(18:09) Kathy – And he also used to have an eye patch because he was blind in one eye.

(18:17) So I decided right there that okay, Yoho would probably be a good fit for me. Late that spring I moved to Yoho, I think I moved in June and they were really looking for somebody to look after public safety. So I took on public safety as a main responsibility. I had a big learning curve. I had Tim Auger there who was working out of Lake O’Hara who knew a hell of a lot more about any of that than I did. Of course he was a huge resource for me and Tim was the rescue leader for Yoho. I was involved basically as a rescue leader and as somebody who could work in the avalanche control aspect of Yoho with the highway stuff. It was interesting because as a park warden in Yoho you are involved in just about everything that is going on…whereas in a bigger park you end up specializing. The general aspect of the job really suited me because I am more of a generalist and less of a specialist, although when I became a dog handler that obviously was a specialty.

(19:48) I really enjoyed working in Yoho, it was a neat place and there were some really neat people working there. Donny was there and Gerry Israelson started working there. Randy Robinson, Darro Stinson was there. Kathy started working there. I really enjoyed Yoho. I remember Hal, I had spent a good amount of time in the backcountry, just because I really liked it. I would always be around saying, “Hey, I want to go out on boundary patrol in the fall.” It didn’t matter what park I was in. Hal would always say, “Well, if you guys don’t smarten up in this office I am going to kick you out in the backcountry for a couple of weeks.” I am going, “Throw it at me!” You know! “I might have to trip over the highway a few times to see everything…” I mean in comparison to some of those big districts in Jasper, Yoho was pretty small from a backcountry standpoint, but a well laid out park because there were so many different places that you could go riding or hiking…Lake O’Hara, Yoho Valley, Emerald Lake.

(21:11) So the public safety thing was probably something that I was involved in, that and avalanche control more than anything else. But throughout those seven years that I was in Yoho I was also involved in wildlife management and law enforcement…

Jay Morton, Don Mickle and Dale Portman.

(22:24) Up until about 1979, I had been working exclusively in Yoho. Kathy was working as a seasonal warden. She started in 1975 and she will flush that all out for you. But then Jack Woledge’s dog position had come up in Lake Louise and I was really interested in that. At that time Hal Shepherd had retired, so I was acting chief park warden at Yoho. I was at a crossroads. I could go in that direction and become more of a management type person. Become the Chief Warden, even of Yoho or I would go off and become a dog handler. I was really interested in the dog handler job so I put in for it. Gordie Peyto was the other candidate who put in for it. We were close friends you know. Between myself, Scott Ward and Gordie we knew each other from day one when we started in the warden service. We had a good working relationship and we understood each other and knew each other. Gordie and I are competing for this dog handling position and they decided that they were going to create two positions because Earl Skjonsberg was probably going to retire in the next couple of years so they would already have somebody working in the field who could take that job over. That was great because it just opened it up and now Gordie and I both got a job. I was building a house in Field at the time so it made more sense that Gordie be the first guy to go and get trained with a dog. They decided that after training he would work out of Yoho. When I got trained which would be a year later, I would work in Lake Louise. What happened in that period was a job came up in Lake Louise working for Mike McKnight as the Area Manager there, coordinating the law enforcement in front country. It is now more of a management style position. But I really wanted the dog handler job, so I took on both. I moved to Lake Louise and I started dog training in 1980. My first dog didn’t pan out and then I came out in the field with a dog by the name of Chip. I had been told by different people and especially by Gaby Fortin that if I took the dog handling position, it would end my options of becoming, Assistant Chief Warden, Chief Warden and doing that sort of thing. I said, “Well, you know I understand that. That I am specializing and I am not going to be able to go that route. But I really want to be the dog handler, so I will forget about the other stuff.” I was a dog handler for about a year with this dog Chip and he came down with Parvo (Canine Parvovirus) for some unknown reason and died. We were still living in Yoho at the time, but I was working in Lake Louise and I went looking for another dog and they found a dog named Sam for me from the Saskatoon City Police. He was a really good working dog, super aggressive. I had most of my best years with him as a dog. I carried on doing both the dog handling stuff and the law enforcement, front country coordinating in Lake Louise. I was involved with this big sewage treatment plant and development in Lake Louise at the time. It took a lot of time. I wasn’t getting any dog training in and I was turning down dog calls. I just said, “This isn’t the way I want it to be. If I am going to be a dog handler, I have to do it and commit myself to it fully. I can’t be spending all of this time and energy that is going to take away from that. The dog is going to suffer. The position is going to suffer.” So I resigned as the Lake Louise front country and law enforcement coordinator and just took on the dog position. I became an everyday general park warden doing duty warden stuff, but I had the dog specialty on the side. I made sure that nobody was going to infringe on that. I protected my time and my dog calls and my energy so that it would be directed towards that. And establishing good links with the RCMP, Fish and Wildlife, and different groups of people.

