James Craigie arrived in New Zealand from Scotland with his parents in 1867. After apprenticing in Dunedin he began business as a painter and decorator in Timaru in 1873. Later he owned a farm at Kingsdown and served his community in many ways including as Mayor of Timaru and Member of Parliament for the area. He was laid to rest here alongside his parents who died in 1893 and 1904, and was later joined by his wife Catherine in 1944.
James (1851-1935) served as Mayor of Timaru for ten years from 1902. In that time great progress was made in the town. The Council leased the area of Caroline Bay and a beautifying association began the work of making the bay area the park like scene that it now is. Street kerbing and channelling was developed, a sewerage system extended and electricity lit some streets. Craigie also organised a grant from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation for the building of a public library (now the western part of the present Municipal Buildings).
Craigie was well known as a generous philanthropist. He gave and cared for the trees he planted along the length of the Town Belt, which was renamed Craigie Avenue. He also donated the chimes for the town clock. He supported the arts by donating paintings for a future art gallery and celebrated his Scottish heritage by gifting the statue of Robbie Burns that still stands in the Timaru Gardens.