Working with John Wackerle at Norquay in the winter time – now he was an unbelievable skier. We had to go up the Wishbone and cut the slopes in and ski down through corn snow where it was rotten to the ground. I would watch John, every turn his skis scraping the ground, but he made beautiful turns down that slope. I’d be making gorilla turns and John would say “You have to balance a little more”…yeah right Johnny. He was a German, grew up there. I had fascinating discussions traveling with him in the backcountry. He said what he learned in school in Germany, was not what was really happening. He said when he came to Canada and went to school, he was always amazed at the propaganda they had been taught in Germany. (I had) fascinating discussions in the backcountry with him. I have German heritage as well and the stories that I heard from my family were very similar. He was an important element in my history, because of his love and support for the National Parks. And yes, he was a mentor for me. I’d argue and discuss about things with him. His daughter Barb came by the ski patrol office last year in Kimberley and we reminisced about him. He’s still skiing. Barb had written up a good story about him, it was in the Toronto Star. He still has his condo in Banff and pops in and spends a couple of days, goes skiing and then goes home again.

Another character is Monte Rose. He was different and quite the character. In the springtime he’d come back to the office and say, “Yep pretty good day, I got paid to be a Park Warden and I picked up $5.00 in change from the ski hill”. He’d go for a walk up to the ski hill and look for money. Monte worked with the bears and stuff and one time he trapped a wolverine up at the Cascade dump and he captured this wolverine in a trap so we immobilized it. Monte had a sense of humour that was second to none, a bit twisted but priceless. We immobilize this male wolverine and Monte comes with his camera and he started laughing and giggling and I had to go so didn’t really know what was going on until later on. I heard that he had taken a spray can of blue paint and spray painted the genitals of this wolverine and took a close up picture. Later on when the picture was developed, he went down and saw Heather Davis and the other interpreters/naturalist and said “What kind of bird eggs would this be? I found them out and took a picture of them and don’t know what they are.” He never told them what it was. That was Monte Rose, he was just a character. But that sort of thing went on within the Warden Service. Monte Rose and his little book of horrors. New Park Wardens coming on…oh…anyway.

MH: Is there anything about the Warden Service, as you knew it, that you would like future generations to know? 1:00:00:
DM: That landscape is set aside for their education and enjoyment and they have to go out and utilize it. But think about those who came before to protect that and first of all set it aside, and the Wardens were part of that. I don’t know of any warden that didn’t believe in protecting that landscape in whichever way they chose. This was paramount to Park Wardens, and the things that people did to try and help other individuals was quite outstanding, and it was their job and they did it. Park Wardens, whether it was a fire or whatever, we got together and did it, whether it was horrible or not. The camaraderie of the Warden Service – that was big. That’s why to this day, I love to ski patrol in the wintertime in Kimberley because it reminds me of that camaraderie of the Warden Service. Whether it was the young or the old, they all had that landscape. I look forward to this winter, going ski patrolling, whether they are the young patrollers or us older ones who are a little long in the tooth, but that camaraderie reminds me of the Warden Service. We could go from one end of the country to the other end of the country visiting the National Parks there. I was a warden and we were wardens. During the springtime, we used to have the warden games, the Gymkhanas – wow we had fun! We could argue and fight and discuss things, as long as it was in-house and we never took it outside. It was wonderful. The rivalry between Banff and Jasper! The Jasper Wardens always thought we were Banff primadonnas. Banff was always avant-garde, because of people like Keith Everts pushing the elements, trying to encourage improvement and improving the aspects. Doing things better and safer. I remember at one training session in Regina, and Marc Ledwidge saying, “What’s the big deal about all of this? We professionalized Public Safety, why shouldn’t we professionalize Law Enforcement?” We were always professional. I take pride in that.

As an aside, I do wonder if our backcountry is being patrolled the way it was and I don’t think so. I’d always hoped, being a warden, that I’d be able to go back on a few horse trips and have a retired warden’s holiday in the parks, but haven’t done that, and now they can’t. That element puts a tear in the eye.

MH: What made the Warden Service such a unique organization? 1:10
DM: I think first of all the National Parks, the camaraderie of the Wardens and the fact that we were generalists in the beginning. First of all, we have the place, those National Parks that were set aside that were so special, and then the Wardens who were given the duty to protect that landscape. And that was what made it special to me. There were only a few hundred Wardens across the country, a very small group of individuals who were selected to protect that landscape. When I got hired on there were 3000 applicants who applied and only 18 of us were selected that year to hire on. And it became much more difficult. People sought after those jobs because it was a job that was very special. Even today, traveling and telling people what I did as my job, or at our Bed and Breakfast, telling foreigners what I did they marvel and I enjoy talking about those years, well most of them anyway! They all come to visit the National Parks and have read the books or heard the stories of the Park Wardens and it was a very special and unique job. If you go the United States and the American National Parks, they think of us as special.

