Everybody will have some stories. Norcross running around in his custom silkscreened long johns with the dragonflies stenciled on in the middle of the night. What’s John Flaa’s wife’s name? Susan. She was an artist and she made us all, …we were all working in avalanche control she made us all…..remember the thermal underwear that was kind of pebbly, white.

SH: Yes
Glen: We all got a pair; I can’t remember what mine had on them but Norcross’s had dragonflies on them… pinks and blues and stuff. Anyway, we were at Cyclone and there was … we probably had left a pair of boots outside and in the middle of the night there was a porcupine on the deck and we were worried about him chewing on, whatever it was…. tack or something from the sweat and the salt. So we both ran out there and I had the flashlight and Dave had a broom or a shovel. And Dave said, “Shine it over here!” and he was running around, and he always carried these long johns around with the dragon flies. And he’s trying to kill this porcupine … shine it over here, shine it over there. Here’s this guy, and Dave is not a lean, mean (guy)….with this underwear on.

SH: That’ll be a nice icebreaker when I start doing Dave’s interview. I heard about the dragon fly underwear… Is there a story you’d like to tell about Glen? (Tape 12:05).

SH: Is there anything about the Warden Service, as you knew it, that you would want future generations to know?

Glen: Well I think I had said it earlier that they probably don’t realize and hopefully they do, how enjoyable the job can be. The job itself plus the relationships that you build. And I hope that they know that and they realize it. I guess more than anything, the hope that they do recognize what a unique experience that they’re having. And at the end of the day you leave with a really good taste in your mouth. Also, I remember being asked this question when I was…. I did two films with (National) Geographic. One about the elk, Urban Elk, that actually won the Environment Award at the Banff Film Festival. So it was weird because I went to it that night so it is pretty weird to see yourself on the big screen, and the director won the award for it. Then they came back and did one on cougar stuff. And I remember them asking me something about that. And I think my answer was “As long as I feel when I’m done that I’ve contributed something, moved something forward, then I think that was a good career.” And I felt that way.

SH: That era … there was so much going on with the plans and the peer review and the scrutiny.

Glen: Oh ya, remember the Bow Valley Study? And Charlie (Pacas) ran that thing. This was the first big roundtable with stakeholders. For Parks Canada it was ground breaking as far as bringing people in as part of the process.

SH: Yes, that was an interesting time. So to go from the life in the districts ….

Glen: Ya, those guys, that was 1969. So the Gilmars and those guys. The job was far simpler then as far as the outside world influence and stuff but that was really traumatic for those guys, because, it was … and I’m sure it’s sliding away from that … it was far more of a lifestyle back then than it was for us, and for what they are now, although the one thing I did see, there were two different types. There was the warden that, we were all identified as wardens, part of our personal identity was as a warden, but some people, that’s all they had. That was what I do, that’s who I am, that’s who I always am. And I just had another, I sort of had the green warden Glen Peers, and then the other warden Glen Peers. And I was able to separate them out, and that at times, was a challenge. Saying “I’m not a warden 24 hours a day”, “don’t hang me with that shingle all the time”, where other guys that was what’s ….

So when it came to, some guys, I remember one colleague who I knew was coming close to retirement. Most guys are pretty organized and they know how long it is until they can get out of there. I remember talking to him up at Dispatch, where they have that perpetual white board calendar thing and I said, “Gee, you must be getting close?” And he said, “Ya, I have to look at the calendar because I have so many days of annual leave to use up before.”. Because he said he had 25 days or something. And no kidding, this is true, we went and looked at that perpetual calendar and he said, “Yes I think I’ve got about 25 days”, so we looked at the thing and we counted 25 days, and I said, “You retire next Thursday!”. And he did not know the day. But sort of, some people were far more … it was a sad day or a happy day but for some people it was far more …. Just like Auger, I remember he went to ICAR one time in Switzerland, and that was when Sherri must have met him over there, and they went on a holiday afterwards and stuff. And he came back after that, and was like “Oh man, you should see the places”. And what influenced the renovation on their house was the Swiss thing, where the bedrooms were on the bottom and the living was on the top and all of that sort of stuff. And he was telling me this stuff and it was like annual leave was a revelation. I never had an issue recognizing what annual leave was for. (Tape 18:16)

SH: Do you have any lasting memories as a Warden? Favorite park, cabin, horse, trail, humorous stories, etc.

