HARRISON, William “Wes” Wesley


HARRISON, William Wesley “Wes”

1935 ~ 2021

 It is with sadness that we announce the peaceful passing of Wes Harrison January 1, 2021 in Leduc Salem Manor at the age of 85 years.

Wes will be remembered by his wife, Shirley; sons, Rick (Kerri), Brian (Colleen); and daughter, Lori; as well as his loving grandchildren, nieces, nephews, relatives and friends. Wes is also survived by his brothers, Barry (Doreen) and Doug (Eleanor).

Wes was predeceased by his parents, WJ and Thelma; brothers, Alan, Gordon, Blaine; and niece, Darlene.

Wes and Shirley were school sweethearts, married in 1957, and celebrated 63 happy years together travelling the world with Imperial Oil and raising a family. Wes was a devoted husband, father, grandpa, and oilman and loved to contribute to the church and his community. After 37 years with Imperial Oil, Wes “retired” to community service work and was active in many areas including The Ambulance Society, The Lakeland Lodge and Housing, The Hospital Foundation, United Church Board and served as a councillor for the Town of Grand Centre for several terms, and many other volunteer boards and committees.

Summer fun included hours on the lake, enjoying the sunshine, driving the boat, and teaching the whole beach how to waterski. Winter was filled skidooing with the family and endless nights at the curling rink for league play, bonspiels and eventually competing at the NACA senior championship level.  The family would like to recognize the excellent care Wes received at Salem Manor Nursing Home.

A private family memorial service will be held January 9, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. officiated by Reverend Leigh Sinclair. Those wishing to join by virtual attendance can find a link on the Serenity Funeral Service webpage in his obituary at www.serenity.ca  or type in the following link in your web browser (https://distantlink.com/SerenityLeduc-Wetaskiwin.html). If you are attending the virtual service, the family has asked that everyone leaves their name in the condolence section on Wes’s online obituary.

Interment will be in the Harrison Family plot at the Graysville Manitoba Cemetery at a later date.

Memorial Donations may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation (5241 Calgary Trail NW #144, Edmonton, AB T6H 5G8)                                     Serenity Funeral Service Leduc (780.980.3688)



Eulogy – Wes Harrison

Wes was born August, 1935 to William John, WJ, and Thelma Harrison on the farm in Graysville Manitoba, near Carmen, 60 miles southwest of Winnipeg.  He was the third of six boys, Alan, Barry, Wes, Gordon, Blaine and Doug.  Farming in those days was the way of life for majority of people, including my dad and my moms family, the Coates.  Each lived about 5 miles from Graysville, but not in the same direction.

Wes attended Graysville school where he excelled in many areas, grades, sports, friendships – and getting into trouble with the teachers,….  Mom says that Dad, even in early school years had that twinkle in his eye, the mischievous grin, the humor…  And yes, that is where Mom and Dad first met –he was in grade 2 and she was in grade 1.  It was here in Graysville that Dad seeded a lot of his life long friendships, including Peter Unrah with whom they maintained their friendship for 80 years.  Dad loved people – and he was true to his friends and colleagues his entire life.

Farming in Manitoba in the 40s and 50s was hard work and you certainly did not get rich quick.  Dad and his brothers were hard working farm boys, with Dad learning and honing his strong mechanical and problem solving aptitudes early in his teen years.  This served him well his whole life, both in his personal life and career.  In fact he entered and won the Manitoba Tractor Club provincial championship in the early 50s.  Something about plowing a perfect furrow with a single bottom plow, backing up a hay wagon, taking apart a carburetor and reassembling it (and get the tractor to run), and a few other things.  Pretty big thing the time in my opinion, considering everyone farmed.  True to his nature I only discovered this story and his accomplishment very much later in my life.  You see the prize for that Tractor Club championship was the tool box in the garage us kids used to repair our bikes and our cars as we grew up.  It was in my teens I found the plaque that had long ago fell off the toolbox stating Manitoba Tractor Club Champion.  Dad was not a boastful man.  His actions were his reputation.  By the way – he would not fix our broken bikes and cars – but simply point to the tool and teach us how to fix our own problems… We also had to clean the tool and put it back in the correct spot  That’s one of my positive memories.

In 1954 at the age of 19 Dad followed the harvest west, planning to earn some extra money as a hired hand.  Harvest was early all along the way so he came all the way to Alberta with Kenny Stephenson and Lyle Owen two adventurous friends from the Graysville area. Kenny was posted to Cold Lake base, and Dad and Lyle dropped him off there and proceeded to Devon Alberta where Dad had a distant cousin Harvey Harrison and a first cousin Betty who was married to Norm Stewart, an Imperial Oil employee.  There was no work in Devon but Norm said head out to Drayton Valley where they had just discovered the Pembina field. 1954.

Boom town Drayton Valley in the mid 50s was skid shacks, mud and hard work – and Dad’s farm boy work ethic thrived.   And there were good paying jobs.  Dad got work with Mobil Oil.  Brothers Barry and Alan followed him out with Barry and his wife Doreen establishing a family and career in Drayton Valley.  Initially they all lived in a two room skid shack where they hot bunked working shift work.  Dad applied for a permanent job with Imperial Oil and began his career with Imperial Oil in Devon in January, 1957.

