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Frances Kallal (1890 - 1980)

One of the few women innovators from the early 20th century included in the Canadian Patent Record, Frances Kallal and her hoe-rake are a testament to the inventive spirit.  

Born in 1890 on a mixed farm in Carrollton, Greene County, Illinois, Frances Kallal came to find her passion for gardening quite young. The fifth child of Anthony and Frances Schneider, she recalled childhood memories of her mother’s lovely gardens and her father’s ability to design new gadgets to help around the farm.

In 1915, Frances moved to Tofield, Alberta to join her fiancé Charles Kallal. With their nine children, they built an award-winning Hereford farm located on thFrances Kallal among her apple blossoms at home in Tofield, Alberta, 1940e south shores of Beaverhill Lake. Charles tended the cattle and Frances regularly planted a half-acre garden to feed the family.

As she had grown accustomed to the garden yield of the warmer conditions of her previous southern home, Kallal was not content to settle for planting the basic prairie vegetables that could withstand the shorter growing season and harsher climate. Instead, she built what she called a "vegetable hot bed", a wood-framed planter with a glass cover and a bedding mixture comprised of a layer of soil over a layer of manure and straw. With such a process, Kallal was able to grow cherries, eggplant, melons and pears. A distinctly unusual and remarkable achievement, given the central-Albertan climate.

The hoe-rake, third model With a garden of such size and magnitude, Kallal found carrying multiple tools (particularly a hoe and rake) cumbersome. Out of this dilemma, she devised a combination hoe-rake tool. She approached the local blacksmith, Mr. Rasmussen, with her design and, shortly thereafter, he had fashioned the original tool by riveting together the heads of a hoe and rake. Kallal received the patent for it in 1943.

Margaret DicksonKallal attempted to put her tool into production. Her eldest son, Charles, pitched it to a garden tool manufacturer in Ohio in 1949, however, the offer was not accepted. Given the production and marketing start-up costs, there was no attempt to put the combination hoe-rake into production in Alberta and, unfortunately, only the Kallal family was able to benefit from Frances’ ingenuity.

While the riveted version of the tool was patented, it has since been improved upon. Kallal’s son Kenneth created a version of the hoe-rake out of one piece of metal and attached it to the handle of a hay fork. This version of the tool has managed to sustain itself after 61 years of use and is still being used by her family today.

Original Patent diagram of the Hoe and RakeFrances Kallal, garden innovator, died in November in 1980. She kept a garden until her last year.


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