Jim Breukelman was born in Trinidad in 1941. His father was British and his mother Canadian. Before moving to Canada, he lived with his family in Bogotá, Colombia; New York City and White Plains, New York, US; and Geneva, Switzerland. He earned his BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design, studying under Harry Callahan and Dieter Roth.
In 1967 he was hired by the Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art + Design) to plan and implement a four-year program in Fine Art Photography, an endeavour that was conceived as the first photography program in Canada to have a strong interdisciplinary focus. From 1967 to 2000, in his various roles as photography instructor, Department Head of Photography, and Dean of Media Arts, Breukelman has had a significant influence on the development of artists and photographic art in Vancouver. Since leaving ECUAD in 2000, he has given his full attention to developing his ideas and themes in photography and exhibiting the resulting work.
In 2013, Canada Post inaugurated it new stamp series, 150 Years of Photography, which is a historical survey and “a salute to the creativity and accomplishments of our most notable and most extraordinary photographers.” The series will run for five years, with seven new photographers featured in each successive year. Breukelman is one of the photographers featured in the 2013 issue. This first issue also features Thomas Coffin Doane, Margaret Watkins, Geraldine Moodle, Arnaud Maggs, Rodney Graham, and Gabor Szilasi.