Who was James Bayer?
The late James “Jim” Bayer, a native of Prince Edward Island, grew up in Dartmouth, where he was an outstanding high school athlete, paddled competitively for the famed Banook Canoe Club and started a lifetime commitment as a volunteer for the Red Cross.
Jim became a graduate of Atlantic Canada’s first physical education program at the University of New Brunswick. He returned to Dartmouth to teach physical education and to coach, very successfully, high school football.
In the mid 1960’s Jim joined the Nova Scotia Department of Education as a consultant in health, physical education and recreation. In 1970 he obtained a master’s degree in physical education at Massachusett’s Springfield College, where he completed the first Canadian study on drowning, a study that led to significant change in Canadian Red Cross water safety practices. He was appointed chef de mission for the 1971 Nova Scotia Canada games team in Saskatoon.
Nova Scotia formed a new Department of Recreation in 1973, and Jim became its first Director of Operations. He pioneered a number of new initiatives, including lifeguard services on Nova Scotia’s beaches. He served as chair of the very influential Canadian Interprovincial Council on Sport and Recreation.
Acadia successfully recruited Jim in 1977 as a professor and coach. He quickly ended up back in administration as Dean of the School of Physical Education and Recreation and as Director of Athletics. In the best Acadia tradition, he became a friend and mentor to both students and colleagues. He was president of the faculty club, a rare honour for a member of the administration at Acadia. During Jim’s tenure as Director of Athletics, Acadia enjoyed some of its greatest successes, winning numerous conference and national titles.
Jim, a past president of the NS branch of the Red Cross, was awarded the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal for volunteer service. He also chaired the Nova Scotia Sports Heritage Center Board of Directors.
At the time of his death in 1985, his peers in the Atlantic Universities created the James Bayer Memorial Scholarship, awarded annually to Atlantic Canada’s outstanding student athlete for excellence in academics, athletics, leadership, sportsmanship and citizenship. The first recipient of this award was the late Gunn Baldursson, a varsity soccer player and violinist from Acadia. No fewer than four Rhodes Scholars have held this award over the years. The Recreation Association of Nova Scotia created the James Bayer Bursary, given annually to a practicing recreation professional for continuing studies in the field.