2015 King Township
“You get a gut feeling about helping. Giving and receiving is the most important thing.”
Dalt Hicks was born in Jan, 1928. As a boy, he collected and sold stray golf balls from the golf course next-door to their dairy farm before progressing to caddy and starting to play golf. He started out in business with only $400 in his bank account with which he bought a tractor. He was in the gravel business for 34 years, but his dream was to build a golf course, and in 1984 he bought land on Davis Drive West where his four golf courses and the Cardinal Golf Clubhouse are situated —the setting for his portrait.
Who is the man behind the Cardinal golf brand known for his volunteerism and generous fund-raising efforts for Mackenzie Health since 1975, and more recently the Southlake Regional Health Centre? He’s a man who also gives back in quiet and private ways. When Dalt married his wife, Shirley in 1953, there was a Polio epidemic that affected his sister. Dalt’s friend Harry Cook, a carpenter from Thornhill, was paralyzed from the neck down as a result of the disease. It was around Christmas time when he saw his friend lying in bed, immobile but for his head, watching a little black and white television. Dalt promptly went out to Firestone Tire company which sold appliances in those days and bought a colour TV. “That was the best gift I had ever given anybody,” Dalt said, “when I saw him lying there, it gave me a real gut feeling. That wasn't a big thing, but back in those days it was a lot of money. I think it meant a lot to him. Laying there all day long looking at a black and white TV was a treat, but to get it in colour was even better. That story never left me.”
His start in terms of charity work was when he volunteered to drive a boy who had polio downtown to Sick Kids every week for physiotherapy. Dalt started the Richmond Hill Kinsman in 1954 with his wife and at Christmas they took hampers around to families in need. Friendships are important to Dalt, his employees call him by his first name. “My door is always open,” Dalt said. “Money is not the big objective, it’s not the answer to everything. It is nice to be profitable and have success, but it’s what you do with it; you give and that is a good feeling in life.” On behalf of the Golf club, he donates turkeys to the Food Bank at Christmas time.
Dalt has always been moved by the health needs of others and wants to see the most advanced equipment available to patients. He served as chairman of the board at Mackenzie Health for fifteen years. Another cause he has supported is Belinda’s Place, a new shelter for women in need on Yonge Street in Newmarket. Dalt sees the Cardinal Golf course business as a stepping stone for young people out of school where they have to learn to work with others and do business, as well as seniors who need something to do. “Some marriages have been made too,” Dalt laughed.
After being married for over 62 years he says, “the secret to a good marriage is you gotta get along and discuss your feelings,” Dalt says, “we have never been ones to holler at each other and you have to give and take, it is not all your way.” Together they attend the United Church on Aurora Sideroad.
Four years ago Dalt got a computer for the first time and now uses it all the time. “It keeps my head in gear,” he said. He plans to keep working, keep his mind busy and keep exercising. He has no plans to retire or stop giving back. “For the future I have set up a family trust so that after I am all finished and gone, through the proceeds of what I have built up over the years, there will be some money there to disperse to different requests,” Dalt said.