In Memory of




Obituary for Shelagh Marion Harris

Harris (nee Giles), Shelagh – Born on April 8, 1934 in Suez, Egypt to Edward and Margaret Giles. In her own words, Shelagh “lived an exciting life”. Together, with the love of her life William (Bill) Harris, Shelagh raised three beautiful daughters, earned a university degree and Master of Education, worked as a teacher, librarian and became York Region’s third female school principal. Having moved from Egypt to California to England in her childhood and to Canada as an adult, she was curious about the world and cultivated a love of geography while sculpting topographical maps out of soap in London. It was making these maps that she met her lifetime friend, Hazel Perkes. She and Hazel visited each other many times over the years, on both sides of the Atlantic. Her travels didn’t stop with England. With Bill and her teacher best friend Mary Atkinson, she traveled to see much of it, visiting six continents; always ready to try something new from zip lining (Peru), to paragliding (Himalayas), to hiking the rocky outcropping of Signal Hill (Newfoundland).
Shelagh was a proud and engaged citizen volunteer of Richmond Hill, with the Winter Carnival, the Terry Fox Run, the Ontario Library Board Association, and as Chair of the Richmond Hill Public Library Board. She planted trees on the Oak Ridges Moraine to stop erosion and keep this geological landmark intact. A portion of that forest will be dedicated to Shelagh and Bill in 2024. For her efforts, Shelagh received numerous awards, including the James Bain Award from the Ontario Library Board Association (2018), Richmond Hill Honourary Rotarian (2009), and in 2023 Citizen of the Year Award from the Town of Richmond Hill, for her many years of service.
Shelagh passed away peacefully on December 10, 2023, surrounded by family, at the Mackenzie Health Hospital, Richmond Hill. Predeceased by her beloved husband, Bill (July 22, 1927 – July 08, 2009). Matriarch and loving mother to Virginia (Art), Bridget (Frank) and Jill (Neil). Adoring grandma to Robert, Jesse, William, Elias, Jacob, Virginia, Ellen, Morgan and Thea, Tristan and Caitlin, Philip and Corey as well as doting great grandma to 19 great-grandchildren. Caring aunt to nephew Michael (Diane).
To celebrate the life of Shelagh Harris, a Service will be held in St. Mary’s Anglican Church, 10030 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill, (Yonge and Major Mackenzie Drive) on Saturday January 6th, 2024 at 11:00 am. A reception will follow in Wrixon Hall (attached to the church).
Donations in remembrance of Shelagh Harris can be sent to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association, Terry Fox Foundation and Rotary Literacy Initiative Richmond Hill.