“Would Patty come with you sometimes?”

She was so busy with her own ventures that she didn’t come with me a lot when I was at work But her and I, for the first several years we were married we took our holidays in the backcountry with pack horses, quite often we did. Well, she started younger. Her folks had a little farm down there at the Diamond (Black Diamond) and she started riding when she was only three or four years old, I think. She was pretty handy with a horse.

Patty with string of pack horses at Scotch Camp while working for
Mickles packing for the Glaciologists in 1964 or 1965. Don Mickle photo collection.
Is there anything that you didn’t like about being a warden?’

(11:08) Probably wintertime, they always dreamed up, “Oh, you got to write up some report.” Then they just stack them up in the back room until they gathered dust…endless report writing and it would just make busy work kind of. A lot of it didn’t go anywhere and having left school pretty early I was not much of a writer. I could write when forced to! But other than that…

“What are some of the more memorable events of your warden career?’

(11:58) With some of other fellows, I did quite a bit of teaching. I taught horse schools in the spring, and me and a couple other fellows did firearms training. I really enjoyed teaching, I really quite liked teaching. And I liked handling wildlife. When we were trapping bears, we were quite busy with bears in the summer sometimes. I enjoyed that work. I was a hands on kind of a guy…And I liked the companionship of some of the wardens that were a little older than I was even. I quite liked a lot of those guys, like (Ole) Hermanrude and (Wally) McPhee, Jim Robertson. I really enjoyed those people, they were great guys…Some of those guys were real characters, they had been in the military and they were there early enough that their stories were really quite interesting.

ack Woledge’s Retirement Party
Jack Woledge’s Retirement Party
Back Row – Left to Right: Ole Hermanrude, Dale Loewen, John Wackerle, Jim Burles (Horseman), Tom Ross (Assistant Superintendent), Jim Simpson (Num-ti-jah Lodge)
Front Row – Bill Vroom, Jim Rimmer, Jack Woledge, Andy Anderson (Chief Warden)

“On the internet, I saw a picture of you from the 1985 centennial climb, were you climbing mountains or were you travelling the park?

(13:39) Well, that centennial climb was kind of cooked up by Clair Israelson and a couple of other guys. They thought they would go into this one spot in Banff park where there were some not spectacular peaks, but the peaks that were neither climbed or had not been climbed much and they were not named. We took a pack string in there and went in there with pack horses, me and Johnny Nylund were kind of the main packers. I didn’t even climb on that journey. I just worked with Johnny packing grub up there and stuff for the crew. A good bunch of guys to be with. Good guys to visit with, most of them. There is always one or two people that you didn’t care for much, but that is the way life goes!

1985 National Parks Centennial Climb

Back row:  John Nylund (Banff Barn Boss); Frank Burstrom (Rev/Glacier); Brent Kozachenko (Waterton); Ed Abbott (Elk Island); Ron Tessolini (Banff); Darro Stinson (Jasper) Peter Deering (Gros Morne) Front Row:  Clair Israelson (Banff); Dale Loewen (Banff); Hans Fuhrer (Kootenay); Tom Elliot (Yoho); Eric Dafoe (Rev/Glacier); Willi Pfisterer (Jasper).  Missing from photo:  Don Mickle, Tim Auger, Gaby Fortin (http://parkwardenalumni.com/category/mountains/page/3/)

You mentioned enjoying working with wildlife, are there any wildlife or any bear stories that stick out in your mind?

“I have time, if you have time.”

14:47) There are a hundred bear stories and really somebody should put together a book with just strictly bear stories in it, you know.”) I’ve got one that is really quite long winded. I don’t know if we’ve got time for it or not, it is pretty long. I’ll give it a shot. It was late October and my wife and I,

Dale & Patty’s wedding at Temple Lodge, hosted by Bert and June Mickle.
Don Mickle photo collection

Patty and I, had just come home from holidays and I was supposed to go to work the next day. It was quite a frosty day, but there was no snow on the ground yet. Randy Chisholm called me from Saskatchewan Crossing. There was the old main lodge which was being used as staff quarters. A black bear had got into this place. He got in one of the bedrooms upstairs and locked himself in! Randy said, “I need somebody good.” So I said, “Okay, I’ll come up.” It was the typical staff quarters for Banff Park, you know little rooms and they stuffed two or three people in every room. Now it was fall and there was nobody around except the owners of the place, the Fikowski’s and they still had a little bit of the new part of the motel open. Randy and I, we snuck upstairs with a tranquilizer gun and another rifle. We went into a bedroom that was adjacent to the one the bear was in. The bear had broke the window out in this room and the windows from each room were real close together, there was just a wall between. So we opened our window and you could lean around and look at this bear! And he was laying on the mattress in there. He gave me this dead battery sound, this “Rrrrrrr.” So we loaded up the tranquilizer gun and I leaned out our window, looked in the other window and darted him. Well, we hadn’t estimated the weight properly I guess, he didn’t go just totally asleep…So now, if you give him anymore you would probably kill him, give him a heart attack. So at about this time, two busloads of Japanese tourists pulled up down below us and were watching…Chisholm and I said, “Now what do we do?” I came up with this real intelligent suggestion. I said, “We’ll put some bottles and cans on the stairs and I’ll jump out of our room and open the door for the bear and jump back in this room and slam the door shut.” I did that. The bear didn’t leave! As soon as I jumped back in I looked at Randy Chisholm and said, the bad word “Oh @$@#!” And Chisholm says “What?” I said, “Now the bear has the house and we are locked in the bedroom!” The bear didn’t leave, he just sat on his mattress there! Then the bear got a little bothered. He got up and he was sitting on the windowsill in his room looking outside at these tourists. He balanced all four paws on the window ledge…There was a big block of firewood…that the kids had been sitting on, I guess, and I said to Chisholm, “Give me that block.” I got this block and I ran around to the other door again and the bear turned around and was looking at me. He was still standing on the window ledge and I heaved this block at him. He kind of tottered backwards and fell out the window hanging on with his claws and scratched down the wall and then went off into the bush! Chisholm and I were really F-Trooped that night. (F Troop refers to an old TV sitcom about a screwed up cavalry unit.) It was funny!

