James Sinclair (politician)

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James Sinclair
Member of Canadian Parliament
In office
March 26, 1940 – March 30, 1958
Preceded byCharles Grant MacNeil
Succeeded byWilliam Hector Payne
ConstituencyVancouver North (1940–1949)
Coast—Capilano (1949–1958)
Personal details
Born(1908-05-26)May 26, 1908
Grange, Banffshire, Scotland
DiedFebruary 7, 1984(1984-02-07) (aged 75)
West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Political partyLiberal
SpouseDoris Kathleen Bernard
Children5, including Margaret Sinclair
RelativesJustin Trudeau (grandson)
Alexandre Trudeau (grandson)
Michel Trudeau (grandson)
Alma materUniversity of British Columbia
St John's College, Oxford
Princeton University
OccupationPolitician, businessman
CabinetMinister of Fisheries (1952–1957)

James Sinclair, PC (May 26, 1908 – February 7, 1984) was a Canadian politician and businessman. He was the maternal grandfather of current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Early life[edit]

Sinclair was born in Crossroads, Grange, Banffshire, Scotland,[1] the son of James George Sinclair[2] and Betsy Sinclair née Ross.[3][4] He moved to Vancouver with his family in 1911 where his father, who had already immigrated a year earlier, was among the founders of Vancouver Technical Secondary School, the area's first vocational school, and served as the school's second principal from 1930 until 1944.[5] Sinclair studied engineering at the University of British Columbia and was awarded a Rhodes scholarship in 1928 to study mathematics at St John's College,[6] in the University of Oxford. He also studied mathematical physics at Princeton University. During World War II, he served with the Royal Canadian Air Force in North Africa, Malta, and Sicily as a squadron leader.[7]


He was first elected to the House of Commons of Canada representing the riding of Vancouver North in the 1940 federal election. A Liberal, he was re-elected in 1945 in the riding of Vancouver North, and in 1949, 1953, and 1957 in the riding of Coast-Capilano. He was defeated in the 1958 federal election. From 1949 to 1952, he was the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance. From 1952 to 1957, he was the Minister of Fisheries.

From 1958 to 1960, he was the President of Fisheries Association of British Columbia. From 1960 to 1970, he was president and Chairman of Lafarge Cement of North America. He was also a director of the Bank of Montreal and of Canadian Industries limited. He took part in the economic mission headed by Charles Drury with people such as Paul Desmarais, Yves Dubé, Marcel Faribeault to France in June 1966. From 1970 to 1973 he was Deputy Chairman of Canada Cement Lafarge Limited. In 1978, according to testimony in the trial of four murdered teenagers, their killings were part of a failed attempted scheme to kidnap four prominent Vancouver-area families including James Sinclair's.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Sinclair was married in Saint Stephen's Anglican Church, West Vancouver on November 2, 1940[9] to Doris Kathleen Bernard (February 11, 1920; Penticton, British Columbia – March 29, 2012; Saanich, British Columbia). They had five daughters. His fourth daughter was Margaret Joan Trudeau née Sinclair,[10] one-time wife of the 15th Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and mother of 23rd and current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Alexandre Trudeau and Michel Trudeau. Many, including Jean Chrétien and Justin Trudeau himself, have noted the family resemblance in physical appearance between Sinclair and Justin Trudeau.[11][12][13][14][15] Sinclair is also the namesake of both Justin Trudeau (whose middle name is James) and Xavier James Trudeau, son of Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau.[16][17]

He died in 1984 of a myocardial infarction at his home in West Vancouver.[1][18]

The Sinclair Centre, a shopping complex in downtown Vancouver, is named after him.[19][20]


