How I Work: Drew Canale

The How I Work series shines a spotlight on our researchers, contributors and others who make the Our Memphis History podcast successful.

Drew J. Canale Jr. has been a part of the Our Memphis History team since it’s early days. He was instrumental in the Italians in Memphis and the Christian Brothers episodes. You can read more about Drew on the Our Team page here

How long have you lived in the Memphis area?
62 years, 30 years in Midtown Memphis and 32 years in Macon outside of Memphis.
What first got you interested in history?

In 2000 I had 6 family members die and decided to have a family reunion since we were seeing so many of the same family members at the funerals, I told my family I was tired of seeing everyone at a sad funeral and decided to host the first Canale Family Reunion in 2001 at my farm in Macon TN.

What is/was your career?

I practiced law in Memphis for Gerber, Gerber and Agee for several years and in 1986 I met my wife on a blind date and decided to move to the country and raise horses and kids. My wife and I founded Canale Farms in 1987 and today host many corporate events and reunions at our farm. Our daughters are grown now and live in Peagram Tennessee.

What resources are critical to your research?
Old newspapers, the Commercial Appeal and the Memphis Press Scimitar. Family stories, family books, family photos. I have an old picture of a birthday party taken in the basement of D. Canale in February 1917. It has many prominent Memphis men, no women in it at all, in it and it is my north star for what I look back on.
What tools do you use in your research?

Thankful for today’s computers, what I use now the most.

If you could tell visitors one thing about Memphis, what would it be?

Memphis has changed so much in the past 40 years and will continue to change drastically, so if Memphis changes for the good or the bad will depend on the people living here and what kind of city they want to live in, not giving up on Memphis in the bad times and promoting Memphis in the good times.

Tell us your favorite Memphis history story.

There are so many, so I’ll tell my personal story: As a young man working for Mr. Gerber I had just past the bar exam on the first go round and wanted to see clients on Monday. The firm had just put in new carpet in my office and I wanted to be able to close my door and meet with any new client that walked in. On Sunday I went to my office and began cutting off the bottom of my door and when I was about half way, Mr. Hal Gerber, one of the finest lawyers in Memphis, walked in to my office and said “What the hell are you doing?” I quickly told him my dilemma and he came back to me with ” Drew, Lawyers don’t do doors” and that became the motto of my life and will be the title of my life’s book. I loved practicing law but I always wanted to do something with my hands to build something, a business, a house, anything I could do myself and not depend on others and although I practiced law for 12 more years, I always looked at those words of Mr. Gerber’s as the road map for my life. Not Memphis History but my little story.

If you could have dinner with any past person, who would it be?
Dominick Canale my great grandfather. I would ask him why he left Italy and what he was searching for, why Memphis? and what made him never give up.
What’s the last book you read?
When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

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