Forbes History Reviews

Forbes History

Forbes- Our Automotive History

Fairest in Sales, Finest in Service...since 1921

Russell Arthur Forbes

Russell Arthur Forbes

Jack B Forbes

Jack B Forbes

Ralph A Forbes

Ralph A Forbes

Russell A Forbes

Russell A Forbes

Russell A (Russ) Forbes

Russell A (Russ) Forbes

Leigh Forbes

Leigh Forbes

Latest News

Forbes Waterloo Toyota

Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Today we officially opened the doors at 300 Weber Street North....
...the wonderful new home for the all new Forbes Waterloo Toyota.
Please stop by to visit and see what our excitement is all about!

History Page 1

The Forbes family has been a part of the automotive history since the beginning with the involvement of Russell Arthur Forbes. Russell served as Henry Ford's personal secretary, and later held the position of business manager for Mr. Ford's newspaper, the Dearborn Independent.

Russell Arthur Forbes enlists in US Army in 1917

Of special interest, was the involvement of Russell Forbes with Mr.Henry Ford during the million dollar libel suit against the Chicago Tribune newspaper in 1919. At the time, Russell Forbes was Mr.Ford's personal Business Manager, and Mr. Ford, to avoid being subpoenaed to appear in court, had a train car fitted as an office that constantly was being moved. If they could not find Mr. Ford, they could not serve Mr. Ford to appear in court. Russell Forbes secretly met with Mr. Ford every evening at a different location, to bring the business of the day to Mr. Ford. Ralph Forbes, Russell's youngest son, remembered accompanying his father, as a small lad, to these meetings and recalled sitting on the train car steps as his father and Mr. Ford conducted the day's business. Mr. Ford eventually won his suit again to the Chicago Tribune and was awarded only six cents as damages.

Ford Dealership in Tilbury Ontario
Mr. Russell A Forbes (second from the left) and his brother Stanley C Forbes (3rd from the left) are seen in front of their Ford Dealership in Tilbury Ontario in 1923.

In 1921 Russell A. Forbes left Detroit and moved to Tilbury Ontario, where he and his brother Stanley C. Forbes, assisted by one employee, began selling Ford cars and parts. Soon after opening the business in Tilbury, the brothers built a 100'x40' garage with a cinder floor. They worked out of this building for the next four years after which they moved the business to St. Thomas Ontario.

Ford Dealership in Tilbury Ontario

On December 31, 1924, the brothers hung the "open for business sign" in the telephone city, Brantford Ontario. The business was located at 303 Colborne St. for the first two years, and in December of 1926 the brothers acquired a lot in building on Darling Street in Brantford. In 1932 a service station was added and four years later in 1936 they added a used car lot.

Russell A Forbes & Stanley C Forbes
Russell A Forbes and Stanley C Forbes in 1930

In 1940 Russell left Brantford and his brother Stan, to become the Dodge De Soto Dealer in Kitchener, operating under the name R. A. Forbes Motors. Russell died in May 1943 leaving two sons Jack and Ralph. In 1948 after serving in the WWII, at the age of 23, Ralph Forbes became the youngest Ford Motor Co. dealer in Canada, and along with his older brother Jack, opened Forbes Motors Ltd. in Welland Ontario.

Ralph and Jack Forbes opened the doors of Forbes Motors
On July 6, 1948, Ralph and Jack Forbes opened the doors of Forbes Motors. This picture was taken on new car announcement day in 1948 in Welland.

Forbes Motors Welland
Forbes Motors, Welland, 1953

Old Halwig Motors
The old Halwig Motors on Victoria St, Kitchener in 1955
after signs were changed to Forbes Motors Ltd.

In 1952, Forbes Car Lease Ltd., a subsidiary of Forbes Motors, was established and today has a substantial fleet of leased vehicles of all makes and models on the road.

In 1955, the brothers purchased Halwig Motors Ltd. an established Pontiac Buick dealership on Victoria Street in Kitchener. In 1965 they moved to the present location on Weber Street, Waterloo. Until 1977, Forbes Motors also operated a branch outlet in Elmira, where boats and motors were sold along with automobiles.

Pontiac Buick dealership

In January 1973, Ralph's son Russell joined the firm after graduating from Northwood University of Midland Michigan with a degree in Automotive Merchandising. In July 1981 the ownership was taken over by Russell Forbes, Ralph's son, and the name changed to Forbes Motors Inc. In August 1987, Forbes Motors Inc., was awarded the prestigious Cadillac franchise. In February 1997, at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention, Ralph A. Forbes was presented with an Automotive Hall of Fame Distinguished Service Citation. The honor recognizes men and women who have contributed to the automotive industry through their outstanding leadership and achievement. Forbes was one of only six Canadians to be singled out for this award since the Hall of Fame was created in 1940.