(28:12) In the avalanche control business I had met Margie Jamieson. Margie Jamieson and Art Twomey they had Ptarmigan Tours in southwestern BC. Margie was a good friend and they were getting into avalanche control work with their dogs and this was the start of CARDA (Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association). I got involved with another RCMP dog handler…and we started giving them a hand as a civilian organization to develop an avalanche search and rescue capability. Today CARDA is really, really doing well. They’ve expanded not only from avalanche work, but to ground searches, lost kids, tracking and this sort of thing. But back then, this is 1980, 1981/82 they were just starting out and we were making sure that they had training standards that were as good as the RCMP had for all the different working profiles. These guys really said, “This is how we want to do it. We don’t want to do it half assed. We want to be really good.” So they adopted the RCMP dog training standards. Gordie Burns was the dog handler that I was working with. Between him and I we really laid down training standards for CARDA. We helped them train their dogs, we went to these week courses that they had throughout BC. It was really fulfilling to see CARDA take off and do as well as it has.

(30:45) As a dog handler working in Lake Louise I was again getting the opportunity in the fall to go out on boundary patrol for two weeks. That was my big carrot. “Okay in the fall I get to go out and do a horse trip for two weeks on boundary patrol.” That is my gift to myself sort of thing.

(31:16) Alfie Burstrom retired in Jasper as the dog handler. I put in for his position. It was a natural thing that I would take over his position because there was now Scott Ward working in Banff who had taken over from Earl Skjonsberg. I am working in Lake Louise. Gordie is in Glacier. So we’ve got three dogs that are in pretty close proximity. Alfie is up in Jasper and Alfie retires, so it made sense that I would move up to Jasper and take his position which I did and that was in the spring of 1986.

(32:15) Alfie lived out at the Palisades. He had a dog kennel set up there. So the facilities were really there for a dog handler. One of the senior wardens in Jasper, wanted to live out at the Palisades because it is a neat house and everything else, a good set up. He was trying to convince me that I would probably be better off living in Jasper and I am saying, “No! All the facilities are there to leave the dog…” He said, “What about the bears and everything else?” I said, “That is why there is skookum dog run made out of cast iron. No bear is going to be able to get in at the dog. It is a good place for the dog to be and the dog handler.” So anyways we ended up moving there to the Palisades and Kathy was really pleased.

(33:08) I forgot to mention this was 1986. Kathy and I had been living together off and on for quite a few years. We finally got married in 1983, in the spring. May 28th was the date. I remember my best man was Bob Sanford and we invited everybody to Num-Ti-Jah Lodge for the wedding. Everybody stayed there and there are quite the stories about the wedding! It was held outside. Judge Graves was the person who married us…We had a whole bunch of beer sitting in the cooler on ice, so everybody could watch the wedding and crack a beer…

(34:11) So then we went up to Jasper. Kathy got a job as a seasonal warden working up there. I really got involved with the RCMP in Jasper from the dog work standpoint. I was getting good opportunities to get out into the backcountry on boundary patrol in the fall. There were a lot of areas you could choose from because Jasper is such a big park. I was maintaining my horse skills, and my backcountry skills. At this time Kathy’s father, Don Forest who was a well known climber, he was part of the Grizzly Group and they got out all the time backpacking and climbing. (The Grizzly Group was a Calgary based climbing group.) Now he had the opportunity to come with us on backcountry patrol on horseback and he really enjoyed that. It was a period where we were just getting out and doing everything. We did some nice climbs. We did some big overnight trips, you know multi day trips to the backcountry off the beaten path throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s.

(35:30) In the winter I was working up at Marmot Basin, I had the dog. But it was always easy if I got a call to go to just drop everything and head out. Of course I had worked in Jasper before so I was pretty familiar with how the park was laid out. I was pretty familiar with the people in town, the business people. I just seemed to come back and it was like coming home. Full circle sort of thing…There was lots of good dog work there and I think in about 1990, Kathy went to Willow Creek and she took over the backcountry warden district.