  1. ^ a b "British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986; 1992-1993". FamilySearch. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  2. ^ "British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986; 1992-1993". FamilySearch. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  3. ^ "British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986; 1992-1993". FamilySearch. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  4. ^ Johnson, J. Keith; Public Archives of Canada (1968). The Canadian directory of Parliament, 1867-1967. Queen's Printer. p. 532.
  5. ^ Bellamy, Andrea (23 February 2009). "The history behind Burnaby Campus street names". British Columbia Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015. Sinclair Walk: Named after the James Sinclair, second principal of Vancouver Technical High School (1930-1944), Vancouver's first technical school.
  6. ^ "Rhodes Scholars: Complete List, 1903-2013". Archived from the original on 6 November 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2010.
  7. ^ "James Sinclair Is Dead; Ex-Canadian Minister - The New York Times". The New York Times. 9 February 1984.
  8. ^ "Murder of 4 British Columbia youths said to have been part of kidnap plot". The Bulletin. The Associated Press. 11 April 1978. Retrieved 1 November 2015. The families named in the statement are those of James Sinclair, former cabinet minister and grandfather to the three sons of Prime Minister Trudeau;
  9. ^ "MARRIAGES". The Vancouver Sun. 2 November 1940. Retrieved 15 December 2016. SINCLAIR–BERNARD–On Saturday, November 2, 1940 in St. Stephen's Anglican Church, by Rev. F. A. Ramsey, Flying Officer James Sinclair, M.P. of the R.C.A.F., elder son of Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Sincalr, 2904 West 43rd Ave., Vancouver, B.C., to Kathleen, younger daughter of Mr. and Mrs. T. K. Bernard, 2632 Ottawa St., West Vancouver, B.C.
  10. ^ "Colleagues, family discuss secret Trudeau wedding". CBC Digital Archives. 5 March 1971. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  11. ^ "Trudeau joins cast of soldiers' descendants in The Great War". CanWest News Service. 29 July 2006. Archived from the original on 3 November 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015. When he was made up for the role, Trudeau said, he was struck by his resemblance not so much to Talbot Papineau, but to his maternal grandfather, James Sinclair, who fought in the Second World War and later served as a Vancouver MP and minister of fisheries in Louis St. Laurent's government.
  12. ^ Gossage, Patrick (17 November 2014). "Why Justin Trudeau Is a More Natural Politician Than His Father Was". HuffPost Canada. Retrieved 6 November 2015. [Trudeau] credits this skill from observing the friendly political skills of his grandfather, James Sinclair.
  13. ^ Raj, Althia (6 March 2013). "Contender: The Justin Trudeau Story (eBook PART 2)". HuffPost Canada. Retrieved 8 November 2015. Pierre told an interviewer once that he thought Justin was more similar to him than his other boys. But Trudeau's aunt says Justin most closely resembles her father James Sinclair... Like her dad, Justin is outgoing, approachable, likeable, and remembers names, she says.
  14. ^ Ormiston, Susan (19 October 2015). "Justin Trudeau draws upon family legacy as he completes homestretch". CBC News. Retrieved 6 November 2015. "I'm not sure if love of campaigning has any kind of genetic component, but if it does I can trace my passion for it straight back to grandpa," Trudeau said during that final rally in North Vancouver.
  15. ^ Zilio, Michelle (25 October 2015). "Chretien's advice to Trudeau on foreign policy: 'Talk to everybody'". CTV News. Retrieved 6 November 2015. He said Trudeau is a "serious" politician, like his father was, but that he also got a lot of his political skill from his maternal side. Trudeau's grandfather, Jimmy Sinclair, was a cabinet minister in Louis St. Laurent's Liberal government. "Jimmy Sinclair was quite a politician," said Chretien. "He was a tall guy, good looking, comfortable with people.
  16. ^ Kennedy, John R. (14 April 2013). "18 fun facts about Justin Trudeau". Global News. Retrieved 6 November 2015. Justin's full name is Justin Pierre James Trudeau. His middle names are those of his father and maternal grandfather, of course. His son's name is Xavier James Trudeau, which honours Justin's maternal grandfather.
  17. ^ Sanati, Maryam (7 April 2008). "The Littlest Trudeau". Chatelaine. Retrieved 8 November 2015. ...she gave birth to the couple's first child, Xavier James (the first name is one they simply liked; the middle name is a tribute to Margaret's father, James Sinclair)...
  18. ^ "450 'celebrate' life of Sinclair". Montreal Gazette. United Canadian Press. 11 April 1978. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  19. ^ "Ex-cabinet minister, Maggie's father dies". The Ottawa Citizen. United Canadian Press. 8 February 1984. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  20. ^ Mickleburgh, Rod (21 August 2007). "Family members protest sale of Sinclair Centre". The Globe & Mail. Retrieved 24 October 2015.

External links[edit]

Parliament of Canada
Preceded by Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Vancouver North

Succeeded by
Riding was abolished in 1947
Preceded by
Riding was created in 1947
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Coast—Capilano

Succeeded by