← View All Tributes

Richard Harris

Tribute Notifications

Click below if you would like to be notified when a new tribute is posted.

Sign Up

← View All Tributes

Richard Cole Harris

Date of Death: September 26, 2022


Richard Colebrook (Cole) Harris, at home, September 26, 2022, aged 86. Cole understood that to live well was to contribute. His contributions were many—to the field of historical geography, to teaching and mentoring students, to understanding the country, to the University of British Columbia, to the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, to raising a family—and continue to influence and inspire. Born in Vancouver in 1936 to Dick and Ellen (née Code), Cole’s school years were interrupted for long stretches with rheumatic fever. At UBC as an undergraduate in Geography and History, he ran middle distances with the Varsity Track Team. A young graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, Cole immersed himself in the archives in Quebec City and Ottawa and surfaced with The Seigneurial System in Early Canada. In 1961, Cole’s sister Susan introduced her UBC choir friend, Muriel Watney. Two weeks at the Harris family’s cabin in the Slocan Valley led to a wonderful partnership over fifty-eight years of married life. Cole taught at the University of Toronto, then at UBC, where its Geography Department remained his much-loved academic home from 1971 until he retired in 2001. His scholarship, begun on early Quebec, turned to the country as a whole, and led to the award-winning Historical Atlas of Canada, Volume I. Driven by an insatiable curiosity to understand the place he called home, Cole then focused on The Resettlement of British Columbia, and, in Making Native Space, on processes of colonialism and dispossession, while encouraging others as co-editor of BC Studies. After retirement, Cole revisited his work on early Canada with The Reluctant Land, and collaborated with others to publish local histories of the Slocan Valley. His scholarly awards include Fellow of the Royal Society, the Canadian Historical Association’s MacDonald Prize, the Royal Canadian Geographic Society’s Gold and Massey medals, and Officer of the Order of Canada. Cole will be remembered for spirited lectures, lively seminars, unconventional field trips, mealtime conversation, Shakespeare readings, enthusiastic singing, his support of creative activity, his rigour, and his kindness. He is survived by his wife Muriel, children Douglas (Candy), Colin (Janet), and Rachel (Éric), and eight grandchildren. Cole will be buried in New Denver, BC, close to his grandparents’ Bosun Ranch. Memorial service at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, Tuesday, 11 October, 4:00PM, live-streamed https://ucv.im/coleharris. Reception to follow. Donations suggested to the Slocan Valley Legacy Fund.


Send a condolence, light a candle and/or share a memory, click "Send Condolence". Once your message has been approved by the moderator it will be posted to the website.

From: Valley Funeral Home

Valley Funeral Home Staff send our condolences to family and friends.

Service Schedule

Private service arrangements have been made.

Memorial Gifts

The family has not designated a preferred charity at this time.

Thank You Notice

Send Flowers

default-floralFloral Tributes may be ordered directly through our supplier. Please have the name of the deceased, the funeral date, the address and phone number of the delivery location for handy reference:

621B Herridge Lane, Nelson, BC V1L 7B3
Phone: (250) 352-5592

2870 Georama Rd, Nelson, BC V1L 6Y7
Phone: (250) 352-3468 / Toll Free: 1(800) 712-6797

Flowers & Yoga Studio

513 A  Front Street, Nelson, BC V1L 4B4
(250) 505-5222

Donate In Memory

Send Condolence - For Richard Harris

Use the form below to send a Condolence, light a memorial candle and/or share a personal memory.

Your email address will not be published.

Please upload a small jpg file (Max file size is 1MB)

← View All Tributes