“Is there anything you liked least?”

(40:38) Duane – Only towards the end I guess as my career was winding down we got into the arming issue debate and that went on for years and years and years. It( caused sort of a schism in the warden service with those who were supportive and those who weren’t. It was a very divisive period of time, the infighting and fighting for that issue really polarized the warden service and the warden service management.

(41:12) Donna – You lost a few battles, but you did win the war.

(41:14) Duane – We did, but it did take its toll on a lot of people. Just the politics of that and seeing how senior management reacted, they just really didn’t want that to go ahead for whatever reason…It started out very collegial, we sort of agreed to disagree, but by the end they were going after people and targeting people and that sort of thing to punish them.

(41:43) Donna – Not very professional.

(41:44) Duane – So that was kind of discouraging to see that…

(41:53) Duane – That was one thing as well, not even related to that but just in the later years the politics seem to come way down in the organization. Where even front line supervisors in the field in the warden service before they would make a decision they would look over their shoulder to see what their boss might think because he or she was looking over their shoulder. Earlier it was just wardens who made decisions, they were practical. But it just came right around to where there was so much politics. You had to think about all the politics and the communication and what you said or did and it really affected how wardens did their jobs. Stuff that was practical, common sense, you couldn’t do anymore because of political considerations. I think it was just the style of management that came in.

(42:50) Donna – It was from Ottawa.

(42:52) Duane – It was, but they did it locally here too. I think as time went along one of the things with the wardens and even longer term park employees that had come up through the ranks…even like our directors and senior managers a lot of them, or some of them, had come through the warden service, in as a superintendent and then they went into management. So they had a sense of Parks and over the years there they brought in a new management style where they were bringing in managers from outside of Parks. I think that the reason they did that is because they wanted to move in a certain direction. The old timers that had been through it before would say, “We’ve done it before, been there, it doesn’t work”… I think that they didn’t like the push back sometimes, so you bring in a new manager that has no allegiance to the old, it is easier to move them in a (certain) direction. So a lot of that started to happen. Where it was traditional for Assistant Chief Wardens, or Chief Wardens in smaller parks to promote the Chief Wardens in bigger parks that changed. They brought outsiders in because if you had a Chief Warden who had been in the system for 25 years and if he tried to make radical changes or impact on the warden service there would be a real big push back and they didn’t like that. So that changed the whole sort of family nature of Parks, I think. But we saw it with other organizations that we partnered with…not so much the RCMP because everybody that was a manager had to come through the RCMP, but other agencies we worked with Environment Canada, enforcement or resource people there, they started to do the same thing with them as well. They brought in managers that weren’t experienced and they were more malleable I guess for management, they groomed them in a certain direction. But it changed, I think that the one thing when we talked about family stuff before, it was interesting to see over the years with the folks in say regional offices that I worked with, they never got out and touched the lands so to speak. They might have worked in realty or in the file room, or HR or something, but they had this feeling that they loved working for Parks Canada for whatever reason, whether it was the mandate that Parks had and they felt part of the family. They felt, even if I am doing filing, I am contributing to this really important job. So they felt part of the team and part of the family. And as they changed kind of the management regime that was one thing I noticed as we talked to the folks to say, “How are you doing?” “Well, I’ve got five years to go until I get out.” They kind of lost that sense of belonging and being a family and it was like, “I’ve got to get out of here.” The whole management context changed. In all fairness, that was the part, I really didn’t like, but if you talk to long term employees in some of the other departments like Fish and Wildlife, Alberta Fish and Wildlife you realize it is a parallel universe. Changes come and as you get older you are not as adaptable to changes…a lot of them went through the same thing where they just felt out of step with the organization. Government agencies are like that, they change, it is just a big whirling pool, and it just keeps going round and round. I didn’t enjoy that, but it is just an evolution I guess. It took away a lot of the family stuff that Parks had that feeling, like I say even people who didn’t get out into the field loved to work for the agency…

(46:59) Donna – It is different like even this past year they had Warden Days again, they usually have it every second year, there was really not a lot of people there this year. A lot of the older people weren’t there and they were the ones that always came.

