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Harry French

Updated: 6 days ago

2024 Lifetime Achievement Honouree

harry french

When asked about the most pivotal or impactful moment of his career, Harry French laughed to himself, paused, and then said, “it’s not a happy story”.  He was referring to the inception of the Whitchurch Stouffville Community Energy Project in 2013.  “It felt like a failure because we didn’t get what we wanted - the contract from the Ontario government”.  What he/they didn’t know at the time, was that it was the beginning of so much more.


Harry French is a man of vision, innovation, and action.  He’s been passionately expanding his network and environmental impact for most of his personal and professional life, creating a legacy of positive change and ecological healing in York Region and beyond.


His parents were born in Newfoundland and worked very hard for everything.  Their values and work ethic were admirable and productive.  Modest, hard work has guided most of Harry’s success, accomplishments and ideas.  With a graduate degree in Environmental Planning from Guelph University and a Human Systems Intervention degree from Concordia University, Harry applied his knowledge and expertise to all of his community involvements and projects. 


Search his name online and you’ll find references to preceding professional roles such as Assistant Deputy Minister in the Ontario government, Vice President of Planning at the York Region-based national consulting firm Marshall Macklin Monaghan, Research Director at the Conference Board of Canada, and Director, Community Power Services Group at the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association.


He’s worn more professional hats than any other honouree and each role lends to his capabilities and commitment to a healthier planet, through better business practices and heart-centred community collaboration.  Very recently Harry was awarded the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Citizen’s Medallion and Community Award for volunteer work and community contributions.


This Portraits of Giving Lifetime Achievement Honouree is now 76 years old, and with his foot far from the brakes, he continues to remain involved and active in the things he believes in.  He’s the Program Manager for ClimateWise, which is Windfall Ecology Centre’s network of local environmentally focused and driven businesses.  He’s the past President of Stouffville’s long running and community-proud Strawberry Festival, having various involvements since 2012. 

When asked about saving the historical 19 on the Park building, Harry was immediate in taking no credit.  While he was very involved in the final outcome of the site, he said that the decision to re-purpose the building had already been made before his involvement.  Harry put together a team of local people who planned and implemented a two week long launch, demonstrating the many uses of 19 on the Park.  Following this, he chaired a board of local citizens who were responsible for the operations of 19 on the Park.  They did all the work.  They saved 19 on the Park and made it what it is today.


A precious resource to our community, Harry French’s passion for environmental stewardship has been lifelong, and his ability to create actionable programs has never been more needed or relevant.  He believes we need to be planful but more importantly, that we need to act now.  Through his innovative spirit and dedication to community collaboration, Harry leaves an indelible mark of opportunity and respect on the environmental landscape of York Region for generations to come.


“Don’t just be thoughtful about things – move forward on things.” – Harry French




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