Mike (Heaven) Mildon remembers learning about the 1934 disappearance of his great-great-uncle Harold Heaven around a campfire.
The Minden-based family passed down the tale about the mystery for generations, letting it take life as a ghost story.
“Just trying to scare the younger generation, trying to make them think Harold is still with us,” Mildon said. “It’s a fun thing to have, but on the underlying side of things, it was a real family tragedy.”
Inspired by the story, the award-winning sketch comedy filmmaker has returned home with a film crew to take on a new project: uncovering what happened to Heaven for a documentary titled ‘For Heaven’s Sake.’ Mildon and his friend and film partner Jackson Rowe are shooting around Minden to unravel the mystery over the next two months. They plan to conduct interviews and search for Harold’s missing body.
Despite the disappearance happening more than 80 years ago, they said believe they will likely solve the case.
“We’ve done a lot of work,” Rowe said. “We have a lot of resources. We’re confident. We have some blanks to fill in certainly, but we feel like we’re making real progress.”
What documents show
Heaven was known to be a lonely man, who lived in his cottage on Horseshoe
Lake according to police reports posted by Mildon. He went missing around Oct.
26, 1934, and despite large searches in the brush and nearby lakes, his body
could not be found.
That impeded OPP investigations. As police interviewed people, they moved away from the idea of foul-play. Instead, reports raised the idea he died by suicide.
“It has been suggested that this missing man has become somewhat deranged in his mind,” one report said. “There are also suggestions he might have done away with himself and this is being investigated very carefully.”
Police also reported a second-hand account that his mother had indicated Heaven had considered suicide the year previous.
But the family has other theories. Harold’s brother Boyd posited in a letter at the time that Harold was doing well, excited to work on a property he had recently bought there near his father’s cottage.
Boyd Heaven felt Harold was unlikely to die by suicide and suggested accidental manslaughter was more likely. Since Harold kept to himself, Boyd suspected the young farmers in the district disliked him – and set out to annoy him after a Saturday night drinking.
“They might stop and call out a few objectionable remarks … a fight would probably result, which in turn might quite logically result in Mr. Heaven’s death,” Boyd Heaven wrote.
He said it would explain the body’s disappearance and cited evidence that Harold’s departure from home did not seem premeditated; the door was open, the keys there and his oil lamp was still burning.
The documentarians said they are leaning toward the idea this was manslaughter.
“The police in our minds made up their mind this guy was crazy, he was a loner and he just had a mental breakdown,” Mildon said. “I don’t think it’s fair to paint him as this troubled individual.”
But the two do not want to discount any possibility yet.
“There are many theories we’re looking at. Even aliens, even supernatural, we’re not stopping at the traditional,” Rowe said.
Mildon said it would mean a lot to his family to get closure.
“It’s only fair and I think it’s kind of justice for Harold,” he said. “Everyone benefits from the truth, whether it’s a hard pill to swallow or not.”
The filmmakers are looking for anyone who might have information on the case. They can be contacted at 1-800-858-9710 or firstname.lastname@example.org.