention.
Now, Jim was no publicity hound, but he had a penchant for work and
causes that were important. Attention often follows people like Jim, and his
enterprise was to be the subject of a Sports Illustrated feature, one that would
have broken the rafting world wide open for Jim and set him on a career
path that almost certainly would have pulled him far, far away from the profession
of law. But the feature was ultimately not to be after all. The editors
at Sports Illustrated killed it because, in their minds, it was too promotional,
too much of a “puff piece”. Knowing Jim as many of us did, the odds are that
the experience was simply too good to be anything less than enticing to the
readers of Sports Illustrated. And I don’t mean that in the way that we tell
our offspring, “Oh, you’re just too talented for the school band.” I mean that
if Jim did a thing, he did it right.
As the promise of a fulfilling career on the rivers dried up, Jim found
himself drawn toward a passion that had been with him since childhood and
indeed remained with him to the very end. Jim was an artist. He was a
gifted painter, a visionary creator in any medium to which he set his mind.
After retirement from the practice of law, Jim spent most of the last 12
years living in Thailand, and any time there was a new message or posting
from Jim (often late at night here in Vancouver), I knew that a new work of
art was going to appear. It was exciting! Jim embraced multimedia technology
and used it to create and to pose questions in a whimsical, off-the-wall
style that only Jim could ever truly master or understand. Whether the
questions were of the wider world or the sartorial choices of his friends,
knowing that a new work was appearing from Jim always gave me confidence
that creativity is an eternal quality in the human spirit.
But where does this art thread fit in the life story of a man who fled the
constraints of a seemingly predetermined existence for a Bohemian life on
the river? Well, Jim was academically gifted. I mean truly, incredibly brilliant.
His analytical powers could put most to shame; his ability to mold and
convey the subtlest of meanings with words remains unparalleled in my