James Cowan Burt

July 3, 1933 - March 14, 2024

James Cowan (Jim, J.C.) Burt passed away suddenly and peacefully at home on March 14, 2024, at the age of 90. He lived a full and wonderful life.
Jim was born in Timmins, Ontario, on July 3, 1933, the youngest of three children, and the first son, to Frederick and Katie (nee Cowan), joining sisters Mary and Catherine. Fred was a WW1 infantry veteran who became a bank manager; Katie was a homemaker.
Fred’s bank career resulted in periodic transfers, and the family moved to Orillia and then to Brampton, where Jim graduated from high school. He chafed under the watch of three de facto mothers. When old enough, Jim summered as a waiter on the Great Lakes cruise ships, and, shortly after graduating from high school, jumped on his motorcycle for a trip to Florida. His most nomadic decision was to join the RCAF, which took him to bases including Cold Lake, Portage La Prairie, Trenton and Clairsholme. Jim was both a fighter pilot and an instructor, and distinguished himself with shooting accuracy records that stood for several years. He moved to TransCanada Airlines, the predecessor to Air Canada, and flew out of Montreal.
Early in his RCAF career, Jim met, through mutual friends, Marilyn May, a Winnipegger whose family travelled by train and ship because her father believed that flying wasn’t safe. It was a relationship not meant to last, but did, through all the stations, until Jim and Marilyn married in 1960. They would have celebrated their 64th anniversary in April.
Marilyn’s father offered Jim a job with Scott-Bathgate Ltd, a wholesale food manufacturer, distributor and agent, on the condition that he agree never to fly a plane again. Jim agreed, and claimed not to miss it. He and Marilyn settled in Winnipeg and raised two sons, Darrell and Austin. In 1971, Jim became President of Scott-Bathgate, a role he held for over 52 years. He also became the first Western Canadian director of Equitable Life of Canada, serving for 30 years. Jim also had an abiding interest in investments, evolving from a teenage day trader in penny stocks to a buy-and-hold value investor, with a sideline in options trading and key investments in local Winnipeg businesses. Ever price conscious, Jim never lost his delight in finding a good bargain, whether in the markets or at the grocery store.
Jim and Marilyn were best friends and kindred spirits, including their love of travel, whether as a couple, as a family, or with other couples. Their destinations are too numerous to mention; co-travellers will never forget the trips. They were avid bridge players and would join other couples on far flung trips to tournaments. Jim ultimately attained the Life Master designation. He was a keen golfer until his knees decided otherwise, and he and Marilyn were Blue Bomber and Jets-Moose-Jets season ticket holders for over 50 years each. Jim also loved good food and good wine, and instilled in family members the enjoyment of discovering new favourites. When Marilyn had to move to a personal care home because of her dementia, Jim visited her every day in a true testament to their devotion.
Jim and Marilyn were active supporters of Winnipeg arts and culture, including Indigenous-focussed education programs, believing this was an important condition to their success in the broader community. More generally, Jim was intellectually curious, articulately opinionated on matters of the day, and an engaged and respectful listener. Many have described him as a true gentleman.
Left to mourn are Marilyn, sons Darrell (Sheila) and Austin (Vasso), grandchildren Andrew, Heather and Daphne, stepgrandson Matthew (Allison) and their children (Patrick and Abigail), and many nephews, nieces, and their families. Special thanks to Jennifer, Michele and Rosel for all their support through the years.

Cremation has taken place, and the family will hold private gatherings in places special to Jim. A public celebration of life will be announced at a future date. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a charitable donation, particularly one that benefits his adopted home of Winnipeg.

Dignity Memorial

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