In Memory of






Obituary for The Honourable James Cornelius Knatchbull-Hugessen

The Honourable James Cornelius
Knatchbull-Hugessen CM

Jim died peacefully on April 21 in Almonte, Ontario at the age of 90, with his wife Louise and family at his side.
Born in Montreal in 1933, Jim was educated at Bishop’s College School, Oxford and McGill. After graduating with a B.C.L. from McGill in 1957 and studying for the bar at the Université de Montréal, he entered private practice at his family’s firm, now known as McCarthy Tetrault. From 1962 to 1974, he was an adjunct professor at McGill's Faculty of Law. In 1972, he was appointed Justice and later Associate Chief Justice of the Quebec Superior Court. In 1983 he was appointed to the Federal Court of Appeal of Canada, later moving to the trial division. When he lost his eyesight in the 1990s, he served as the chair of the federal Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians, later establishing a fellowship in disability law at McGill University. Following his retirement in 2008, he received the F.R. Scott Award for Distinguished Service, recognizing his outstanding career and service to McGill's Faculty of Law. In 2014, he was named a Member of the Order of Canada for his contribution to the advancement of disability law. Other appointments included the vice-presidency of the International Labour Organization’s Administrative Tribunal and the Supreme Court of the North-West Territories.

During his Oxford days, Jim rowed for Balliol College, winning many a regatta with his eight. He was an avid sailor, accomplished skier (yes, as a blind man!), keen fisherman, and horseback rider (his horse Kahlua was also blind, in one eye). Jim was a talented performer, receiving rave reviews as the male lead in McGill’s acclaimed musical My Fur Lady, and later appearing in several Almonte productions for the local theatre troupe Sage Age. He was famous among family and friends for his tendency to burst into song or recite poetry to punctuate whatever topic was being discussed.

Jim balanced his career with a rich family life, in addition to pursuing is love of sports and many other interests. His commitment to family was unparalleled and his devotion to his first wife Mary, their children, his nieces (two of whom lived with the family for several years after their parents’ deaths), nephews, and various dogs and cats, made for a close -knit Hugessen clan. He loved sharing his passions with his children, who have fond memories of their many adventures in New Brunswick and the Laurentians. The Hugessen dinner table, (Jim presiding!), was always a favourite gathering place, where debates, witty banter and relentless teasing were rife, and having the last word on any subject was a major accomplishment.
Jim will be lovingly remembered by Louise, his children: Jaime (Elizabeth), Jill (Marc), Lys (Dajan), Alex (Samantha) and Ross (Kathryn), and his grandchildren: Henri (Rocio), James, Richard, Megan, Claire, Matthew, Jeffrey, Michael, Kai, Jake, Naomi and Ben. Jim was predeceased by his wife of 50 years, Mary, his siblings Ted, Kenneth, Andrew, Mary, and his grandson Justin (1993 -2009). It is a fortunate man who has the opportunity to experience great love for a second time. For the past 10 years, Jim’s second wife Louise Stevenson has given him this precious gift and remained steadfast at his side. Their marriage was filled with laughter, banter, travel and friends and Jim embraced her family, Imre (Leslie), Elizabeth, Eric, Alden, Olivia (Taylor), Jillian (Sam) and Griffin (Morgan), as his own.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the CNIB, one of Jim’s favourite causes, would be appreciated.
Celebration of Life for Jim Hugessen
May 11 at 11:30 am
St. Paul's Anglican Church, 70 Clyde St, Almonte ON
Reception to follow at the Royal Canadian Legion,
100 Bridge Street, Almonte, ON.
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