The Measure of the Man

This Eulogy was delivered by Kris Knutsen August 11, 1999


The word ORDINARY could never apply to J.D. Young, Q.C. Yet he did ordinary things and respected simplicity. What then is the measure of this man that makes him so very, very special?


Julie; wife, companion, and best friend;

* to Julie’s family;

Mike, Erica & Harley, JD's children;

* to your family and mother, Jane;

Barb Crooks, sister and your family;

John Young, brother and your family;

Reverend Hugh McDonald;

Justices, Your Honours;


Friends, Ladies & Gentleman:


If you will look to the newspaper, you will find concise detail of James Douglas Young’s bold footprints through life since his birth 56 years ago. It is my prerogative to, somewhat reluctantly, not repeat that detail with which I am so familiar. The fact is, there is a room full of people here that could regale us all to the wee hours of the morning with JD Young stories and history. He is one of the few about whom a book could be written that people would actually read for entertainment value.

It is my choice in speaking this one last time in JD’s presence, to pierce the kilt, to pierce the gown and try to get to the heart of the man who has walked this earth with such grace and that we have been privileged to know. I attempt to do this through the eyes of many of you to whom I have pointedly spoken and mentally recorded your words over the last few days. I, in one way or another, boldly hope to speak for all of us.

I debated with myself as to whether I should relate to you what I am about to say next. I decided it was probably very telling of the JD I know all by itself. JD, I trust I am not breaking a confidence of which you and I had many, professionally and otherwise.

In early May, JD summoned me to the Port Arthur General Hospital, “be here at 4:30”. I arrived, typically a little bit late, and Jim Sargent alone was present. At that time, JD planned much of the arrangements you will witness today on an “in case” basis. In terms of honours being bestowed upon me in my life, this one topped the charts when he said “KK, I want you to do my eulogy”. Then there was a pause, that sly, knowing grin came over his face and then the comment I will never forget “you deserve it”!

As Jim Sargent will tell you, in reality, JD was deadly serious about this exercise. He wanted order in his universe. JD, all have tried to deliver. As requested, your life is being celebrated, not mourned. Yours is indeed truly a life to celebrate.

The Measure of the Man

A. Attention to Detail

One measure of JD was his impeccable attention to detail. He was a rare breed who did “sweat the little things”. Protocol, history, heritage, and lineage were all important to him from a personal perspective. He remembered special occasions. He remembered your favourite scotch or rum. He tried to know your family and everything about you, no matter who you were. He followed up with little gifts, little notes, little mementos, phones calls, anything to deliver a message to let you know that there was someone out there that really did care about you and your problems.

Though he did ordinary things and respected simplicity, he was extraordinary because of his caring attention to the little things that count with people.

B. His Profession and Workplace

A large part of JD’s life was his professional calling as a barrister. For reasons known to JD and hopefully accepted and understood by all, JD asked me to specifically, in some detail, address this aspect of his life. I am bound to honour this, my last retainer from JD.

He practised here for 28 years. He was honoured with a Queen’s Counsel appointment in 1981. As a tribute to his status at the bar, I acknowledge the presence of the Justices, Judges, Barristers and Solicitors.

JD articled with the Cheadle firm and was called in 1970/71. I articled with the Carrel firm in 1971/72. We go back a long way professionally so I can speak with some authority.

The measure of a man or woman can often be judged ultra critically by one’s peers. If you slip up once, you can be forgiven. If you err twice, your behaviour will be scrutinized with a microscope. If you cross the line a third time, you can be finished.

Following JD’s passing, these comments came my way from members of the judiciary who should know something about JD’s stature at the bar:

  • the word ordinary did not apply to J.D. Young. He was a man with a flair. He was a barrister in the truest sense of the word
  • is JD a good and true barrister? Was there ever any doubt
  • he may have been just “JD” to many, but to me he was indeed a barrister first and a character at that.

I was contacted by former longstanding Regional Senior Justice A. W. Maloney. He tried to move mountains to be here but could not. He said to me:

He appeared before me frequently. I came to rely upon him to make his representations in as non-partisan a way as he could given his calling as an advocate. That trust grew to the point where when he made representations I found it completely unnecessary to check them out, even his citations. As a Judge, I relied upon those representations and his integrity. I was never disappointed.

Justice Maloney also quoted Sir Walter Scott:

A barrister of extended practice, if he has any talent at all, (and Jim had talent a plenty) is the best companion in the world.

He also asked me to add that upon many occasion, despite many a strenuous skirmish with JD in the courtroom, they certainly enjoyed the opportunity to then drink and eat as friends as true barristers could.