Glen: We’ve gone through most of that. As far as a favourite park, I have used this other line. They don’t put national parks in ugly places. So at the time I was in Pacific Rim I was a little concerned that this is going to shunt my career because I’m away from the mountains to get that experience when all those other guys are getting it, and it’s kind of random where you fall on the list and where the job opening comes. And now when I look back I think I should have taken more advantage of being out there. But as far as having a particular favourite park, I can’t say that. I was fortunate because I worked in Kootenay, Jasper, Banff and in Glacier. I worked up north in Inuvik, in Ivavlik, and I don’t think I would care to categorize those in order of favourites because they were all unique. I think you’re comparing apples and oranges because they were all unique so I wouldn’t actually say I had a … obviously in Banff, because as you get older you finally have to stop but I think there’s some people that don’t and then when it comes to retirement. Mac Elder is a perfect example of this. Older generation, lived in park housing til the day he retired and then moves to Cochrane. That was the way they did it back then.

SH: Do you ever miss being a Warden?
Glen: Well, what was it you said, I miss the places it got me to. That’s certainly true, it would always be true but as far as my…as you get older you just recognize the energy levels that it takes…so I can’t say that I miss it, but I certainly have far more fond memories than otherwise. And hopefully they get to do that.

SH: Do you have any photos of yourself as a Warden that you would like to donate to the Project, or that we may copy? Do you have any artifacts/memorabilia that you would like to donate to the Project (Whyte Museum). (I forgot to turn the tape on for this question)

Glen: No

Part 7 – Tape 1:35 pm

SH: What year did you retire? What do you enjoy doing in retirement?
Glen: April 6, 2007. Walked into the house that day and said, “Honey I’m home… forever.”. That’s what I said. And we had our party with Doug Eastcott at the Nordic Centre with a couple of other people, that was really something. But the day I actually retired, and actually I didn’t want to do any of this, but we had a party at our house that Sandi, who is Donna White’s sister in law, she said, “You got to have a party in a Hawaiian theme.”. So I retired in the spring so I didn’t have to sit at home and wait. We always went away, so it was normal but what changed was the length of time we were away. And, usually a couple of weeks before we were coming home, when I was working, I would start to lose that carefree attitude. I was always starting to think about work and so on. So that was my first real realization, ‘Hey something’s different.’ And obviously when I came back I wasn’t chasing elk and stuff like that. And Sherri Auger made me a beautiful layered white cake with no kidding, flecks of real gold in it. Tim said, “You wouldn’t believe what I had to do, go all over Calgary to find these stupid gold flakes”. That was pretty neat.

SH: What do you enjoy doing in retirement?
Glen: Kind of the same stuff that I … still go wind surfing on the north shore of Maui, still ride my bike, although ….. I learned to keep the rubber side down. I don’t have arthritis, it’s not a disease issue – it’s related to an accident. So still ski a lot, still cross country ski a lot, still ride my bike, still windsurf.
Last fall when I was in Maui I started learning to kite surf.

We just moved to Invermere and in the process of building on a nice acreage and hopefully our forever house.

SH: Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you think I should know about the Warden Service? (Tape 10:32)

Glen: I liked our color green more than the green they have now. The other day when Marc and I were peddling along the 1A, and there was a bunch of resource people of some sort or another, they were heading out in the burns and they all had their nice little Ralph Lauren shirt on with their kind of matching cargo pants, and I said to Marc as we were going by, “Jesus Christ! It looks like summer camp.” So I know that Shelia Copps didn’t like the militaristic look of our uniform but if you go to the US it’s very clear that that’s traditional warden …. Their flash hasn’t changed, and it’s wonderful. What do we have? The stylized beaver. (Tape 11:32)

SH: Is there anyone else I should talk to?
Glen: That you should talk to …

SH: Well actually they’ve got a pretty good list.
Glen: Well that was the other thing I thought about family tree. They are obviously doing a generational. Where does this go… archives or something.
(Tape 11:58) – I explain that and don’t transcribe the next section until Tape 12:48

SH: Tell me about the Warden Cup.
Glen: The Warden Cup was another one of those terrific generational things that brought everybody together at the end of the winter. That really was a celebration of what we got to do, and the variety of skills that you learned and had to bring to the table. So it was terrific. I think it was a little bit of an elitist thing. The delta mountaineers would rig it but then Rogers Pass won and it ended up in NRC gully … but it was really a great party, and you were involved in all of that stuff and so.

