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James Haligowski

Image by Nick Andréka


February 24, 1964 – April 7, 2024

With shattered hearts, we announce the passing of James Drew Haligowski. James’ courageous and stoic 4-year battle with cancer came to an end on April 7, 2024. He left us far too early at the age of 60, passing peacefully at home with his wife and daughter by his side.

James will forever be missed by his wife Debra, daughter Allysha (Braden), granddaughter Rowyn, and his fur baby Hali. Also mourning his loss are his Aunt Millie, Mother Gayle, siblings Leslie, Michael, Cheryl, Sister-in-laws Jeannette and Brenda, and Brother-in-law Brent. Many nieces, nephews, and lifelong friends Kelly and Larry, along with their families, share in this grief. James was predeceased by his infant daughter Breanne, his father Mike, siblings Derek & Karen, and his Brother-in-law Denis Vandal.

After unknowingly passing each other in the school halls of West St. Paul and Maples Collegiate and sharing many mutual friends, Debra and James serendipitously met at a friend's home. She sat across the table from him, the cool guy. A few weeks later, to her surprise, that very guy called her, and they went on their first date. They stayed up all night in his car, talking until the sun came up. From there, it was always James and Deb for 42 years. They were soulmates and best friends. They married on March 12th, 1988, and had two children, Allysha (1988) and Breanne (1991). They began their married life in St Francois Xavier where they lived for 20 years. Making many lifelong friends and memories. 

James spent his working years in the concrete cutting business, first with Rodren Drilling. In 2004, he started Quality Cutting & Coring Ltd. James was a proud business owner, but when asked what he did for a living, he would proudly say, "I’m a concrete cutter."

A significant part of James' life was his unwavering love for his cottage at Wallace Lake. It started at a young age and grew to be his happy place, his quiet, peaceful place where he found solace in the tranquility of the lake. His adventures began as a young boy fishing with his grandma Storie and expanded to include boats, trikes, and skidoos. James’s motto was “why walk when you can ride.” He loved fishing, whether it was summer or winter, and you would often find him with a rod in one hand and a beer in the other. He passed that love onto Debra, Allysha, and was just getting Rowie started with her Spiderman fishing rod. In his early 20s, James bought his first boat, and in typical James fashion, it was big, fast, and loud. A 150-horsepower blue sparkly speedboat, it soon became a weekend fixture on the lake. Music was always playing, sometimes a little too loudly, always full of people either in the boat or behind on waterskies or being whipped on the tube. Then came the skidoos and many epic adventures with Norm, Kelly, Larry, Lionel, and Cal, that will be spoken about for years to come. You always knew James was at the cottage when his flags were flying. 

James was an avid sports fan who played baseball as a child and football in high school for the Maple Marauders. He watched all types of sports, but he especially loved watching the Jets, the Bombers, and his favorite NFL teams play. James was a very no-fuss kind of man; he loved to represent his teams with shirts, hats, and jerseys. In memory of James, please feel free to wear your favorite Jersey or team shirt to his celebration of life.

James was the best Papa to his 5-year-old granddaughter Rowyn. From the moment she was born, he soaked up her energy and light. He always let her take the lead on their adventures and play. In the summer, you could find them playing on the beach, going on trike rides, and their favorite thing, driving the boat together with Rowyn at the wheel. They never stopped laughing. She always looked at her papa with such wonder and amazement. Rowyn has a Papa angel now who will look down on her and smile as she always smiled at him.

Dado - You were one of the best.

I look back on life with you, me as a small child and you a young strong man. I remember driving with you a lot, into the city, to your work, to Auntie Millie's, and to the lake. I can hear the music, I can hear the game on the radio, I can see you turn the knob up when you really love a part of the song, and I can see you shake your head at a disappointing play in the game.

I hope I never forget those moments; that I can always see and hear them in my heart.

As I look back on the recent years, I see your smile, I hear your big laugh where you would hit your knee and throw your head back.

I close my eyes, and I see you at the lake, playing and laughing with Rowyn. I thought you would have more time with her. But I’m so thankful she got to have you as her Papa because it was something you were made to do, be HER Papa.

