Rifleman James Henry Pirie was born in Guelph, Ontario on September 7th, 1863, to George Pirie (1799-1870) and Jane Booth (1825-1895), and was the youngest of their eight children. George Pirie arrived in Canada in 1838 with his first wife Mary Robieson, however, she died soon after arrival in Canada, and he remarried Miss Booth, another immigrant from Scotland. He had seven children with his first wife, so the entire family included 15 children. At some point not that long after George Pirie died in 1870 in Guelph, the family relocated to Toronto.
He died July 5, 1944 at his residence on 750 Yonge Street and was buried in Newmarket, Ontario.