Dale McQuaig’s slow saunter and sideways grin are inherited family traits. Dale's mother, Elsie McQuaig, says Dale is very much like his father, who is “a man of few words.” With his quiet demeanor, Dale appears quite serious, but group home workers at the 83rd Ave residence say that he can be quite the opposite. Melissa Hanssen says she doesn’t really give him a chance to be quiet most of the time.
Dale is the third of seven children in the McQuaig family of Teepee Creek. At the age when he was just starting to talk, he was stricken with a case of spinal meningitis. Marilyn Rycroft, Association employee and former Teepee Creek resident, was in Grade One at the Tee Pee Creek School when the news arrived that Dale was seriously ill and had been taken to hospital. She recalls the atmosphere in the school after the announcement. "Everything was really hushed and eerie."
Dale was enrolled in classes at the Teepee Creek School. Mom Elsie says it "just didn’t work out." Teachers advised the McQuaigs to contact the Association for Retarded Children in Grande Prairie. Dale became a student at the Peace School of Hope, boarding with Bert and Miriam Tieman until the Barrydale Dorm was opened. Dale was one of the first residents at the dorm along, with fellow Peace School student Barry Ferguson. The dorm was named after the two young boys. On Dale’s graduation from the Peace School of Hope, staff wrote the following note to celebrate his accomplishment:
Dale McQuaig is the father of our school, having a real concern for each of the little ones. He is familiar with the ways of the school and is interested in things being done right. We miss his boisterous singing in the mornings when he used to shovel the whole yard free of snow. He has a natural love and talent for music, inherited from his family of Teepee Creek who played for many dances there. Dale enjoys the shop work and should be most helpful in the new workshop. We wish him well.
The McQuaigs were well known musicians in Teepee Creek. Elsie played in a local band and Dale absorbed much of his family's musical ability. Lenora Watson, Association employee, remembers dancing with Dale to the song “The Picture” by Kid Rock. She says he was a really smooth dancer and sang all the words as they danced.
Dale flips through the pages of a holiday brochure while his mother describes his younger years, seemingly intent on the information regarding one of his vacations with the Association. Despite appearing for all the world like he is not interested in the conversation, he is quick to fill in a detail or add a comment to Mom Elsie's story. Dale is also skilled at keeping a straight face while telling a “big tale” and then letting his audience know he was just teasing. Another family trait.