In Loving Memory


    Welcome to the web page of our Dad, James Low, who died suddenly on September 6, 2011.

    Our Dad was a selfless, gentle and loving soul who touched our lives and the lives of so many around him in countless, quiet ways.  He was a genealogist, an astronomer, a traveller, and a family man.  His devotion to us was evident in everything he did.  His desire to document family stories led him to create much of the content you will find on his website.  We cannot imagine a family gathering or school concert without him and his camera. 

    Over the past few difficult months we have been humbled by the love, support and shared grief shown to us by family, friends and our community.  It speaks volumes about the kind of man our Dad was.

    We have temporarily created this landing page to honour our Dad and to allow those friends and family who visit his website to read his obituary and eulogy.  The eulogy was read by Peter Low (son) at Jim’s Celebration of Life which was held on September 18th, 2011 on a hill overlooking Rice Lake in Ontario, Canada.  To watch a musical photo collage that played during the reception click here.

    If you would prefer to skip directly to our Dad’s website for his genealogy and astronomy content, there is a link to do that.  Peter Low (son) has acquired the domain name for this site and will continue to make the content of this site available online.  If you would like to leave a message please do so at:

Peace to you all from the Low family.


Eulogy for James Low

Given at his Celebration of Life, September 18, 2011

Written by his children and delivered by his son, Peter.

Welcome everyone.   I'd like to thank you for being here to support our family and to honour my Dad.  For those of you who have never met me, I'm Peter, one of Jim’s four children.

    It is impossible to stand here today and summarize my Dad’s life in 10 minutes or less. No matter what I say this afternoon, I would not be able to describe his achievements and what he has meant to the people that loved him so much.

    Dad was born in 1940 in Ottawa.  His father was in the Air Force and, because of that, they moved around a lot; sometimes Dad would attend more than 2 schools during one school year.  For a kid who was a bit shy and socially awkward, this kind of constant movement was really tough.  Perhaps that is why he found his solace and passion in stargazing.  And that is also why, when he moved with my Mother and my sisters into the house on Rainsford Rd. in Toronto in 1975, he declared that he would never move again.  “They will have to take me out of here in a pine box!” he would say. 

    So, it was a bit of a surprise to us in 2008 when Dad announced that he would like to move to Cobourg  shortly after my sister Carrie and her family had decided to move there.  His cousin Ann is there; he had always loved the town when he visited with her; and now that one of his children was in town, the timing seemed right.  Although it was a logical decision, it wasn’t an easy transition for him.  But like all of the challenges in his life, he jumped in, he wrote about it, he talked about it with us, and he reached out in his new community.  And through that process he embraced, and was embraced, by Cobourg.  

    Dad was 34 years old when he married Mom in 1975.  Carrie and Cheryl were 5 and 3 and they knew from the beginning that Dad considered them all a package deal.  He was thrilled to have an instant family.  In his mind, Carrie and Cheryl were his daughters  - even while he respected and encouraged their relationship with their own father.  The more the merrier was his philosophy!  You could never have enough family.  I was born in 1976 and then, perhaps so that I wasn’t ‘the odd man out’ in a family of girls - and to make our family complete – our parents made the decision to adopt our youngest brother, Jerry.  And so it was that we learned way back then, that family is not about blood.  It is about who you love, and who loves you back.

    Dad was a traveller.  He believed that life was an adventure and that travelling was the best education.  His love of astronomy motivated much of his travel.  He was a ‘solar eclipse chaser’ and, for the uninitiated, that means he went wherever he could get the best view of the moon eclipsing the sun.  From Romania to Australia and New Zealand, from the deserts of Libya to the Great Wall of China, he travelled the globe. Carrie recalls that, in the winter of 1979, Mom, Dad and the girls flew to a remote military airbase in Gimli, Manitoba to see an eclipse of the sun.   And as they stood in their snow-pants and parkas, and the mercury plunged to minus 40, the day turned to night and they could see the beauty of the flames from the edge of the sun shooting out from behind the moon.  Carrie remembers thinking at that moment, “Wow, this guy is a little nuts!”. 

In 1988, Carrie and Cheryl again accompanied Dad and members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada on an eclipse trip to the Philippines and China, and it was a truly an amazing experience for them.  He used to say that he left for that trip with his two little girls but came home with two young ladies.  He also took Jerry and me on trips of our own – to the US, the Yukon, and one particularly memorable trip in 1989 on the Polar Bear Express to the shores of James Bay.

