Born in Winnipeg on 1929, James Searle was a graduate of Daniel McIntyre High School. Upon graduation from the University of Manitoba in 1951 he joined the staff of the practicing firm headed by Ernest J. Smith and Dennis H Carter. In 1959, he became a partner. He served in an executive capacity and on boards and councils of the Manitoba Association of Architects, the Community Planning Association of Canada and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.
He was elected as a member of the College of Fellows of the RAIC in 1965 and was President of the RAIC 1967-1968.