Children’s Safety Village

In 1990, Ralph and Jack Forbes were approached to support the K-W Regional Police Departments Children’s Safety Village. Located at Maple Grove Road in Cambridge, beside the Regional Police Headquarters, the Children’s Safety Village was created to give young children “hands on” safety training. This village simulates a small city block, as well as classrooms where children are taught safety rules in this miniature setting. Classes cover such items as stranger awareness, pedestrian and traffic safety, fire education, bicycle safety and internet safety. The Forbes’s, along with generous support from their suppliers, constructed a miniature replica of their Forbes Motors Dealership building. This facility houses the fleet of electric cars and bicycles that the children receive instruction with. Annually 20,000 local students visit the village and attend safety classes. For more information, visit the Children’s Safety Village at

History Page 2

Toyota Building

On October 1st, 1999 Forbes Waterloo Toyota at 583 Colby Drive was added to the Forbes Automotive Family. The dealership now conducts business under the name Forbes Waterloo Toyota and offers full parts and service departments as well as new and used vehicle sales and leasing. Forbes Motors Inc. and Forbes Waterloo Toyota employs approximately 30 dedicated Staff members.

Award for RalphAward for Russell

In September, 2005, Mr.Ralph Forbes was recognized by General Motors of Canada for his 50 years as a General Motors Dealer and in September, 2006, Russell Forbes was recognized for his 25 years as a General Motors Dealer.

Concluded in May 2006, a major renovation was done on the Dealership facility. The newly renovated building includes an 18 car showroom, new washrooms, parts and service areas, refreshed service drive through, new customer lounge and many other new customer conveniences.

Newly Renovated Building

In January, 2007, the 4th generation of the Forbes Family joined the company. Russ Forbes graduated from the University of Western Ontario from the Richard Ivey School of Business in 2003 and has been with General Motors of Canada as both a District Service Manager and a District Sales Manager for 3 years. Very few Dealerships have experienced four generations of family and ownership, and we are very proud of our past and very excited for our future.

In March of 2007 Russell Forbes received a personal letter from Mr. Yoichi Tomihara, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Canada Inc. Here is an excerpt from the letter:
“On a personal note, I am very pleased that one of my first official duties as President of Toyota Canada Inc is to congratulate you on your individual success. You have earned designation in the 2006 President’s Club.
The President’s Pride Program is very comprehensive in its measurement criteria and only those dealers meeting exceptionally high standards in all areas of the Dealership’s operations will stand with their peers in the exclusive ranks of the President’s Club. I salute you on your remarkable accomplishment.” It should be noted that only 25 Dealers in Canada win this award annually. “I am very proud of the Forbes Waterloo Toyota Team, they are outstanding employees” said Mr. Forbes.

In October 2007, Forbes Collision Centre became the first shop of its kind to convert to a water bourn paint process. This is an environmentally "green" process that is much more environmentally friendly method of painting vehicles. This required expensive new paint equipment and retraining and further demonstrates our commitment to being a good corporate citizen.

Mazda Old Building

In November 2007, Parkway Mazda at 115 Northfield Drive West in Waterloo became the newest member of the Forbes Automotive Family. This dealership as of January 2008 has conducted business under the trade name Forbes Waterloo Mazda and will offer a full parts and service department as well as vehicle sales and leasing. Approximately 20 new employees became Forbes family members.

Mazda New Building

Mazda Canada Award

Annually Mazda Canada awards the prestigious title of "Dealer of Distinction" to a select number of their Dealers.

Winners have demonstrated outstanding performance, and have excelled in all areas of their dealership operations. In May 2012 ,Forbes Waterloo Mazda was very proud to have been recognized as one of only 32 dealers in Canada to earn this recognition. We are very proud of the men and women of Forbes Waterloo Mazda who won this honour for us.

Time marches on, and so does the development of the Forbes Automotive Family. Started in summer of 2011 and completed that Nov, Forbes Waterloo Mazda underwent a complete facelift and modernization of the facilities at 115 Northfield Drive in Waterloo. The new 7 car showroom, new sales and administration offices, new washrooms, new service and parts areas and a modern new customer lounge, was all done to exceed Mazda Canada's corporate building requirements and to give our customers an outstanding ownership experience.

In 2012, another 4th Generation member of the Forbes Family joined the team. Leigh Forbes, graduated from Georgian College (Barrie) in 2010 with a Degree in Business and an Associate Degree in Automotive Marketing. While attending school in Barrie, she completed her coop terms with the local Barrie Ford Dealership. (Ironic, since the Forbes Family represented the Ford Motor Company from 1921-1940 and from 1948-1955).

Upon graduating, Leigh worked for Barrie Lexus, which at the time, was a brand new start up dealership. She was one of the original employees. After 18 months, at Lexus of Barrie, she returned to Waterloo where she joins the family business working at Forbes Waterloo Toyota.