“That would have been the highlight of the tourist’s trip!”

Oh yeah, everybody was pointing and laughing. Yeah it was funny! Yeah, that is one of my better bear stories. We had all kinds of other stuff go on over the years.

(19:43) I don’t know if you want to leave this one in? There was a little black bear around Lake Louise and I am sure you have heard some Monte Rose stories over the years. He was an awful character, but fun to be with! If they did that stuff today, they would all be fired. Anyway, they were in the campground and we had called this little bear ‘Henry’ or something, and he was always kind of underfoot. So they were in the campground and there was another black bear up a tree. I think it was Jay Morton and Monte Rose. It was a nice morning and they were going to dart this bear up the tree and take him out of the campground. Of course there was a bunch of tourists and some little kid was saying “What are you going to do now, Mr. Ranger sir? What are you going to do now?” They darted this bear and it hit the ground (it was dead) and out of the bush came this little ‘Henry’. He jumped on this other bear and started humping away! This kid said, “What is he doing now, Mr. Ranger sir? What’s he doing?” Monte never even hesitated, he said, “He’s giving him artificial respiration!” Monte, what an awful character! He got away with that stuff, eh.

(21:20) I am sure that there are a million other bear stories. Like Frankie Burstrom, he’s a really good guy. He was in a warden cabin in Jasper park and he decided to have a nap in the cabin. He had just got there, rode all morning and it was three or four in the afternoon and he had a little nap. He woke up and there was a bear, a black bear right in the cabin with him! It was one of those small little cabins. His rifle was handy, he shot the bear right there I guess. Frank was a pretty cool guy. That wouldn’t bother him too much!

“You mentioned Ole, and Monte and Jay Morton, is there anyone else who sticks out in your mind of the guys you worked with?”

Don Mickle photo collection.
Faye Mickle and Patty Loewen clowning with their “cauldron”

(23:35) Well, there was Jim Rimmer who was right off the wall you know. He was the guy who froze his toes off in the Clearwater River snowshoeing to Indianhead. I think he panicked enroute and he didn’t stop and light a fire. He tried to get to the house, to the radio, and he lost half of one foot and all the toes on the other foot. Jim was a really tough guy. He still worked for the warden service with these feet, but he was a disaster waiting to happen! There are a dozen Jim Rimmer stories…He had an old station wagon car and it had rained at Saskatchewan Crossing and froze on the road. He took this car into the garage and he drove a whole bunch of shingle nails into the tires, thinking he was studding his tires! He was only gone two minutes and Larry Gilmar said he came back into the yard with all four tires flat! He had this Bull Terrior that was always getting into fights and scraps and getting him into trouble. He was just famous in the park for this dog and him.

“Somebody mentioned that, was his name Spook?

Spook, yeah. But I think the first story is the best one. Two guys, I think it was a warden, Ed Carleton and Randy Chisholm’s dad, Jack, they were up the fire road to Flints Park to go fishing and they met Jim. Jim had this little dog, he was just a puppy and he was getting kind of sore footed. Jim was sitting on this big kind of waspy horse called Cinders. So Jack Chisholm says, “Your little dog is kind of sore footed.” And Jim in his English accent says, “Yes, the poor little fellow, hand him up here to me.” So they let him have the dog and he was still visiting with these guys and Cinders didn’t like this dog very much. He was twitching his ears back and forth and this little puppy just reached up and latched onto one of his ears with those little sharp puppy teeth and the wreck was on! The dog was hanging on because those dogs were bred to fight you know, those Bull Terriors. When the dust settled Rimmer said, “Alright then you little bastard, you can bloody well walk!” That was Rimmer, just so typical of him! That dog gave him grief for the next five years I’m sure!

I’ve heard some of those stories with Spook.”

Yeah, there were lots of those stories. That was the original story and I think it was the funniest one…

“Somebody said he was in the militia.”
He was in the Canadian army in Korea and he got a medal there. He was in the Middle East, a policeman in Palestine I think. Then he got over here and got on with the warden service because he had military service. I think after Korea he got on. A lot of those early guys got on because of their military service eh? But he was entertaining, always!