As many of you  know Dad was a genealogist, and his love of family history led the entire family to the British Isles in 1977.  I was only 16 months old so memories are few but I understand we spent much of our time playing in old parish cemeteries while Mom and Dad searched for family gravestones .  Sadly, Dad was booked to make a return trip to Scotland in just a few days.  He had uncovered so many distant relatives over the years, and several of them were to meet in Scotland in a couple of weeks to celebrate one branch of the family.  We really wish he had been able to make that trip.

Dad not only flew all over the world, but he also drove. That man has logged SO many kilometres over the years!  He loved the beauty of Canada and travelled from east to west and all the way north.  Recently he reminded Cheryl that his favourite trip was in 1980 when the entire family jumped into our brand new Pontiac station wagon, and for 7 weeks towed our camper around the US and Canada.  The memories we have are priceless!  Every summer since his retirement, he has either gone to the east coast to visit Jerry in Newfoundland, or all the way west to Victoria, visiting his sister Penny and her family and his friends along the way.  But this marvel - is made even greater by the fact that all of these distances were covered at exactly the posted speed limit!  Not one kilometre was done without a seat belt, and not one moving violation was ever given to James Low!

Dad was a quirky guy.  It’s true.  Sometimes he just didn’t seem to get it.  He could never understand why the $6 Bargain Harold’s jeans were NOT acceptable high-school attire, or why we would pay more to have some designer advertise his products on our bodies.  “Calvin Klein should be paying you!” he would say!     And he would pull out his camera everywhere!  Nowhere was off limits, and as a teenager this could be pretty embarrassing.  I can remember, during high school, being more than a little embarrassed by Dad hovering around taking photos while my rock band was trying to look cool at one of our gigs.  And he loved his Tilley clothing; not because it was fashionable or because it gave him the air of a great old world traveller or sage teacher  but rather because all of it - even the socks - came with a lifetime guarantee!  So if he was careful, he might never have to spend money on clothes again! 

But after some reflection, we think maybe it was us who didn’t get it.  He was very patient with us.  If we wanted to concern ourselves with these unimportant things, then that was ok with him.  But he always had his eye on the ball; he knew what really mattered and he was steadfast in his principles.  His philosophy was obvious, and although he wrote about it a lot in his journals and musings, we don’t even need to look there to know what it was.  He believed in selfless service to others, hospitality, caring, teaching and acceptance.  Living in the moment. Eating dessert first, and last, and then having seconds.  Telling stories about the old days, and reserving Sundays for listening to bagpipe music and “The Men of Brass” on CFRB.

When Dad became a grandfather, all of his paternal instincts went into over-drive.  It was as if this was the role he had been waiting for!  Finally, as “Grandpa Jim”, he could just enjoy the children and let someone else worry about the details - details like whether faces were clean, socks matched, or hair was brushed.  Perhaps one of the reasons he wanted to be so involved with his grandchildren was because of the pivotal role his own grandparents had played in his life.  He relished the chaos and activity surrounding grandchildren, showing infinite patience and immense pride, and of course, documenting all of it with his camera – always strategically located for a ‘quick-draw response’ on his belt.  The grandkids will miss their many hours in the park, making castles in the sand, and hearing him sing his ‘olden day’ songs about cockles and mussels.

Dad was someone who loved ‘tradition’ - and I don’t mean he was ‘traditional’ but rather, that he loved a sense of occasion.  He could turn anything into an event.  Whether with his friends from ‘Logic’ or the Beaches Separate Support Group or those made through his genealogy research, Dad was all about getting people together.  Some of you have probably shared in his annual “Little Taste of Summer BBQ” in February (Dad wearing his shorts of course), or perhaps in one of his “open door policy” turkey dinners at Thanksgiving or Christmas.  He loved gathering people together and, like any good historian, he documented it all with thousands of pictures which are now a treasure trove of memories for us.

Perhaps it was his ability to connect with people - and to maintain contact - that made him so endearing.   It was this skill at connecting with people which brings us all together today to celebrate his life.  I’m sure that many of you have been the recipients of Dad’s annual Christmas newsletter which he actually called Gatherings.  It told the story of Dad’s adventures for the year and gave updates about the family.  This past week we found an early draft of his intended 2011 Gatherings.  This would have been his 25th edition.  I close today by reading his final paragraph from that draft:  

“Life is about gatherings and it is vital that we gather, enjoy each other’s company and share our human feelings.  Our time is all too short, and we need to savour our enjoyment of friends and family.  Enjoy life and the people in our lives.  We are all family and interconnected.  History and future are a continuum in the humanity of friends and family.  Have a Merry Christmas, and enjoy the New Year, savouring our association with family and friends.”

You are very wise Dad.  Thanks for reminding us.

Click here to continue to Jim Low’s personal website.