Like many, I could bend your ears for hours with legal stories and capers that are so meaningful to me personally. Suffice it to say, that practising with Jim was fun, invigorating, and challenging. While he very often sought my advice on matters, more often than not he would take it, and that of others, massage that advice and go his own separate direction. That is what good lawyers do. He and I had a unique professional relationship that shall remain forever private between us.

JD, to me, is an icon in our profession. There are only a few. You heard from perhaps one of the greatest either JD or I have ever known, Ken Howie, Q.C. That is a distinguished tribute to you, JD.

I shall miss the written missiles and the barbed, yet humourous correspondence. There are a million examples. I shall cross the line I said I would not cross, only once. I wish to exercise my prerogative and read to you something directly personal. It is a letter, one of many over 30 years, that I received from James D. Young, that I have kept, dated January 4, 1984, when I was appointed a Queen’s Counsel.

Dear Kris:

Just when I thought that 1984 was going to be a good year, I was disappointed to note that some deranged maniac in the Attorney General’s Office had seen fit to anoint you with a Commission as a Queen’s Counsel, thereby diluting the pedigree of fine Barristers who had heretofore held the distinction. Imagine some moose hunter from Atikokan with a Q.C. – the next thing you know, they’ll probably admit a fisherman from Sioux Lookout!!!

Notwithstanding the above, I extend my heartiest congratulations and I have the name of a good source for providing third mortgage financing to enable you to purchase the silk. I join with many others I am sure in wishing you the best in years ahead on this well deserved appointment.

Yours very truly,

James D. Young, Q.C.

You should see the letter I got when he acted for me on my real estate deal! I shall keep that one to myself.

We shall miss the spontaneous, small private professional celebrations we used to have at Brown’s Inn, our homes, the White Fox Inn, and elsewhere with respect to retirement of our friends at the bar and any other special occasion JD could create.

Due to his health these last few years, we have missed the JD horizontal twist in his kilt in the centre of the dance floor at the Annual Law Christmas party. That was JD.

After nine years of successful practice with the Cheadle firm, in 1980 JD started his own law shop on Balmoral. We almost became partners, but that is another story. To get off on the right foot, he of course had to have a Statement of Principles and history. Everyone has to have such a statement. His started out in typical JD fashion and I quote:

This law firm was founded and created by me, James D. Young, age 37 at 1204A Roland Street, in the City of Thunder Bay, on the 1st day of March, 1980 after having practised law in the City of Thunder Bay with a very fine firm of five lawyers for nine years.

I cannot resist but to go on further with some more background of that Statement of Principles because it speaks so much of JD – quote:

This Statement of Principles recognizes that this practice of law as a business must be economically and not just intellectually profitable and that all those who “labour in these vineyards” must appreciate and acquire a basic understanding of necessary business principles, management reports, revenue and costs, personnel, work allocation and flow – and new principles and practices that evolve from time to time.

Remember, this was twenty years ago. The statement goes on:

It is absolutely crystal clear to me that nothing can be accomplished if, simply put, it is not fun. (would he know all about that!)

We then get into page three:

I encourage all who work with me to read and learn to enjoy regular reading, history, philosophy, literature, to assist in your own understanding and perception of our civilization, past present and future.

Then he ends:

I encourage all who work here to challenge, question and be inquisitive and to seek out men and women of wisdom for your own spiritual profit. It will serve you well in the decision making process.

I trust and hope that those who join and/or survive me in this firm will benefit from this Statement of Principles. Briefly stated, they are: a commitment to excellence, tempered always by compassion and understanding always the dignity and worth of our fellow human beings, services being performed by people who are excited about their work because they are excited about living.


May 1980

Irene Krasniuk and Shirley Legros were with JD for almost twenty years. They know the “workplace JD” better than anyone. To this day, to them, he is still, “Mr. Young”. I give you a partial quote of something that Irene and Shirley said to me this week:

He always brought a smile to our face and gave us something to laugh about. When he was in the office, you looked forward to being there.In the 20 some years we have worked with him, we can honestly say it wasn’t just a job – it was fun. He treated us not as employees, but as partners, and always gave credit for his hard work and many successes to us, and those who worked for him. He was a great teacher and a good friend. He showed his thoughtfulness in so many ways, too numerous to mention all of them. On our 10th anniversary with him at Balmoral Legal Centre (in 1990) he surprised us with a trip to Toronto to see Phantom of the Opera and a Blue Jays game. Again on our 15th anniversary we were again treated to a Blue Jays game and two plays. He never forgot us on his many journeys and always brought us back little momentos.

We were truly blessed to have known him and been a part of his life. We can picture him now – our great Scottish Warrior, charging off into battle, fighting for the “little guy” in Heaven.

