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ROBERT ARTHUR HARRISON
May 16, 1952 Halifax, NS – April 22, 2023 Winnipeg, MB
We are devastated to announce the sudden passing of our dearly loved Robert Arthur Harrison at the Grace Hospital in Winnipeg in the early morning of Saturday, 22 April 2023.
Robert was the youngest son of the late James Littler Harrison and Catherine Sterns Weldon of Dartmouth, NS, and was always referred to by his mother as “My Bobbie.” He was born in Halifax (there was no hospital in Dartmouth in 1952) and spent the first year of his life in Dartmouth, moving with his family to Edmonton, AB in February 1953. In 1957 the Harrison family moved to Winnipeg, MB, then spent 1963 - 1964 in Jamaica, West Indies, before returning to Winnipeg. Robert remained in Manitoba for the rest of his life, living in Headingley, Marquette, St Francois Xavier and finally back to Winnipeg.
Robert would often reminisce about his idyllic childhood in the years when no-one locked their doors and the children in the neighbourhood would travel from house to house gathering up the “gang” of friends to play with in the summertime, only going home for dinner or when the streetlights came on. He was blessed to have adventurers for parents – mostly his father, his mother would shrug, say “Why not?” and follow. As a result, there was always an epic family vacation to look forward to, whether it was a car trip to visit the grandparents in Nova Scotia, camping in Canada and Minnesota, or travelling to Dallas, Texas or Ottawa, ON to visit yet more relatives. He grew up thinking this was normal, but apparently other families didn’t bundle four kids in a car and travel North America.
Robert attended Robert H Smith elementary school in Winnipeg (conveniently across the street from the family home at 285 Ash Street), Priory School in Jamaica, River Heights Junior High in Winnipeg, Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, and the University of Manitoba. He never obtained his degree, but enjoyed his years working at “Mrs L’s Emporium” and working on the staff of The Manitoban and with UMSU as a program director. He made many good friends at the University of Manitoba with whom he kept contact through the years.
Robert was a lifelong Beatles fan beginning in 1963 in Jamaica with a special affinity for anything related to Paul McCartney. His passion was music and we learned never to play against him on trivia game nights or to make the mistake of asking him who played guitar on any album by anyone in the 1960’s or 1970’s unless we wanted to hear an hour long story about the artist, the type of guitar, what bands they were in, what their first hit was, where they charted on Billboard and whether or not he ever heard them play live, wished he’d heard them play live, or read their recent autobiography where he could point out the mistakes they’d made about when they wrote certain songs.
Robert worked part-time at the old River and Osborne Esso and at the old Esso refinery in East St Paul (courtesy of his father) before transitioning to the “Music Guy” at Muntz Stereo. He spent a short time in real estate before working in Headingley driving the water truck, then ended his working career with Bison Transport as a long-distance truck driver.
Robert leaves two daughters of whom he was immensely proud, Lenore Catherine (Shawn) Walsh and Kerri Joyce (Glen) Sandilands, and five dearly loved grandchildren, Colton, Kai and Maddox Walsh and Rory and Connor Sandilands. Robert was always available to guide and support his girls, was quick to remind them to always “do the right thing” and was highly entertained by their antics throughout the years. He would often be the source of amusement and any outing with their dad led to an adventure. Not only was Robert a father, but he was also a dear friend to both his girls who knew they could count on him at anytime for anything and he made sure they knew it. He was the first person the girls would call to share exciting news and he was always their biggest fan. He was a difficult man to try and take care of as he was never wanting to inconvenience anyone, but he was never an inconvenience, and the girls loved any opportunity to help him out and take care of him just as he had done for them over the years.
Robert is also survived by his sister Ann Louise Flint, brother David James (Christina) Harrison and younger sister Patricia Joan (Bernhard) Linnemann, as well as numerous nieces and nephews who will forever miss their “Unky Bob.” Robert especially admired his late Uncle Dick Weldon, of whom he referred to as “Uncle Duct Tape,” and who taught his young nieces and nephews creative cuss words - he was Robert’s “fun” uncle. Robert often mentioned that he wanted to be the new “fun” uncle after Dick’s passing.
Robert was a Montreal Canadians fan, and for many years would be seen wearing his “original hockey sweater”. He never missed a Winnipeg Jets or Blue Bomber game, watching from his recliner where “there is no line up for the bathroom and the snacks are cheap”. He enjoyed the back-and-forth sports banter with his son in law Glen and would often debate sports facts with Glen just to get a rise out of him for his own amusement.
Robert was a one-of-a-kind Grandpa Bobalouie and Papa. He loved receiving updates and photos of Colton, Kai, and Maddox from BC and cherished the visits he had whether that was venturing out to see them or taking them on wild adventures when they came to visit him in Winnipeg. Papa never missed a Saturday morning Karate class, and Rory would always ensure Papa was watching closely. Papa’s house was the place to be equipped with “Papa’s Pool” where he would host Rory and Connor most Sunday mornings for the “Sunday morning swim sermon,” Beatles rock band, and the best snacks around.
Robert could drive you absolutely nuts sometimes but two seconds later would make you laugh while he gave you the shirt off his back. Robert never acted his age and would often highlight that “Peter Pan had it right, never grow up.” He delighted in speaking his mind whether you agreed with him or not and has left us all with a wealth of memories and stories to share. Generous to a fault, he hated being thanked when he did something nice for a person and would actively seek ways to repay a favour. He always said “I know you’d do the same for me” but we all knew how unlikely that was and that he was truly the one person we could count on, always.
Robert would be thrilled to know that his beloved musical instruments have been donated to the music program at Grant Park High School. A special thank you to his long-time friend, Maurice Strasfeld for facilitating that connection.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Children’s Hospital Foundation in Robert’s name.
At his request, there will be no funeral service. Robert wanted a simple gathering of friends and family to enjoy a few drinks and share some laughs and memories – No tears please, he wanted to be remembered with a smile. If you have a memory to share or a funny story to tell, the family would love to hear it.
Please join us on Saturday, May 27th, 2023, at ANAVETS Rockwood #303 Legion, 341 Wilton Street, Winnipeg, MB where the family will be hosting a “come and go” Celebration of Life between 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm. Light refreshments will be served and there will be a cash bar available.
Memories, Stories and Condolences
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