(24:48) Bob – We were in the Rocky River district. The interesting part of that for me was dealing with the standard district system that had been in place since likely the 1940s and had matured through the 1950s and 1960s. There were a number of us who were the very last folks to have a district under the 14 district system that was in Jasper at that time. We reported directly to chief park warden, Mickey McGuire and the assistant chief park warden, Ole Hermanrude. That was very much right at the time when they were starting to look at changing the district system to area systems and functional systems. But we did have about a year and a half to two years where I managed my own district. Albeit, it was just me and my four horses and eventually Pat came along and she managed all of us!

(25:59) Pat – Honestly, I really too thought that I had died and gone to heaven! I kept looking almost for the cameras because I felt like I was in some sort of movie. It just seemed unbelievable to me, as we would be crossing rivers or riding for hours and seeing all sorts of wildlife and staying in cabins. Where was Rocky Forks cabin? It had to be 60 miles from the road.

(26:29) Bob – It was about 45 miles.

(26:30) Pat – Okay 60 kilometers. Cairn Pass cabin was closer to 60 miles. It was a long ways away and we had lots of what I thought were exciting adventures. Bears walking through the yard while I am sitting on the toilet with the door open. You can in the backcountry, right! There is nobody around. At least in those days there was nobody around. Was it two or three grizzlies that walked through Jacques Lake?

(26:54) Bob – Well, we had a group of three young grizzlies around that summer.

(26:57) Pat – So there they are walking through the yard and I see them. They were hanging around kind of and we were right across the creek from the campground. Bob said, “Now, I got to get rid of these guys. They can’t be hanging around. I am going to scare them.” So he goes running off the porch to chase the bears and all three of them who were kind of walking away anyway, turned around and just sat down! They had kind of cocked their heads. It was like, “What is this man doing?” I just thought it was so funny. Again, where is the camera? Because it just seemed almost too make believe to be real. But I would say I adjusted quite well to the wilderness and then to station life. Bob was worried at first that I would get cabin fever and go crazy and then he started to worry that I had become too much of a hermit because you really quite get into it and you enjoy what’s there. You don’t worry about people. Then I think that I was a little bit dumb too, because I wandered around all over the place. Never thinking about bears or cougars or that type of thing.

(28:03) Pat – Well no, not really. (In response to the question, “And there were no wildlife issues?”) We had that one. I am a hiker, I am okay on horses, but basically I traveled by hiking. But we were coming down with the horses, on what turned out to be Bob’s last trip as the Rocky River warden and I was on the front horse. He started dancing around and he didn’t usually do that. He was kind of snorting and then all the horses were snorting. We came around a corner and there was this humungous moose freshly dead on the trail and his neck had been broken. A bull moose and obviously he had been caught by surprise because it was kind of a blind corner. Bob got off the horse to check it. It was a grizzly that had killed it, but we didn’t see the grizzly. He had moved off and looking around you could see that bushes had been dug up. There had been a lot of frenzy involved in the kill.

(28:56) Bob – I didn’t get off my horse I just rode over to look. I wasn’t that brave!

(29:02) Pat – Well in my movie…I think that was the day that I learned to pick out grizzly tracks at about 100 paces! Because it was a big bear. The tracks were big and all I thought was “Whoa, if you had been a hiker and come around the corner…It was a rather sobering thought. I think that was probably when I started to realize that perhaps I should remove my colored glasses and be a little more realistic. It actually took me years and years to do that because I just got into my own little trance when I was wandering around in the woods.

(29:42) Pat – Well, that’s true. (In response to the comment, “Not everyone is cut out for the backcountry life and you seemed to embrace it.”) I do think that, but I also feel and this is accolades to the women previous to me, almost all of them had children in the bush. I was able to travel with Bob. I never, ever felt trapped. And I think that in a lot of those cabins, in those one room cabins with children, June Burstrom had three children at the time I think. I believe the story is she snowshoed into Jacques Lake, six month pregnant with the twins. We are talking major accomplishments by these old timers. I knew that all along. I knew that I am in a very special place right now, under very special circumstances. So I don’t pat myself on the back too much! Our children didn’t come until we were in town. That part I never had to face. I think I would have been quite sulky actually as Bob rode off into the woods, if I was back in the cabin kneading dough and cleaning and washing diapers. I am not sure how good I would have done with that.

