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The hoe-rake, third modelThe hoe-rake is a rare surviving example of the kinds of simple, yet ingenious innovation that farmers and gardeners, the pioneers of thepatent record for this invention province, applied in order to help with their day-to-day lives.

Frances Kallal was less an inventor than a master gardener with a particular beef: she was tired of having to carry a hoe and a rake through all the rows of her half-acre garden. So, she decided to put the two together and created the hoe-rake.

Margaret DicksonMrs. Kallal first brought her idea to a Tofield, Alberta blacksmith by the name of Rasmussen. Mr. Rasmussen simply riveted together the head of the rake and the hoe; this was the design granted a patent in 1943. The blacksmith also built a second hoe-rake of the same design. In 1943, Mrs. Kallal’s son Kenneth made a third, superior hoe-rake. The head of this version was made out of a single piece of metal, and then attached to a sturdy tapered handle of a hay fork.

Digging a planting trenchThe tool never went into production. Mrs. Kallal’s eldest son Charles presented the hoe-rake to a garden tool manufacturer in Ohio with the patent in 1949. The offer was declined. No attempt to manufacturer the hoe-rake was made in Alberta due to the costs of production and marketing, and the related time commitment.

Patting the dirt downMrs. Kallal continued to use her invention, however, every summer until her 90th year, and lamented the fact that more gardeners weren’t reaping the advantages of this time-saving tool.

Getting rid of pesky weedsThe third version of the hoe-rake continues to be used by Mrs. Kallal’s daughter, Margaret Dickson, who resides in the town of Tofield. According to Mrs. Dickson, after 60 years, the tool is as sturdy as ever. The head has not come off once. The blade of the hoe is sharpened every couple of years, to keep it in top performance. Mrs. Dickson says that when her neighbours comment that her garden comes up much sooner than theirs, she knows that the secret isn’t a green thumb, but rather a good tool.

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