From my own personal observation, I can tell you though I rarely got warnings of his drop-ins at my office, I always sort of knew “when Elvis was in the building”. He never believed in other people’s receptionists, only his own. Before my door would burst open, I could hear the giggling down the hall, office by office as he got closer. He was the last of a breed who could get away with quasi politically correct, semi gender neutral comments, to my staff. They loved JD’s visits and calls. We always had professional time for each other, though, it now seems especially so, never enough private time.

I know JD played an integral part in the firm of Cheadle, Johnson, Shanks, MacIvor. The hole is not one, gentlemen, you will easily fill. I know you well know that. That too is a tribute to JD.

To James D. Young, Q.C., Barrister, the jury of your peers have judged you. You are as good as they come!

C. The Legacy of Friends & Acquaintances

Another measure of James Douglas Young is the legacy of his friends. On behalf of this man with so many friends, to JD I say:

You are a sensitive individual. You have that finest of qualities in abundance, “humility”, when necessary. Status of others in society is of no consequence to you. You are at ease in the company of princes and paupers. In fact, more often than not, you could be found in the company of those less fortunate or standing up for them and loving every minute of it.

You are gifted with that rare sense of readily knowing right from wrong. You lived by your own conscience. Ethics guided your decisions. Though little was truly “grey” in your perceptions, you most often tolerated the “grey”.

You had time, energy and financial support for those in need. You tried to be all things to many people. You took much more than you gave. For that, there was, of course, a price to pay.

Your sense of humour never, ever left you. To you, the glass was always half full, never half empty. You drank copiously from the cup of life and we are all the richer for that in one way or another.

You are a wickedly humourous person. So many of us have had such great times with you. What a testimony that so many have traveled here from so far to celebrate your life. Many here have their own special memories of their own times with JD that will be with them always. For those special memories that only you could have provided, we are grateful to you, JD. There are so many of us that could have spoken to you on this occasion.

The Hunt Club at Whitefish, the Sargent trips out west to hunt ducks, the special gatherings at Loon Lake, the trips you took, particularly to Scotland and your main recreation these last few years, your beloved garden. These ventures with friends were all part of JD. Who could forget the small garden party of 1996, 250 people.

Julie reminds me how he would often need his “Moland Fix” as in Bruce, just to keep him charged up some days.

You preferred not to be alone. How many times have many of us received a similar call that I frequently received, “KK, JD let’s go for a bowl of soup at the Hoito”. It was not that you did not like your own company, it was just that you preferred the company of others more.

We have all witnessed how no matter to whom you were speaking, you made that person feel he or she was the most important person in the world to you and we were, that is what is so amazing about you. You became in that instance what each of us wanted you to be or what was appropriately required at the moment. We must think about that. In most circumstances that would represent hypocrisy. Not so in your case because that was you. You were genuinely listening. You genuinely cared what others had to say. You loved people. You loved your friends. We needed you. We all took something from you and I hope, in return in some small way, at least gave you something. However, in most cases, I know the trade was an unequal one in our favour.

More than any man or woman I have ever, ever known, you are so much to so many, many people. To each of us, you are uniquely different in some special sense. We can only now treasure that privately.

D. The Legacy of Family

(i) Extended Family

One of the greatest measures of a man is the legacy of family.

JD willingly and with confidence took on an extended family through his relationship and marriage with Julie Ready.

Cheryl, Julie’s daughter, married to Andy Ritchie, was JD’s personal pharmacist at St. Joseph’s. Their children, Julie’s grandchildren, Kyle and Amy, considered JD their grandfather. He loved them with the typical JD infectious passion for children. Being always the kid himself, he would hide caches of candies all over the house. They were only to be accessed when he was out or, when perhaps he needed one.

He attended Amy’s highland dancing classes and then he would take her for breakfast. He would take Kyle fishing. He participated in their birthdays, always. They called him Dye, Gaelic for grandpa.

JD loved this sort of role. Kyle and Amy will be richer for their relationship with him. To Julie, Cheryl and Andy, I know the children will not be allowed to forget.

Joel, Julie’s son, has two daughters, Janelle and Lauren Ready. They too are the richer for their relationship with JD. When they would visit in Thunder Bay, he would treat them as his own. He could become a kid himself, as only JD could do.

Kim is Julie’s youngest daughter. Hers is a very special relationship with Jim. I have personally seen it. As Kim said to me “he became very much like my own father. He was always there for me. I went to him with my problems. He never judged. He just helped me solve them.”