MH: Do you have any lasting memories as a Warden? 1:17:30
DM: Bryant Creek is very special to me because our children were little and I hauled them up there when they were 2 and 3, with the help of Larry Gilmar – little saddles and everything. Larry had run the outfitters camp so had all the gear. We ended up going back there numerous times in the winter for New Year’s Eve and also up the Spray and Palliser so that was special. I guess the North end of the park because of the wildness and Shale Pass. I was travelling once with Sid Marty and he took a picture of me riding a horse with a pack horse down Shale Pass – it’s in one of his poetry books. But just that wilderness aspect of that end of the park is incredible. There are some beautiful areas, the Red Deer Valley, Warden Rock looking out from the cabin at Scotch. Dale says “Paid to Play.”
And the other part about Bryant Creek was my horse Kim. She was very, very special and I remember one time when Steven was two years old I couldn’t find him. He was always taking off and going to see the horses. When I found him, Kim the horse was standing there, almost on tippy toes with her head looking back at this little blond kid going around and around under her legs playing ring around the rosy…and we were like, “Come on over here Steven!” It was priceless. Wish I’d had a camera. Amazing animals! We went on a busman’s holiday once and both Brad and Steve learned how to pack and saddle the horses. The horses (and boys) were amazing.

Bryant Creek with the Family

Wonder Pass with the family
The horses that we had were so well trained by the fellows at the ranch. I used to wear the shoes off that horse between fittings, I rode her so much and I loved to ride. That horse was quite amazing. I took her up across boulder fields and that horse would follow me, where I would step. She would step across the rocks and some of them were a little sketchy. And I would bog her down in awful spots, right up to her belly, step off her and slowly lead her out and she wouldn’t panic. She’d put one foot in front of the other and drag herself through mud and crap. She was great and a real companion.

MH: Do you ever miss being a Warden?
DM: Yeah, oh yeah I do. I definitely have. I loved being out in the wilderness and loved being by myself, going from cabin to cabin and spending days with my own best company sort of thing. That was a hard thing when we had to team up, I wasn’t too keen on that. Even to this day I like going hunting by myself and other people can be intrusions.

Doug Martin Citadel Pass Boundary Patrol

Doug Martin on Allenby Pass

There were the tragedies, of course, of Park Wardens. I think about Neil Colgan and others. (In 1979 warden Neil Colgan was kicked by his horse while on backcountry patrol. He died as a result of his injuries.) Then came the radio calls. There was Mother Moe (Vroom) on the radio, watching out for us every night, and Monique too, was part of that, part of that important link that we had. Thank you…thank you for the evening calls and dispatch, worrying about us. And Dale said, “That comes from me as well because I knew that you were my link, and if I was worried about safety, you guys were always there and I knew that I could depend on you to call.” Warden Dispatch and the Single Side Band radio…the terrible reception.

MH: Do you have any photos of yourself as a warden that you would like to donate? Artifacts? 1:25:
DM: Yes I have lots of pictures.

MH: What year did you retire? 1:26:20:
DM: It was 2010 when I finally retired

MH: What do you enjoy doing in retirement? 1:27:
DM: Skiing – ski patrolling at Kimberley and it reminds me of the camaraderie of the Warden Service. We have an acreage, and the St Mary’s River Bed and Breakfast, and we live right on the river so I fish a lot and love fishing, hiking, camping and hunting. I do that every year and the hiking and hunting aspect reminds me of the fall and the boundary season. And we visit our kids when we can. The youngest one Steven lives in Switzerland, north of Zurich and we haven’t seen them recently because of Covid. We taught them to travel when they were young so that is what they did. Steven went to University and was disenchanted with that so became a sailboat captain of private yachts. He worked for very wealthy people and sailed their yachts around the world and he met his Swiss wife Gabriela in the Caribbean. They moved back to Switzerland when their son developed health care challenges and now Steven works for a spa company. They now have a second son. The other son Bradley lives in Los Angeles with his wife Eirene and he works as an Intensive Care Nurse at UCLA, Ronald Reagan hospital. They have a daughter. Both families are long ways away. We speak to them as often as we can and visit when possible.