(47:14) Duane – But the warden service is aging too, and now that the warden service has changed…it isn’t the same lineage of wardens anymore, it is a new group, so over time that will just fade away.

(47:29) Donna – The younger people don’t seem that interested. There wasn’t many there, but that is okay. I mean, it is their turn.

(47:35) Duane – It is a different configuration. It is not the generic wardens anymore…but overall, in terms of what we had it was 99% positive. Just that bit at the end. But I remember even coming on when I started in Jasper in 1973, there was an older warden there, Norm Woody, he retired probably five years after. He was kind of a grumpy, sour, old guy. He didn’t seem to like his job, he didn’t seem to like coming to work and I thought, “What the hell is the matter with this guy? They are going to have to pry my fingers off the door to get me out of here.” But by the time I got in the last few years too…maybe I understood Norm a little better. The changes you know as you get older and like I say you are less flexible

(48:34) Donna – I am sure people like Toni Klettl and them, I am sure they thought when you guys came in it was different…

(48:44) Duane – Oh they did, even just the educational standards changing and that. They came in with what, grade nine? When I started in 1966 it was grade six…Jim Robertson and some of those guys had grade six. They were hired for their outdoor abilities.

(49:01) Donna – But see, they were quite a bit older than you were too.

(49:03) Duane – They were, but that was the era. A lot of them came out of the military and they didn’t have a lot of formal education. They were good outdoor people and that is what they (Parks) wanted…As it changed you went from a two year resource program to all of a sudden more university coming in. At the end when I left they were hiring…guys with PHD’s. They were hiring on to be base, bottom end, seasonal wardens…They came in as a warden, but they came in to be a scientist. But to become a scientist in Parks you had to do it through the warden service. You had to come in the bottom end…They said, “I don’t want to do law enforcement, I want to do this other stuff, I came to be a scientist.” But that wasn’t the route. We sat them down and said, “Look, down the road maybe you will be a scientist, but right now Parks Canada hired you as a warden and part of the duties is going into law enforcement, to do law enforcement and that is the way that it is.” I think that we hired wrong. We were hiring these highly educated folks who spent most of their time in university to get a doctorate as young people and they didn’t want to go and clean bear traps or go patrolling in the campgrounds, they wanted to do science stuff. So ultimately this split in some ways helped that because they could now hire scientists to be scientists. I think in some ways it was positive, but it changed things.

(50:59) Donna – With that education, why would they want to work in Parks?

(51:01) Duane – Because they wanted to be a biologist in Parks and the only way to do it was (to become a warden), the wardens were the ones who did science. So to do that you had to go through this process, become a warden and do general warden stuff and then you could move into a specialty. It was our fault, or Parks Canada’s fault, in forcing them to do that, in a way. I always thought with our science program they were adding more educated folks in, with a Bachelors of Science and Master’s eventually. But you get say an aquatics specialist in Banff who after 15/18 years as a general warden became a fish specialist for the park, a fish biologist, but when you look at that person and his or her peers in aquatics…our aquatics specialist had been in the backcountry for a couple of years, cleaned bear traps and did general patrols. They did all this basic stuff and then became a specialist in fish, they are now ten years stale-dated from their university education. They haven’t researched, they haven’t published and their peer on the Alberta Fish and Wildlife biology side has been a wildlife biologist for 15 years, who has done research, who has published. I always thought that approach with Parks didn’t give us the strongest programs that we could have had…You had to come through the warden service, you had to do your time and then you could specialize…To bring it forward, I didn’t think it would have come as quickly if we had just gone out and hired biologist to do biology work. It changed over time, it took a while to do, but I think it was just the mind set, for decades we had the warden service model and that had been based on the U.S. ranger model in the US Parks Service and they eventually diversified where you could be a park ranger, but be a naturalist or an interpreter. They had a separate law enforcement group and they had a separate science group, you could be a scientist or you could be a park ranger. We struggled with that, they couldn’t figure out how to separate that out, so we had all these diverse people who were park wardens by legal definition. But a lot of them choose not to do a good part of their job. We had recruits that came in, guys with specialty in science who would get out in the field and they would start specializing already, they wouldn’t do the generic jobs. They have kind of figured it out now and I think it has strengthened the organization, to hire biologists to do biology work and hire law enforcement people to do law enforcement work. It was a long time coming and it caused anxiety because the warden service for decades had been those multi-taskers, do it all, dance it all guys…and a lot of people liked that, they liked the variety, but in some ways we didn’t progress fast enough in those areas because we remained generalists probably longer than we should have.