Kim, you can never forget that special relationship with JD. Like all of us, yours is unique in its own way. While you worked for him doing accounting work, you also lived with him. You saw the trials and tribulations that his health brought to both him and your mother. You were there for them both. As you so correctly observed and as Julie should hear, you told me, “JD and Mom were everything to each other”.

I would like to share one comment you made to me with everyone here. Kim said to me, “as far as I am concerned to me, he was such a symbol of how you should live your life”.

(ii) Family

To brother, John: I looked into those brown eyes of yours yesterday and I see JD. To you, I say I know you have many good and interesting memories of growing up with JD. I am certain in these last few days in particular that your mind has wandered to those innocent days when you were all children. Continue to do that. I know JD will love to wander with you.

To Twin sister, Barb: You are twins. He is your brother. He well knows that. Somewhere, somehow, now, or later, you will meet again in inner peace that he, and you, so richly deserve. Think of Jim often when you look at his children. Speak to him through your continued and obvious love of them and your demonstrated interest in their lives. He is not there to do so. He will thank you for that.

Harley is the first son of Jane and JD. I spoke with Harley at length Monday night. I have no hesitation in telling you, Harley is not here today by considered choice. With his permission, I can tell you that he said to me:

I had my time (read in special) with my Dad. If my Dad could stand up and do his own eulogy, he would tell a joke and it would probably be about haggis and scotch. Dad always said the best part of a funeral was the first three letters, “FUN”.

Harley has completed his Masters Degree at Queen’s in computer software science. He just handed in his thesis last Friday. He is going to work for a new employer, Manugistics. He is a specialist in setting up supply chain software infrastructure for corporate clients.

Harley is an exceptionally bright young man. He makes his own choices in life. He does them with his father’s specific blessing. He dances to his own drummer. The apple did not fall far from the tree!

Erica is JD’s daughter. I asked her “Erica, how can I express your thoughts for you?”. In a typical Young fashion, with economy of language, an answer that says it all was instant:

You only get one Dad, Mr. Knutsen.

Well, Erica, like there is only one JD, he knows there is only one Erica.

Erica has followed in her father’s footsteps into the practice of law. She is about to enter her third year at Osgoode Law School and to no-one’s real surprise, she is an “A” student in the top 5% of her class. I visited her in her apartment this year, saw the study habits and the preparation for exams. I can thus say from personal experience, she has a lot of her father in her in that regard.

Erica resisted going into law. Why? Because she is a Young and her father suggested that she should go into law so, of course, being a Young, she had to resist. Erica had also seen how the practice took over much of JD’s life. She saw that first hand having worked in her dad’s firm for several years. However, in the end she could not think of a greater challenge, and charged at it in Young fashion.

To the members of our profession, please be advised that JD was preparing a book for Erica’s graduation. He had saved and collected many of the classic JD letters and humourous stories. Those of us who have been the recipients of his humourous barbs and letters will know what I am speaking of. Erica wants that book completed. Could you please therefore, anyone for that matter, who has in their archives any “JD-isms”, please mail them to my office and I will pass them on to Erica.

JD desperately wanted to be at Erica’s graduation. Erica, he loves you fiercely. He will indeed be there. Mark my words.

Michael – JD and Jane’s last born. Now here the apple landed right at the foot, the very roots of the tree.

Mike, simply put, is an infectious personality. I doubt that there is anyone outside of JD here today that has more friends or knows more people in this church than Michael Young. With that infectious Young grin and laugh, who does Mike remind you of?

Mike is just writing his Canadian investment management exams. He has graduated from George Brown College in Toronto with his financial planning diploma. His goal is a position in some institutional trading house.

Mike and JD would speak every single day, virtually without exception. Some time after nine in the evening, Mike would give JD a market run down on what was happening with his money.

Mike, you have a special and strong bond with your father. Will you make it without him? First of all, in many, many key ways you are not without him. But secondly, you are already there man!

My son, Kevin, perhaps said it best when he and I were discussing you Mike. He said “dad, don’t worry about Mike, you don’t know what a hard worker he is. I have seen him with three contract jobs on the go at the same time. He is just like his dad.” (and then Kevin, being the perceptive person that he is added with a smile) “maybe too much like his dad”.Mike, that’s one heck of a compliment.

In his own inimitable way, JD tried to order the planets to line up in the last few years of his life. While, fortunately, Kim was present in the home on a regular basis, in the last month of his life, he ensured he shared a special private and separate time with each of Mike, Erica and Harley.

He took a trip with Harley to New Brunswick to be present while “Harls” delivered a paper that was important to his career.

In July, Erica had her special weekend that included dinner with the effervescent stimulating “Y” crowd and a typical breakfast at Strawberry’s.

