The warden service family has lost one of its icons. Alfie Burstrom, age 86, suffered a stroke on November 24thand passed away quietly on Thursday, November 29th in the hospital in McBride, B.C. with his family by his side. Alfie was predeceased by his wife, June, in January 2018. They had been married for 65 years. He is survived by his children Matt, Frank, June, May and Ed and their spouses, as well as 16 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Alfie was born in 1932 in Jasper, a son of Frank and Mary Burstrom. Having completed his high school he joined the Canadian Armed Forces and served as an Engineer in the Korean War. In 1953 he followed in the steps of his father and joined the National Park Warden Service. The warden service was a perfect fit for Alfie due to the skills he had acquired during his youth in Jasper as well as skills acquired in the Canadian Army.
Eighteen years into his career an opportunity presented itself when the first search dog position was approved by Ottawa for National Parks. Alfie was the perfect candidate for a search dog handler due to his superb mountaineering skills, superior skiing and snowshoeing skills, but, in addition, he possessed a unique ability in handling dogs. His own dog proved to be a perfect candidate for a search dog. Ginger was part German Shepard and part coyote. Together they made the perfect team. Alfie and Ginger completed their training at the RCMP dog training facility in Innisfail, Alberta graduating as the first certified professional search dog team in North America. The search dog program was a remarkable success but Alfie always maintained a quiet pride in his accomplishments with his dog. Not only did Alfie conduct searches for Jasper National Park but often times he would be called by the RCMP as the closest RCMP dog was at Stony Plain. Alfie retired in 1987 and he and June enjoyed a quiet lifestyle in Valemount, B.C. After June’s passing he carried on living independently with that consistent quiet determination.
There is a lot more that could be said about Alfie Burstrom that could fill a book. Both Alfie and June were not comfortable with drawing attention to themselves. Alfie was well respected and admired by family, friends and his colleagues. He will be missed by many.
It is Alfie’s wish that no service be held.
My condolences to Matt, Frank, May, June and Ed. I remember you all fondly. My dad liked working with Alfie and Ginger.