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THE SCOOP | Toronto Integral House Founder James Stewart Dies at Age 73

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James Drewry Stewart Ph. D - (1941-2014)
James Drewry Stewart Ph. D – (1941-2014)

After a long and difficult battle with cancer, scholar and philanthropist, James Stewart has died Wednesday morning, 3 December 2014 at age 73.

Better known as “Jim,” he was born in Toronto and obtained a Ph.D in Mathematics from Stanford and the University of Toronto. As a teacher at McMaster University he was beloved by students, and was made Professor of Mathematics Emeritus and later awarded an honourary D.Sc.

While at McMaster, he wrote a math textbook that become an international bestseller. The funds from the book enabled him to financially indulge his life’s passions including Classical Music, Architecture, and Philanthropy.

He went on to build Integral House which functioned as a world-class performance space that can hold an audience of 200. The house is lined by vertical windows and great wooden louvers which overlooked the tree-lined valley below.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Stewart described Integral House as a place that has changed his life. “Steve Reich premiering a new piece here, and Philip Glass performing here – I never would have met these people otherwise.” Jose Antonio Abreu, founder of Venezuela’s El Sistema music education program, came here after winning the Glenn Gould Prize in 2008, for a performance by members of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra. “That was a thrill for me, one of the best.”

“It is impossible to put in a few words the contribution Jim has made,” said brother-in-law, Don Smith. “From a brilliant best-selling author, professional violinist, revered Teacher, generous philanthropist, and an architectural inspiration, and yet at the same time a humble and quiet individual who gave so much more than he received. He was without a doubt one of the most admired, loved, and befriended men not only in Canada but also internationally.”

“I have had the opportunity to engage with the most prolific creator I’ve ever known,” says Joseph Clement. “From calculus mathematics, to classical music, to the sciences and education, to the LGBT movement, Jim has been an integral part of Canada’s social fabric. And for the past three years Jim has given me the opportunity to explore his life and to see the process of this manifestation, which will be spotlighted in my documentary, The Integral Man.”

An accomplished violinist until arthritis forced him to stop playing two years ago, Jim organised and wanted to be present at his own Wake. He said, “With a line-up like this, there’s no way I’m going to miss it!”

His Celebration of Life was attended by nearly 200 close friends and family and included music including Chinese Pop, Classical violin, and a special performance by soprano, Measha Brueggergosman singing an arrangement of Strauss’s Four Last Songs.

According to the official press release, Stewart requested that no funeral or visitation be held. His ashes will be spread over the grounds of his beloved Integral House.

Michael Vincent

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