From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:
James L. McIntyre has left a lasting legacy on the city of Sault Ste. Marie.
Perhaps no individual in Sault Ste. Marie had devoted more time to the International Bridge than former alderman and mayor James McIntyre. Born in Winnipeg on July 12, 1926, he attended St. Paul’s Jesuit College. McIntyre joined the Trans Canada Air Lines in 1946 and moved to Sault Ste. Marie from Toronto in 1947. He worked for them for 13 years managing the local Trans Canada Air Lines office.
Soon after his arrival in the Sault he married his wife Mary Gallivan at Precious Blood Cathedral on July 16, 1949. James and Mary would go on to have six children: Paul, Patrick, Mary Anne, Catherine, Sheila and Nora. He eventually left the airline and began working for Algoma Steel. He retired as the manager of employee relations.
James McIntyre entered the political arena when he ran and won in the election for alderman of Ward 1 in 1958/1959. McIntyre was elected as mayor the following year in 1960 and held the office until 1964.
This was a very pivotal time in the history of the city and he was an instrumental part of many of the changes that were occurring. In 1960 he purchased one share of St. Mary’s River Bridge Company for $10. He recognized the need for a bridge to connect Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario with its Michigan counterpart. During his time in office he helped oversee the construction of the International Bridge, which opened in 1962.
Even after he left the Mayor’s office he continued to work with the Bridge authority for another 52 years becoming the longest serving president for the St. Mary’s River Bridge Company and later becoming Chair of the Joint International Bridge Authority and its successors.
Even though McIntyre was no longer involved in municipal politics he briefly flirted with the idea of joining federal politics. He expressed an interest in seeking the federal seat if George Nixon stepped down in 1965, however George Nixon decided to hold on to his seat in Parliament until his retirement in 1968.
Though James McIntyre was perhaps best known for his work with the International Bridge he also served on the boards of many organizations throughout the years.
He served as director of the Kiwanis Club and the Chamber of Commerce as well as chairman for the Community Chest. McIntyre was the first public relations chairman for the United Appeal and was the publicity director for the Greyhounds hockey team. He served on the board for the police department for 23 years and the General Hospital board for over 10 years.
He was awarded the city’s Medal of Merit in 1988 in recognition of his significant contributions to the city of Sault Ste. Marie.
James McIntyre was a strong supporter of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library. During his time as mayor he pushed for making the proposed new main library a Centennial project for the city. Although he left office before the opening of the Centennial Library, he continued to have a strong connection throughout the following years. After his retirement, he became a daily visitor and library patron, coming in to read the newspapers and magazines each morning.
Unfortunately on the morning of February 11, 2015, at the age of 88, he died after being struck by a loader clearing snow in the parking lot of the Sleep Inn on Bay Street.
Since his death, he has been honoured with a couple of very public acknowledgements. The Federal Bridge Corporation Limited named a service building after him this past year as part of the redevelopment project currently underway at the Canadian Bridge Plaza in recognition of over 50 years of service with them.
More recently city council has declared that the Sault Ste. Marie Centennial Library will be renamed the James L. McIntyre Centennial Library.
These are fitting tributes for a man who spent much of his adult life trying to improve conditions for his fellow city residents.
Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provides SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.