Jen Zollner recently discovered a rural treasure, Harry Forbes. Harry is 103 years old as of April 11, 2021 and is a wealth of information about local rural history with a wicked sense of humour!
Harry has written five books that document his early life on the farm, the lives and challenges of Indigenous people and other topics that are important to rural history in Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.
We decided to begin featuring excerpts from his books on our web site, to preserve this precious history.
See “Meet Harry Forbes” poem below.
The most recent stories are posted first.
#4 Life of a Farm Wife
Harry’s sister, Helen chronicles the hard work their mom experienced raising children on a farm. Link
#3 Harry Forbes’ Sister Remembers their Mom
In our third in the Harry Forbes Remembers series Helen shares the story of their mother’s life. Link
#2 Harry Forbes’ Sister Remembers
In our second in the Harry Forbes Remembers series, Harry’s sister, Helen Hoszouski, nee Forbes, shares early family history and her memories. Link
#1 Harry Forbes Remembers
In this, the first story in the series, Harry Forbes remembers what it was like growing up on the farm. Link
Meet Harry Leo Forbes
by Jen Zollner
Harry Forbes is his name, call him ‘Soddie’ means the same.
His age now? A hundred years plus three.
As a rancher he has wisdom,
Hist’ry has his criticism,
He’s an author with no formal school degree.
Mother came from German Russia, says he’s just a common mucker,
But he’s hero for the stories he can tell,
Paints the hist’ry of his times,
Searched the many needless crimes
That our government upon First Nations fell.
Was a veteran in the war, his experiences and more
With his in-law brother published in a book,
But they left out gory matters,
Gave the losses, different battles,
So the price of war, we dare not overlook.
He’s historian for ‘The Creek’, he has a gift unique,
His mix of facts and story are such fun,
He recalls with accuracy
Dates and names so naturally,
He’s a treasure and his knack can’t be outdone.
Here’s a story Harry told, “It’s John Peterson with a load
On a wagon pulled by Blow Out and Spark Plug,”
Dad says, ‘Doesn’t it you bother
That one horse is ahead of the other?’
John said, “That’s all he gained in a 10-hour lug.”
“In a bar at Maple Creek, it was Saturday of the week,
The piano music this cowboy did not like,
So on horseback he did rope
The piano with the hope
To drag it outside, but the door too small to hike.”
“My wife sold her wildest buck, I was herding him up on the truck,
To the sound of ewes behind him he did duck,
He went back between my legs,
But mine are such short pegs,
That my backwards ride was the wildest mutton bust.”
Harry’s got plenty more to share, and to find it? Here is where:
On our website MHCowboyLife.com,
He gives prices way back then,
Famous cowboys and brave men,
Learn what times were like for him and for his mom.