03 July 2016
ACTON-One of Acton's most colorful personalities, a former Reeve, and veteran of the Spanish-American War, James Burnett Chalmers died at his home here on Friday. He would have celebrated his 91st birthday in April.
Members of Walker Lodge, AF and AM, conducted a memorial service on Sunday evening and funeral service was held on Monday afternoon from Rumley-Shoemaker funeral home, with Rev. Andrew McKenzie of Knox Presbyterian Church, officiating. Pallbearers were Cliff Bradley, Tom Watson, Rudolph Speilvogel, Lorne Norton, Mike Coxe and Sam Holmes. Interment was at Fairview cemetery, Acton.
BORN IN SCOTLAND
"J.B" as he was known to a wide circle of friends was the son of Catherine Burnett and John Dobson Chalmers. Born at Lethnot near Montrose in Scotland, he was 12 years old when the family immigrated to Canada, settling first in Halton county's Scotch Block, and later moving to Owen Sound.
As a young man working in the United States, at the outbreak of the Spanish American War, heeded the call of adventure and volunteered for action with the American Army. He was married in Toronto to Emma Frederick, who predeceased him in 1955.
A resident of Acton for over 35 years, Mr. Chalmers was an expert plumber and tinsmith. He made a successful bid for municipal office serving first as councilor and in 1940, he was elected to the position of reeve, which he held for two years.
He attended Knox Presbyterian church and held life memberships in the Masonic Order for Orange Lodge and Acton Legion. A past master of Sault Ste. Marie Lodge. Mr. Chalmers affiliated with Walker Lodge, Acton, in 1927, and was presented with his Jubilee Medal eight years ago.
After his retirement, he devoted much of his time to the hobby of making model ships and boats, designed to scale and finished with superb craftsmanship. One of his favorites was a replica of the Bluenose and he also constructed many miniatures of Great Lakes freighters, old schooners, yachts, gun-boats and paddle wheelers.
A little workshop in the garden was a fascinating store-house for glue pots, bits of lumber and partially finished models crowding the work bench. Here, in the fine weather, "J.B." and one or two fellow hobbyists spent long enjoyable hours swapping yarns of the sea, and debating lines and scales of craft they planned to build.
Almost every ship was fashioned with a relative of friend in mind. One of the Chalmers' models decks a mantle above the fireplace at Acton Scout hall, and another displayed prominently in the foyer of Robert Little public school.
In appearance and personality, James Burnett Chalmers was an artist or photographer's delight.
ruddy-complexioned, and white haired, he wore his years with grace and humor, that twinkled from shrewd blue eyes. An accomplished raconteur, he loved to reminisce about his boyhood in the village of Lethnot and his experiences as a soldier in the Spanish-American War.
Of recent years, Actonites grew accustomed to the sight of Mr. Chalmers seated on the side porch chatting in the sun, with a neighbor, Charles Withers, veteran of the Boer War. The main topic of their daily chats rarely varied; invariably, the conversation veered around to military tactics, and memories of the two wars in which they served. also a regular visitor at the Chalmers' home was another neighbor, Father V. J. Morgan, of St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, with whom J.B. enjoyed discussing a variety of topics from international affairs to politics. Until a few year ago, Mr. Chalmers was a familiar figure at Remembrance Day parade and services.
He is survived by one brother, Robert, of Owen Sound; a son Robert, of Bythe; and five daughters, (Catherine) Mrs. Douglas Bell, Guelph; Mary, of Toronto; (Oral), Mrs. Stan Norton, Acton; (Margaret) Mrs. John Valby, Winnipeg; (Audrey) Mrs. Boots Grischow, Acton. There are 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Mr. Chalmers resided with his daughter, Mrs. Stan Norton, at 50 Church St. Acton.
James Chalmers, my grand uncle, has an obituary that every researcher would love to find on their ancestor. It is filled with tons of information that allows the reader to get to know him. James' military history, memberships, immigration, occupation, office holder positions, church membership, hobbies, and specific birth place information-all a genealogist's dream! And if that wasn't enough it even provides a description of his looks.
James Chalmers married Emma Louise Fredrick, the daughter of J. August Fredrick and Louise (Zastrow) Fredrick, 6 June 1905.
Thank you to Cousin Mari, for sending me this wonderful obituary on her grandfather.