On a long change days off in May of 1957 Dad went back to Graysville and married his school sweetheart Shirley.  First born Rick came in 1961, with me Brian 1963 and Lori in 1969.

Dad had a successful 37 year career with Imperial oil.  1963 saw a move to Swan Hills with Dad transferring to the new Judy Creek Gas Conservation plant.  Here he completed his instrumentation and electronics certificates.  In the 13 years we were in Swan Hills Dad would advance his career to Foreman level.  Dad and Mom were heavily involved in the growing community of Swan Hills contributing significantly to the United Church, curling club, putting us kids in hockey and figure skating, just to name a few.  I know they left their mark on Swan Hills, the town and the people they touched.  A transfer to Calgary working on the Beaufort Sea Tuk Gas project, and then an overseas Expat stint to Libya North Africa and finally to Cold Lake Alberta in 1980 where he was part of the Operations team to advance the Heavy Oil Pilot projects and ultimately the world class Imperial Oil Cold Lake Production Projects.

Dads professional life was mostly unknown to me until I started my career with Imperial oil in 1986.  It was then that I began to realize the “size of his shoes – so to speak.”  Many people who I crossed paths in my time at Imperial Oil and knew my Dad would expound his positive approach and contributions  He mentored and influenced a lot of careers for a lot of people.

The 80s and 90s in Cold Lake are filled with many memories with Dad and Mom again heavily involved in the church, community and social activities.  Boating in the summer teaching the whole beach how to water ski, and curling/bonspeiling in the winter.  In 1992 Dad and Mom “retired” from Imperial Oil and Dad became even more involved in service to his church and community.  Dad never campaigned nor went door to door – but was elected 3 terms to Grand Centre town council.  His reputation, business acumen and personality is what got him elected.  When they successfully voted to merge the three towns into the City of Cold Lake, Dad decided it was time for others to take the lead and “retired” from politics.  In 2003 he was named Oilman of the Year for the Lakeland Oilman’s Society – a testament to his contributions to his service and community.  I cannot remember all the committees and boards he volunteered for – there were so many:  The United Church Boards, The Ambulance Society, Lakeland Lodge and Housing, the Hospital Foundation to name a few.

Dad and Mom also enjoyed a number of personal trips in retirement – Arizona with Pete and Jean Unrah, cross Canada in their RV with Jack and Pat Mills, and a memorable trip to Newfoundland, to name a few.  Dad enjoyed seeing new people and new places. They even had a place in Arizona for a few years where Dad really enjoyed the hot weather.

In 2006 Dad and mom moved to Leduc, into their next phase of life where they continued with their service to the church and community.

Wherever they were Dad was never far from reaching out to family and friends and always keeping in touch. He attended as many Imperial Oil Annuitant club activities as they could and he was on the board as President and Past President for a number of years.  Whenever they travelled dad would take the long way around to stop and visit some friend/past colleague or long lost family member in any of the towns that were near to where they were going.

Dad moved into Salem manor in 2016 after a stroke compromised his health.  But he still had his twinkle in his eye, his keen wit and sense of humor.  We enjoyed the last 5 years with his company even with his limitations.

In early 2020 mom was able to join Dad in the manor, in the same room.  I remember asking him if he’d like mom to be his roommate now – he paused, thought a bit and replied “well I’m not sure – she probably still snores some…..”.  Still had his wit, and twinkle in his eye.

Dad you were a good man.  You touched many people in very positive ways.  RIP.



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Tribute wall - a place to share your memories and condolences

Patricia and Orville MacDonald

We would like to extend our condolences to Shirley and Family as Wes’ passing will leave a big hole in your hearts. May the memories of the moments you have shared together ease the sadness in your hearts and bring some comfort to you…

Barb Prodan (Jordan)

I have so many fond memories of Wes, as the Harrisons were neighbours not only in Swan Hills, but then again in Grand Centre for many years. Wes always had a positive outlook, and great sense of humour. He was a great friend and companion to my dad, Bill. He made such a great contribution to the community, but his devotion to Shirley and the family came first and I admired him for that.

Carol Studer

I’m so very sorry to hear this. Alfie also ‘worked with/for’ Wes at IOL in Cold Lake and admired and had so much respect for him. He will be missed.
My sincere condolences to the Harrison family.

Judie Owen

My sincere sympathy to Shirley and family, Barry and Doreen, Doug and Eleonor. Lyall always spoke so highly of his friendship with Wes and enjoyed his visits whenever he made it back to Manitoba . There were so many happy times spent in Graysville. Hold all those memories close to your heart.

Stu and Lorraine Custance

Dear Shirley and family, it’s with deep sadness we heard of Wes’s passingng. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you today and always .