History Page 3

Chuck Howitt, Record staff

Forbes will fly Chevrolet banner
Waterloo dealership is taking over former Schlueter franchise
Chuck Howitt, Record staff, Record, April 18, 2013

KITCHENER —Russell Forbes Sr. pointed toward the wall at one end of his GM dealership at 165 Weber St. S. in Waterloo. Above the logos for Buick, Cadillac and GMC, an empty space yawned where a Pontiac sign used to rest.

That space will be empty no longer. Forbes Motors announced Wednesday that it is taking over the Chevrolet franchise in Waterloo that once belonged to the Schlueter Automotive Group.

Forbes will begin selling and servicing the full line of Chevrolet vehicles on June 1. “It’s a new birth. It broadens the scope of vehicles we can offer and consumers we can reach,” a beaming Forbes said in an interview.

With sales falling after GM discontinued the Pontiac line in 2010, Forbes was looking for another General Motors brand to fill the space.

When word filtered his way about six months ago that the Schlueter group was looking to vacate the Chevrolet family, serious discussions began, he said.

Rumours intensified in March when Schlueter revealed it would shut down its nearby dealership at 300 Weber St. N. in May.

With two hectares of land and 65,000 square feet under roof, Forbes Motors has plenty of room to accommodate the Chevrolet lineup,along with its existing fleet of Buicks, Cadillacs and GMC vehicles, he said.

“This will take us back to those volumes,” Forbes said of the days when he sold Pontiacs. Taking over the Schlueter lot was never in the cards because the Schlueters plan to redevelop the property for other uses, he said. About eight to 10 employees from Schlueter are moving over to Forbes, bringing total employment at the Weber Street dealership to around 70, he said.

The franchise transfer has the full support of GM Canada, Forbes said.

“We’ve been with them for 65 years. It’s not as if we were strangers to them,” said Forbes, whose lineage in the auto industry goes back 93 years.

His grandfather Russell Arthur Forbes once worked as a business manager for auto pioneer Henry Ford before opening his own dealership in Tilbury, Ont., in 1921.

Located at 165 Weber St. since 1965, Forbes completely renovated the facility in 2008 to meet the upgraded image requirements of GM, he said. A full lineup of Chevrolet models will bring the dealership’s total inventory to around 300 vehicles, said Forbes’s son Russ, general manager of the Weber Street store

Forbes Automotive Family also owns a Toyota dealership on Colby Drive and a Mazda dealership on Northfield Drive in Waterloo. While Russ runs the Weber Street dealership, Russell Sr. manages the overall direction of the auto group.

John Brooke Forbes

The Staff at Forbes Motors wish to announce the passing of John "Jack" Brooke Forbes on May 7, 2013 at the age of 92.

Born July 4, 1920 in Winona Ontario, he attended school in Brantford, Ontario and attended Queens University in Arts 42 Commerce and Finance. He left Queens in 1940 to join the Army and served with the 15th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery as a Captain, being awarded the Military Cross for action in Holland. He also served with the No 2 Forward Observer Unit of the 8th British Airborne Regiment as a liaison officer. Jack joined with his brother Ralph to form Forbes Motors Ltd. in Welland and then Kitchener/Waterloo from 1948 until 1981 when they sold to Russell Forbes.

Jack served as President of the K-W Gyro Club and was a member of the K-W Senior Gyro Club. He was active in the Waterloo Rotary Club and was made an Honorary Member as well as receiving a Paul Harris Fellowship Award. Jack served as President of the Ontario Automobile Association and as a Director of the Canadian Automobile Association. Jack was a founding Director of Junior Achievement of K-W and then as a Governor of Junior Achievement of the Waterloo Region and an Honorary Governor.

He was President of the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce and a Director of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and honorary member. Jack was President of the K-W Chapter of CISV (Childrens' International Summer Village) and then President of the Canadian Association. Jack served as a Director and then President of the K-W Westmount Golf and Country Club and was made an Honorary Member.

He was a member of the Atlantis Golf Club in Atlantis, Florida and was a Director of the Ontario Golf Association and a Governor of the Canadian Seniors Golf Association and was a member of the International Seniors Amateur Golf Association.

Jack was an extremely generous man in every way supporting his community financially and with his leadership abilities. He served his country with bravery, was a partner in a successful business and was the rock and foundation of his family until the end, inspiring us all with his courage and grace in his declining years. He never lost his sense of humour and positive outlook.

We all feel a deep sense of loss at Jack's passing. He was a huge part of the strength of the Forbes Family and will be missed but never forgotten.

History Page 4

November 2013, the Forbes Automotive Family announced that they had acquired the previous Schlueter Chevrolet Dealership facilities at 300 Weber St N. in Waterloo.
This will become the new home for Forbes Waterloo Toyota.

