Obituary: Dr. James Hasegawa (1930-2021) was a pillar of Beaconsfield community
Author of the article:
John Meagher • Montreal Gazette
Publishing date: Sep 15, 2021
Posted with permission
Longtime Beaconsfield city councillor James Hasegawa recently died at age 91. City of Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle paid tribute to Dr. Jimmy (James) Hasegawa, a longtime city councillor and community builder who recently died at age 91.
“Jim made a big contribution to the city of Beaconsfield,” said the mayor. “We’ve lost a very strong member of our community.”
A celebration of Hasegawa’s life was held Saturday, Sept. 11th, at the Collins Clarke MacGillivray White Funeral Home in Pointe-Claire.
Hasegawa served for 23 years on Beaconsfield city council, from 1986 to 2009, representing the District 1 area of Beaurepaire.
“He was a very well-respected member of council and well-liked in the community,” Bourelle said.
But the mayor noted that Hasegawa’s contribution to city life extended far beyond his contribution to municipal politics.
Hasegawa, a dentist by profession, also played a leading role in local sports and recreation.
He was co-founder of the Beaconsfield Bluefins Swim Club, based at the Beaconsfield Recreation Centre. He also served as president of the Association of Lakeshore Pools, a network of community pools known as ALPS. He was president and volunteered countless hours at the Beaurepaire Pool, an outdoor pool with deep roots in the community.
“Jim played a big role in local swimming,” said Bourelle, “but he contributed to many other sports as well.”
Hasegawa also co-founded the Beaconsfield Slo-Pitch Softball League, which still plays out of Christmas Park in Beaurepaire Village.
Hasegawa promoted CPR courses for local residents and was recognized with a Health and Welfare Canada Lifestyle Award for his work with the Beaconsfield Adult Keep Fit Program. In 1976, he took part in the Olympic torch relay through Beaconsfield, and insisted that members of the Keep Fit Class run with him, according to his obituary.
He also curled at the Baie-d’Urfé and Pointe-Claire Curling Clubs and was a member of Summerlea Golf Club.
Bourelle noted that Hasegawa, who served on committees at Christmas Park Elementary and Beaconsfield High School, was involved in a broad range of West Island institutions.
“He also served on the board (of governors) for John Abbott College, and the board of directors of the Lakeshore General Hospital.”
Hasegawa was born in Vancouver in 1930. His parents were immigrants from Japan.
Bourelle said Hasegawa’s life story was even more compelling because his family property had been seized by the Canadian government in 1942 and his parents were placed in Japanese-Canadian internment camps during the Second World War.
After the war, the family relocated to Montreal. Hasegawa worked in a factory while completing his studies at night. He attended Sir George Williams College and was later accepted into the Faculty of Dentistry at McGill University, where he graduated first in his class in 1958. He practiced dentistry at the Drummond Building in Montreal for 37 years.
His daughter Naomi Hasegawa, the youngest of four children, said her father was proud of his Japanese heritage. Once a year he and his wife Helen would host a traditional Japanese dinner at the family home on Maplebrook Ave. for friends from the curling club, she said.
He was also the subject of a National Film Board vignette in 1978 entitled “The Dentist” which recounts his experiences as a youth in the internment camp.
Naomi said her father was also a proud Canadian who embraced his country and community.
He also encouraged his children to participate in a variety of sports.
“But most of all he was a family man,” she said. “Family was first and foremost above everything, above city council and his dentist practice.”
Hasegawa’s son Philip said his father initially became involved in local politics to propose solutions for the deadly Woodland intersection on Highway 20, the site of multiple road fatalities before its reconstruction in 1998. “He lobbied (government) to actually fix the interchange, as opposed to just closing it.”
Philip said his father was also strongly motivated to “give back to the community.”
Hasegawa is survived by his wife of 63 years, Helen; his four children: Andrew bhs ’77 (Jennifer), Brian bhs ’80 (Nancy), Philip bhs ’82 (Anne), and Naomi bhs ’84 (Craig), nine grandchildren and two great-grand children, his brother Osama (Shirley). He was predeceased by his sister Sumiko (André).