PART 1 – [Geraldton: An Alternative History]

Ginger Ball in happier days. Ginger is in the top row, extreme left. The group, undated, called themselves the Kitchen Soup Band. Photo supplied by Bernadine O’Brien and Merilou Milne.

In my files, I came upon a typescript authored by Ginger Ball, dating to the 1980s. The script is untitled, so I granted it this title. My own history of Geraldton, “. . . And the Geraldton Way: A History of Geraldton and District Up to 1947” was published in August 1987, in time for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Incorporation of Geraldton on September 1, 1987.

The typescript is still in draft form, so some of my editorial marks need explaining: [Geraldton: An Alternative History] indicates a correction in punctuation or spelling or information or, in this case, a missing item supplied by this author. The mark (sic) is used in brackets after a copied or quoted word that appears odd or erroneous to show that the word is quoted exactly as it stands in the original.

Ginger wrote at least two drafts of this typescript; this is an improved one from my files. No doubt Ginger and the committee contemplated further drafts.

Ginger Ball was the unofficial historian for Geraldton for several decades. She conducted and typed up interviews with local personalities. She never published most of these articles, and it is my understanding that her voluminous files were trashed sometime after her death is 2003. Somewhere in my files, I have some copies of interviews.

Ginger’s given first name is Izetta, and it is likely that hundred, perhaps thousands, of people who came into contact with her never knew her given name. Ginger was a nickname.

It is my intention to publish for the first time Ginger Ball’s history of Geraldton. Ginger chaired a committee (whose names you will learn below) charged with putting together a history. I, a Johnny-Come-Lately, inherited the committee. I suggested the title “The Muskeg Metropolis”, but the committee elected to go with “…And the Geraldton Way”.

Obituary of Izetta “Ginger” Ball from the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal, 17 June 2003


Izetta Ardath Audrey ‘Ginger’ (nee Finan) 1919-2003 It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our mother on June 6, 2003 after a courageous battle with cancer. She was born in Fort William on February 15, 1919 and married there to Albert Ball on September 29, 1941. She resided in Geraldton from 1937 to 1997 where she touched many lives & will always be remembered for her hard work and dedication as an active member of numerous organizations in the community.

When her health failed, she moved to Thunder Bay & later to Calgary. Her courage and determination during her long illness is a testament to her passion for life. She will be dearly missed and lovingly remembered by son Lyle (Geraldton) and daughter Lucille (Calgary) and grandchildren Jamie (Timmons) and Susan (Calgary). She also leaves to mourn her sisters Zella Finan (Calgary) and Gladys (Angus) McRae (Ottawa) and sister-in-law Edith Birch, (Schreiber). She was predeceased by her beloved husband Albert and her brothers Ivan and Alvin, sister-in-law Alice Sparkes & brothers-in-law Cyril Sparkes & Geoff Birch.

 If so desired, in lieu of flowers, memorial tributes may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society. A celebration of Ginger’s life will be held at St. James Anglican Church in Geraldton on Saturday, June 21, 2003 at 2 PM.”

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