The Early Days

James Beveridge was born in Vancouver, B.C., on August 12, 1917. His father, George, was known as a practical joker. George's father was a self made millionaire in the coffee business, but George frittered away his inheritance. He died when Dad was eight years old, leaving Dad and his wife Molly penniless.

Dad and his mother Molly moved in with Molly's sister, Floretta, her husband Lemuel and their family. Four years later Molly died. Dad's Uncle, Lemuel Robertson, was a Latin scholar Emeritus and Chairman of UBC's Latin department. Lemuel's son Norman Robertson became Canada's Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs from 1941-46 and Canadian High Commissioner to London from 1946-49 and 1952-57. These two brilliant men were Dad's strongest influences, before he met John Grierson.

Dad told me that, as a young man, he was fascinated by film. After completing his BA degree in Journalism at U.B.C., he got an Imperial Relations Trust Bursary to travel to England and write a book on the history of film. While seeking out sponsors for his book in London, he met the famous documentary filmmaker, John Grierson. Grierson suggested that my Dad forget the book and offered him a job instead. At that time, just prior to the outbreak of World War II, Grierson was secretly negotiating with Prime Minister Mackenzie King to form a Government Film Agency in Canada.


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