2730: When I first got on in Jasper as a packer, we were packing colts. Dennis Welsh was the Barn Boss then, Keith Foster was a seasonal warden and myself, we were doing a lot of backcountry packing and day trips for trail crew putting in new campsites in Wabasso and Decoine so we had to pack cement and fireplaces into these campsites. We had several wrecks that way, buck offs, etc.. and then in 1969 I was packing with Slim Haugen up to Smokey and I had a cabin crew and a trail crew up there. Slim and I had 16 head of pack horses and our two saddle horses and we packed up cement, chairs, lumber, food, you name it we packed it. We had a four-man cabin crew, Art Allan was the boss of the cabin crew, and there were 4 trail crew guys so we had about 8 guys to pack for and it was a 2 day trip. We were coming back out from there with our 16 horses and we had stopped at Adolphus Cabin and Ray Frey was there and he had 3 pack horses. We were coming down to Mt. Robson cause that’s where we packed out of and we got down about 1 hour out from where our camp was where we kept the horses, and this pack went slipping on this horse. So I said to Slim, “If you find a narrow place on the trail, let’s stop and fix this pack on the horse before we have a wreck. Well he found a narrow spot on the trail but the horses climbed up over a bluff and got by him and started running so we had a wreck of about 18 horses, running down this trail. It was almost a road about 8 feet wide and they were side by side, and there were hikers on that trail too. They were hiding behind trees and in crevices and stuff. We never ran over anybody but it took us the rest of the day to get everything put back together. Yes so I had a few incidents like that that’s for sure.

MH: Is there anyone from the Service that stands out in your mind? 3520:
AC: There are a few guys. Gordy McClain – he was in Jasper, one of the Area Managers at that time. Keith Foster, Fred Gibson, he was in Yoho when I moved there. Mickey McGuire and Ollie Hermanrude. Mickey was Chief Park Warden in Jasper. Andy Anderson in Yoho he was the Chief in Yoho. Hal Shephard was quite the colourful Chief Warden we had. There were quite a few guys who stood out. Gord Rutherford from Yoho and Stan Stachera, they were both older wardens when I moved to Yoho. It was great.

MH: Is there anything about the Warden Service, as you knew it, that you would like future generations to know? 3215:
AC: it’s just too bad that we have to move on and life changes. We’ve had to change over the years, the Wardens changed over the years. It was a good service for years and I still think it’s a good service, but I’ve been out of it for 20 years. It was really different when I got on. Even in 1970, they were looking for guys who could look after themselves in the backcountry. And I know, I was involved here, trying to hire guys for backcountry and there was nobody that wanted the job that could handle the horses in the backcountry and be gone for two weeks you know. And I don’t know what Banff and Jasper and the other Parks are like but now, there are hardly any Wardens going into the backcountry. All our patrolling in Riding Mountain now is pretty well done with quads or side-by-sides. When I was looking after the 25 horses here, they are now down to 9 and they hardly use them. They use some in the townsite and the odd person would take one out on a little day ride. I hear Jasper only had two people over in the backcountry, one in the north, one in the south.

MH: What made the Warden Service such a unique organization?
AC: I guess just who the guys were at the time. You know way back we were a closer knit group especially in Jasper and Yoho than we were here. We spent a lot of time together. All our friends were Wardens but I guess that’s what made it unique. That’s basically what it was.

