James (Jim) Rendall Wishart was born on 5 May 1919 in Tirlot on the Isle of Westray, Orkney. Shortly after his birth, his parents, Andrew and Jessie Wishart relocated to Canada as part of a resettlement program for First World War servicemen. Andrew left for Canada in the spring of 1920 on the S.S. Grampian while Jessie and James followed shortly after on the S.S. Cassandra. They travelled inland from the east coast and settled on the vast prairies of central Canada in the province of Manitoba. The family initially moved from town to town and job to job but eventually established themselves as landowners and bought a small farm in Plumas/Ogilvie, Manitoba where James grew to adulthood. During this time two more children were born – Betsy Jane Thompson Wishart on 13 June 1924 who later married and took the name Hamilton – raising five children by this name but widowed and remarried with the name Plante. She died on 20 August 2001 and is buried in Brandon, Manitoba Canada. Malcolm (Mac) Wishart was born on 19 August 1928, although legally he was named Andrew Malcolm – but went by Malcolm/Mac. Malcolm never married, had no issue, and lived with his parents, sharing the family farm. The Wisharts eventually moved to Neepawa, Manitoba where Malcolm continued to work as a carpenter and construction worker. He died on 2 November 2016. His ashes are interred at Riverside Cemetery in Neepawa.
Lives around the world are “put on hold” as the Second World War escalates. James Wishart’s life was no exception. He joined the Canadian Army – 4th Canadian Armoured Division on 10 June 1941 and received basic training at CFB (Canadian Forces Bases) in Winnipeg and Shilo, Manitoba. He was then deployed to Sussex, New Brunswick, and trained to provide logistical support with the Canadian Army Service Corps and left for Britain aboard the HMS Cameronia in 1942. After serving in England, his division crossed to Normandy, France following the D-Day invasion of 1944. During this period James advanced to the rank of sergeant, serving in Belgium, Holland, and Germany.
James remained in postwar Europe for a short while after VE-Day and returned to Canada in the autumn of 1945. He was very proud of his contribution to the Allied Victory in Europe but also knew that if you have to go to war, you’ve already lost. He didn’t talk much about the conflict, but like all veterans, he knew he was a part of history and that he helped make the world a better place.
After the war, James returned to farming and carpentry. He married Gwendolyn West on 27 June 1953 and settled in Gladstone, Manitoba. The couple raised a family of three children who were blessed with loving parents. Gwendolyn was a nurse at the local hospital and later became the health centre administrator while James also worked off the farm as a school bus driver for several years for extra income. He was involved in the church as well as many other community organizations including hockey, parks and recreation, and community development.
James died on 20 November 1996 after a lengthy bout with cancer and is buried in Gladstone Cemetery. Gwendolyn continues to live in her home with her sons and daughter close-by.