John Leslie Harris – Obituary
Sept 21, 1941, to April 6, 2023.
Our family is grieved to share that our oldest brother John of Aurora, Ontario died suddenly on Thursday April 6th, 2023, in his 81st year due to complications with cancer. John is survived by sisters Pat Wahl and Shirley Sutton and brothers Richard and Gordon Harris, as well as many nephews, nieces and cousins of the Speare and Harris family clan. He was predeceased by his loving parents Leslie and Lois Harris of Guelph, Ontario, who shared his love for construction, and uncles Joe Speare and Bob Scadding, with whom he camped and canoed over the years.
John was a keen aviator and Aeronautical Engineer who graduated from University of Toronto with his class of 1964. He went on to design aircraft at De Havilland Canada in Toronto and perform wind tunnel tests on airfoils. As a private pilot, he rebuilt his own beautiful yellow and green 1947 Cessna 140 "CF-ZKR" piece by piece and flew it many years to and from Tottenham to his family cottage at beloved Ahmic Lake near Magnetewan, Ontario. Earlier he was a keen model aircraft hobbyist before graduating with honours from Guelph GCVI in 1960.
A passionate outdoorsman and naturalist, John loved to observe birds and wildlife as well as to canoe, sail and waterski when he wasn’t busy repairing his war surplus Willy’s Jeep or maintaining the Ahmic runway with his ancient tractor. He loved the companionship of family and friends at the cottage for cross-country skiing, making maple syrup, or boating and general cottage puttering, especially in later years with nephew and niece Michelle and Mike Craig and family. He loved any form of fishing – standing in chest waders in a river, from his cedar strip canoe, through the ice, or from his much-loved aluminum Grumman.
John could build or fix anything and had an amazing workshop that gradually expanded and consumed his well-ordered basement, where he spent many hours of making. His engineering knowledge and love of books made him the family expert on all things mechanical. John frequently astounded and amused us with his many flying creations, from floatplanes to featherlight rubber-band models and tiny electric drones, each hand-built with care and precision. He also delighted his many nephews and nieces with his clever inventions such as electrified toy cars, ingenious jigs, and incredible kites, and loved teaching them and their kids how to paddle a canoe, use the drill press, bait their own hook, or repair a misfiring gas engine.
John’s intelligence, quiet patience and good-natured dry humour will be remembered and missed by all who knew him. Gone too soon. A private cremation ceremony was held in Guelph. A celebration of life will be held at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, 110 Doon Rd., Kitchener on Sunday, June 4, 2023 from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Refreshments will be provided. Memories may be posted here: http://www.gilchristchapel.com/ or photos here: https://gord.smugmug.com/upload/GCKZVH/ahmic
Donations to conservation organizations such as Ontarionature.org or to his wonderful hospital https://give.southlake.ca are welcomed.
Sunday, June 4, 2023
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, Kitchener, Ontario
Ontarionature.org or https://give.southlake.ca
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