Bill Harrison, the original founder of GIANTS – now Ensemble Travel Group - in Western Canada, has passed away after a valiant struggle with several bouts of cancer over the years. He died peacefully at his home, surrounded by family, on November 6, 2009.
“Bill will be remembered for his vision and leadership in putting GIANTS Canada together,” said Warren Buckner, chairman emeritus, Ensemble Travel Group and president of Gayety Travel Service. “His tireless efforts have paved the way in bringing Ensemble Travel Group to the forefront and making it the organization that it is today.”
Harrison created his own agency, Maple Leaf Travel, and at the request of several agencies later became the leader of the Pacific Independent Travel Agents Co-op (P.I.T.A.C.) in Fraser Valley, BC. In January 1985, following negotiations with Don Gould, then president and CEO of GIANTS in the U.S., he became the first official employee of GIANTS Canada.
He took a leadership role in what would become a formidable association in the retail travel industry. While many changes have occurred over the years, the foundation of Ensemble Travel Group – now with 900 agency members- remains rooted in much of what Bill Harrison created.
“To many, he was a role model both personally and professionally, and perhaps more importantly a friend, which he will always remain. Together with his wife Claire, who was also a part of GIANTS and always by his side, the Harrison’s are often referred to as the ‘nicest people’,” Buckner said.
Harrison’s legacy is also continued through his daughter, Marie Potter, who started her career with GIANTS in 1991 and is currently Ensemble Travel Group’s director of internet marketing, North America. “We often refer to Ensemble as a ‘family’ and in this case it literally had a familial core,” said Jack E. Mannix, president and CEO. “This is a close-knit group of colleagues and members. We are all saddened by Bill’s passing and offer Marie, Claire, and the family our most sincere condolences.”
A 'Celebration of Bill's Life' ceremony will be held at the First Memorial Chapel in North Vancouver on November 21st at 2:00 p.m. The address is 1505 Lillooet Road, North Vancouver, BC (604-980-3451). At the family's request, in lieu of flowers donations can be made to the BC Cancer Foundation.