(36:41) 1990 was a big year for me. I remember I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma at the time which is a skin cancer, but it is the more fatal type. I was dealing with that and also interestingly enough it just seemed that every dog call I had involved some kind of a dead body. You are going through this period where you are trying to deal with your own mortality and then all of a sudden there is all this death.

(37:20) 1990, that winter was the big Healy Creek avalanche…that was a big thing. There were four dog handlers working that one. All three of the Park dogs, Scotty, Gordie and myself and then Gord Burns, the RCMP dog handler. The interesting thing about the Healy Creek avalanche was that the avalanche had come down during a really wet period, and it was warm, abnormally warm temperatures. It had come down and wiped these people out…Then the temperature dropped overnight to the -30s. You’ve got this wet snow, a big avalanche deposit that is now as hard as concrete because it is -30. Your dad (Keith Everts) was involved with that avalanche from a rescue leader standpoint. We were just doing it from a dog standpoint. I remember we set up a big tent and we set up propane blowers in there so that people could keep warm. We weren’t getting any scent at all. We worked the avalanche for a couple of days. Scent freezes at about -20, so we weren’t getting anything. We were scratching our heads. Even though we had some issues to deal with as far as the freezing scent, but there had been a lot of probing going on in the avalanche path and we thought with the probing maybe that would open things up and we would start to get the scent come to the surface. After two days we hadn’t had anything. Finally Gordie Burns worked his dog over into the trees and he got an indication. What had happened was these people had done everything properly. They had crossed the avalanche path, there were four of them. They had gotten into the trees and these are big Engelmann spruce and they decided to stop and have a bite to eat. They all had their packs off and they were in various stages of eating GORP (trail mix – Good Old Raisins and Peanuts) and what not when this huge avalanche came down. All of the deposit came down the main avalanche path but also into the trees. So there they are fifty feet into the trees and they get knocked over and buried. Once we realized that we started to pick up things like gloves and other articles. Then finally we had the first person…I think after three or four days of searching we found the last one. It was a very difficult search for the dogs because they weren’t getting anything for the longest time and we had to keep them motivated. So we would spell them off a lot. It just worked out well because all four of us dog handlers knew each other quite well. I was working with Gord Burns with the CARDA stuff and Gordie and Scotty knew Gord quite well too. Actually the thing is none of the park dogs really found a body. It was Gord’s dog that found everything…Our dogs were put in there and we found clothing and stuff like that. It’s just the way that it turned out. He was assigned that area to search and his dog came up with the big thing.

(40:59) Another thing that happened shortly after Healy Creek which was in February, a couple went missing. They were driving from Edmonton to Vancouver and they never showed up. We drove around and finally we spotted the vehicle. They had left the road in a snowstorm. The tracks where they had cut through the snow bank were this high and they got filled up with snow again. So it masked everything. Then when it started to warm up a bit you could see the dirty snow from the white new snow and you could tell that a vehicle had gone off there. Looking down we found the couple in their vehicle. They were both frozen to death. We had to get them out of the vehicle and they weren’t very pliable.

(41:57) Then I had two RCMP calls. The RCMP had found some Asian guy lying off the trail near Patricia Lake in Jasper, up on the bench. They called me in because they thought it had been a gang related accident because he was missing both of his ears. I got there with the dog…I had just had an operation to remove all the lymph glands out of the right side of my arm underneath it because of the cancer. It had moved to one of the lymph glands. I had only been home about two days and I got a bag under my arm. There are the RCMP saying, “Can you come up and deal with this thing?” I said, “Well, I am not doing much here except convalescing. “ I went up and took a look. They thought that his guy had his ears cut off by somebody, in kind of a ritual gang related thing. I looked at it and I said, “No I don’t think so. I think that is an animal. That is a rodent. A rodent has gnawed off his ears.” Then looking closely I saw a bullet hole, an entrance hole underneath his chin. I said, “That is an entrance hole for a 22. I think this guy shot himself.” The bullet probably went around about four times inside his head and then he fell over and died, but he probably staggered some distance…The reason the rodent had chewed off his ears was because blood was coming out of his ears from the wound. So I started looking around and searching and I finally found a clip for a 22 automatic hand gun. Then I found the handgun, or the dog found it. Then we started putting two and two together. But these RCMP were really bound and determined that this was a gang thing. I said, “No, it is just some guy who tried to commit suicide and a rodent did it.” So we put all the pieces together and finally we solved it.

