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Elizabeth Harris

Friend, neighbour and inspiration Elizabeth Harris died last night, at home in Cabbagetown, surrounded by her family.

On our first Hallowe’en in Cabbagetown, in 1985, I took my 4 year old daughter trick or treating. We had just moved in and knew no one. At one house, a laughing voice shouted from inside, “Come on in! Candy for the kids and tequila for the adults!” So I met Elizabeth.
She was a beacon in our neighbourhood, hearty and open, first known as “Madame Harris,” the French teacher at Sprucecourt School; then as the organizer of the annual American Thanksgiving party at her home, with scores of hungry guests packed in, devouring one turkey after another and huge bowls of veggies and dessert, pouring back the wine, gossiping and jabbering, while the Murtaugh/Harrises, from their tiny kitchen, kept the food coming. And all on real plates, with real glasses. A labour of love.
Elizabeth was a powerhouse who got things done. She fundraised continuously for her beloved Mexican project, Casa, went there often and to France. She founded the essential Friends of Riverdale Farm and got the kitchen started there – and the brick oven, above, with its sublime wood smokey pizzas and bread. Then she founded the farmer’s market outside the farm, that’s not only the best place for fresh food but, again, a vital neighbourhood meeting place. And then moved on to do the same at the Brickworks.
In the letter I wrote to her recently, I thanked her for championing many of the things I care about most in all the world: family, education, food, travel, and most of all, community. I thank you again, Elizabeth, from us all. A strong, generous spirit like yours cannot be replaced.
The memorial is on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Metropolitan United Church.

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3 Responses to “Elizabeth Harris”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Beth,
    What a nice tribute to Elizabeth. She was a treasure.

  2. beth says:

    She was indeed – a woman who made a huge difference to her community and to the world.

  3. Anonymous says:

    i will really miss her

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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