Dallas Garth Wookey
November 30, 1930 to March 19, 2009
Dal, a longtime resident of Cleardale, AB, passed away peacefully at the age of 78 at the QEII Hospital in Grande Prairie. He was born in Guernsey, Sask. He and his twin brother, Drew, were the oldest of the “second five.” This “second five” had two successive sets of twins. The youngest set, Glyn and Garry, attended the service; his oldest brother Tom could not.
Dal is survived by carol, his wife of 43 years; his daughter Julie (Ron), and grandsons Rawlie, Tymko, and Mario. He is predeceased by his parents John and Elsie; brothers Clayton, Ron, Drew, and Colby; and sisters Gertrude and Marceline.
When Dal was eight years old his family moved to the Kispiox Valley near Hazelton, B.C. His dad wanted a place that had rain! He only went to Grade 8 in school as teachers were hard to get during the war years. Then he worked in logging camps and on topographical survey parties. In 1952, he took a party of engineers for the Dept. of Fisheries by pack train up the Babine River to check out a rockslide blocking the salmon from their spawning grounds. In 1954, he went to Telegraph Creek, B.C. to work for the Dept. of Mines and Roads packing in supplies for the survey party surveying the route for the Stewart-Cassiar Road. In 1955, he went to Mayo, Yukon Territory, to wrangle horses for a big-game outfitter, Louis Brown. On the way home he bought a new Ford pickup truck in Dawson Creek for $1800. He also worked for Love Brothers & Lee, logging and guiding fishermen and hunters. In the 1960s, Dal logged for himself taking out cedar poles, and he worked for the B.C. Forest Service on the Initial Fire Attack Crew and as Acting Assistant Ranger.
On July 30, 1966, he married Carol Walker. They went to Edmonton where Carol attended the University of Alberta and Dal worked at a gas service station. When Carol finished her teacher training they went to Grouard, AB, where Carol did her intern teaching in May and June while Dal worked at a sawmill in High Prairie. Then they went for a trip to the Yukon where Carol was determined they should go homesteading. On the way home, however, she realized that they had a pretty nice place in the Kispiox Valley. So in 1968, Carol taught at Kitwanga, B.C. and Dal worked in Hobenshield’s Sawmill in the winter.
Then in 1970, Dal went into full-time ranching, and continued to build his ranch into one of the best in the valley. But by 1972, he was ready to move to Alberta, where he could expand more. However, Carol felt that she just couldn’t leave the mountains. But by the time Julie, their one and only child, was born, Carol was ready to move. So in July 1974, they sold their ranch to Pat and Earl Hobenshield of Kitwanga and moved out to Vegreville, AB to the farm of Carol’s uncle – three liner loads of cattle, two milk cows, and two horses. (In June the fellow whose place they were dealing on near Hines Creek backed out of the deal. He really didn’t want to sell his place. It has since gone to his son, Rudy Ostrem.) Carol’s uncle hoped so much that they would buy his farm, but their hearts were in the North – and in Sept. 1974 they bought Ernie Schwerdt’s place in Cleardale.
Dal ranched and Carol taught school and did artistic things like staging musicals and teaching dance. Dal supported all of these endeavours and even took part in the Cleardale Talent Shows, acting in Jean Craig’s plays.
When his cattle herd was 200 cows, he hired someone to help during the peak time of calving, until Carol quit teaching in Dec. 1995 to help full time on the ranch. His hired men included Isaac Zacharias and the Giesbrecht boys: Peter, Jake, Herman, and Corey. These boys must have really liked working for him because at Christmas time, instead of the “boss” giving them a present, they would give him one: a box of chocolates or a load of firewood.
In Sept. 2001 Julie married Ron Lemoine of Tangent, AB – and in Aug. 2002, Rawlie was born. “The best damned thing that ever happened on this place!” according to Dal.
Then in the spring of 2003 Dal underwent heart surgery to replace two valves: the aortic and the mitral. He felt good in the fall but then got progressively weaker. Finally, in 2008, he was diagnosed with fibrosis of the lungs, or farmer’s lungs. He hated not being able to do anything. But as his family would say to him, “you have a sound mind and can still give advice. So enjoy your grandchildren.: On March 19, 2009 he succumbed to his illness. A celebration of life was held on March 21 at Menno-Simons School in Cleardale. Donations were made to S.T.A.R.S. Air Ambulance. $650 was collected.