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 mothers lovely gardens and her fathers 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 the south shores of Beaverhill Lake. Charles tended the
cattle and Frances regularly planted a half-acre garden to feed the
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.
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.
Kallal 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. Kallals 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.
Frances Kallal, garden innovator, died in November in 1980. She
kept a garden until her last year.
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