Two weeks before that, JD had Mike’s time. I was fortunate to participate in a quiet meaningful dinner with Jim and Mike as hosts with my son Kevin, Andy Ritchie and Peter White. It was very, very special.

To the three of you, Mike, Erica, and Harley, be mindful, your father did not ever denigrate your achievements or harp on your failures, be they small or large. He actually “celebrated” your differences. He was proud of those differences. He saw something of himself in what each of you said or did, especially these last few years. That is a rich legacy to have.

E. His Wife & Companion

Julie, what can I say. I know there is a huge cavern that can never be filled.

Julie and JD were together for almost seventeen years. She is his soul mate. About that, there can be no doubt. You are indeed kindred spirits.

JD’s Scotch heritage was so important to him. Julie, to her great credit, did not discourage that. I had the privilege yesterday of reviewing the trip album from 1994. What an event. That really tells it as it is. Everyone, people he never knew before or has never seen since, became friends of JD, not acquaintances, “friends”.

I also had the opportunity to read JD’s diary of that trip. It is just the funniest and so full of JD it is a treasure. With Julie’s permission, let me just share a very small portion of it.

JD loved the ‘94 trip so much, in 1995, indeed, Harley, Erica and Mike did go to Scotland with JD to visit their roots. They went over on the Queen E II out of New York to Southampton. That album is priceless. It contains some of the greatest photos of JD and the children I have ever seen. The stories from that trip alone could fill a book.

The important matter is, with their father, the children went and discovered their roots to the Isle of Islay.

Julie, you are looked on as a team. I know how very, very difficult it must have been to find any private time to yourselves just because of the “nature of the beast”. However, there was always the Wednesday noon date. The rest of us should take a lesson from that.

JD’s staff would faithfully book every Wednesday at noon for JD and Julie. He rarely missed that. Rather ironically, today is a Wednesday.

Julie, continue to have those lunches every now and again. JD will be there in some way.

Julie and JD loved to travel. They preferred to do so alone but if you were fortunate enough to be able to holiday with them, it was a treat. I am just sorry we cannot make our planned Advocates’ Society trip this fall. You were great people to be with.

Julie, you were there for Jim when he needed someone most. Not one other of us can really appreciate the depth of the difficult medical times you helped him through. The frequent ambulance calls and hospitalizations. You were there for him.

Julie, we know, Jim had difficulty doing things in “half-measure”. That is one significant reason why he went into his last surgical adventure. He was indeed fearful, but in typical JD style he chose not to go on in life in half-measure. At the end of his day, while his heart was physically damaged, the heart of the man was never even bruised and you played a large part in that.

JD loved you. You have told me that he was indeed so special to your children and grandchildren. The solidarity of your relationship was obvious. He is still your best friend. No greater compliment can ever be paid to a relationship.

Life with JD must have been quite an adventure and you are the richer for it.

To wit:

  • who else would have made you go through a wedding ceremony twice
  • what do you do with a lawyer who thinks he is a journeyman tradesman?
  • how do you cope with a lawyer, a Q.C. no less, who says he would rather be a butcher
  • who else do you know that could continue to water his artificial silk gladiolas that were even out of season and not know the difference
  • there were the parties of the highest order and protocol
  • better yet, there were the parties of the lowest order with zero protocol
  • there were special occasion dinners and equally as great, “no occasion” special dinners
  • how do you adjust to a man who is so much to so many people?
  • what do you do with a guy who usually was the last to leave the party?
  • what do you do with the Captain of the Ogima who falls off his own ship?
  • did he have a stubborn streak???

Julie, only you knew what it was really like these last years. The rest of us can at best look in, in envy. You have a special relationship. I have tried to find the right words to say. Simply put, there are none. I know that but, JD would say something like this:

Listen woman, get up and get on with it. I’ll see you again. I am not far away. There are children and grandchildren to worry about. That is now your task. I have contributed what I could with a wide swathe. Get to it!

On behalf of JD:

To those I love and those who loved me
When I am gone, release me, let me go…
I have so many things I need to see and do.
You mustn’t tie yourself to me with tears,
Be happy that we had so many years.
I gave to you my love, you can only guess
How much you gave to me in happiness.
I thank you for the love you each have shown
But now it’s time I travelled on alone.
So grieve a while for me if grieve you must;
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It’s only for a while that we must part,
So bless the memories within your heart.
I won’t be far away, for life goes on;
So if you need me, call and I will somehow come,
Though you can’t see me or touch me,
I’ll be near
And listen with your heart, you’ll hear
All my love around you, soft and clear,
And then, when you must come this way alone,
I’ll greet you with a smile and say, " Welcome Home."