SH: Remember we were cheer leaders, we came to Lake Louise, the Rogers Pass cheerleaders.
Glen: I know, that was so great. We thought, ‘Damn, we’re going to stick it in Israelson’s face. It was terrific. You guys think you’re the only ones who can ski uphill.’ That was really fun. But there were also stories about, it had to be the Lake Louise ski area guys that were going to beat everybody, and I remember (John) Flaa, Flaa was always the snowshoe, fire starter pancake eater, and the fire starter stuff that he could slip in there to get the fire started ….

SH: He cheated?
Glen: No, John would never cheat. Ask him that.

SH: Hanson was ours.
Glen: Ya, that’s right. I think It was the first time and (Gord) Peyto and I were the uphill and downhill skiers. And we started over at Temple Research and we had to skin all the way up to the top. And we were pretty close to the top of Larch, rope up, we didn’t use a toboggan on that. Sometimes you had to assemble a toboggan and take a guy down but in that particular year Gord and I did it and you had to rope up and ski together roped up and you had to go all the way down, to I think, where the ski out crossed the road and then the snowshoer took off over to the base. Something like that. Gord was a hell of a skier. He was first and I was second and we were tied together and just crazy speed with this climbing rope that’s all over the place. Anyway, you got to the ski out and there was this steep part that went down that was parallel to the road, right where the old stables were. Anyway, he took off there, and I guess he must have slowed down and I quickly went into snowplowing, so I didn’t catch up to him, and the rope went between my legs and I skied over it. And then I started to fall and Gord was taking off, and I fell and this thing went bang! I had my orange Lange downhill ski boots on, I didn’t have touring boots on because we wanted downhill boots to go faster. I fell and Gord was like a calf at the end of a rope. It hits that point and it was bang, pulled my foot, because the rope was around my ski boot, and it just jerked him off his skis, right on his ass.

SH: Wow …. Gord Peyto falls skiing. That in itself is amazing. (Tape 16:37)

Glen: Well it wasn’t all his doing. So he falls down, I get up and I think “Oh geez I think my leg’s longer.” I get up and I catch up to Gord and he’s on the ground and I said, “Gord are you alright?” Gord said “Ya, I think I broke a couple of ribs.” So anyway we finished the whole thing, and then at the end of it I have a story to tell, because I looked down and no kidding, they were a ski boot of honor after that. The climbing rope .. the reason the climbing ropes are unique are they have a centre core and it stretches, it’s dynamic. On the outside is a weave. That rope had gone and melted a black scar across the top of my ski boot, orange plastic, because it had just gone zing, and it melted it and it left the weaver impression on it. That’s how hard Gord pulled. So he probably did bruise some ribs but after that when anybody would say “What happened?” I had a story to tell about the melted ski boot.

SH: Wow, can you imagine if that had been your leg?
Glen: Maybe that’s why my right leg’s longer. One year, it might have been a magazine like Canadian Home Living or something, they came out and did an article on it.

SH: Really? I didn’t know that. I guess we got out of ski areas and that was the end of that.
Glen: Well then it came to Banff, Banff not Lake Louise and they had a horse packing thing in it one year I think. But then it was pretty tough to get all those guys together from different parks, and then we invited the ski area guys. I don’t know if we ever got it (the cup) back after that.
End of tape (19:16)

