Earl – (0:28:54) Oh, the funny stories! Well…Faro was pretty possessive that dog. Actually, he didn’t need aggressive training…But we had it anyway and he was really hard to handle with strange people. You remember Toby Burkes? Toby was kind of a smart character. But I was on night duty, I had the dog with me and Toby came up and…was standing there yapping and I turned the window down and I said, “Just don’t put your hands anywhere near the dog. Just leave him alone.” Because he (Faro) was really watching old Toby. Toby put his arm up on the window and the dog grabbed him. That wasn’t the bad part… The next morning I go to work and somebody came along and they said, “Did you hear what happened to Toby? He’s in the hospital.” “With what?” “He’s got rabies!’ And I believed him! I was just about sick you know. All of a sudden Toby comes down, he was up at Minnewanka…he was on the (fire) tower up there. Man alive! Well it was funny for those guys, but I didn’t forgive them for quite a while…

Earl – (0:30:47) I was going up to Sunshine. We were all sitting there waiting for the gondola lift and I had the dog with me and this young girl (Sunshine staff) runs out and she says, “Oh, you haven’t got a ticket.” And she goes to put a ticket on me and the dog grabs her. I don’t think he hurt her (he didn’t break skin). But they had to take her to the hospital. She got so damn nervous and everything she couldn’t do any work anymore because the dog scared her so much. Some people are like that I guess. But that’s how he was. You didn’t do anything around me because he really would protect me…No one got in my truck when he was there…

Terry – (0:31:48) You didn’t even have to lock the truck because nobody was getting inside!

Earl – (0:31:53) If somebody was going to ride with me, they could get in first and then he would get in. He wouldn’t pay that much attention to them. But you couldn’t get in there by yourself…No.

Terry – (0:32:09) There was a lot of people who walked by the truck and he barked and leapt at them.

Earl – (0:32:16) Nobody came into our yard. I used to let him have the run of the yard there at Banff. Nobody came into our yard until they phoned.

Terry – (0:32:26) That was in town too. We lived on Squirrel Street (after living at the Buffalo Paddock).

Earl – (0:32:33) Well we had that little kennel, but I pretty well used to let him have the run of the yard. He never tried to get out and he never left.

Terry – (0:32:42) And the fence wasn’t that high. He could have jumped over the fence if he had wanted. He stayed in the yard, but nobody came into the yard unless he was in the kennel…

Earl – (0:32:56) He was a little tricky. You had to really watch him.

Terry – (0:33:00) Well like you say, he was possessive of you and of his yard and of his truck.

Earl – (0:33:07) But I thought he was a super dog for what he was trained for…Yes (Earl kept Faro once he retired from the warden service)…Well he got dysplasia and finally he got so crippled up that I had to put him to sleep. He got so that he could hardly get around. Yes, (Faro was a German Sheppard).

Terry – (0:33:39) But he was pretty much at the end of his working life, eh, when you retired.

Earl – (0:33:41) Yes, he was…seven or eight years old (when Earl finished with the warden service)…Their hips usually go. He had an operation on his hips. They cut the cords in his hips and that helped him. It gave him another year or so…

Earl and Faro

Earl – (0:34:21) Well you know, I guess I worked with old John Wackerle more than anybody. (In response to the question, “Is there anyone that you worked with that sticks out in your mind?”) We did all our travelling together…We spent a lot of time together and we still visit back and forth. He’s still out there in Sundre…

Earl – (0:35:17) Where the heck did Jim (Robertson) come from? Pincher Creek? (In response to the question, “Did you know warden Jim Robertson?”)

Terry – (0:35:21) He was at the Buffalo Paddock…before we moved there.

Earl – (0:35:30) I kind of lost track of Jim…Yes we were all cowboys. Heck we came from Cardston and we brought three horses with us when we moved up to Healy Creek…David and Terry had to have a horse and I had to have a horse. Actually the first year I was there, I used my own horse because the mare I got she was having a colt…She was a little pinto horse, but I had her for quite a few years afterwards. But the first year I used my own horse. In fact I used her every once and a while after that anyways. Nobody complained…

Terry – (0:37:04) We took Lady and Banner to Riding Mountain.

Earl – (0:37:10) We only brought Lady back.

Terry – (0:37:15) But he got to take his government horse from Banff to Riding Mountain too.

Earl – (0:37:18) That’s right too. Chili…I remember that.

