Land of Hope and Dreams – A Tribute to Grandma Gale

Land of Hope and Dreams

A Tribute to Grandma Gale

by Donna J. Nickel

Alvin and Ethel Gale
Alvin and Ethel Gale

In Toledo, Ohio, February 15, of 1885,
A little daughter in the home of Joseph and Adeline Marks did arrive.
They named her Ethel Louisa, this child so wee;
There soon came Della and Mary Bell, daughters three.
To Amherstburg, Ontario, they moved shortly thereafter,
To dwell for six years — days filled with such childhood fun and laughter.
Then to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, but back in three;
Now there’s a good reason for all this moving, you see,
Because Grandma’s “Papa” was a lake Captain bold,
And many interesting tales of that we’ve been told.
A brief memory passes — a picture I recall,
Of a big old steamer, hanging there on Grandma’s wall.
In 1901, back to Amherstburg they went,
And the next nine years of Grandma’s life were here spent.
In graduating from high school and teachers’ college,
She taught school to primaries — imparting her knowledge.
It was during these years, I’ve heard Grandma confess,
That a fine young man tried his hardest to impress!
And so tall, dark, and handsome was he, we know,
That it was no wonder when their love began to grow.
So while Grandma continued to teach school in the East,
Henry Botsford went “West” — to Manitoba at least!
And another year passed before they decided to become one;
Henry moved to Medicine Hat, Alberta, and work had begun.
He took out a homestead, a whole section of land,
Then went back East to bestow that small golden band.
He told of his frame house, the four little rooms that it had;
Such were the dreams of this pioneering maiden and lad.
United in marriage, December 31, 1910,
They left for Alberta, to continue the farming again.
And to their new home came the young groom and bride,
There on the wide, wind-swept prairie to reside.
In 1912, Wyman Edward was born,
Such joy he brought — their home to adorn.
So happy were they in their new life,
Together they faced the storms and strife.
July 1914, tragedy struck — swift and cruel.
With courage, your terrible grief you did overrule.
For while drilling a well, Henry was overcome;
To the poisonous gas, his young life did succumb.
How little can we realize now what you suffered through,
Your strength and soundness of character makes us proud of you.
And though gone was Henry whom you loved so true,
His dear likeness was left in your small son of two.
To leave the farm — her new home, Grandma did not desire.
She needed help to manage the place; someone to hire.
Now looking back, we know it was not just fate,
When a strong young man applied at her front gate.
With crisp curly hair, eyes of blue, and a big friendly smile,
The name of Alvin R. Gale made Grandma think quite a while.
But eventually as time passed on, a courtship grew,
And some time later, Grandma again said, “I do”.
Strong love, rich laughter, and perhaps a few tears,
How pleasant those memories of yester-years.
Raising a new family, of which there were four,
Meant hours of cooking and housework galore.
In 1917, their first daughter, Wynona Adine,
Followed in ‘19, by a sister whose name was Edith Jean.
The family then moved to Redcliff, one mile from town,
And two bouncing boys arrived to fill the house with sound.
Howard Reginald in ‘22, and Roy Patterson in ‘25,
With five such healthy children I’m sure your memory can contrive
The fond scenes of home; times spent in joy, you’ve told us that,
Of days on the prairies, and life at the “Hat”.
1931, the Gales decided to move on,
And in the Peace River Country, the new year would dawn.
They journeyed north, to Warrensviile, arriving without harm,
To take up residence on what is now Bob Sturgeon’s farm.
From there to Golden Ridge they went, moving by wagon or sleighs.
My earliest recollection is of Grandma in those days.
Those early times In the north were challenging and hard;
Conveniences were few, but friends many, none was barred.
Grandma put her mind and hands to many task;
To deliver a baby, she’d respond when they’d ask.
If someone was sick, she was sent for in haste,
And went when bidden; with kindness she was graced.
(And let me mention here, though I digress —however mild;
Grandma set a record — she delivered her first grandchild.)
In ‘43, Grandma and Grandpa moved to the old “Creek Place”,
And here memories flood in — each fond remembrance we embrace.
To go and visit Grandma, perhaps to spend the night,
We re-live and remember the times of childish delight.
What does this granddaughter remember of those days and years?
Oh Grandma, they’re many and wonderful; each I hold dear.
Spice-filled cookies, freshly baked bread, tea sipped from a little cup,
Clean white tablecloths, embroidered by hand -each memory holds up.
The faint smell of lavendar on handkerchiefs edged in fine lace,
A gently swaying rocker, a kindly “Come in” at your place.
And often, do I remember how you combed your long greying hair,
Then twisted it into that grand figure-eight – how we used to stare!
From the old “Creek Place”, to beside our store you came,
And to each grandchild, you gave time and love the same.
We early learned the value of wheat germ, dried prunes, and alfalfa tea.
You practiced what you taught, so were a living example to see.
Then in times of deep bereavement again, we have seen
Your determination and fortitude, both so keen.
Through those harsh periods of pain and sorrow that you’ve faced to date;
The loss of your husband and companion, in 1948.
Deeply loved, and still sadly missed, your daughter Jean so dear,
After her untimely passing, 1960 the year.
When to us comes a time of trials and sorrow to bear,
We will recall the courage you have been able to share.
With so many, throughout all the years now past and gone,
And from your example, we’ll have the heart to go on.
More images of by-gone days, I can to memory bring —
Grandma rocking by the stove, a tea kettle ready to sing.
Chippendale crystal, seen once when given the chance,
Lovely translucent china that once came from France.
Some of these rare treasures have now become ours,
And I often think, as I fill mine with flowers,
Of the warmth and beauty they bring, as I’m sure they did then,
To the loved one to whom they were given in 1910.
Two other major moves, away from Warrensville, you have made.
To Berwyn in ‘56, and in your little house you stayed,
Next door to our big family; for peace you did strive
So on to Autumn Lodge you went in 1965.
The Botsford and Gale children are each grown, and wed to another,
And to each marriage came children, many a sister and brother,
Enlarging the family circle, by twenty-six young faces,
All lively and excited when you’d visit our places.
Now there’s a fourth generation of great- grandchildren galore,
They now number fifty-four, and there’s bound to be more!
Your name and your image we’ve all spread far and wide;
To say we’re a descendant of yours gives us pride.
Grandma, there’s no one who could take your place,
In our eyes, you are the symbol of wisdom and grace,
Ever so worthy of our love and faith; though a bit aged and frail,
At ninety-five, no one is as precious as our own dear Grandma Gale.


  1. Thanks for reminding me about this poem, Dwayne. It’s been awhile since I’ve looked at the book cousin Adele Gale Boucher put together to celebrate Grandma Gale’s 100th birthday in 1985, so this prompted me to get my copy out and look through it again. Donna’s poem is included in this biography as well. Grandma was a big influence in all our lives and I’m so glad I was given her middle name as my middle name.

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