Pro Patrol at Kimberley

Fishing at St. Mary’s River

MH: Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you think I should know about the Warden Service? 1:30:
DM: There’s probably hundreds of things as they were a lot of years in the Warden Service and National Parks. I worked 35 years as a Park Warden.

MH: Anyone else to interview?
DM: I guess about the gun issue and things like that, Duane Martin and Bob Grundie. Tom Davidson, John Taylor and I worked together in Waterton, all hired on around the same time. Also Murry Hindle and Ivan Phillips. We went through the Warden Service together.

(Duane Martin was interviewed in Phase 4. Tom Davidson was interviewed in Phase 8 and John Taylor has been invited to participate in Phase 11. The others are on the list of possible future interviews.)

Interview with Dale Martin, Doug’s Wife.
November 5th, 2020

MH: Place and date of Birth
DM: Squamish, British Columbia, December 1952. The first 10 years of my life was in Squamish and the rest of my time before going off to university was in Campbell River, British Columbia.

MH: How did you and Doug meet?
DM: Doug and I met at University. We both lived in residence there. He was a long haired hippy and I loved him! Some people would not have guessed that about him but he had long flowing locks!

MH: Did you have any outdoor experience before you met Doug?
DM: No, very little. I was brought up in a family that didn’t go outdoors. We had a summer cottage at Horseshoe Bay/Sunset Beach and the extent was waterskiing and boating. As a child I attempted skiing outside of Courtney but really no. We had an epic trip across Canada, a camping trip to go to the Olympics and that was a disaster. No I was not an outdoorsy person when I met Doug but now I love it, love camping especially.

MH: Were you prepared for the Warden life?
DM: I didn’t even know what a Warden was. I thought I was going to the end of the world when I went to Waterton. Doug was there already and I’d finished teaching in Campbell River and Doug was stationed in Waterton and the hope was that we were going to get married. I kept driving and driving and I thought as I was approaching Pincher Creek from the coast, “If I don’t drive towards those mountains pretty soon, I am turning around and going back.” So happily I turned towards the mountains and that was it. I absolutely loved our time in Waterton and raising our kids there for a couple of years.

MH: What were some of your responsibilities as a Warden Spouse?
DM: It’s really funny because I think of Donna Martin. She was only a few years ahead of me but Julie Winkler and those people, they lived years before my time as a warden wife. They lived in the cabins and lived in the outdoors and had to take care of the cabins and people coming to the cabins, but I didn’t get to do that. My role was basically as any spouse or partner, to support him in whatever he was doing. I guess when he was out in the bush and we were out there with him, we would take care of people coming to the cabin and give information and do all of that sort of stuff, but I can’t say that I got to be a part of that special time as a warden’s wife. It was more centralized when we lived in Waterton. I did get to go out and travel to some of the cabins. That was part of our honeymoon. We were in a little cabin in Waterton, Oil Basin, during a snowstorm. It was a wild and wonderful place – except for the mice it was great.

MH: What did you enjoy about the Warden life? 1:41
DM: I guess the opportunities that it afforded us as a family. To be able to go out to Bryant Creek with the kids when they were so tiny, and share that part of Doug’s life (Dale has big tears running down her cheeks) that was special. Getting to ride a horse, that was wild. Getting to know some of the Wardens and being part of that group was very different for me. By the time we got to Banff, there was not much of a community with all of the wives, (people were moving to Canmore so it wasn’t as close knit) but in Waterton there were some fun times being a part of the Warden Service there. I worked part time as a teacher up until the kids were in Grade 6/7 and then I went back full time in the high school but living in the park was special. There were “good times” like falling on my face trying to learn how to cross-country ski with a pack, going up to Palliser. Pretty memorable New Year’s Eves when we were out in the bush and midnight skis in the moonlight. Pretty awesome times. It was great meeting some of his warden buddies that he became very close to, and sharing stories with those guys who are super close even today. Duane Martin, the brother from another mother!

MH: Was there anything you didn’t like about the Warden Life? 1:43
DM: One of the things Doug mentioned was him being called out on holidays, birthdays – those family events and I’d sit there knowing that there was a rescue going on on Cascade, and from our house, we could see Cascade and I could see the lights and yeah, I’d worry about that. A lot of things he didn’t share with me because he knew I would worry. But whenever he was out on a rescue that was a concern. When he was out with the guys on a training session, I never ever worried because no matter what happened, one of the guys always had his back. The thing that I didn’t like towards the end obviously was the gun issue, watching him go through the stress of that was very devastating.