There certainly aren’t many among us who get to celebrate a 100th birthday. But James Henderson celebrated just such an occasion at a festive lunch with family and friends at Leaside Presbyterian Church. Until last year, he lived on Parklea in the house he and his wife Margaret bought when they married in 1945.
With a degree in Math and Physics from the University of Toronto, James started work at Research Enterprises in Leaside in 1941. In 1945, he moved down the road to Canada Wire and Cable where, when he retired in 1985, he was the senior manager of codes and standards (electrical). For his entire career, he walked to work, and because work was nearby, he was also able to come home for lunch – always a chicken sandwich.
Leaside Presbyterian Church was also nearby and was a large part of both Margaret’s and Jim’s lives. While I was chatting to church people at the celebration, they reminisced about the Hendersons. One remembered that the first people to greet them at the church were Margaret and Jim. Another remembered Jim’s attention to detail – including a gift of firewood, all cut to exactly the same length. They also commended Jim’s faithful care for his wife Margaret, who died in 2016.
Son David, in his tribute to his father, thanked him for instilling a love of reading, starting with the gift of Hardy Boys books early on, and thanked him, ultimately, following a degree in English and French, for David’s teaching of high school English.
His other son, John, began with a quote from the Book of James – “…be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger” – a perfect description of his father, who “never spoke an ill word of anyone, and was fastidious, organized, a creature of habit and also determined.” John was ordained in Leaside Presbyterian Church in 1981 and is now Chaplain in Palliative Care with Trillium Health Partners, Mississauga Hospital, and a psychotherapist in mental health counselling and couples therapy.
Grandson Jonathan, now in third year civil engineering at McMaster University, recalled visiting his grandparents, and improvising using a sock stretcher to play indoor hockey with his “Gramps,” and Gramps getting down on his hands and knees to play with him.
Don Pollock, who came to Canada Wire as CEO in 1966, described Jim as “trying to maintain a high level of technical standards throughout the industry. He led the sheep where they didn’t want to go.” Several years later, Don left Canada Wire, and, seeking to be ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church in Canada, was sent to be interviewed by the Presbytery of East Toronto. Who should be one of the three in the room but Jim Henderson? He credits Jim with persuading the others of his suitability to become the Rev. Don Pollock.
It was a joyous afternoon – a gathering of people brought together to celebrate this very special centenarian.