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John Dunsworth

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John Dunsworth
Dunsworth in September 2011
Born(1946-04-12)April 12, 1946
DiedOctober 16, 2017(2017-10-16) (aged 71)
  • Actor
  • filmmaker
Years active1976–2017
Elizabeth Bates
(m. 1974)
Children4, including Sarah and Molly

John Francis Dunsworth (April 12, 1946 – October 16, 2017) was a Canadian actor and filmmaker. He was best known for playing trailer park supervisor Jim Lahey, the antagonist on the comedy series Trailer Park Boys (2001–2018). His other roles included the mysterious reporter Dave Teagues on the supernatural drama series Haven (2010–2015) and Officer McNabb in the CBC film Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion (2003). He also had extensive experience in regional theater.

Early life


John Francis Dunsworth was born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, on April 12, 1946, the son of Frances and Frank Dunsworth.[1] He had one older sibling and eight younger siblings. He studied theatre at the University of Guelph, but dropped out in his fourth year when the university forced him to take a philosophy course against his wishes.[1] Returning to his hometown, he drove a taxi for three years and worked on the CNR trains from Halifax and Sydney.[2]



Dunsworth began acting in numerous CBC radio dramas after dropping out of university, and had starring roles in many stage productions at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax.[3] In 1970, he leased an abandoned building on Halifax's waterfront and converted it into a playhouse called the Pier One Theatre; it became the city's first and most successful alternative theater.[4] In the late 1980s, Dalhousie University hired him to produce the university's welcome show for new students at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, in which he also occasionally had an unseen voice-over role. In 1987, he founded the casting agency Filmworks Casting and garnered a reputation as Halifax's most successful casting director.[1] In 1988, he starred in the documentary John Dunsworth: The Candidate,[5] which followed his journey as an underdog political candidate for the New Democratic Party in the Halifax Bedford Basin electoral ward during the 1988 Nova Scotia general election.[6] He came third in the election, receiving 19.3% of the vote (2,746 votes).[1]

Dunsworth met director Mike Clattenburg in the mid-1990s when he auditioned for a small role in Clattenburg's short film One Last Shot. His role gradually transformed into a leading part that earned him the award for Best Performance at the Atlantic Film Festival. From there, he further developed the character into what would eventually become the villainous trailer park supervisor Jim Lahey in Clattenburg's comedy series Trailer Park Boys (2001–2018).[7] While filming a scene in a school during the production of the film Pit Pony (1997), in which he had a small role, Dunsworth is said to have discovered 10-year-old actor and future Trailer Park Boys cast member Elliot Page; he managed to get Page a large part in the film, which became Page's first screen credit.[2] He appeared alongside fellow Trailer Park Boys co-stars John Paul Tremblay and Robb Wells in the film Virginia's Run (2002).[8] He also starred in Haven (2010–2015), the television adaptation of the Stephen King novel The Colorado Kid.[9] He reunited with many of his Trailer Park Boys castmates in the new series The Drunk and On Drugs Happy Fun Time Hour (2010).[10]

Personal life


Dunsworth lived in his native Nova Scotia with his wife, Elizabeth Bates, whom he married in 1974. They had a son named Geoff and three daughters named Zoë, Sarah, and Molly,[11] the latter two of whom became actresses.[12][13][14]

In contrast to his Trailer Park Boys character, Dunsworth rarely drank alcohol and usually used iced tea as a stand-in for alcohol on the show.[15] He admitted to suffering from a gambling problem in his early years.[16] As a result of his recovery, he had been active in trying to remove video lottery terminals from bars in Nova Scotia.[17] He was a boating enthusiast who frequently spent time on his yacht, Emerald Princess, and enjoyed building granite sculptures and structures with stone and concrete; he documented the latter on his YouTube channel.[18] He was an avid bridge player and was regarded as a master of the game.[2] It is also generally believed that he continues to hold the Internet Scrabble record for having three consecutive seven-letter words.[2] He once appeared on stage with Guns N' Roses, with frontman Axl Rose describing himself as a fan of Trailer Park Boys and Dunsworth's character in particular.[19]



On October 16, 2017, at the age of 71, Dunsworth died of an initially undisclosed illness in Halifax, Nova Scotia.[20][21] In a statement, his daughter Sarah described the illness as "short and unexpected" and stated that Dunsworth was an "amazing husband, father, and grandfather".[20] On May 26, 2021, a Facebook post by a fan page under the control of Dunsworth's surviving family and friends revealed complications from thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura as his cause of death.[22] He is buried at St. Anthony's & St. Augustine's Catholic Cemetery in Simms Settlement, Nova Scotia.

