Because they are attentive to the details of everyday life, genre paintings reflect the way of seeing at a certain time and place. Robert Harris painted many scenes of places and activities on Prince Edward Island that paid close attention to the rendering of possessions and clothing. His paintings tell stories of places, of events, and of everyday life in the colonies. Paintings such as Drying Fish on Flakes, Detail of Workings on Sleigh, Old Acadian Woman of Prince Edward Island, Duncan's Shipyard, Old Post Office in Charlottetown, Voting in Charlottetown, and Landing for Lobster Boats document how things were done in the late 1800s.
Among the people Harris painted at work and at play, Harris painted many children, including Barefoot Boy with Fiddle, Banjo Boy, Girl with Accordion, and The Boy Who Makes Pleasure His Work. Harris also painted posed portraits of children, who would have been the children of upper-class families who could afford to have their portraits done. Harris' studies create a documentary record of life and times on Prince Edward Island.