hoe-rake is a rare surviving example of the kinds of simple, yet ingenious innovation that farmers and gardeners, the pioneers of the 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.
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. Kallals 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.
The tool never went into production. Mrs. Kallals 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.
Mrs. Kallal continued to use her invention, however, every summer until
her 90th year, and lamented the fact that more gardeners werent reaping
the advantages of this time-saving tool.
The third version of the hoe-rake continues to be used by Mrs. Kallals
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 isnt a green thumb, but rather a good tool.
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