Thank you to the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies for granting permission to the Park Warden Service Alumni to post this interview on our website.
Park Warden Service Alumni Society of Alberta
Oral History Project – Fall 2010
Interview with Frank Coggins
Interviewed by Christine Crilley-Everts
September 8, 2010– Sunset Outfitting near Sundre Alberta
Place and Date of Birth: Jasper Alberta. September 4, 1930.
Occupations: Frank started working for Brule Lumber Company in Brule in 1943 at the age of 13. He worked every job in the bush and the sawmill. In 1949. he began driving trucks for his uncle in Jasper. In 1952, he started with trail crew in Jasper National Park. In 1954, he went to Banff, as a heavy equipment operator for the warden service in the summer. In the winter he worked back at the sawmill. In the spring of 1956, he worked at the government ranch, the Ya-Ha Tinda, as a horse breaker. On June 27 1956, he got his first warden district in the Clearwater. He was there for 17 months before becoming the assistant town warden in Banff. He then moved to the Stoney Creek district for seven years. In 1965, he had the Bow Summit highway district and the next year he went to Kootenay Crossing. From 1968 until 1972, he was in charge of fires in Wood Buffalo National Park. In 1972, he moved to Waterton where he spent the rest of his warden career in charge of trail crews and fires, retiring from the warden service in 1987. After his retirement, he and his wife Colleen moved to Sundre where he continued to keep busy, hauling hay and cattle, rodeo equipment and working as a security guard at the local sawmill. In 1993, he started as a backcountry patrol man with Alberta Forestry, where he worked until they cut the position in 2006. In 2007, he started as a guide with Sunset Guiding and Outfitting where he continues to work today.Additional Information: Frank and his wife Colleen remember Stoney Creek, the district they were in for seven years, as the best piece of real estate they ever had!
(0:24) I was born September 4, 1930 in Jasper. I was the first boy born in the Jasper hospital after it was built… There were about four girls born before me. (My father’s name was) Tom Coggins. My mother was Marjorie Estella Neighbor before she was married. Dad was born in North Dakoda and my mother was born in Nebraska. (They came to Jasper for work). My dad was a Forest Ranger for Alberta Forestry. He was stationed in Brule. I have a sister and a brother. My sister is the oldest; she is two years older than me. I have two boys, Wayne and Jason. I have four foster grandchildren. My wife’s name is Barbara Colleen. She goes by Colleen. There were too many Barbara’s in Banff school when she started so she goes by her second name. She was born in Canmore and grew up in Banff.
(3:36) (Before starting with the warden service) I worked logging for Brule Lumber Company. I worked every job in the bush and the sawmill. I started there in 1943 when I was 13 years old. In 1949, I worked in Jasper. I drove truck for Ed Neighbor, my uncle. (I drove truck) for three years. In 1952, I started with Parks Canada on trail crew. I quit because they buggered me around and I came back in 1953 (back to Jasper trail crew). I worked Jasper, just trail crew in the summer time and sawmills again in the wintertime. In October of 1954 I transferred to Banff because I had a job there. In Banff I worked as an equipment operator (during the summer) and sawmill in the wintertime. Heavy equipment operator in the summertime for Parks Canada, it was for the warden service actually. I never did work for Parks Canada; it was the warden service the whole time. In April of 1956, I went to the Ya-Ha Tinda as a horse breaker. On June 27, I got my appointment as a warden. I was sent to the Clearwater, Indianhead. You should know all these places I’m talking about…I was there for 17 months. In the fall of 1957, Billy Vroom got married and he was living in town in the bunkhouse. He got married so they brought me in as assistant town warden. They sent Billy to Indianhead and that was at the old cabin. On the south side there, before they built that big house. They started hauling that stuff in to build that house in 1957. No (I was not married at that time). I could move into the bunkhouse, beside which the Chief Warden didn’t like me because I wouldn’t kiss his ass! I was assistant town warden until January 1959. (Then) I got the Stoney Creek district. I was there for seven years. I got married on my birthday in 1959.