Jack (John Jr) Saywell and other members of the Lake Cowichan Cougars baseball team July 1947. 'Jack was a good player

Locally-born historian Jack Saywell dies at age 82

“University Professor Emeritus John Tupper (Jack) Saywell, noted Canadian historian and member of the Founders Society of York University, died on April 20, 2011, in Toronto. He was 82,” reads a recent press release from the York University Newsletter.

“University Professor Emeritus John Tupper (Jack) Saywell, noted Canadian historian and member of the Founders Society of York University, died on April 20, 2011, in Toronto. He was 82,” reads a recent press release from the York University Newsletter.

Here, in the Town of Lake Cowichan, the name Saywell represents a whole lot more than just a park.

Not to deny it, Saywell Park is an attractive park, which is positioned in a prominent and very scenic area of town center near the beautiful Cowichan River.

The Saywell name first appeared here in 1937, with the arrival of John F.T. Saywell, who was hired as the area’s first high school principal. Soon, his family, which included wife Vera, a kindergarten teacher and their two sons, John (Jackie) and Bill, were fully integrated into the community.

After graduation from LCHS in 1954, the oldest son Jack Jr. left the Lake to attend the University of Toronto.

It was the first step towards a long and distinguished career that spanned a lifetime.

“Saywell took many roads less traveled. In the process he deepened Canada’s knowledge and understanding of itself from the constitution and federalism to the offices of the lieutenant-governor and the governor-general.”

Just one of his many accomplishments, “he chronicled Canadian history, economics, culture and society as editor of Canada Historical Review from 1957 until 1963.”

“His thoughts and direction helped found York University’s [Ontario] of Fine Arts and Education”.

His brother Bill recently commented “Many still refer to Canada’s third largest university (York) as the house that Jack built,” adding, “He was very young, very creative, extremely hard working and terribly intelligent and he really did a magnificent job in creating the foundation of York University.”

In 1980, York conferred on Saywell its inaugural University Professorship for service and scholarly achievement.

In his later years, Professor Saywell left York’s administration and returned to scholarly work researching, writing and supervising graduate students in the history department.

He retired in 1997 at age 70, and is survived by his wife Suzanne Firth, his four children, 12 grandchildren and his brother William (Bill) Saywell and his family.

Jackie Saywell (as he was known in his Lake Cowichan years) always retained his connection to Cowichan Lake, and was known throughout his lifetime as “the kid from Cowichan Lake, British Columbia.”

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