I found a place for you in my home, right by where I play my music. I hope you can hear the songs I play for us. You passed on your love of words and music to me, and for that, I am forever grateful; you live on in the songs you loved and the future songs I hear and think Dad would have loved this one. Rowyn and I will turn them up and sing them loud for you. She’ll know your favorite songs, I promise.

I wonder now, who do I call when I need to know the things, like how much air do I need in my tires, when do I need an oil change, and do I need that filter they are trying to sell me? I know deep down I can do these things alone because you showed me, you taught me, and you always said, "What are you going to do when I am gone?" Dad, that has come too fast; it was too soon, I wasn't ready. I want to call you and ask.

I know how hard it must’ve been to leave us behind, how badly you wanted to stay. But I hope you knew you could never truly leave us. I hope you know you stayed. You are here in everything, in the things you loved, in the places you went, in all the beautiful things that still remain. I love you, always, and I know we'll meet again. I don't know where, and I don't know when, But I do know that we'll meet again, Some sunny day.


I thought we had more time...

I didn’t expect death to separate us until we were very old and very grey...

We had the rest of our lives ahead of us... We had so many plans so many dreams…

Adventures to take… Places to see... Lakes to fish… Games to see…

But you left me for calmer shores… How deeply my heart aches…

I know you would have stayed with me if you could… Spared me this immense pain…

To do life without you I cannot bare…

I pray you’re resting in a peaceful place… the sun glittering off the water and a big pickerel on your line...

You will never be forgotten, my love, my friend, my husband my JAMES…

Love you forever your wife…

James' Celebration of Life will be held on June 1st at Headingly Community Centre at 5353 Portage Ave, Headingley, MB, starting at 3pm. We kindly request that you RSVP to the celebration so we can be prepared for all of James’ family and friends. RSVP at

His family has set up an email address for anyone who would like to send photos of James to include in his memorial video. Please send these photos to by May 17th, 2024.

James’ family kindly requests that all of his friends and relatives take a few minutes to hon-our his memory by watching the photo-biography above. Please, also consider sharing your own photos, memories, and stories by making use of the comment section on this page.


Cremation & Life Celebrations

530 St. Mary Avenue - Winnipeg

204-421-5501 -

Memories, Stories and Condolences


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Leslie Haligowski

May 27, 2024 at 9:24 PM

Leslie Haligowski 💜 ❤️

May 9, 2024 at 10:14 AM

James you showed your heroic side and you will be remembered as a hero with many many memories .

You will forever be missed and loved.

See you on the dock for coffee . ..

Jerry Brandt

May 10, 2024 at 9:13 PM

We used James for our concrete cutting for many years .. He was a man of his word and his guys would always show up on time .While I didn't deal with him personally I wish I would have after reading his obituary. Rest in peace .



May 9, 2024 at 4:14 PM

So sorry to hear of your great loss Debra. I heard many great stories from Roy about the lake and their fishing trips. Thinking of you all. ❤️

Kris McCormick

May 9, 2024 at 3:59 PM

My parents owned the cottage beside the Haligowski family at Wallace Lake for many years.  I was friends with Karen and recall that James was a very nice young man.  Fast forward my daughter Jessica formed a school friendship with Allysha, small world indeed.  My sincere condolences for your loss.

Keven Kinaschuk

May 9, 2024 at 3:47 PM

I attended West St. Paul school with James and we were in the same grade.  He was a super fun and positive person to be around.  He was athletic and loved fishing and snowmobiles.  He would talk to me about how fast the Snow Jet Thunder Jet was as well as having a great arm in the chalk fights in mister Sawiak's room, our home room.  I remember him as a really nice guy.  My condolences to his family and friends.

Leslie Haligowski 💜 ❤️

May 9, 2024 at 3:14 PM

ames you showed your heroic side and you will be remembered as a hero with many many memories .

You will forever be missed and loved.

See you on the dock for coffee . ..

Wes and Susan Hill Wallace Lake

May 9, 2024 at 2:27 PM

Our condolences to the Haligowski Family.

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