(30:51) Bob – In the Rocky River district as we changed to the area district system, the Maligne Lake and the Rocky River were amalgamated into an area. Of course, our closest neighbor was Mac Elder at Maligne Lake. He was such a huge, huge resource of information. He and I would get on the phone and poor Cathy she must have wondered what he was doing. Our record I think was four hours on the phone! This man was and still is to this day, a wealth of information. I learned so much about Jasper from him, because really I didn’t know about Jasper history being from the south. And the whole environment was quite a bit different than Banff. I worked in Banff and Waterton where there were no wolves. They had no predators that were really making a heavy impact on the ungulates. Of course all of a sudden being immersed into Jasper and dealing with a wolf, you know the carnivores it was quite different for me to really understand the dynamics there. Mac was a great resource and we really quite enjoyed the years in the Rocky River district. And it was quite quick. We were only there two years.

(32:32) Pat – Athabasca Falls for me also was an adventure. It was busy in the summer from mid June to mid September and certainly by the end of September that road was just a government road. There was almost nobody on it. The ski area got the Edmonton crowd, but they didn’t get that much of the Calgary crowds. So all winter we had Athabasca Falls to ourselves, except for house parents in the hostel. We were so lucky, because at that time three wolf packs kind of converged on Athabasca Falls. One from the Whirlpool, one from towards town and one from the south. Honestly we could go out on almost any night and watch the wolves. It was so exciting for me. I just could not believe it! I could hardly breathe some nights, by the time we got back. Watching them hunt, or watching them play or just watching them watch each other or communicate, it was totally amazing! I really wanted to find out about wolves and I read a book by the Craigheads that had been quite an up to date study at that time. They were Americans, the Craigheads from Montana. Then David Mech was a Canadian who wrote about that island where the wolves and moose were kind of in a perfect balance…and Lu Carbyn from the Canadian Wildlife Service did the wolf study in Jasper. I really felt that I learned a lot about wolves and being able to watch them was probably, other than being with my own children and family was some of the happiest moments I think that I have ever experienced. Watching the wildlife where we lived. The stations provided a lot of opportunity as well to see bears and moose. We had a few scary moose incidents. And interesting bear experiences, nothing very aggressive.

(34:34) Bob – What had happened in the summer of 1971 was Jasper had gone from the district system to the area system. There were a few of the old timers retiring. Keith Foster was up in the north end of the park, at Willow Creek. We got to know a bunch of the new wardens coming on. Because I had the experience in Rogers Pass and working in ski areas, Toni Klettl needed somebody to work with him and Hans Fuhrer at the Marmot Basin ski area. The wardens were out of ski patrol then, but they were running the avalanche control. So they decided to move Pat and I into the Athabasca Falls house, it was an area by then. I was working with Toni and he was out of Cavell. So we made the transition and moved out and then next few winters, I worked at Marmot.

(36:00) Pat – It was the summer of 1974 that we moved.

(36:10) Bob – So I worked those three or four years at Athabasca Falls and we had another seasonal warden who worked at Tonquin Valley. I got in and Pat as well, got into Tonquin Valley once in a while and helped supervise trail crews. Then we went up the Whirlpool Valley to Athabasca Pass. It was a valley that I looked after on a regular basis. We had a fire tower at Geraldine Lakes to look after. It was a busy few years. You would get up in those old days and you worked five days a week and if there had to be something done on your days off you usually did it as well. An eight hour day was not likely in the books! You also did a lot of evening patrolling. We really enjoyed it. Again we were childless, so we didn’t have those issues. Pat subbed at the school and I drove in. A moose charged her one morning, so she didn’t get to school on time.

(37:22) Pat – I was in the car that time, but moose I had become more nervous of than bears because we had some scary experiences with moose.

(37:37) Bob – That was a particularly interesting period for me, because I was always a horse person. I was always athletic, but I would sooner be riding a horse than hiking. But when Pat and I got together, she alone definitely converted me into hiking which of course has been a legacy of this family, with our two girls getting out and about in the mountains and using every way we could possibly to do it. My ski skills helped her out and we got moving on skis. Of course in the backcountry at the Rocky at that time, the warden service, at least in the Jasper warden service, Mickey McGuire thought that skis were too dangerous. So we used snowshoes. That was fine. I spent two years on snowshoes and really learned to not like them! Yeah, they were very safe and worked for the purpose. We’ve done a lot of skiing since.