Bob & Caroline Coates

Aunt Shirley, Lori, Brian,Rick and families,
Thinking of you all and keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. Many great memories of Uncle Wes whenever you visited Manitoba and our family to Alberta. Our New Year’s extended visit due to a snow storm! and most recently we are so grateful for our visit with Aunt Shirley and Uncle Wes at the nursing home last summer.
Live and prayers,
Bob, Caroline, Eric and Devin

Eric and Patti McCabe

Our condolences to Shirley and family. I enjoyed working with Wes and we have many happy from Cold Lake. Wes and Shirley took us for our first boat ride on Crane Lake and we enjoyed barbecues and card games at their home. Wes enjoyed life to the fullest and will leave a hole in your lives.

Mike Bridle

Condolences to Shirley and family. I had the pleasure of working closely with Wes during my assignment at Cold Lake. We were close neighbours and rode to work together every day. He was quite simply “one of the best” – a comment not solely based on the fact that he had an inexhaustible supply of candies for the drive home each day!
Sleep well dear friend.
Mike and Andrea Bridle

Keith Rieder

I joined Essa in 1980 in Cold Lake and. I already knew Wes from many bonspiels and committee work. He immediately became a very helpful mentor for me and never hesitated to answer my many questions. We curled together and I still have the fine briefcase we won at one spiel.
It is hard to lose an old friend and Doris and I wish Shirley and family our very best. RIP Wes.

Bill+ Corrine Coates

Thinking of you all at this very sad time.
We always looked forward to the visits you made to Manitoba. You made us feel so welcome whenever we traveled to Alberta., even coming to watch the hockey games at the university and cheering for Manitoba when Amy was playing.
We’ll miss you Uncle Wes,

Neil & Linda MacNair

Our deepest condolences to Shirley and family and to Barry and Doug and families. Fond memories of the MacNair and Harrison families growing up together in the earlier Graysville years.

Raymond Coates

Our sympathies to all. We remember a much valued friend neighbour and my colleague and the “conscience” on town council. A life so well lived. Stay strong.

Matt Harrison

So very sorry to hear about Uncle Wes. My thoughts and condolences go out to Aunt Shirley and the rest of the family.

Stephen & Candice Bennett

Our deepest condolences to your family. Heaven gained a beautiful soul. Cherish the memories. Love to all.

Steve Portelance

Wes was a terrific mentor to me when I worked at Imperial Oil Cold Lake and I was fortunate to have Wes pass on some of his skills, knowledge and memories over to me which I carry with me to this day. Thoughts a prayers are with the Harrison family today.

Sherry Day

As I watch, from Wes and Shirleys Cold Lake home I remember an amazing man! Beautiful tributes today

John & Carolyn Armstrong

Deepest sympathy. Our thoughts and prayers are with you today

Bruce and Mo

Wishing you peace to bring comfort, courage to face the days ahead and loving memories to forever hold in your heart. Love, Our deepest sympathies

Stacey Ryan

Our deepest condolences to Shirley, Lori and family! We will all remember Wes for his big heart and great wit!

With love Stacey and Mike

Christine & Dean McKinnon

My sympathies to Aunt Shirley , Lori, Brian, Rick and family. Uncle Wes was truly a wonderful man. I have many cherished memories of summers & holidays spent with him and Aunt Shirley. He taught me many life lessons that I carry with me today. Rest In Peace Uncle Wes.
Love Christine & Dean.

Ivie Selin

To Shirley and family; Our sincere condolences on Wes’ passing. We have fond memories of our visits with the Harrison families in Drayton and Swan Hills. May treasured memories bring you comfort. – Ivie Selin and family

Lynn and Gary Bowles

We hold our precious memories of Uncle Wes and our family gatherings close to our hearts. We are with you in spirit, thoughts and prayers. With deepest condolences, Lynn, Gary, Mathew, and Emily

Wayne and Judy Selin

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family in your time of grief.

Dan & Wendy Wilburn

From our family, we send our sincere sympathy to Shirley and her family. We have many happy memories of times together at the curling rinks in the winter, and at the lake in the summer. Rest in Peace Wes.

Ivie Selin

Sorry for the families loss, I’ll cherish the memories of us curling together and the visits we had together at Barry and Doreen’s.

Yvette and Fred Erler

Our deepest sympathies to Shirley and family.
We are very saddened at the loss of a dear friend and neighbor.

Doreen and Barry Harrison

We will certainly miss Wes, especially when our two families get together. We have been doing this since our children were little and still do this after they are grown and moved away. Condolences to Shirley and the family.
Rest in Peace Wes.
Love Barry and Doreen

Ray & Ina Gillespie

Sincere sympathy to each of you. We enjoyed many Happy memories with both of you.God bless and comfort you.

Wayne A Pennycook

My condolences to Shirley and the whole family. Wes was a true friend and associate for many years and was often “the voice in my head”. I often reflect on our times working together and curling together throughout the 1980’s.

Garry and Debra Simons

Our sincere condolences to Shirley and family. To our grandchildren Cordell, Jackson and Kaylin. “When someone becomes a Memory; The Memory becomes a Treasure”. Take care and cherish the fond memories you have. Grandma and Grandpa Simons

Fred and Rae Bewer

Sincere sympathy to all left behind. May only the happiest memories fill your hearts and minds now.

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