This complex will undergo a major renovation and should be ready to be occupied in the Summer of 2014. Once completed, the operations of Forbes Waterloo Toyota will be relocated from 583 Colby Dr Waterloo to 300 Weber St. North in Waterloo
This new location is more than twice the size of the current store on Colby Dr., and will include new amenities like a 6 car drive through service department and a large 15 vehicle showroom.
Our business has steadily grown, and with the volume of quality Toyota products that we sell annually, the Dealership has outgrown the present site. Ironically, when the 300 Weber St building was built, in the early 1970's, it was operated as a Toyota Dealership in Waterloo.

Toyota Dealership

Leigh Forbes

Forbes Motors will create a larger Toyota site at the former Schlueter location
Forbes Motors Inc. is taking the former Schlueter building at 300 Weber St. N. in Waterloo back to its roots, by converting it into an expanded location for its Forbes Toyota franchise.
The building will be renovated and then the Toyota dealership currently located at Colby and Northfield drives will move in, said Russell Forbes Sr., the company’s president.
In the 1970s, the property was a Toyota dealership but the Schlueter family converted it into a Chevrolet franchise. Earlier this year, Schlueter Automotive Group closed the Chevrolet dealership and Forbes Motors bought the property.

“We are bringing Toyota back to the building that it was in over 30 years ago, so it is a circle,” Forbes said. The new location will allow Forbes Motors to significantly expand its Toyota franchise, he said.
The 36,600-square-foot facility on five acres of land “is a building that is approximately twice the size of what we currently have and the land area will be more than double the size of land we are working from now,” Forbes said.
Forbes Motors employs about 150 people, including 45 at the Toyota dealership. The Toyota business and auto sales business generally have been good recently, Forbes said.

“We are now making up for a few lean years in the past. And certainly with the Cambridge assembly plant in our backyard, this is a strong Toyota area.”
Forbes Motors hasn’t decided what it will do with the current Toyota dealership property. “It’s up in the air right now whether we will put in a different franchise there or whether we sell or lease it,” Forbes said. The move won’t happen until next summer so there is time to make that decision, he said.
This spring, the Forbes familytook over the Chevrolet franchise in Waterloo from the Schlueter family.
It moved the franchise to 165 Weber St. S. in Waterloo, where it already operated a Buick, Cadillac and GMC dealership.

The Schlueter Automotive Group planned to sell the Weber Street North property to a developer. But that deal didn’t go through, “so we stepped in when it became available,” Forbes said. Forbes Motors hopes to soon start work a “major facelift” to turn the site into a Toyota dealership.
The renovations will include anew foyer, six-car service drivethru and modern look for the 15-car showroom.
The Colby Drive location is too small for a drive-thru service bay area so by moving to the new location, “we will be able to offer our customers that next level of service,” Forbes said. The new location is great from the standpoint of population density and traffic, he said. “If you look at that general area where the new police station is, there are an awful lot of highrises being built, so that area is certainly very appealing.”

Forbes Motors was started by Russell Arthur Forbes in the 1940s, and then run by his sons, Jack and Ralph.
Today, the business is run by Russell Forbes Sr., Ralph’s son, along with Russell’s son, Russ Forbes Jr., who is in charge of the GM dealership.
Russell’s daughter, Leigh Forbes, is the company’s online marketing co-ordinator.
Rose Simone, Record staff

History Page 5

Ralph Forbes

The Staff at Forbes Motors wish to announce the passing of Ralph A. Forbes on September 11, 2014 at the age of 90.
It is with sadness that the Forbes family announces the peaceful passing of Ralph Ainslie Forbes on September 11, 2014 in his 91st year. Ralph’s life was devoted to his family, his automobile business and his philanthropic endeavours in the community.

He was past-president of the Welland Optimist Club, the Kitchener Kiwanis Club and the KW Federated Appeal. He was active in the Waterloo Regional Police Safety Village and many other community charities, hospitals and also a director of the Waterloo Mutual Insurance Company and the Economical Insurance Company. His career in the automobile industry spanned 65 years, during which time he was President and Chairman of Forbes Motors Limited, Welland, Elmira and Kitchener-Waterloo.

Ralph was president of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, and Time Magazine’s Quality Dealer Award for Ontario. He received the Distinguished Service Citation from the Automobile Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan, and was vice-president of the Hall of Fame as director emeritus. He was a member of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Westmount Golf and Country Club, Muskoka Lakes Golf and Country Club, Atlantis Golf and Country Club in Florida, Senior Gyro and the Griffith Island hunt club.

"Dad, we are all proud of your lifetime acheivements, your RCAF service, your numerous business accomplishments and your community service. But, more importantly, you led your family by example with uncompromising integrity, loyalty, homour and love of life. Your life has made a real difference and we will miss you very much."