Fonds 662 Harris Family fonds

Harris Family. — [1948-1990]. — 22.5 cm of textual records. — 8 maps.

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Biographical Sketch

The Harris family was from Essex, England where father William Harris had a green grocery in the Borough Market, which was located at the south end of London Bridge in Southwark. William and his wife Beatrice Neal had five children, Leslie, Rodolph, Marjorie, Peter, and Humphrey. As the Harris children grew up, they left to explore opportunities further afield.

In 1926 Leslie and Rodolph ‘Rowe’ arrived in Edmonton and the following year Leslie journeyed to the Peace Country. Leslie’s first purchase of farm land was the NW 35-70-10-W6 in the Two Rivers area. Rowe arrived in 1928 and the brothers decided to start a joint farming venture which they aptly called Harris Bros. For the next 28 years Harris Bros. farm grew until 1956 when the brothers started farming on their own.

Rowe Harris married Margaret McKane Watt; together they had four children, Mary Aitken, Beatrice Jean, William Peter, and Rosaline Nena. Rowe was an ordained lay reader and very involved at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Beaverlodge. Rowe also supported the Red Willow Camp and the Seniors’ centre in Beaverlodge. His son William Peter along with his family are now running the family farm in Appleton.

Leslie married Doris Irving in 1934; she had arrived in the area the year before to teach at Two Rivers school. Leslie was active in the community; he served on the Two Rivers school board and was involved with the planning of the Beaverlodge Hospital, Community Centre.  He also became involved with the UFA. Leslie’s son Neal, a teacher, took over operating the farm from his father.

Over the years the Harris Bros. at one time or another had each of their siblings working in some capacity on the farm.

When sister Marjorie arrived, she stayed with the brothers and after a time married neighbour Alex Watt. Alex served with the Calgary Tanks in WWII as a mechanic. Marjorie and Alex had five children and for a time operated a tour company in Banff, Alberta.

Peter Gambell Harris was the last of the Harris children to arrive to the area. Peter brought his wife Thirza, and children Patricia and Trevor in 1948. In England, Peter and Thirza had worked as entertainers so after arriving and settling in the Appleton area Peter sought work in that field, giving piano lessons to locals and he became a member of a band that played at local dances. Peter and his son Trevor started the Beaverlodge Advertiser, which Trevor took over and ran for many years. Peter left the area to attend theology school in London, Ontario and served in Fort McMurray. Their daughter Patricia joined the RAF, becoming an Adjutant when she was stationed in Northern Ontario.

Humphrey Harris also worked on the farm for a bit but eventually moved to B.C. where he joined the merchant navy and traveled around the world. He also worked for the B.C. Ferries and as a meteorologist for British Columbia.

There are many descendants of the Harris families still living in the Beaverlodge area

Custodial History

The records were donated by Jean Gray daughter of Rodolph ‘Rowe’ Harris over three accessions in 2014.

Scope and Content

The fonds consists of the records from the Harris family from Beaverlodge. Included in the records are a diary belonging to Peter Harris, music books and a series of maps and plans related to Harris family activities.


The records were donated along with records from the Beaverlodge Advertiser. The newspaper records including the Beaverlodge & Grande Prairie Advertiser are now fonds 661.

Table of Contents

Series 662.01 Peter Gambell Harris’ Diary
Series 662.02 Music Books
Series 662.03 Map Collection
Series 662.01 Peter Gambell Harris’ Diary. — 1948. — 3.5 cm of textual records.

The series consists of a one year daily diary belonging to Peter Gambell Harris. Peter documents his family’s journey from England, including boarding the Medea in Liverpool on Jan. 8, 1948. You can follow the Harris family through to their arrival in New York and then the journey to the Peace Country. The diary gives a perspective of day-to-day living in the late 1940s and highlights the importance of family, dependency on your neighbours, and the poor state of the roads. The last entry in the diary is dated Dec. 31, 1948. There is also a typed transcript of the diary done by Peter’s daughter Patricia who also sometimes would comment on an entry.

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Series 662.02 Music Books. — 1902-1950. — 19 cm of textual records.

The fonds consists of music books used by Peter Harris. Peter had a love of music as the assortment of books show, as a pianist he collected music in England and once the family settled in the peace country he was quick to offer piano lessons. Peter also quickly became involved in the music scene becoming a member of a Beaverlodge band that played popular music at dances. The music books are piano books for many popular music from the 1920s and through until the 1950s. A wide variety of music books that were used by Peter Gambell Harris in England as well as books purchased in Canada. There is one book for lessons and the rest are popular songs that he would have played as a member of a Beaverlodge band that played popular music at dances. The band consisted of members including Pat Carrell and they played at many community events throughout the Peace Region.

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Series 662.03 Map Collection. — 1967-1979. — 8 maps.

The fonds consists of a 1967 Map of the Monkman Pass in British Columbia and Survey Plans for Smith Subdivision in Grande Prairie.The maps show the development of the Smith subdivision which was land originally owned by Rodolph Harris and other investors, located on, NE24 – TP71 – R6 – W6 and a tentative plan for SE 14 – T70 – R7 – W6.

Monkman Pass in British Columbia, 1967
1 Map; 60 x 70 cm
A 1967 map showing mountain ranges and the community of McGregor, B.C. as well as the Monkman Pass.
Location: 0662.03.01
Plan of Expropriation Showing Land Required for Railway Right-of-Way, 1968
1 map; 44 x 78 cm
A 1968 map showing the land required for railway right-of-way on N.E. 1/4, Sec. 24, TP71, R.6, W.6th Mer.
Location: 0662.03.02
Survey of Subdivision NE 24 – T71 – R6 – W6, 1972
1 Map; 55 x 90 cm
A 1972 survey plan to subdivide NE 24 – TP71 – R6 – W6 in Grande Prairie.
Location: 0662.03.03
Survey of Subdivision of NE 24 – T71 – R6 – W6, 1978
1 Map; 50 x 100 cm
A 1978 survey of subdivision of part of NE 24- T71 – R6 – W6 in the city of Grande Prairie. The plan is for the lots located along 96th Ave. as well as 92A street.
Location: 0662.03.04
Tenative Plan for NE 24 – T71 – R6 – W6, 1978
1 Map; 40 x 42 cm
A 1978 tenative plan for a subdivision located on NE 24 – T71 – R5 – W6 in the city of Grande Prairie. The plan is for the lots located along 93rd street and 97th Ave.
Location: 0662.03.05
Plan of Subdivision of NE 24 – T71 – R6 – W6, 1978
1 Map; 54 x 75 cm
A plan showing a part of the survey of subdivision loacted at NE 24- T71 – R5 – W6 in the city of Grande Prairie. The plan shows the lots along 96th and 97th ave. and 92A St. and 93 St.
Location: 0662.03.06
Plan of Subdivision of NE 24 – T71 – R6 – W6, 1978
1 Map; 70 x 100 cm
A plan showing the survey of subdivision loacted at NE 24 -T71 – R5 – W6 in the city of Grande Prairie. The plan shows the lots on 95th, 96th and 97th ave. and 92A, 92B and 93 St.
Location: 0662.03.07
Tenative Plan Plan for Subdivision of SE 14 – T70 – R7 – W6, 1979
65 x 90 cm Map
A tenative plan showing a subdivision on SE 14 – T70 – R7 – W6 in the city of Grande Prairie.
Location: 0662.03.08
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