The Harris’ of Norway Bay
The Harris cottages are situated at the end of Phyllis Avenue beside the Norway Bay Cemetery. The street was named in honour of Phyllis (Cumming) Harris who had resided on the street for more than 60 years; and who initiated Norway Bay summer tennis and participated in many events. The family cottage Jaykalu – now belongs to her children David Harris & Julie (Harris ) Henry . The neighbouring cottage Sohomey was purchased by Anne Harris from the Jackson Family in 1998 .
The Harris Family has enjoyed summers at Norway Bay for five generations.
Their grandparents Florence & Reuben Cumming first rented in 1920. Prior to her marriage to Reuben, Florence McMorrow - the matriarch of the family – arrived to Norway Bay with her friend Frances Mulvihill from Arnprior around 1910. The Cumming children – Bob, Phyllis & Barbara Ann – all raised their families at Norway Bay and each had their own cottages.
Phyllis Cumming met Ray Harris during the summer at Norway Bay some 80 years ago. Ray was visiting his pal Dick Alexander, but ended up following Phyllis around all weekend! Phyllis and Raymond married at a young age and raised 8 children. Besides tending to her own children, Phyllis made time to chaperone dances at Burnham Hall – where she would collect dimes from everyone for the Jukebox . A top notch athlete, she could do jackknives from the diving board at the pier; swim like a fish; and organized the first tennis lessons in the Bay at Scobie House summer hotel.
The original Jay Ka Lu cottage was occupied by the Cumming family. However in 1949, a major fire caused by an electrical storm, destroyed three cottages including the Jackson Cottage next door. After constructing a new one, Reuben & Florence turned it over to Phyllis and moved to a large property on River Road.
Full of Irish humour, the Harris family always made fun about the cottage location. Ray was a Funeral Director with the Brady & Harris Funeral Home, a 100 year old business located at 375 Lisgar St in Ottawa. He liked to joke about inviting his two best friends - Bill Coffin & Paddy Graves - to the cottage - beside the graveyard at Norway Bay!
What a great time at the Bay! Trophies & banners,tournaments & regattas, swimming & tennis , dances , BBQ’s and parties – all activities engaged by the eight children - Michael Donnie Paul Randy Peter Anne Julie & David. Despite the dominance of boys in the family, guess who were the ones to win the George Hermans’ Regatta Trophy - Anne & Julie !
Phyllis & Ray died within several months of each other. Phyllis in December, 1999 Ray in April, 2000. They are buried in the Norway Bay Cemetery. Their family legacy still lives on at the Bay - through their grandchildren and great grandchildren who now rent & own cottages. On a hot summer day, the kids dart down the footpath from Phyllis Avenue to the beach at the river. The Harris children take delight in standing at the top of the hill to shout – ‘See You At The Beach ‘ - a tradition that has been in existence now for over 70 years .The expression has been forever inscribed on the family monument within an eye’s glance of the cottage beside the cemetery - in the shadow of the mighty pines of Norway Bay.