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Remembering: Jim McKinlay

(1928 - 1999)

 Queen City members lost a friend with the passing of Jim McKinlay on Sunday, June 20 following a brief illness. Jim has been an icon at Queen City for nearly 20 years and the club will be much poorer for the loss.

Those of us who worked with him on one of the many electrical projects he oversaw recall his professional pride in getting the job right and at the best price for the club. More to the point, though, it was always fun to be around Jim.

The descriptive "irascible" was invented for Jim. He revelled in his role as resident curmudgeon who never shied from controversy. But a twinkle was seldom absent from his eye nor a laugh far away. My predecessors will remember receiving his inimitable letters. I'm sure Jim would enjoy being on the Clipper's editorial page one last time.

Increasing battles with knee, back and hip problems notwithstanding, Jim frequently had to be restrained from working at a younger person's pace, whether professionally or as a sailor. Norrie Macdonald recalls denying him a ladder with which he intended to climb to the top of the dinghy crane to fix the light. Last April, shortly after the ice was out of the lagoon, Jim wrapped a line on his prop. I had to refuse him my wetsuit to prevent him from hopping into the lagoon to cut the line away.

Jim's sense of yachting tradition was expressed by repeated entries of Macwing in the long-distance Freeman Cup race. Anyone asking him after the race, how he'd done typically received a shrug: "I don't know and it doesn't matter," he'd laugh in his deep baritone. "It doesn't matter how you do, but that you do."

Jim did. He served the club as Fleet Captain and was also one of the Algonquin Queen's best customers, typically toting a bag of tools to do some chore at the club.

When Macwing was looking a little tired, he had her completely refitted, turning his beloved boat into what is surely the prettiest Redwing anywhere.

Jim's yellow Cadillac and his standardbred horses were other joys in Jim's life. The ownership of neither, he would confess with characteristic self-deprecation, was particularly shrewd financially. "It cost me $200 to replace a hubcap stolen from the Caddy, and when it comes to spending money, horses can make sailing look profitable," Jim once told me. "But there are things you do for the love of it."

Jim's greatest love, of course, was his wife Eva. Our sympathies go out to her for her loss.
- Wayne Lilley