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 Gerry Campbell
Interviewed by Christine Crilley-Everts
Penticton BC, September 28, 2010
Place and Date of Birth: Erskine Alberta, July 25, 1929.
Occupations: Gerry began working with horses as a teenager in Calgary for Sunset Riding Academy. At the age of 17, he gathered up his possessions and rode his horse up to Banff to work for Brewster’s. After working on a cattle ranch in the winter and Brewster’s doing trail rides in the summer, he started as Acting Warden in Banff National Park. He spent a few years working at the Administration Office signing out backcountry users and charting weather and fire data. After a brief stint in the Windy District, he moved out to Georgian Bay Islands National Park to be the Chief Warden. He then worked as the Chief Warden in Point Pelee National Park. After moving to Jasper as the Assistant Chief Warden, he was offered the Chief Warden position in Waterton National Park. He finished his career as the Chief Warden of Riding Mountain National Park, retiring after 25 years of service.
Additional Information: In 1952, Gerry and two Stoney families spent 11 months in England as part of a circus act. They toured the country and Gerry was in charge of driving the staff diner bus. They were a hit wherever they went and they even met the Duke of Edinburgh. After retiring to Penticton, Gerry was active in the local boating community. He continues to think fondly of the Esprit du Corps during his time with warden service.
(00:00:14) – (Showing a picture of a boat) That was my transportation in Georgian Bay. That could go on the ice, the snow or on the water. (It was called) a Scoot. A homemade Scoot. It could go right through the ice, it didn’t matter. It was built for it. That particular one was made for Timothy Eaton, of the T Eaton Company. He had a cottage way up shore. He had it specially made for himself and then he retired and got sick and couldn’t go up anymore. So he gave it to me. I got to know him pretty well because he used to come up to our dock with his yacht from Toronto.
(00:01:14) – (Showing a picture of a man using a rope system) This is a system for going up. You pull one rope at a time. Your hand is hooked there and your foot is in here and then they pull the other one. One at a time like that. An old way of doing it. And this is Walter Perren. It was an old way of getting a person who is partially injured or something up. He (Walter) was the Swiss Guide that we had training us.
(00:01:54) – (Showing another picture) That was one of the new wardens…Allen Ladd (laughing). He was making a movie up in Jasper.
(00:02:16) – (Showing a newspaper clipping – Walter Perren is holding the basket from above, Gerry Campbell is holding the basket on the side) That was the one that came out in the paper. That’s that same exercise. That’s when we tipped him over the edge of the cliff and down and onto this ledge. He (the warden in the rescue basket) volunteered but he didn’t know he was going this route. All he moved was his eyeballs. He quit after that. Oh yeah, that’s why he quit. It scared the heck out of him. We shouldn’t really have done that. Oh it’s in Banff Park…at Cuthead. Not too far from Cuthead College. We were working out of Cuthead College when we were doing this work. It looks like it is way higher than it actually is because of the slope of the mountain. All I had was ordinary boots with a rubber sole, no helmet…We eventually got some pretty good equipment.
He was the best Chief Warden I worked for. a great man!