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I have located more background information on Alda Dale Randall’s rather amazing life. I am grateful for the assistance of the very helpful Darlene Adams, Executive Director of the High Prairie & District Museum. She told me that Dale was not only a writer and a photographer, but she was also an artist. I do not have examples of Dale’s paintings, but Darlene located a photograph of one of their 1920 cabins that I strongly suspect was photographed by Dale.

Guy Randall homestead located 41/2 miles west of Snipe Lake-1920

Randall homestead located 4 1/2 miles west of Snipe Lake, AB, 1920. Photo courtesy High Prairie Museum. #AN-82.356.1

This photo was likely taken by Dale and developed in a makeshift darkroom in their cabin. Because this is a winter photo, it was probably taken on the homestead that they moved to October 14, 1920, and that they left on January [12] 1921.

I did not find a winter diary entry about her photography, but there is a summer reference:

June 7, 1920    It is rainy wet all day but I find a few moments sunshine in which to take a picture of the house & tents and of Guy’s sleigh box and Grandpa & children. Then I get things ready to develop film tonight.

June 9, 1920    Last night Guy & I develop pictures. We have only the kerosene lamp & it takes 2 minutes to bring out the pictures & all our materials “run out” in 1916 but anyway all six pictures are fine. The 2 Indians & the dogs are natural & very northern looking. The house & tents are good too.

The cabin referred to in the summer diary entries above would have been the one that they built and moved into May 29, 1920, which was later abandoned August 20, 1920.

As is the case with most diaries, Dale of course knew her back-story intimately, and she was not writing for a future reader.  Therefore, although she recorded many fascinating details, in other cases, significant details are missing and there are gaps in the thread of the story. For example, in this entry, “Grandpa Helmer” is not her father, who is referred to just as “Grandpa”.

PG 91-92

Alda Dale Randall diary. Page 92. July 24-25, 1920. (Provincial Archives of Alberta, Acc #1984.0202)

Dale’s parents, sister and brother-in-law came to Alberta with them, but moved to other locations at different points. The family names were a puzzle that I think I managed to piece together:

Names and relationships:

Alda Dale Randall (nee Black) was known as Dale, but also sometimes referred to herself as Dadie

Dale’s husband, Guy Willis Randall, was referred to as Guy, Daddy, and Daddy Guy

Dale’s father, Adam Alonzo Black, was referred to as Daddy, Papa, and Grandpa

Dale’s mother, Effie Catherine Black (nee Engle) was referred to as Mother, Mama, and Grandma

Dale’s sister, Maud Gallespie (nee Black) & brother-in-law James Gallespie

Dale & Guy’s children:

18 April 1913 – Willis Elmore (also referred to as Nookie)

11 March 1916 – Edith Dale (also referred to as Dolly)

8 July 1918 – James Warren

22 December 1920 – Leila Rose

5 March 1923 – Guy Everett

24 December 1925 – Mary Katherine

3 April 1929 – Lisle William

DSC_0750Illuminating the Diary of Alda Dale Randall exhibit by Marlena Wyman.  Photo courtesy Provincial Archives of Alberta

The Alda Dale Randall fonds is held in the collection of the Provincial Archives of Alberta at 8555 Roper Road, Edmonton, AB. Dale’s diaries (Accession #PR1994.0202) may be requested for viewing during regular Reading Room hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00AM to 4:30PM and Wednesday until 9:00PM.

Exhibit hours are the same as the above, and the exhibit runs until August 20, 2016.

The description for the Alda Dale Randall fonds may be viewed here.

Posted by Marlena Wyman

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