James Howard Wark was born in Sherbrooke on 1 August 1897 to John G. Wark (1855-1925) and Catherine Fraser (1857-1938). During his youth, Jim, as he was known colloquially, was involved with the Boy Scouts-Church of the Advent group. Moreover, during his early adolescence, Jim received his confirmation from the Church of the Advent on December 4th, 1911.
As a young man, Jim served for a brief period with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War I. He enlisted with 1st Depot Battalion, 1st Quebec Regiment in May 1918 at an enlistment office in Montreal and was quickly on his way to England, arriving in mid-July. At the time of his enlistment, Jim listed his marital status as single and his occupation as a chauffeur.1 Upon arrival in England, Jim was placed in a segregated camp for CEF recruits as part of a quarantine set up in response to the Spanish flu. This quarantine lasted 28 days and, along with other precautions taken in response to influenza, drastically lengthened the training period for Canadian recruits. As a result, he would complete his training as the war was drawing to an end and would not reach continental Europe during his time overseas. Jim was discharged from his duties in Montreal, demobilization is the reason given for his discharge.
Among the memorabilia Jim collected during his time overseas are numerous theatre programmes. These artifacts provide important insight into his interests as well as his daily activities while stationed in England. The programmes, originating from The Palladium, the Adelphi Theatre, the London Hippodrome, the Lyceum Theatre, and the Picture House in Birmingham, reveal a young man who was passionately interested in the arts.
Following his return home, Jim took up a job as the district sales manager for Sherbrooke for the British American Oil Company. He remained at this post for over two decades and followed up this career with employment at the J.S. Mitchell and Co. Ltd.2 Upon his return to Sherbrooke, Jim picked up where he had left off being an active member of his community. He continued his service with the Boy Scouts while also being an active member of the Sherbrooke Rotary club and president of the Sherbrooke Snow Shoe Club, among other community organizations.
On 1 October 1927, James married Florence Bryant (1901-1993), of the J.H. Bryant bottling company family. It may well be this shared appreciation for the arts that brought James and Florence together. The couple had two daughters, Catherine (1929-2009) and Barbara (b. 1930) who each pursued interests in the arts, focused around the theatre, dance, and music.
Jim Wark died 24 August 1969 at his home in Sherbrooke and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.