(One of a series of articles about the history of South Beach and its families)
Written by Evelyn Ward de Roo
In the early 1900’s some of the first cottagers in South Beach were city professionals, including Percy D. Harris (b 1880). Sometime around 1912 he built Whippoorwill Cottage at 34 South Colonization Road.
Percy Harris was principal of Lord Nelson School in Winnipeg (ref, Gimli Saga, p. 118). He was also the secretary of the Manitoba Educational Association from 1911-20 and then served as its president in 1920-21.
Florence Harris was the daughter of Percy. She also became a school teacher. In the 1960’s she authored the high school textbooks, The Art of Poetry, and A Packet of Prose, both published by McClelland and Stewart Ltd.
Florence never married and had no children of her own. She inherited Whippoorwill Cottage. Along with her teaching ability she had a generous heart. She invited all the children from South Beach into her cottage to play.
She had the most interesting and unique toys. A huge farm set out on the grass. Betsy McCall doll and clothes.
She developed treasure hunts, crafts and games. She taught us how to knit. She served KoolAid or juice in plastic glasses carried in a wire rack.
The days it was okay to go to Whippoorwill to play were the days when Miss Harris would fly a Union Jack flag on the front of the cottage. Florence was not a well woman. So days when she was not up to having kids hang around, no flag would be present. Even until the early 1960s the Union Jack would fly on the odd day.
Whippoorwill Cottage still stands today behind a big white fence. No Union Jack flies there anymore.