Heritage Minute featuring gay activist and longtime Vancouver Island resident now most viewed on-line in series history


Jack Nesbit (left) and Jim Egan are the subject of the latest Heritage Minute (photo by Ali Kazimi, David Adkin Productions courtesy of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives)

A Heritage Minute featuring gay activist and longtime Comox Valley resident Jim Egan is now the most watched in the history of the series.

Historica Canada says the first ever LGBTQ Heritage Minute has had more than 2.5 million on-line views since its debut in mid-June.

The one-minute segment tells the story of Jim Egan, who challenged homophobia in the press in the late 40’s in Toronto.

Egan wrote opinion columns in newspapers trying to dissolve negative perceptions of gay culture in the mainstream.

He and his life partner Jack Nesbit began living together on Vancouver Island in the 1960’s, eventually settling in Courtenay.

In 1981, Egan was elected a regional director for the District of Comox-Strathcona, and was one of the first openly gay politicians to serve in Canada

In 1985, the couple co-founded the Comox Valley branch of the Island Gay Society. Egan also served as the president of the North Island AIDS Coalition in 1994.

But Egan garnered far more attention when he launched a lawsuit against Ottawa for the right to claim a spousal pension under the Old Age Security Act. The case led to the Supreme Court’s decision to deny him and Nesbit spousal rights in 1995.

Even though he was defeated in the courts, Egan’s social and political contributions helped usher in another generation of activism.

Egan passed away in Courtenay in 2000 at the age of 78.

You can watch the Heritage Minute here 

with files from Canadian Press

Ben O'HaraBen O'Hara

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