Part 8: 2:09 pm

SH: So do you want to talk about anything else you dealt with as a warden?
Glen: So if you are around long enough you just simply are at the right place at the wrong time, maybe is the best way to put it but Parks are special to lots of people. Lots of people have special memories or fond memories of places that they frequented over time and so on. It’s not uncommon for people, if they are inclined to commit suicide, it’s a very common thing that they’ll go to a very special significant place for themselves. Or at least it’s a beautiful place to have their last vision. So you end up getting involved in some of these things, looking for them. Some are successful, some aren’t. But there is some commonality to a lot of them and the lengths that people will go to. One of them, there was a guy up near the Peyto Lake viewpoint, and I’m not sure how he did it because I wasn’t right on the scene…. I think it was Will Devlin. Anyways, this guy died from whatever he did. He jumped off of something or whatever. And he had back then, whatever it was, tunes on his head or whatever, and Will said, “You know what the song was? “Highway to Hell”. Why you remember that stuff I don’t know. And the other suicide one that I remember, you were probably in Banff at the time. There was a young, and I think she was a flight attendant or worked higher up in KLM or something, worked out of Calgary. Anyway this woman was really intent, preplanned it all, and she went just over the bridge at Stewart Canyon, deep water there, and she went and knew that she would be found eventually, but she put a note that was going to be found in her pocket, put rocks in her pocket, weight in her pocket and sewed the pockets up so that she probably recognized that she’d probably get down there and freak and not want to die and take the rocks out. So she was that intent on doing it that she did that, and she jumped. It took a little while but I think it was actually the public, a diver … because she ended up being pushed in the (flow of the) stream…that recovered her and they found all that stuff out afterwards. (Tape 02: 54)

Glen: Do you get these grim stories with everybody? Probably because they stick out. I think I finished the 5,6, or 7th of April. And I think it was the first or second of April and a call came in, and that’s when the Bow River starts to thaw out. And the trail across from where the staff housing is and the Rec Grounds, there’s a trail that goes across the Bow River right there, that people use all winter long. But it’s on a corner and that’s where it starts to melt out. There’s a call about somebody had gone through the ice, just downstream from there and it was clear at that point that it was going to be a recovery. And there was quite a few people at the office, and they were wanting people to go, and I just said, “I’m not finishing two or three days from retiring to go do this.. There’s lots of people … let them go ahead and do that”. But then there was another story about a near drowning at Bow Falls in the wintertime. In the wintertime at Bow Falls, people walk on that ice and the rock is serrated, ugly stuff and there’s not a lot of water. But there’s this big boiling open water at the bottom of it, because it’s moving so fast. Anyway, a guy walked out from the Banff Springs Hotel side onto there, walking around the ice and he slipped and fell through. And he went underneath the ice, travelled underneath the ice, at least 40-50 feet and came out. And we got the call, and I think it was the ambulance guys, fire rescue guys that called us so we were blasting down there, and by the time we got there he had popped out and they were just putting him in the ambulance. No injuries and he had a pack on. All he had to do was catch his shirt on one of those sharp rocks and it would have been over, and we never would have got him because there was about three feet of ice. I remember Ledwidge saying “That man should buy himself a lottery ticket because he just had the luckiest day of his life.” Can you imagine that (Tape 06:19)

SH: No. End of tape 06:27

Tape Section 9 – 2:57 pm

SH: Glen would like to talk about the Keith Everts Scholarship on record.

Glen: So that was an idea when I was coming into retirement. I have, not a good friend but an acquaintance windsurfer guy, he’s an American, with substantial means, and he ran his own company, and I talked to him years ago and he said that he has his own scholarship that he started. And I thought “That’s pretty neat”. It was for employees, to further their education and so on. I thought that’s a really neat thing to do. And then, over time I was thinking about how many wardens grew up in national parks and went to school in national parks and how many are actually working in the Warden Service. The White’s, Owchars – not very many. But there has to be some kind of continuity and one of the lines that I used was I wanted to leave something more behind than a rewritten bear management plan. So I talked to a few guys, I talked to Mickle and Scott Ward and Doug Eastcott, and said what do you think of this idea. Right from the get go I always liked Keith (Everts). All that generation of guys worked with him, he was respected, he was just a really good guy. And I didn’t want to just call it the Warden Service Scholarship because I knew that people would think it was a government thing, and it never was. So I don’t know if I talked to Madeline about it or whatever, but I came up with that idea and then I just thought, well, it’s not that I want some of these young people to think about a career in the Warden Service, it was just a broader environmental, natural science background. That’s sort of how I described it. So I went to the Principal at the Banff High School, at first it was just Banff, to float the idea, and they thought this is a great idea, somebody in the community that is helping the community and all of that sort of stuff. And for $1000.00 which is actually one of the more substantial ones from the local perspective, and I just thought I’m going to hit every retired warden that I know and worked with and so on, it’s a Banff thing but I’ll see what, at that time there was about twenty of them, so I thought wow, that’s fifty bucks a person. Can I do that, and so I wrote everybody emails first asking for their ideas, and lots of people said, “hey this is a really neat idea”. I think I had done that preliminary stuff because I talked about it on my retirement night at the Nordic Centre. I briefly said that. Anyway, I put up a little criteria, and I wanted to tie it to Parks Canada but also mountain culture, because when I talked to the Principal he said, “You know these are 17 or 18 year old kids, what they think they want to do when they are 18 isn’t necessarily what they are going to do when they’re 25.” And all that sort of stuff. I didn’t want to tie it to grades or anything like that because then it’s always the same people that get it, and in fact that’s kind of what happened on the first one, but she was a very suitable candidate. (Tape 04:25)