(38:56) Pat – We’ve been actually on two backcountry trips this year, touring. We try to get out as much as we can. We downhill too and cross country as well. But I really like the touring. We really enjoy it.

(39:16) Pat – Actually if there was an opportunity to go along, I would choose that over subbing! (In response to the question, “If you weren’t subbing, would you go along with Bob?”) Usually I was called that morning or the night before. The trips would be planned and I would be gone with him. So we got out really quite a bit. I had reasonable horse skills. Not strong skills like Bob and Donny, but enough that I got by quite well. I am more random abstract than Bob. I know that I drove him crazy because I am an animal nut. I would sort of cootchy coo the horses and I would be in my own little dream world. One time going up the Whirlpool, we were riding along the Scot gravel flats, and it is a pretty treed area most of the way and all of a sudden we are in the open and there is this wonderful glacier and I knew about the history. So I am looking around and all of a sudden I am underneath my horse who had forgotten that I was there because I had forgotten that I was there! He was just trying to get the flies off his back I guess, me being one of them! I did get a bit of a reprimand for not letting the horse know that I was on his back. It was quite funny!

(40:24) Pat – Both were born in Jasper. (In response to the question, “Were both your girls born in Jasper?”) Actually Colleen did grade one there and Tara up to grade three. Then that was when we moved to Newfoundland. So we were in Rocky Harbor for their grade two and four year.

(40:47) Bob – One of the things was as a district warden I was doing a lot of alpine stuff and climbing. A really good friend was – and we built up a great relationship with – Willi Pfisterer. I was kind of going the public safety route. I was lucky enough to go with a great bunch of guys to do the first Logan trip. (In 1973, a group of seven wardens and two alpine specialists went on the first Mount Logan Expedition. Burns, R.J. and Schintz M. Guardians of the Wild (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2000), 304.)
Then the following year, I was starting to think about moving up to an Area Manager. So I applied in Jasper and I applied in Banff, and I applied for a public safety job in Kluane. I also went on the Mount Kennedy and Hubbard and Alverstone trip that year. But that spring I had to make up my mind, so we stayed in Jasper and I took the Area Manager’s job at Poboktan Creek warden station, which included the Brazeau district. We went down there for the summer and the fall of 1974. But that was at the time that the warden service management, park management was still going through transition. They decided in Jasper, and there was a process, and I was involved with it, that we would go to a function system as opposed to an area system. It broke the warden service in Jasper into resource management, public safety, law enforcement and backcountry management. Toni Klettl had public safety, Abe Loewen took over backcountry, Duane Martin was in law enforcement and I took over the resource management. We were only at Poboktan Creek for less than year and I got an offer to be the Resource Management Manager and move into the old fish hatchery that had been disbanded a couple of years before that. This was under chief park warden Don Dumpleton and Assistant Superintendent Bruce Wilson. Bruce was a forester out of Ontario. Roy Flanagan was the Superintendent. So just before Christmas we moved out of Mile 45 and went to town. Actually, Pat cried about going to town.

(43:54) Pat – I was so sad about leaving because it was the most magical, wonderful thing to live on those stations. I knew it was the end of something special.

(44:02) Bob – No kids though.

(44:04) Pat – I know and we wanted children. But I am quite intense, so when I am into something, I am really into it! We started our family after we moved to town. It was probably a good thing because I am not sure that we would have, if we had stayed on stations because we would have been too busy travelling around. Also I knew that I would not like staying home while Bob was out traveling around. So it worked out really well.

(44:29) Bob – We moved into town into a little house on Maligne Avenue. Again we were in town, but we had already kind of set a pattern. When I arrived in Jasper I was a district warden so I was on the district. If you go there as a seasonal you got to travel around with other district wardens; Keith Foster, Brian Wallace and Al Stendie, those folks moved around a lot. But we didn’t see much of the park. So Pat and I actually on our own free time and whenever I could weasel a little bit of government time we spent a lot of our time traveling around Jasper.

