History Lives Here: Past and Present Residents of the Golden Dawn Senior Citizen Home

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Photo: Harold Malcolm Forbes and his wife, Niki Ann Laura Forbes (Hiltz). For all of their outward differences, the Forbes couple certainly had many things in common, including decisiveness, duty and devotion.

Harold Malcolm Forbes and Niki Ann Laura Forbes (Hiltz)

Submitted by Christie Amyot,
Volunteer/Director, Golden Dawn Senior Citizen Home 

Our Mission: Golden Dawn is a hub of support and empowerment for adults seeking care and those who care for them.

This brief story is one in a series of articles featuring past and present residents of the Golden Dawn Senior Citizen Home in Lion’s Head, ON. Summarizing almost a century of life for any one person is intimidating, but given the rich and storied lives of our Golden Dawn residents and their amazing contributions as pioneers of the Bruce, please consider that every effort has been taken to research and honor our interviewees in sharing a brief snippet of their personal life story. 

Harold Malcolm Forbes and Niki Ann Laura Forbes (Hiltz)

What sets people apart, dear reader, almost always brings them together. Such was the case for Harold Malcolm Forbes and his wife, Niki Ann Laura Forbes (Hiltz).

Harold was born on February 21, 1948 and raised in Lion’s Head, Ontario, the youngest of Constance and Melville Forbes’ three boys. From what I can gather, reader, Harold was a wild child – a punky Brucester, one might surmise – whose history of shenanigans could almost match his family history as contributors to life on the Bruce as we know it. And that history, primarily in Lion’s Head – made Harold very proud. From his mother’s transportation business, delivering goods up and down the Peninsula (the Rat Patrol) – Forbes Rentals, to his family logging/milling operation (where the beach road gets its name) to his family sand and gravel business, HM Forbes Sand and Gravel, Harold kept busy on the Bruce through his entire life, contributing to the development of the Peninsula in a myriad of ways – including the first lighthouse rebuild in Lion’s Head – without having a ‘job’ or formal education. Forbes even helped in the creation of access roads into Elliot Lake, facilitating the development of the Elliot Lake community. 

Photo: Harold in his younger years.

Eventually, he bought Bruce Peninsula Septic Service from Ab Hatt, in 1980, which has shown continued success to this day in the hands of his daughter Kelly Arps and her husband AJ.

Harold’s relationship with school was interesting – according to his daughters, he literally walked straight through highschool, “in the front door and straight out the back.” Despite this, Harold was industrious and always a hard worker – able to make ends meet and more. He valued education for his girls, saving money in order to ensure that all three daughters could attend post-secondary programmes. He was a Rotarian, volunteer firefighter, member of municipal council, loved his ‘flying days’ with Alex Petroff and Kenny Gardner, and was always involved in local events.

As his daughters will attest, Harold loved animals and was rarely seen – in person or in a photo – without an animal, unless he was away for a trip. During these trips, his cows would inevitably get out, and his beloved dog Benji would steal one of his work boots in protest. Many, many animals were recounted, including a cat rescued from school, rabbits who would sleep with him, Nanny the goat who liked his cigarettes, the odd button, and the carpets, his chickens, pigs “Ernie and Bert”, and of course, the ducks. 

Harold always taught his daughters that once they committed to something, it was imperative to see it through. This, reader, leads me to the story of how Harold’s persistence finally led to his fateful marriage with Niki. Born on March 9, 1952, Niki had family ties to the Rydall clan on her mother’s side. Her paternal grandparents, Pearson and Anne Hitz, lived in Mar, where she spent a great deal of time. Born in Hamilton, Niki moved to the Bruce in 1976. Despite Harold’s ravishing handlebar mustache, cowboy hat, big boots, and the twinkle in his eye, it took not one, but three marriage proposals before Niki, according to her daughters, “finally gave in!” 