So put that together and the same group of people that sit on what I call the selection committee, once a year I go to the Summit Café and I meet with those guys, and give them the applications, and so it was well received in Banff and so then we expanded it to Canmore, to the Bow Valley, and so we’ve done it … well this is the 13th year, because I retired 12 years ago. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep after this now that I’m here (Invermere).

SH: Leah (Pengelly) was definitely a recipient of that and still working in Resource Conservation.

Glen: I did the presentation at the first one at the Banff Springs. I talked a little bit about Keith and the history of it. My brother designed the certificate that I give to everybody. I wanted to get the diamond in the rough. But there’s been some super kids that have gotten it. It’s been really fulfilling.

End Tape (10:40)

Part 10 Time 3:09 pm
Glen wanted to tell a Smokey Guttman story. Glen is reviewing the list of who is being interviewed.

SH: Okay Glen’s Smokey Guttman story (Tape 01:10)
Glen: Years ago, Art Laurenson and I were in Indianhead for fall boundary patrol. You know that place is haunted. Anyway, Art and I were there and it was either in the evening, or a lousy day out, so we were in the cabin, sitting. It’s a house and there’s two bedrooms and a bathroom and a little alcove there where you go to those rooms. If you look up there’s a hatch into the attic right there. So we’re sitting there, totally bored to tears or something and we look up and say “Hey there’s an attic in this place. I wonder if there’s anything up there?” So okay, we got a ladder and pushed the lid up and there’s nothing up there but a box.

So, “What’s this?” We pull the box down and it’s full of old newspapers and wrapped in those newspapers is some homemade Christmas tree decorations, out of walnuts and all this stuff. Painted silver and gold with a string on it and tied and stuff. And the newspapers have dates on them. I don’t know 57 or something … I can’t remember when it was….maybe a little later than that. So we’re looking at the newspapers and stuff and we’re thinking “Oh, we should put this back, but I have a couple that go on my Christmas tree every year. And I brought maybe 3 or 4 of these things back to the office. And I don’t know if Moe Vroom was still working there, but I talked to Moe and I said, “How do I find out who was living at Indianhead” back whenever this date was. And she didn’t even have to look it up. She knew. “Oh that was Smokey Guttman.” Back then they had a family and the kids were there over the Christmas holidays and stuff. And I said “Oh” and I told her the story and I said, “I have these Christmas decorations that I bet his kids made.” She said, “Oh really?” They now lived in Vernon or Shuswap or something. “Really? I’m going to phone them up and tell them that.” I said, “That’d be neat.” And sometime later, and we were there in the late fall because it was hunting season, so Christmas is coming up, and I wanted to send them a decoration or two. So I talked to Moe and I said, “Hey did you ever get in touch with them?” Ya, they were interested and stuff but they don’t really celebrate Christmas. Their kids are gone or whatever the case may be. So I said, “Well, let’s send them the Christmas decoration.” And then I heard later about it, thanking me and they had a Christmas tree that they weren’t going to do, and they put the decorations on it. And I still have a couple of, I think they’re Brazil nuts that are painted silver or gold, and I put on the tree every year. So that’s my Smokey Guttman story.

SH: That’s a cute one. I like it.
End tape (05:04)

This interview was conducted by Susan Hairsine

Susan Hairsine worked for Resource Conservation and Operations in Mt. Revelstoke/Glacier, Jasper and Banff National Parks, as well as for Public Safety in Western and Northern Region for over 30 years. She obtained funding for an oral history of Parks Canada’s avalanche personnel and oversaw the successful completion of the project. Her experience working with several the interviewees during their careers has been an asset to the current project. She was also the Executive Assistant to the Chief Park Wardens of Jasper and Banff National Parks.