(45:19) Pat – We skied the north boundary on our holiday time.

(45:22) Bob – So we were kind of the “go to” people if somebody wanted to get information about trails etc. Pat then got a small contract to write a trail guide.

(45:34) Pat – It was short lived. It was going to be a binder, waterproof, a map on one side and a write up on the other. Very strong waterproof paper that folded down to neat little sheets and eventually all the trails would be done. But one trail got done and then they changed it.

(45:55) Bob – We got recognized through Bart Robinson and Brain Patton. They came and spent time with us for their earlier book. (Authors of the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide originally published in 1971. It is now in its eighth edition.).

(46:08) Pat – Because Jasper in their very first book was hardly mentioned. All of Banff and Yoho and Waterton and then Jasper was about five pages saying it was all too wild and nobody hikes it. Except for maybe the Skyline and Tonquin and even those write ups were short. Jasper has wonderful hikes. It is longer hikes because the valleys are broader so you can go further. But the next book really included a lot more of Jasper. Bob is very accurate, I am more of an in the stars person until I have a map in front of me, but Bob could give exact details about number of river crossings or creek crossings and whether they were dangerous or whether they were just to get your feet wet and that type of thing. Most of them were just getting your feet wet in cold, cold water!

(47:02) Bob – But anyway, the children arrived in 1976, a couple of years later.

(47:11) Pat – Tara is the oldest, she was born in July 1976 and Colleen was September of 1978. It took us a while to adapt to children because we thought that they would adapt to our lifestyle! And it turned out that no, babies have their own agendas. It took me a while to learn that!

(47:35) Bob – It gave us a much more respect for what the folks had done previous to us. The Burstroms…

(47:44) Pat – And the Klettl’s. I just had such a healthy respect for all those women, Shirley Klettl and June Burstrom. All of them because it was not an easy life for them. While the men were kind of glamorous hero types, the women were just slugging it out in very primitive conditions. So they get many accolades from me.

(48:18) Bob – Jasper town itself is kind of a nice little town, but a long ways from anywhere. So the sense of community in Jasper obviously was primarily the railroad industry that we got to know and have many good friends. Then the tourism business owners and government. It was a great town and a huge park. It is still my favorite park. You can get to it, but it is huge. Some of the management issues, we were struggling along like everyone in the system relating to bears and garbage and making little baby steps. Of course coming out to the front country with resource management concepts were early responsibilities, wildlife management and monitoring was my responsibility. I had some great people I worked with and I had some great contacts with the Canadian Wildlife Service on the research end of it. We were dealing with those people in those days. And also kind of cutting our teeth on some of the very limited steps forward on forest management, given Bruce Wilson was a forester and he was the Assistant Superintendent. He was really pushing us with beginning to research with a number of universities on doing some of the original fire history modeling and dabbling with the Canadian Forest Service on some of the burn models. Albeit that was about the time that in Banff, Cliff White and crew were just developing their models. (Warden Cliff White worked as the fire and vegetation management specialist for Banff National Park. He is credited with revolutionizing the use of prescribed fire. Slaght, Shawn. “Parks Canada Manager Retires After 37 Years.” Banff Crag and Canyon. www.banffcragandcanyon.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2114483) .It would have been great to have had someone like Cliff, but we ended up together anyways. We burned a little acreage together!

(50:28) Pat – For me a part of my heart will always be in Jasper, probably partly because the children were born there. And certainly such extended periods of time in the backcountry. Such a special time, I also loved that. I am sure that Bob would agree that for him I think it helped that Jasper was further from Calgary and from the eyes of Ottawa. Like Banff was the star of the show I think. So the other parks were left, not alone completely, but there wasn’t as much pressure as there was in Banff.

(51:05) Bob – Yeah, if something happened in Banff and of course we experienced this years later, the media was all over it. But major catastrophes could be happening in Jasper and you just flew right by it. I remember Don Dumpleton giving me a call saying, “The media wants to talk to you.” I think that we had a bear mauling or something and I had absolutely no training in dealing with those issues. I don’t think that very many people in the system did. But they were asking all these pointed questions and me debating whether it was in their interest to write it or not. I learned a little bit through that process!