(44:11) Then I think it was about a month later somebody had gone off to Patricia Lake with a shotgun and blew his head off. We went in and tracked the guy to where his vehicle was and of course came across this gruesome thing. I was carrying baggage from all of this stuff and it just started coming out at this point and so I took a little bit of time off. Then got back working as a dog handler again.

(44:50) Then I decided in the fall of 1992 that I needed to take a year off. I had been dealing with a lot of stuff and I just wanted to have a break. I took a year off and it was late that fall that Pat Sheehan was killed in a climbing accident, an ice climbing accident. (Pat Sheehan was a well loved and respected Jasper warden who had been through both the mountain guide and public safety program. He was the first warden to die climbing in the warden service. Calvert, Kathy and Portman Dale. Guardians of the Peaks (Surrey: Rocky Mountain Books, 2006), 265.)

That really bothered me. I had taken this year off and was looking at starting this business, a horse supported hiking business. I was just starting to get that going in the spring of 1993, realizing that I needed to get out of the dog handling field because of all the (death). I was probably dealing with post traumatic stress and what not. But that wasn’t something that you discussed or even diagnosed. You just start realizing that you are not behaving well, that you are not coping as well as you normally should and stuff like that. So I had taken the time off.

(46:25) Then Destiny Ridge which is a production company came along and they were looking for somebody who could act as a liaison officer between Parks Canada, the warden service and the production company, as well as, deal with the script and authenticate the scripts from a warden standpoint. How a horse would be saddled? What type of saddle would it be? What would be on the saddle? How would the uniform look? Same with the climbing aspect, same with the law enforcement aspect of things. They needed somebody to go over the scripts in a production room and say, “No, a warden wouldn’t do that.” But Destiny Ridge was kind of a takeoff of what Northern Exposure was. So it was a bit tongue and cheek, over the top humor. Although it did portray wardens in their traditional way, some of the storyline was a little (unrealistic). But I did enjoy that, as far as working with actors and very creative people within that industry. It was just a total eye opener for me to realize that there were these people who totally thought differently than most other people that I had been brought up with from an objective standpoint, pragmatically dealing with the here and now and then these creative people are just totally in some other place. Totally different philosophy and outlook on how life is and everything else. I really found it fascinating.

(48:20) I did that in the spring and then they took a break in the summertime and it allowed me an opportunity to get my business going which was this horse supported hiking stuff. The business was called the Green Horse Adventure Limited. Green Horse is basically a nickname that I had that I had picked up in the early 1970s in Jasper because I used to tell this story called the green horse joke. It is a very long involved joke and I became notorious for telling it at parties when everybody had had a few more drinks when they could laugh a little more openly at things. I named the company that and that was starting to take off too because people in Jasper and even in Edmonton and Calgary were interested in doing this type of hiking because they didn’t have to have a big pack on their back. They could go back and hike and all their camps are looked after by packhorses. We would just go around and hire the outfitter with the horses and then put it all together. It worked pretty good…we did about four or five trips that summer out of the business.

(49:46) That fall I went back working for the production company doing the liaison and being a technical advisor. That fall they finished off the last episodes. I remember there was one episode, and this was when Parks Canada really started to lose its way. They brought Sandra Davis in who was the first person who came from outside Parks Canada to become the Regional Director. She had done something in some other aspect of Canadian government…Prisons, that’s right. You could just see the approach starting to change. The Jim Rabys and the Steve Kuns and that, who were brought up through the system, who had their feet firmly planted on the ground were now being (replaced). (Steve Kun and Jim Raby were superintendents of various mountain parks.) It was now a woman who had come from a different organization who felt that she was maybe entitled to more prestige, more glamour in her job and whatnot. This started things down a road that it has never recovered from. The next person that came on in that capacity was Donna Petrachenko, she was from Fisheries and Oceans. The directors of the show wanted to do an episode about a Regional Director who has a relationship with the main warden, the Chief Warden character in Destiny Ridge. I am telling you, the managers – Keith Shepherd was the Assistant Superintendent at that time and a guy by the name of Audy was the Acting Superintendent – and everybody was really (panicking). “What are we going to do? What are we going to do? Jesus, Sandra Davis is going to fire the whole bunch of us!” I am going, “Well, jeez it is only make believe.” Anyways they finally phoned her up and said, “They are thinking about doing this.” And she laughed as said, “It is only T.V. Don’t get so upset about it. They can do anything they want. I don’t have a problem with that.” So they did that episode.