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Ron Harris
Male 1916 - 2018


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  • Birth  7 Feb 1916  , England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender  Male 
    Eby ID Number  Waterloo-32036 
    Died  4 Jan 2018 
    Person ID  I32036  Generations
    Last Modified  5 Jul 2018 

    Family  Joan,   d. 2007 
    Family ID  F8375  Group Sheet

  • Notes 
    • LIFETIMES: Homeopathic pioneer and world traveller dies at 102
      Ron Harris formerly of Waterloo, born: Feb. 7, 1916 in England, died: Jan. 4, 2018 of age related illness

      Ron Harris's remarkable life was first featured in the Record in 2000 when he and his wife Joan Harris were running a youth hostel on Albert Street in Waterloo. Ron, a pioneer of homeopathic medicine in Canada, was well into his 80s by then yet looked 30 years younger and he would continue living a vibrant life well into his 90s.

      The man affectionately known as Dadaji by his friends, died in early January one month short of his 102nd birthday, active until the end, his bucket list complete.

      Though little is known about his early life, Ron did share with a reporter that he was born in England where he first met Joan Hope, the woman who, like him, had little interest in possessions and viewed the world as an exciting place to explore.

      They first met in 1939 when Joan, a registered nurse and dietitian, was working for the international hostellers association. Ron had been studying to become a doctor before leaving medical school to join the British military. Their meeting was brief and there was a spark but the timing was off.

      Ron was shipped out and they lost contact until an unexpected and rather messy meeting more than two decades later.

      After her own adventuring around the world, Joan was back in London in the 1960s running a 70-bed youth hostel. One fateful day in 1964, she happened to be up on a ladder painting when the unexpected happened: Ron walked in. He was simply looking for accommodations and later told a reporter that he couldn't believe his eyes, seeing Joan. When she turned and saw his face, well, she got a little excited.

      As Ron described it "She looked at me and (accidentally) dropped the paint all over me. We cleaned me up and went off to the market together."

      They hadn't seen each other in 25 years, but those old emotions resurfaced and the couple, both widowed and childless, married immediately.

      Their outlook on life meshed beautifully. Both were adventurous, both loved to travel and their first overseas jaunt came in 1967 when Ron, who by then had a degree in homeopathy, was offered a job as a science teacher in Alberta.

      Canada proved disappointing. Ron, a student of Gandhi's philosophy of peace and love, was horrified after witnessing the brutal police killing of a First Nations man. Disillusioned with their adopted country they decided to leave.

      First, they bicycled to Montreal then purchased a $100 junker (car) which had to last long enough to take them to the Maritimes then on through the U.S. Their final destination was San Francisco where they planned to catch a freighter to India.

      Disappointed the ship would be delayed two months, they hit the road again, completing yet another loop through Canada's west and east coasts then back to California where they finally caught the ship.

      It was the height of the Vietnam War and the ship, loaded with food supplies, had a stop in Saigon. Never ones to let an opportunity pass, Joan and Ron decided to explore, against the shipping company's warnings. They were made to sign a waiver absolving the company of responsibility and when they set sail again a few days later, a port was indeed bombed and another bomb destroyed a market the couple had visited.

      After making stops in Japan and Singapore they finally landed in India stayed with a local family for five months before leaving for the Himalayas, where the intrepid pair set up a youth hostel. Four months later a monsoon swept away the buildings and they were left with nothing. Luckily, another Canadian job offer came in 1969 and so they returned.

      In 1972, while living in New Ross, N.S., the couple purchased a piece of property and built a campground and youth hostel. With all the digging and landscaping, they also discovered remains of what Joan claimed was an early Viking and a Knights Templar settlement. Joan self-published a book on her speculations but could never interest the government in further archeological research.

      In 1988, author Michael Bradley, wrote "Holy Grail Across the Atlantic: The Secret History of Canadian Discovery and Exploration" (Hounslow Press) citing the couple's discoveries.

      Joan was in her glory, surrounded by young people at the camp but as they neared their 70s, both knew it was time to move on. Next stop was the Albert Street home where they ran a hostel and student accommodations.

      Joan died in 2007 having suffered for years following bad falls in the 1900s and a serious car crash in 1974 that shattered her pelvis.

      After her death, Ron, who was running a busy homeopathy practice, wasn't ready to retire from life. In the fall of 2008, age 93, Ron, donated the 20-bedroom Albert Street house to Wilfrid Laurier University as the Global Engagement Community residence, named in Joan's honour, Harris Hope House.

      Ron told a reporter "On the 22nd of Nov. I disconnected my telephone and walked out with six shirts and six pants. I'll be like a gypsy."

      For the rest of his life, Ron lived with friends which freed him of responsibility. In January 2009, he travelled to India touring hospitals, schools and ashrams, providing financial support and homeopathic care to anyone in need, travelling non-stop for two months.

      As a homeopath, Ron was well regarded internationally as well as in Canada. He served two terms on the Health Canada Expert Advisory Committee on Natural Health products, and as an adviser on the premiers' council on health strategy and he was an adviser to the Canadian Coalition for Homeopathic Medicine among many other major appointments. He founded national homeopathic organizations, received multiple awards and wrote books including "The Science of Healing, According to the Principles of Homeopathy."

      While travelling in India, Ron provided free health care and also tried to solve problems. At a school for the blind he suggested recruiting the siblings of the blind students' to provide their care in exchange for a free education. That simple idea not only saved the school money but also gave even marginalized children a hopeful future.

      Ron also established a program where people around the world could have their special events celebrated by the kids at the school, the party video streamed over the internet. That simple program managed to raise $17,000 for the school.

      Travelling distances in the heat of India could not have been easy for the senior who turned 94 while travelling. He did have help. Bhagyavathy Patel, a Burlington obstetrics nurse and former stroke patient of Harris. She accompanied the intrepid and determined healer.

      On her return to Canada, Patel marvelled at the amount of work Ron was able to do, particularly given his age and she told the story of one night in Bombay, when Ron was seeing patients until 11 p.m.

      "I had to tell him, 'We have to go' I was exhausted, but not him," she said.

      That energy level never abated and in 2010, at age 94, the peace loving Ron took part at the Nonviolence Festival in Victoria Park in 2010.

      "It's not just killing, (violence) is hurting people in any way," he told a reporter.

      vhill@therecord.com

      Hill, V. (2018). LIFETIMES: Homeopathic pioneer and world traveller dies at 102. TheRecord.com. Retrieved 15 January 2018, from https://www.therecord.com/news-story/8072124-lifetimes-homeopathic-pioneer-and-world-traveller-dies-at-102/

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    Link to Google MapsBirth - 7 Feb 1916 - , England Link to Google Earth
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