Ac­tor a Cana­dian in­sti­tu­tion

Charlie Farquharson his fa­mous al­ter ego

SundayXtra - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Michelle McQuigge

TORONTO — Don Har­ron, who en­ter­tained gen­er­a­tions of Cana­di­ans with his comic al­ter ego Charlie Farquharson and helped bring the Cana­dian clas­sic novel Anne of Green Gables from the page to the stage, has died. He was 90.

Har­ron’s el­dest daugh­ter, Martha, said her fa­ther died on Satur­day morn­ing sur­rounded by fam­ily at his Toronto home after choos­ing not to seek treat­ment for can­cer.

The wit and hu­mour that landed him roles on CBC ra­dio pro­grams and tele­vi­sion va­ri­ety shows such as Hee Haw con­tin­ued to de­fine her fa­ther to the very end, Martha Har­ron said.

“He was still sharp. He was still ca­pa­ble of be­ing funny even though his voice was barely above a whis­per,” she said in a tele­phone in­ter­view from Toronto. “It’s hor­ri­bly sad, but it’s beau­ti­ful too.”

Har­ron was born in Toronto in 1924 and, ac­cord­ing to his own ac­counts in past in­ter­views, got his start in show business at an early age.

Har­ron said he be­gan his ca­reer as a car­toon­ist draw­ing car­i­ca­tures of peo­ple at ban­quets in the 30s be­fore land­ing an au­di­tion for CBC Ra­dio.

Har­ron’s grand­daugh­ter, free­lance jour­nal­ist Zoe Cormier, said Har­ron’s in­tel­lec­tual pas­sions nearly led him down a very dif­fer­ent ca­reer path than the one that made him fa­mous.

His pas­sion for phi­los­o­phy won him scholas­tic awards at the Univer­sity of Toronto, she said, adding his con­fi­dence in both aca­demic and en­ter­tain­ment are­nas fore­shad­owed the range of roles he would take on dur­ing his per­form­ing ca­reer.

“He’s one of the few peo­ple that I would de­scribe as a true poly­math,” Cormier said. “Any­thing he ever put his hand to he ex­celled at.”

Har­ron’s act­ing ca­reer saw him take on roles on stages from London to Strat­ford, Ont., but the character for which he’s best re­mem­bered stemmed from a very dif­fer­ent type of ex­pe­ri­ence.

Charlie Farquharson, a fic­ti­tious folksy sto­ry­teller from Parry Sound, Ont. who poked fun at almost any­thing Cana­dian, be­came a cult clas­sic that lasted decades.

Har­ron said a stint work­ing on an On­tario farm in­spired him to cre­ate the character in 1952.

“It took me 10 years re­ally to bring it fully out in the open, to come out of the closet, Har­ron re­called in a 1977 CBC in­ter­view.

AARON HAR­RIS / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Ac­tor Don Har­ron in 2002. A rel­a­tive says he ex­celled at any­thing he tried.

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