(51:49) But it was great. We were getting a lot of direction from the regional offices in those days on resource management and god knows that we were struggling to try to really understand the next process. The next process was of course we were doing inventories of our resources. Obviously being criticized earlier on that Parks Canada really didn’t know what they were managing, which I guess was fair enough. We started a process. Many people like Dave Day, Charlie Zinkan, Tony Bull were involved in some of those first models. Kurt Seal was working on developing resource management planning from the inventory to the assessment. So we were there, going through this whole process. We realized that Parks Canada had to do something about the Environmental Assessment Act and how you were going to implement it. This was all new to everybody in Canada. The warden service was a great organization and I think that the Superintendents and management looked around. They had a visitor service component that was really into delivering services, but the warden service seemed to be the catch all. It was a fantastic time to be in the system. The learning curve was huge and steep. Not everybody really understood some of the impacts, especially upper management of shutting, say a road construction outfit, down for pollution or stopping a lease holder from doing certain things. A lot of that stuff had never happened.

(53:56) Bob – Working for a couple of years, Duane Martin and I changed roles. He went over to resource management and I went over to law enforcement. I got involved in law enforcement and the twinning of the CN railroad. It was a huge project and I started it out and Duane kind of finished it off. We were just evolving so fast. I think that it was so much that it was hard for everybody to keep up and it seemed like you were always in a position of saying “No” to somebody. In backcountry management I was very much involved and even before I got into resource management. I took a run at trying to develop a backcountry management plan for the Tonquin Valley. Quotas etc and really only working from models that came from Yellowstone National Park in the States. So then Banff and Jasper were involved in backcountry management. Your dad (warden Keith Everts) was involved with Banff heavily. It was a process that many of us who were kind of in that bottom rung of management were in controversy all the time. So you learned how to deal with that and I think a lot of us developed a fairly thick skin, because we were used to name calling! But it was very rewarding and you see the things that have come out of it over the years. It has been huge for national park policy planning and many of our protected areas are there because we were asked to make a stand and justify it. We had the guts to do it…

(56:10) Pat – Because Bob got into management and we would see people who would sometimes get sour. This happens in any job right? Where they just need a change. Bob said, “I don’t want to go so long that I resent Parks because I love it. I don’t ever want to get sour.” Bob really believed in shifting things up. I stupidly promised that when he thought it was time to go, that I would go and then Gros Morne came up, Gros Morne and Glacier National Park…

(56:43) Bob – Well, John and I were going to trade.

(56:47) Pat – Right, but that trade did not come off. So Rogers Pass or Glacier did not come up. I said, “Well if you want to go to Gros Morne, sure. It might be good.” But I cried all the way down the Banff-Jasper highway! It sounds like I did a lot of crying, but it was just that I always seemed to love where I was. That was a hard, hard move for me. What I discovered in Parks and I sort of knew that from Field even because I had made good friends. Bob knew Bev and (Yoho warden) Gord Rutherford, but I made really good friends with them before Bob and I got married. (Warden) Andy Anderson and Barb were there and I got to know them really well and the Dixons (warden Fred and his wife Ann). The warden service especially, but Parks was kind of like a giant fraternity. People would come and go, but you would always reconnect somewhere. Even in Gros Morne, Dave Huddlestone was there and he had been a naturalist in Jasper. Then John Taylor who we met in Newfoundland ended up in Jasper. When we went to the Yukon, there were a lot of people there that we knew already.

(58:05) Pat – I really enjoyed our year at Gros Morne. I think it was a very, very difficult year for Bob, because it was a new national park and Newfoundlanders are rather a unique people. Very interesting and friendly, I have lots of good to say about them. But I think I can also safely say that they did not entirely embrace the laws and regulations that came with a national park.

(58:26) Bob – It was a huge change for those folks.

(58:28) Pat – It was huge and we appreciated that. But they kind of resented authority and they resented laws and regulations.

(58:38) Pat – I found it was just another holiday, another beautiful movie set for me. I was looking around and it was all new. Newfoundland is a beautiful province and probably we would have never made it there. We had been to the Maritimes. Nova Scotia and you’ve been to the Maritimes right? Newfoundland is really worth a visit. It is interesting and it is beautiful.