June 18, 1928 – October 6, 2022
In loving memory ~
Our Dad passed away Oct 6, 2022. James Szasz was born June 18,1928 in Spiritwood, Saskatchewan. But on his birth certificate the exact location of his family’s farm’s quarter section is described. James was born into a first generation Canadian family. His parents Gabor and Sophia immigrated to Canada in 1925.
He was one of 9 children with five brothers and three sisters. His early years were influenced by the death of his mother when he was seven years old, and the 1930s Depression Era where money was scarce. The family’s larder was one that was never quite empty and James contributed from an early age using his trapping, shooting and slingshot skills. He earned a reputation as a slingshot crack shooter at his one room prairie school house where he attended until grade six. James left the farm as a teen to haul mine props at the Cadomin Coal mine in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
In March 1947 at the age of 18 he came to Saltair following siblings and others from the Spiritwood area that were making Ladysmith their new home. One of James’s first jobs was in the Chemainus mill, then into the woods as a skilled faller. Falling trees was a profession he came back to over the years. But first he formed Ladysmith Bulldozing Ltd. His excavating company contributed to infrastructure of the Ladysmith and Saltair area in the 1950’s-70s. He built the Stocking Lake dam and worked on the water collection points from Prevost Lake to Holland Lake. He sat on the board of Saltair Waterworks.
Dad cleared land, built fire roads and volunteered his equipment and operating skills to community projects, the Holland Creek Ball Park one example. After selling his excavating company, Jim went into the salvage business and had the contract to tear down the last remaining Whaling station in BC at Coal Harbor on Vancouver Island. This huge undertaking took almost three years to complete. A whaling gun from this site sits at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith as a reminder of the Island’s history. James returned to falling and retired from the woods in the late 1990’s.
While living in Saltair James met the Ingram family and became good friends with the Ingram boys; Vernon, Norman and Clem. Dad hunted cougars with Clem, enjoyed being mothered by his future mother in law Lucy, and fell for their sister Lorraine. They married in 1956. Jim and Lorraine settled on Davis Rd and built a house at 412 Parkhill Terrace in 1966. They established an open home that was the foundation for the Szasz family, friends and many visitors until today. Four children Laurel, Rodney, Leanne and Lynda were raised there. It was here Jim created his famous garden on the corner and his workshop, both leaving a legacy of great memories.
From the garden, shucking corn for corn boils at the beach, neighborhood fireworks exhibition in the garden at Halloween. Dad’s beautiful vegetables and grapes. The workshop was a focal point in Jim’s life, allowing him to invent freely with metal and wood. Many visitors had “the tour” of the workshop and left with one or more of his wood projects. From birdhouses, serving trays, to tables and stools. Jim’s woodworking creations were donated to many community fund raisers over the years and the Nanaimo Hungarian Cultural Assoc. the recipient of his handcrafted sign.
He volunteered and contributed to his community often. His workshop and creative mind were handy in finding solutions and fixes to many items people brought to him for repair. He was a very competent welder and built double walled fireplace inserts and free standing stoves. He designed one of the first iterations of a wildland sprinkler protection system against wildfires. His contributions survive in the FireBozz Wildland Fire Sprinkler. His workshop was perhaps most famous as a meeting place, many issues discussed, solved with Jim Szasz Common Sense and in recent years reminiscing with old friends.
Dad enjoyed rootbeer, his favorite chair and Judge Judy! Fishing, yearly hunting trips, and summer road trips in the truck and camper with Lorraine to his beloved Saskatchewan and family.
He was a character, or perhaps a man of character, a loving husband and Lorraine’s rock for 64 years, a supportive solid Dad to Laurel, Rodney, Leanne and Lynda, a teacher and Grandfather to Landon (Marianne), Afton (Roberto), Alyx, Layne, Garrett, Connor, Akela, Rahkina (2005-2006) and Kipling. Great Grandfather to Nèvèe, Arlo and Björn. A one of a kind father in law to Joe, Chao, Bill and Ron, a favorite Uncle, a mentor, and friend. Jim was a storyteller. He had many stories to tell, the result of a man that lived the length, as well as the width of his life. He wasted no time…
The family would like to send a huge thank you to friends and neighbors. Those who gave their support and friendship to our parents. You are the heartbeat of Ladysmith.
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