Aileen Marion Harmon, also known as Fritz, and Harmon by some friends and relatives, passed away peacefully on January 9, 2015, following a brief illness.
Aileen was a lifelong naturalist, botanist, photographer, world traveller, environmental activist and adventurer. She collected experiences and friends with equal dedication. Born in Banff, Alberta on January 14, 1912, Aileen was the first child of Byron and Maude Harmon. Aileen graduated from the University of Alberta in 1932 and spent her working life with Parks Canada in Banff, and her time off hiking, skiing, climbing in the Rockies, and weaving. She was one of the first interpreters in Parks Canada and designed and built the first nature trails in the Canadian Rockies. With Bruce Gordon she founded The Bow Valley Naturalists. Aileen was a member of the Alberta Chapter of NPPAC - National and Provincial Parks Association, the precursor to CPAWS of which she was a founding member. She was also on the Board of The Canadian Wildlife Federation and The Society of Alberta Naturalists. Her knowledge and love of the mountains was unbounded as was her advocacy for wilderness.
After retiring from Parks Canada Aileen set out to see the world. She travelled on every continent in various modes of transportation. Highlights were a raft trip down the Omo River in Ethiopia, a hiking and river trip in Papua New Guinea, ascent of Mt. Kenya, by van down the east coast of South America to Tierra del Fuego, and lastly by boat along the coast of Baffin Island when in her 90's.
Aileen left Banff in 1981 and built a new home by Shawnigan Creek in Mill Bay, Vancouver Island. This she named Harmon's National Park where she continued to travel, garden, hike, and collect friends. Her favourite saying of late was that she was lucky to live in the best place on earth.
Aileen was predeceased by her brothers Lloyd and Don Harmon. She is survived by her sister-in-law Beth Harmon, niece Carole Harmon, and grand niece and nephew Julia and Sebastian Hutchings. She is also remembered with admiration and love by her many friends old and young: cowboys, scientists, neighbours, river guides, artists, musicians, gardeners, hikers and most anyone who crossed her path.