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David Nigel Harries James

David Nigel Harries James

MAY 20, 1957 – AUGUST 2, 2020
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. David Nigel Harries James, aged 63, on August 2nd, 2020, after sustaining a head injury at his home.
Dave was born in Winchester, UK, to John and Jennifer James, and was the third of 6 children. He had a classical English boarding school education, first Aysgarth School in Yorkshire, and then Harrow School in London.
In 1973, the family emigrated to Canada. Dave attended UBC, and then went back to England to enter medical school at St. Mary’s Hospital, London. After qualifying he worked in Lincoln, UK, for a year before being accepted into the UBC Surgical Residency programme in Vancouver.
As a general surgeon, he worked in Nanaimo, then South Africa where he connected with many of his maternal relatives. In 1995 he settled in Campbell River; over the years he found many great neighbours and friends. He absolutely loved the coastal lifestyle of boating, fishing, and island-hopping. He practiced in Campbell River until his full retirement in March 2020, and was revelling in his newfound, well-deserved freedom.
Dave was an avid collector of antiques, books, and historical artefacts. He loved to travel, where he would explore local cultures and pick up mementos. At home, Dave spent countless hours maintaining his garden, listening to classical music and podcasts, reading the books he had accrued over the years, and enjoying the beautiful house he built overlooking Campbell River’s harbour.
Dave held his English and Welsh heritage very close to his heart. He made regular trips to the UK to connect with family and was renowned for being a mirthful raconteur. He had a very kind heart, an exceptionally keen wit, and was the master of puns. He will be dearly missed by all who loved him.
Dave was predeceased by his Mum, Jennifer (2011). Left to mourn his death are his Dad, John (Anne), siblings, Richard (Jo), Angela, Catherine (Garry), Jackie (John), Edward (Nicole), and 11 nieces and nephews: Rosie and Sophia; Ben, Tom, and Will; James and Zoë; Tashi and Shey; and Olivia and Wynne.
There will be no service at this time but a Celebration of Life will follow and be announced at a future date.
In lieu of flowers, charitable donations may be given to The Knowledge Network, British Columbia (www.knowledge.ca), or Poco a Poco, the charity at which Dave had volunteered, helping with surgeries in Guatemala (tepe@shaw.ca)

9 Condolences - Leave a comment
  • Tony Dowell -

    I saw Colin Ritchie’s remembance posted last week of his best friend and long time buddie, Dave, misses him a lot, and I phoned him. “Gone unexpectedly and too soon.”

    Colin phoned me after Dave’s accident at home, found there by a colleague who he intended to meet at the airport, and wasn’t there.

    Euan Frew phoned me then too, after seeing the obituary in the Vancouver Sun. He locumed for him for 6 months, after a skiing injury. The recent photo just as I remember him, happy and smiling – he loved being in Campbell River, the outdoor life suited him well,
    He built a lovely house overlooking the fishing harbour, near the hospital. They were lucky to have him.

    And John Macmillan’s remembrance of him from assisting them, as a fellow sailboat enthusiast, and of his colourful story of the run-down and leaky old fishing schooner he was planning to fix up and sail to South Africa. It never made it much beyond the Sunshine Coast….

    And Dr Granger Avery’s complementary posting (who was well known in the area) of knowing him from his regular visits to Port MacNeill.

    I thought I would add that David and Colin together restored an old cannery in Alert Bay, as a guest house, the Seine Boat Inn.
    It has been succesful, lovely place with full facilties, and almost always full.

    I will miss David too, well thought of and a widely experienced surgeon. Volunteered in Guatemala,
    before retiring just recently.

  • Euan M S Frew -

    My wife and I have just learned of the tragic and premature passing of David James. We first came into contact with Dave following a skiing accident where I was unable to work for six months and he did a locum for me at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and he did it very well. He was a good surgeon and a most caring and pleasant person. Being both from UK originally, though in our case from Scotland,we hit it off and enjoyed each others company. After completing locum work in Nanaimo he drifted off on new adventures and spent time in the UK NHS as a senior registrar. He returned from there and settled in Campbell River. We would run into each other at various meetings thereafter and he was always great fun to spend time with. Anne, my wife, and I are both very saddened and shocked by his loss and offer our deepest condolences to his family.

