19 November 1994
By Doug’s neice
Being born into the Harrison Family is a mixed blessing. Those of you who are Harrisons, and those of you who have befriended or married Harrisons, know the benefits and the pitfalls.
We are a family of many Perfectionists, people of Pride and Strong Convictions – some might say that we are Stubborn and Obstinate!! We are Independent, Caring, Loyal and Soft as Mush inside. We love to laugh and like nothing better than a joke on ourselves.
One of the Greatest Blessings in being born into this family is finding yourself related to a remarkable man like Doug Harrison.
If we can think today of celebrating Doug’s Life, we will remember that he seemed to enjoy every day in the way that he lived his life.
He was consistent in his approach to life and with everyone who came into it.
The first thing that you FELT about Doug was his warmth. Starting with the huge welcoming hug – and for those of us under 5’7″, the sense that you were looking up and up to see the wonderful smile and genuine pleasure in seeing you.
The next thing that you KNEW about Doug was that he was a man of great intelligence and careful thought. His training as an engineer combined with his careful analytical mind made him a person whose opinion you trusted and valued.
When Ontario Hydro got seriously into the Nuclear Energy business, I, being politically correct and on the right side of environmental issues thought that I should go straight to the source for the “inside story” on just how safe nuclear power plants were. As I am a person who doesn’t know how electricity actually works, Doug patiently and carefully explained to me what Heavy Water was, how the Fuel Rods worked, how they were stored and what a “Half-Life” means in the nuclear world. On the sheer strength of my respect for his knowledge and integrity, I became a convert!
He was, you see, in his own way a Teacher. He shared his time, his knowledge and his labour generously and patiently.
I mentioned earlier the Genetic Strain of Perfectionism that runs through the family. Harrisons know the way to do things – the only way – the Right Way. Doug’s great-nephew had the benefit over the past year of learning about woodworking from Doug. The Most Important thing that [he] had to learn was how to sharpen the tools! PATIENCE AND TIME are necessary to do it JUST RIGHT. You knew that they were sharp enough when you could shave the hair on the back of your hand with a just sharpened tool!
Last year [Doug’s wife] wanted some shelves built to organize and store her wonderful collection of photographs. Her requirements were pretty straightforward and utilitarian but she had to be on constant watch because it just wasn’t in Doug to do an O.K. job – his were cabinet-maker’s standards.
If it wasn’t good enough, he did it again.
Doug Harrison was a man who Listened and Cared. When our father (his brother, John) died, Doug visited our mother every Wednesday before his woodworking class to have coffee with her and do any small repairs that she had lined up for him. It was a highlight in her week! He knew which of his neighbours were ill or away, or might need help and he was there to provide that help in a direct and meaningful way – even caring for an elderly neighbour with Alzheimer’s in her family’s absence.
Doug was unfailingly interested in and proud of [his children’s] accomplishments and successes, and equally up to date on [his son- and daughter-in-law] and his granddaughters.
He was a man Ahead of His Time in his long and loving marriage[…]. The warmth and absolute comfort that they found in each other was evident to anyone in their presence. They worked together to build their future and Doug never failed to support [his wife] in her interests and professional growth.
One of my favourite memories of just how they pursued their own limitless interests happened one summer when Doug learned to make chocolates – while [his wife] mixed cement and poured concrete to make their backyard patio.
Who could not be inspired by their passion for health and sound nutrition? Absolute conviction in the restorative powers of Tiger’s Milk, Lecithin and Vitamin E! Always curious, always interested, always busy with important things. Never too busy to help, advise or stop and have a glass of red wine if you dropped in.
In the last agonizing weeks of his life, Doug withstood the trauma and pain with fortitude and great presence of mind. He wanted to know what the doctors were doing and why. He appreciated and thanked all the friends and family who came to care for him and never took for granted their willingness to be there.
I had hoped to spend time with Doug this year to work on a family history. It is my great regret that that will not be possible.
It is our great blessing that we knew him, loved him, and shared in his life.