|Description: A oval framed copy of a photograph of Elizabeth Molony Harris. A wooden frame with gesso or plaster raised designs in gold. It has a ribbon pattern flowing around flowers. The image is matted in a gold oval matte and covered with glass. The image is a black and white head and shoulders shot of Elizabeth Harris wearing a bonnet and a cape. She is wearing a gold locket and has her hair in ringlets at the sides of her bonnet. |
Elizabeth Molony Harris (1806-1884), a native of Dublin, Ireland, married Captain James Beveridge Harris (1797-1884) in 1829. She was one of eight children of an Anglican minister, Reverend Weldon John Molony, and Mary Preston. Elizabeth brought into the marriage an income of her own, based on rents from property in County Kildare, Ireland. Seven years into their marriage, her husband bought Benares in Upper Canada. She found herself a mistress of an estate in what was then an obscure and thinly settled portion of the British Empire, where servants were scarce and the neighbours distant. Elizabeth and James had eight children, five of which reached adulthood. Both died within the same year in 1884.
The item was donated by Geoffrey Harris Sayers, who was born 23 April 1907 and died 25 November 1997. Arthur Harris would have been Geoff’s grandfather. A retired businessman, he was the first child of Beverly and Annie Sayers (née Harris). A member of the Canadian Armed Forces, he was appointed 2nd Lieutenant 14 June 1938. Two years later, he was appointed Lieutenant. As of 21 April 1941, he was appointed the rank of Temporary Captain, and was recommended for appointment to the Lorne Scots (P. D. and H. Regiment) based out of Brampton. According to his military file, Captain Geoffrey Sayers served with the Canadian Forces from 21 April 1941 until 11 October 1945, when he was honourably discharged. From 17 June 1941 until 13 March 1945, he also served with the British Forces (he had British citizenship). He received the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp 1939-45.
Geoffrey Sayers and his sisters, Dora Sayers Caro, and Barbara Sayers Larson donated Benares Historic House to the Ontario Heritage Foundation in 1969. It has operated as a museum under the City of Mississauga since 1995 and was officially transferred to Mississauga in 2000. Geoffrey Sayers and his wife Kathleen (née Colloten) occupied Benares from 1969 until 1981. During that time, they acted as care takers of the estate on behalf Ontario Heritage Foundation. They kept a small display of artifacts in the kitchen, and opened up the house once a year to the public. He also maintained the Benares financial affairs in 1932 for Naomi (Na) and Mary, who were unable to do so themselves.