Lindsay Harris, a professor of 28 years at Algonquin College, taught his last class the week before he passed away on April 27 at age 71. He was due to retire in June.
A police foundations professor, he was remembered as a man who spoke his mind and was content to devote himself to academics. With a background in counseling, he was involved in academics all his life.
“He cared about students,” Laura Cohen, chair of Algonquin’s Police and Public Safety Institute, said. “He would do anything (for them).”
Lindsay Harris graduated from Shawville High School in 1963, where he was awarded the Birks Medal for Scholastic Achievement. He started studying at Carleton University at the age of 16 where, in 1969, he received a bachelor of arts and in 1972 a degree in forest technology from Lakehead University. His third degree was in education from the University of Regina.
In 1995 he received a diploma, with highest honors, in sex and drug counseling from the Stratford Career Institute.
One of his greatest passions was working with youth and young adults. To that effect, he was a youth counselor for many years at a halfway house in Regina.
A private individual, he was his most gregarious while teaching, said Ingrid Harris, 68, his wife.
“People knew little about his private life,” she said. “He had a lot of hidden talents, I consider him to be a great artist.”
In fact, on Valentine’s Day, she bought him some art supplies. He planned to do some artwork after retirement.
Classes he taught in the police foundations program included contemporary social problems and career and college success. He also created a general education elective course — understanding human sexuality — because he wanted students to learn about issues such as sexual health and assault.
“He was very concerned about that,” Cohen said. She said the course meant a lot to him and it’s likely now to be retired.
Harris had a direct personality – Cohen described him as a “wildcard.”
“He had a very unfiltered sense of humour,” said Nils Hamster, Harris’ 28-year-old son.
“He was extremely direct and students either embraced it or they didn’t,” added Ingrid.
There’s always a funny story to tell about Harris, a man with no shortage of quirks. Cohen recalled one time he came into her office a few months ago, upset because of something he said in class.
“I’ve done something bad,” she recounted him as saying. She asked him if it’s something he would say to Ingrid; it wasn’t and he felt awful.
“He was a very self-reflective person,” Cohen said.
Post-retirement, he was looking forward to his art and gardening. Ingrid said there were plans for future travel.
In October 2016, Harris planted 150 tulips to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday this year, as a surprise. “You won’t know when they’ll come up,” Ingrid recalled him telling her.
The bulbs are just sprouting now.