James H. McLaughlin

James H. McLaughlin, QC, Theta Xi, 1952, Phi Alpha 1971 – 1974

“Jim” McLaughlin was born in Toronto, 1930, and educated at the University of Toronto Schools, the University of Toronto, and Osgoode Law School. He was a Queens Council and was senior partner in the Toronto law firm of McLaughlin, Soward, Markle, which was founded by his grandfather in 1900.

Although he was not involved with the Fraternity for some years after leaving school, he attended the 1967 Annual Convention in Toronto and, from that time forth, he was “hooked.”

Brother McLaughlin was Phi Alpha during one of the most difficult periods in the history of college fraternities.  Through a combination of circumstances, which largely stemmed from the student radicalism of the sixties (precipitated by the U.S. involvement in Vietnam), he inherited a Fraternity that had ceased to exist on some campuses, and was in serious trouble on many others.  The rise of the “counter culture” had made the fraternity way of life unpalatable to many young people, who perceived fraternities to be establishment and exclusive in the pejorative sense, and who were challenging many other traditional values across North America.  It was Jim’s belief in Zeta Psi, his dedication and selflessness, and his desire to have others share in the fellowship which he had found in Zeta Psi that sustained the fraternity during some of its darkest hours.

Outgoing Phi Alpha James Hugh McLaughlin places his hand on the shoulder of incoming Phi Alpha Peter B. Pakradooni.

Because of his signal services to Zeta Psi, Brother McLaughlin was asked to remain Phi Alpha for three years, a period matched by only John L. “Jack” Coulson (1966-1969). He was also instrumental in the founding of the Zeta Psi Foundation of Canada, Inc, as one of its original trustees and third President.  He was one of the Canadian Foundations greatest benefactors.

After stepping down as Phi Alpha, Jim continued to serve the Fraternity in a number of capacities on its Executive Board. He also served on the Board of Directors of the National Interfraternity Confrence, and was elected President of that prestigious body in 1980.  He was both the first and only Zete, and Canadian to hold that position within the NIC.  The NIC’s name was changed from the National Interfraternity Conference to the North American Interfraternity Conference at the urging of and in honour of Brother McLaughlin.

James McLaughlin (L) with Greg McElroy, receiving the Inaugural James H. McLaughlin Interfraternity Service Award in 1982.

In addition to receiving Zeta Psi’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Award, at the 1974 Zeta Psi Convention in Winnipeg, Brother McLaughlin was honoured at the Zeta Psi 1982 convention in Chicago as both the namesake and the first recipient of the James H. McLaughlin Interfraternity Service Award.  That honour has continued to be an enduring testimony to a man who gave so much of his time and effort to the cause of fraternities.

Zeta Psi Fraternity and indeed, the entire fraternity system in North America lost a great friend and supporter with his sudden death on October 26, 1982.

Back Row (L to R): Past Phi Alphas: Jim McLaughlin, Greg McElroy, and John Gebhardt. Front Row (L to R): Don Broderick (Delta), and James Sarrette (Sigma Zeta).