Harris, Garfield

Garfield Harris was born in Newfoundland in 1923, at a time when Newfoundland was still a British colony.  But just as the Great War did so much damage to a generation of young Newfoundlanders, it also hurt Garfield’s father, who’d run a prosperous fishing fleet before the war.  He made the decision to head west in the mid-1920s, and the young Garfield would go on to spend his early years in Saskatchewan, growing up on a farm and attending a rural school.  But the Great Depression hit, and Garfield’s father decided to head to Toronto, hoping to find a way out of the economic downturn.  Garfield grew up in downtown Toronto; he attended school until Grade 6, when economic pressures forced him to go to work.  Soon after the clouds of war began to gather over Europe, and Garfield’s older brother joined the RCAF; tragically he was shot down on his first mission.  Garfield by this time was 17, and he decided to join the navy.  He trained in Halifax, and then went out west where he joined the HMS Puncher, setting off overseas to join in on the sinking of the Tirpitz.  From there, Garfield became involved in the Murmansk runs, the dangerous convoys across the Arctic Ocean into Russia.  When the war concluded, Garfield returned to Toronto, where he met his wife and settled in postwar suburban Toronto, making his contribution to the new rhythms of civilian life.  Garfield and his wife have been happily married for 72 years now.

Garfield Harris was interviewed in January 2019 by Scott Masters and Eric Brunt at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 258 , courtesy of Bryan Bennett.