It should be admitted, that perhaps, despite her outward maturity, Niki’s inner child may have been brought out on occasion by Harold and his buddies, especially in these early days. Was Niki involved in Harold’s friend’s plan to bring a goat into the house on the night of Harold and Niki’s buck and doe? That remains a mystery, but during that telling evening of fun, friends and family, Harold’s best friends, Ernie Tyndall and Bill Martin did indeed sneak a goat from the family farm into the shower with Harold. Dearest reader, should I end the tale here? That shenanigan is simply the Greatest. Of. All. Time. G.O.A.T….

Having shared this tale, however, Niki was definitely more mature than Harold at this juncture. She began her life on the Bruce in a more grounded way, caring independently for her first daughter, Tiffany. As the girls put it, “Family is a choice. You see, that was the foundation on which our family was built – when dad chose mom, he also chose Tiffany with every fiber of his being. She was his daughter from that day forward. End of story.” Niki made the decision to marry Harold, and it could be said, given the years that unfolded after having two more girls together, she also committed to the entire Lion’s Head community as her new, extended family.

Photo: Niki and Harold Forbes.

Niki was most definitely like Harold in more than one respect – she was a straight shooter. According to the girls, she “was black and white – her face was so expressive you didn’t have to wonder what she thought… some people were afraid to go to the Post Office (where she worked), but she walked many paths and many people didn’t know that.” Despite Niki’s seemingly abrupt personality, she had a quiet sense of compassion and community. For over 10 years, Niki called local parents, collecting information about their kids – bought special Christmas paper, and wrote detailed Santa letters back to each and every child. She was involved with horticulture, Scouts Canada, tallied receipts for the Tea Time Quilters, helped with the Hospice for 25 years, and also worked for many years at the Lion’s Head hospital where she made food and cleaned. Niki expressed her love through food – making cakes that she or one of the girls would carry through the back yard to weddings and celebrations at the arena. For years, she baked for the Lion’s Head Inn (formerly a rooming house) and got so accustomed to cooking for many that even at home she prepped enough food for an army. 

The Forbes’ duo had each others’ backs through many struggles, but the biggest struggle was always how to make enough money to make ends meet. Later in life, the couple would encounter more serious struggles. Harold first became familiar to staff and residents at the Golden Dawn once his dementia became too much for Niki to manage at home. Devoted to ensuring that he lived comfortably, eventually Niki entrusted the Golden Dawn with Harold’s care. Her own health declined, as she was able to relax and know that Harold was in good hands. After a long process of investigation, Niki had been diagnosed with Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma (PPC). She succumbed to the terrible illness in August of 2022. As a true testament to their love, Harold’s health continued to deteriorate quickly during the four months after her death, and he died in December of the same year.

For all of their outward differences, the Forbes couple certainly had many things in common, including decisiveness, duty and devotion. In their final years, Harold became part of the Golden Dawn family – the duo are fondly remembered by all at the Dawn and in the Bruce, and we are thankful for their substantial contributions to the Lion’s Head and Peninsula community. 

When asked for suggestions for future redevelopment, Harold and Niki’s three daughters, Tiffany Forbes, Kelly Forbes-Arps, and Rosanne Forbes-Mansfield had many great ideas – including honoring the contribution of residents by ensuring the best care available, with top notch staff and programming, and allowing for a large outdoor space with gardens and a tree planting area where community members and families can congregate. 

Well reader, I couldn’t agree more. 

Do you have a family member with a history at the Golden Dawn? Please let us know and we will be in contact.

About Golden Dawn

Golden Dawn Senior Citizen Home is a non-profit, registered charity – the only long-term care home and senior apartments complex in Northern Bruce. Located in the village of Lion’s Head, Ontario, it is also the largest year-round employer in Northern Bruce. 

Be a part of our History! 

As we embark upon this critical redevelopment, please consider supporting the Golden Dawn in continuing to provide care and support for our residents, families and caregivers, staff and volunteers in the present while we make plans for the future. Ways you can contribute:

-Charitable gifts

-Monthly giving

-Estate planning/bequests

-Fundraising

-Volunteering

For more information, please contact: Christie Amyot, Volunteer/Director, 519-636-8505, christieamyot1@gmail.com or follow the redevelopment prompts on our website: www.goldendawn.ca