Dr. St.Clair has also been the genealogy editor of the Inverness County Participaper, a cultural and heritage publication prepared by the County of Inverness for the residents. For 21 years, his column “Ancestors Unlimited’ has been a feature of this publication.
Author of a children’s book in cooperation with the Nova Scotia Highland Village and of two books on Cape Breton houses and their occupants in partnership with Dr. Mary K. MacLeod, Dr. St.Clair was a board member of the N.S. Highland Village for more than twenty years and has worked closely with staff in the development of Roots Cape Breton. Roots was begun in 1987 to computerize the searching for genealogical information. Jim knew firsthand the frustration of searching for families by hand and through reels of microfilm and wished to make the task easier with the introduction of computers.
He is currently a member of the Board of Governors of Nova Scotia Museum and of the Strait Area Regional Development Agency as well as a number of other museological and cultural organizations. A valued member of the Inverness Guysborough Presbytery of the United Church of Canada, Jim has served the church in many capacities.
Through his “Then and Now” spot on CBC Cape Breton Information Morning, Jim tells the world about Cape Breton and our people. Local newspapers such as the Inverness Oran and Victoria Standard carried his columns on Cape Breton history for many years.
Jim was instrumental in founding the Iona Connection, an organization of heritage organizations and individuals on Cape Breton Island. Following the bi-centennial celebrations of the founding of Cape Breton, Jim and others realized more needed to be done to preserve the heritage of the Island. In 1987 the organization met as an ad hoc committee. He served as President and a member of the Board for many years. Through Jim’s urging, the Iona Connection was reformed as a Co-op and remains as such today with over 60 member organizations.
The folks in his part of Cape Breton know Jim as a teacher, mentor, storyteller, and most of all, a friend. His knowledge and wisdom are freely given to anyone who asks. Researchers come to his door looking for information on their ancestors, and find not only the facts, but the story behind the facts. He has traveled Cape Breton many times over as a volunteer for numerous organizations, encouraging and inspiring the people involved. His stories, told in a deep and resonant voice, weave together local anecdotes and oral narratives with historical details of time and place, bringing the past alive for Cape Bretoners and visitors alike.
Biography written by Pauline MacLean, Highland Village, Iona; revised by Linda Winham