  • John Macmillan -

    John MacMillan
    Aug 12, 2020
    I was very saddened to learn of David’s passing. My condolences to his family.
    I first met David in the late 1980s when he was attending a surgical conference in Nanaimo during his final year of residency. We met again shortly thereafter when he was doing a surgical locum tenens at the Nanaimo General Hospital.
    As we both shared an interest in sailing he took me down to the city wharf to show me his recent purchase…a sailboat. Now, she was not your usual sailing vessel by any means. This hulk was huge, the size of the Bluenose, and like her built at the turn of the century or even earlier! Her two masts were free standing telephone poles. The interior was enormous and completely gutted. The bilges were full of water and would certainly have been fuller if the pumps were not functioning. And the place smelled of decay.
    Apparently this old schooner had been working as a fish packer for years on Newfoundland’s Grand Banks. How she ever got to the West Coast is a total mystery.
    While standing on the splintered deck David waxed enthusiastically about his plans to fix this baby up and sail her to South Africa! He reminded me of the author, Jack London, and his boat SNARK. See attached photo as the boats looked very similar.
    A short time later David managed to somehow get this beast over to the Sunshine Coast where she soon succumbed to the elements
    During his short time here I got to know David quite well as he frequently crashed in our downstairs bedroom. We all thought David was a terrific fellow. We enjoyed his enthusiasm and thirst for adventure. He was great fun to be with.
    When he returned to England to further his surgical training we lost touch and I never saw him again. I was very surprised later to find out that he had set up shop in Campbell River. I thought to myself at the time how lucky that town was to have a surgeon like David caring for its inhabitants.
    Though I never saw him since our Nanaimo days I spoke to him on several occasions via phone regarding sailing plans.
    R.I.P. David James

  • Barbara Benoit -

    I was stunned when I heard about about Dr. James passing. I enjoyed working with David from 1999-2010 and have many fond memories of this time. My sincere condolences go to his family for their loss.

  • Carol J Cooledge -

    I was most saddened to read about the passing of Dr James. At the time of my husbands passing in the Campbell River hospital there was no kinder or more caring doctor to be found .To this day all my children still talk about his compassion and kindness and how it got us through a difficult time . I had a few occasions over the years I lived in Campbell River ,to experience his terrific sense of humour. I and my family will remember him with great fondness and his loss to his family will be great. Sincere condolences to all

  • Gai Coutts -

    Angela, to you and your family I wish to offer love and support at this time. I did not know him but have a great fondness for you and your mom. All the best, Gai

  • Charles H. Tupper -

    How is it that those who knew David to any degree are now the ones ‘suffering’ this tragic event and subsequent loss… A proud father surviving one of his boys; siblings losing a beloved brother; long-established friends losing a dear old pal. In a way, the latter is where I’m at, I suppose. It’s been some years since we chummed together with brother ‘Ril’ and sister ‘Mags’ at my family’s summer paradise on Hermit Island in Howe Sound, much closer to the time when we first met on that snowless Christmas Day in 1973 in Marguerite Street. Riotous week-ends water-skiing, fishing, and plenty of youthful tomfooleries. Occasional camper van trips to Washington too.

    Sometime later, when David bought the house on John Street ~ festooned with books, pictures, and various artefacts ~ typical of a cultured Englishman so aptly described above. I remember many an event in that cosy house: parties; spontaneous dinners; or just gatherings for a drink, or a strong brew of tea. Good times, they were! No doubt about THAT!

    So… let us rejoice in the pleasant plethora of memories that bring forth a mild smirk to a bout of uproarious laughter at those wonderful days gone by. It is these moments that will hopefully sustain us in our collective grief… and onwards, for the balance of our days. David, now free of earthly encumbrances, will always reside in a corner of our memory ~ and we’ll all be the better for it. The echo of his uniquely characteristic chuckle emerging after a story or string of puns will ring on.

    Thank You, David, for being an actor in the many chapters of our separate and collective lives! Safe Journey, dear fellow, to wherever your soul soars.

  • Sian Shuel -

    Sending my deepest condolences on the loss of Dave. He was one of those special people you could approach with anything and he would be there with humility, kindness, a helpful hand and a smile. He will be truly missed. Dr. Sian Shuel (GP in CR until 2014).

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