Terry – (0:37:27) Which was quite unusual because she was a Banff National Park horse.

Earl – (0:37:31) But nobody really liked her anyway.

Terry – (0:37:41) You couldn’t trust her.

Earl – (0:37:44) No, you couldn’t really trust her…She was a good little horse, but…

Terry – (0:37:51) Every once in a while she would blow up.

Earl – (0:37:59) No I didn’t grow up on a farm. I grew up in north Red Deer here. But it was just like a farm. I spent quite a bit of time on a farm.

Earl – (0:38:17) I liked the people there (in Riding Mountain)…But I was quite happy to come back to Banff….Ed Stewart was down there. He was a warden here and he went down there too. So I had somebody I knew down there pretty well.

Earl – (0:38:45) Oh, there was about four of us who went up there to try for this (dog master) job. (In response to the question, “How did you become the dog master?”) Jack and I…Jay Morton and Paul Kutzer. I think he went up there. Anyway Jack and I were the two oldest guys there, so we got the job. I don’t know why, but we did. Well when I think back to it, it was the same thing when I first got hired (on the warden service), they weren’t hiring any young people…We were all about 40 years old…

Earl – (0:40:43) I think it (the warden service) has changed so much, I wouldn’t have a clue…now it is all computers and that stuff. We would be lost and I am not so sure…that they do any backcountry work or anything anymore. Do they?

Terry – (0:41:20) They still do patrols but they are trying to document some of the wildlife stuff (with cameras set up in the backcountry). It is not really to check on people…it is more wildlife related stuff.

Earl – (0:41:39) Oh sure! (In response to the question, “Did you enjoy being a warden?”) It was a good life. Oh it was. It sure was!

Earl – (0:41:57) No, (in response to the question, “Did you ever miss being a warden once you retired?)…I bought a stupid farm…so I spent another 20 years trying to farm. Lots of work.

Terry – (0:42:14) It was one of your life dreams to own a farm…Started out a little too late in life to be a farmer.

Earl – (0:42:28) I raised a bunch of horses and a few cows…

Terry – (0:44:11) I started (with the warden service) when he (Earl) was still working (In response to the question, “When did you become a warden?). I started in 1975, 1975/76 I was on the two man horse trail crew until 1977…So I worked with dad for two or three years in Banff there. It was interesting Yes. Then I moved to Lake Louise in 1979…until 1993 (In response to the question, “How long did you work in Banff?). Then up to Kluane…Yes, oh Yes (in response to the question, “Do you know Smokey Guttman?) Last year (Terry retired from the warden service).

Earl – (0:45:30) He (Smokey) must have had a few stories… Smokey has quite a museum up there (in Haines Junction)…We went up there a couple of years ago…I still remember Smokey when he was at the Crossing (Saskatchewan River Crossing). Smokey used to come to town and if you’ve ever seen a person smartly dressed that was Smokey. Man alive! Everything just about shone on him! The best uniform and he looked pretty sharp. That’s the way he came into town.

Earl – (0:46:54) I used skis (in response to the question, “Did you use skis or snowshoes with the dog?) I never used snowshoes that much, mostly skis. I made a few snowshoe trips with Ed Carleton, I remember that.

Terry – (0:47:07) That’s all he (warden Ed Carleton) used…anybody that knew how to ski would ski.

Earl – (0:47:31) I learned to ski at Sunshine with Ole Hermanrude.

Terry – (0:47:36) Because the wardens were the ski patrollers there.

Earl – (0:47:40) I went up there (to Sunshine) the second year. The first year Ole stayed there and the second year he was off elk hunting…I wouldn’t say I was in charge; I had a lot of help up there from the guys that were there, the ski patrol.

Terry – (0:47:59) There were two guys hired by the government for ski patrol and there was normally a warden that oversaw it. They did all the first aid, because you guys hauled the injured skiers off the ski hill back then.

Earl – (0:48:24) We had to run the ambulance then too…We had that station wagon.

Earl – (0:48:53) I never liked it (skiing) to start with. But once you could ski a little bit, it was good. The ski instructors at Sunshine were really good then…Gerry Johnston and somebody Anderson, he worked for Gerry. He was really good, he ran the ski school up there and…he used to take you on one of the ski schools because I couldn’t ski worth a darn when I went up there. I enjoyed it Yes…

Earl Skjonsberg skiing in the mountains of Banff National Park