“Donna, what did you like best about the warden life?”

(55:01) Donna – Just the experiences, I think. I wouldn’t have gotten anything like that in most walks of life.

“What did you like least?”

(55:18) Donna – Probably the (rescue) calls in the middle of the night.) He would go out and I used to think, “What if he doesn’t come back?” I did, and I wasn’t the only one who felt that way because they were climbing up the mountain in the middle of the night with just these little lights on. I think that part. And I didn’t like it a lot of the times especially in Ottawa (when) he was gone sometimes for six weeks.

“Just with meetings.”

(55:48) Duane – Just travelling yeah.

(55:50) Donna – Just travelling like different courses down in the states.

(55:50) Duane – It was a national position so you would get invited to all the regional meetings and meeting with different Parks services and other agencies.

(56:01) Donna – But you had training down in Georgia and that too. Things like that.

(56:05) Duane – Part of it was that it was a brand new position that was developing. I was the first one in it and trying to establish what kind of role it would be, so there was more of that. I left Donna alone a lot in the beginning.

(56:17) Donna – I always had Darren, but when Darren was old enough and he left home, oh, I didn’t like it at all. But it wasn’t bad until a few years ago. When I was working all day long it was fine because I had something to do. After I retired…and we moved it seemed so long, oh my God! Because I am not a loner, I come from a big family. I have never been a loner.

“Did you continue to do office management in Calgary?”

(56:53) Donna – Yes, I was an Administrator at a college in Calgary. The Delmar College of Hair Design, it is a hairstylist school. Everyone says, “Are you a hairstylist?” No I am not! Yeah, it was kind of fun, I liked the students. I was there a longtime, it was 15 years.

“I’ve got some of this from your retirement speech about your more memorable events; you mentioned climbing with the PM, was that Trudeau?”)

(57:41) Duane – Yeah, that was Trudeau. Mount Edith Cavell

(57:44) Donna – He was a nice, nice man.

(57:46) Duane – I know he is not well liked in the west, but in terms of personally meeting him and spending the day with him, he was very down to earth.

(57:57) Donna – I got to have him in my house and I had coffee with him! It was Willi Pfisterer and myself.

(58:05) Duane – He used our bathroom and I wasn’t allowed to go in there for about a month after! It was like a shrine.

(58:12) Donna – He is a wonderful man. He is the easiest person that I have ever had to talk to. Yeah, he came for about an hour.

(58:18) Duane – We flew out of the hatchery in the morning.

(58:24) Donna – This was about 6:00 in the morning. You know how good I must have looked, just climbing out of bed?

(58:32) Duane – We had a warden team and they flew out first and Trudeau flew out second. So while they were waiting for us to fly out…

(58:38) Donna – I didn’t know he was coming.

(58:40) Duane – No, Willi Pfisterer knocked on the door.

(58:43) Donna – It was Trudeau standing there! And he said, “Your husband said, just to come in for coffee.” I said, “Oh, by all means. Come on in.” He was so easy. When we moved to Ottawa a couple of years later and I took my sister up to Parliament Hill and he was driving out in this black limo with somebody from France and he stopped the car. He was waving at me, trying to get my attention. Sharon said, “He is waving at us.” And I looked and he was! He was nice.

(59:26) Duane – That was like two years later…We heard that he had like a photographic memory. He did seem to remember that.

(59:39) Donna – He did, it was amazing!