Election results

Halifax Bedford Basin, 1988 Nova Scotia general election[23]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
  Progressive Conservative Joel Matheson 6,462 45.1%
  Liberal Penny LaRocque 4,977 34.9%
  New Democratic Party John Dunsworth 2,746 19.3%



Dunsworth had 70 credits to his name, some of which are listed below.[24]


Year Title Role Notes
1978 So Long to Run
1992 Buried on Sunday
1998 One Last Shot Mr. Layhie
2001 The Shipping News Guy Quoyle
2001 A Glimpse Of Hell
2006 A Bug and a Bag of Weed
2006 Trailer Park Boys: The Movie Jim Lahey
2007 Stuck
2008 Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys Jim Lahey
2009 Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day Jim Lahey
2011 Cloudburst
2011 Take This Waltz
2014 Trailer Park Boys 3: Don't Legalize It Jim Lahey
2014 Swearnet: The Movie
2014 Santa Quest
2014 Lizzie Borden Took An Ax Last film


Year Title Role Notes
1997 Pit Pony Television film
1997 Lexx: The Dark Zone Mini-series
1999–2002 Lexx Lett s2 e18 'Brigadoom'
2001–2008; 2014–2018 Trailer Park Boys Jim Lahey
2001 Three Days Television film
2002 Trudeau Delegate Mini-series
2002 The Christmas Shoes Television film
2003 Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion Television film
2004 Reversible Errors Television film
2004 The Trailer Park Boys Christmas Special Jim Lahey Television special
2005 Jesse Stone: Stone Cold Television film
2005 Trudeau II: Maverick in the Making Emery Beaulieu Mini-series
2005 Ambulance Girl Television film
2005 The Hunt for the BTK Killer Television film
2010–2015 Haven Dave Teagues
2010 The Gospel According to the Blues
2011 The Drunk and On Drugs Happy Fun Time Hour
2012 Titanic: The Aftermath
2013 Forgive Me The Prelate
2019–2020 Trailer Park Boys: The Animated Series Jim Lahey (voice) Archive recording
Posthumous release


  • Dunsworth is credited in Dolores Claiborne as a part of the crew but did not appear in the film.


  1. ^ a b c d Knox, Casten (September 2005), John Dunsworth: From Angry Young Man to Renaissance Man, archived from the original on June 24, 2007, retrieved December 9, 2008
  2. ^ a b c d "John Dunsworth". IMDb.
  3. ^ Lahey, Liam (2003), Tight Pants and Self Righteousness, archived from the original on 2007-10-09, retrieved December 9, 2008
  4. ^ Perkyns, R. (1985), "Two Decades of Neptune Theatre", Theatre Research in Canada, vol. 6, no. 2
  5. ^ Johnston, Ian (May 27, 1990), "John Dunsworth: The Candidate", The Daily News
  6. ^ "Province of Nova Scotia Election Returns 1988" (PDF). Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  7. ^ Barsanti, Sam (17 October 2017). "R.I.P. John Dunsworth, Trailer Park Boys and Haven actor". The A.V. Club.
  8. ^ "Full Tales from Beyond the Pale LIVE Lineup Announced - Dread Central". www.dreadcentral.com. 26 September 2012.
  9. ^ "A Series of Sinister Soundbites - Dread Central". www.dreadcentral.com. 4 October 2012.
  10. ^ "The Boys are back and on drugs". The Globe and Mail, July 12, 2010.
  11. ^ McNeil, Robyn (December 2019), "Family, friends, and fans celebrate John Dunsworth's legendary kindness with good deeds of their own", The Telegram, archived from the original on December 20, 2019
  12. ^ Trask, Nicole (September–October 2006), "Fight Club", Halifax Magazine, archived from the original on August 12, 2008
  13. ^ "Hobo with a Shotgun (Official Movie Site) - Starring Rutger Hauer, Gregory Smith, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey and Nick Bateman - Now on DVD, Blu-ray™, VOD, XBOX 360, Playstation™, Amazon and Vudu - Trailers, Pictures & More". www.hobowithashotgun.com. Archived from the original on 2011-02-17. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  14. ^ "Hobo with a Shotgun". 12 May 2011 – via www.imdb.com.
  15. ^ Capancioni, Marc (September 2008), "Liquored-up Mr. Lahey role initially gave actor bad case of the shivers", The Sault Star, archived from the original on 2009-04-12, retrieved 2008-12-09
  16. ^ CBC Arts (April 18, 2005), "'Trailer Park Boys' to tackle VLT addiction", CBC News, retrieved December 9, 2008
  17. ^ Hooked for Life. The Globe and Mail. March 23, 2009.
  18. ^ "@TheJohnDunsworth".
  19. ^ John appears on stage with Axl Rose on YouTube
  20. ^ a b CBC News (October 16, 2017), "'John Dunsworth, beloved actor best known as Mr. Lahey, has died'", CBC News, retrieved October 16, 2017
  21. ^ "John Dunsworth Service Details". Ronald A. Walker Funeral Homes. Archived from the original on December 15, 2018. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
  22. ^ "'100% John Dunsworth'", Facebook, May 26, 2021, retrieved May 27, 2021
  23. ^ "1988 Nova Scotia General Election Results. p. 83" (PDF).
  24. ^ Remembering John Dunsworth – NorthernStars