MH: Do you have any lasting memories/stories as a Warden? 3540:
AC: Well a favorite Park I would just say Nahanni at the time I don’t know what it’s like now, and I do have favorite horses. When I was in Jasper, I had a couple of horses there that were really good. I had one little painted horse called Bootlegger, I used him all the time. We had a mare named Barb and then when I was in Riding Mountain, I had, probably the best horse I have ever rode, called him Moon. He was a Park horse. I’d wished I owned him myself but I didn’t. He was a great horse that’s for sure. You could do anything with him. I had a cow one time (Park Horses don’t see cows around here) that had come across a swamp and she was blind because she got into a bees nest and her eyes were all swollen shut so she was just staggering. So I took Moon out and I pushed on her shoulder and guided her along the trail with the horse and he pushed her in there. I was able to go across Beaver dams which is really tough on a horse in Riding Mountain because they get sinking in and you’re leading them, and they can run over you. So I’d hang up the bridal reins and let him wander through on his own and when he’d get to the other side I’d holler “Whoa” and he’d stop and wait for me, I’d get over the beaver pond and catch him and keep going. He was the best horse I’ve ridden. Of course Blue Creek Cabin and Topaz Cabin, mostly Blue Creek cabin because it was my first home in Jasper. I sure enjoyed Blue Creek. Marilyn (my wife) and I had 6 cabins to take care of in that district. She was in Jasper with me. We got married in 1970 and then went out into the district. I tell you, if you want to make your marriage stick, make it or break it, go live out in the bush all summer long. We would go out for 3 weeks and then come back into town for 1 week. That was the program. That was just when the hikers craze started. In our book there, we had 9 hikers in the first year and our second year we had over 100 or so hikers come through. And it just kept going up from there but then of course we left in 1972 to go to Yoho.

MH: Do you ever miss being a Warden?
AC: No, no I don’t. I really don’t miss being a Warden. I got into other stuff. I slowly eased my way out of the Warden Service. I took advantage of some of the programs they had so worked 4 days a week and shared time with a seasonal and I was shoeing horses on the side so I started my shoeing business and I left the Warden Service when I was 49 years old, took a buy-out from the government and never really looked back. The government ranch is about half-day ride up the road from me now. Steve Cornelsen is the Warden there now and I always go up and visit. I lived almost 20 years in the house and they’ve already lived in it for 20 some years. No I don’t miss it. I don’t go to town and I don’t talk much Warden Service. I have a few friends in Resource Conservation, Steve and Doug Bergeson and I visit them but we don’t talk warden, we talk horses, barrel racing that sort of thing. Being a warden wasn’t my life. Remember I didn’t want to be a warden. As a packer we kinda snubbed Wardens saying “They don’t know much, they got lost out in the bush”. But then when I got to be a Warden, I enjoyed my career because boy, I saw a lot of country and learned a lot of stuff. And thought I had done a fairly good job, did what the Chief wanted me to do. But I had always promised myself that when I was 40, I’d be finished with the Warden Service but it took me another 9 years to get that done. I looked at some of the old wardens that learned how government is, a lot of people that get out of work and look busy and I promised myself I would never be like that. When I got up and I didn’t really feel like going to work in townsite or something, I thought it was time for me to go so that’s what I did.

MH: Do you have any photos of yourself as a warden that you would like to donate? Artifacts? 4330:
AC: My wife made a scrapbook for years and she has some photos in it. I’ll take photos and send them to you.

MH: What year did you retire? 4630:
AC: I retired in 1998.

MH: What do you enjoy doing in retirement? 4715:
AC: Because I was young when I retired, I shod horses for 15 years or more. Made a living that way and I had some land so did up some hay and I always had horses. My daughter and granddaughters are really into rodeo and stuff like that so I train horses for them. They buy colts and give them to me and I give them back mostly trained and they finish them off for barrel racing, roping or whatever. I don’t shoe horses anymore…only for the family.

MH: Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you think I should know about the Warden Service? 4805:
AC: I think we pretty much covered everything.

MH: Anyone else to interview?
AC: Have you talked to Brian Wallace? He had quite a career. Him and I got on as Seasonal Wardens together. (Brian was interviewed in Phase 8).

MH: Any final comments?
AC: I would have liked to have gone to Grasslands but Marilyn and the kids and I moved into Sugarloaf and they never did get things going in Grasslands until much later and we were all settled in. I was looking after horses here and had the horse program going so we stayed. We had always been with horses because my grandfather was an outfitter in British Columbia. The Hargreaves, they were pretty big outfitters in the 20s-50s. My mom and dad were involved with that too for years in Mt. Robson. Packing a horse and riding a mountain trail is a lot different from a rodeo or rope horse. Now I’ve switched over to rodeo horses and I can do both now. I take the colts out on trails but it’s been a few years since I went into the backcountry for any length of time.

I’m leaving for Arizona for the winter so email a copy and I’ll look it over. I’ll send you pictures before I leave and we can finish the rest via email.

Marilyn Cochrane passed away on July 31, 2015 at the age of 64.