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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
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South Peace Regional Archives
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Created by TD on April 27, 2017