“Any lasting memories of your time as a warden?”

(38:35) The beauty and the wonder of national parks and the diversity. The opportunity to be able to work and usually not feel like it was work. And the good times and the lasting friendships with people. We were always able to work during the day and sometimes argue and fight and that sort of thing, then as soon as the bell rang, go to somebody’s backyard and party hardy! Have a good time and forget about work. In all three places where I worked it was like that. It usually wasn’t a situation that we were so upset with work that we just had to move on. It was hard in Waskesiu because we worked and lived with people. We were in a townsite.

(39:34) One of the other lasting memories – and Jackie actually prompted me to write this down today (and) I had forgotten about it – raising kids in national parks. Scott was our first born and he was born in Kootenay National Park. Coincidently, the little peak right across from Marble Canyon, it looks like the end of a ridge that was cut off we named Scott’s Peak after Scott. When we left to go to Marathon, Brian Sheehan took my position. When Byron moved from Marathon, Brian Sheehan moved from Waskesiu and took my position, I think. He moved to Marble Canyon with his wife Cheryl and their son Scott. They also named that peak (Scott’s Peak) and we had never met them. We left before they arrived. We never met them, never knew them, and never knew their son Scott. They named that peak, Scott’s Peak as well. When we moved to Waskesiu, Scott and our daughter Suzanne were eight and nine. They were faced with their father working in a national park as a warden, with all these regulations and dos and don’ts. Their Dad going home at night talking about the guys he might have charged in the campground. Of course when they grew a little bit older and started going to Beaver Glen themselves and going out at night on the beach and that sort of thing, there were a lot of challenges for them. At the time, I didn’t think too much about it, but afterwards, years afterwards Scott said to me one day, “Dad, I want to thank you for choosing the profession that you did because we were able to live in national parks, in a wonderful setting and get to know them. I thank you for that.” I was really, really touched. So…going back to (some) of the challenges with the kids living in national parks…in the long run (the benefit was)they grew up in a national park! They could go out after school and hike on a trail and learn that they couldn’t throw stuff around and that sort of thing. So it was wonderful.

“Do they still go out in the outdoors?”

Well they do. Coincidentally, after I did retire in March in 1998, Scott met Jeni Rudisill, who became a seasonal park warden in Waskesiu, shortly after I left. They fell in love and got married. So, my son married back into the warden service. That’s happened before with a few other people. Jeni was transferred to Pacific Rim shortly after that and Scott finished university and then she got transferred to the Chilkoot where she is now, in Whitehorse. They have two, they have a boy and a girl as well. They spend a lot of time in the outdoors, obviously with Jeni’s job. There is not much TV or IPhones or Ipads in that family. My daughter lives in Hong Kong right now. She got married in 2006, at our family cabin in Saskatchewan and shortly after that her husband got a job flying with Cathay Pacific, so he is a pilot. They have lived in Hong Kong ever since. Well, we get really good travel rates.We get to fly business class for next to nothing. We go once or twice a year. It is wonderful.

“Do they have children?”

Actually, each one of us, Jackie and I had a boy and then a girl, Scott had a boy and then a girl, Suzanne had a boy and then a girl. So we each have a boy and a girl. We have two grandsons and two granddaughters.

The Keesey Family 2013
Greg, Liam, Jack, Mark, Jeni,, Scott, Jackie, Suzanne, Claire, Sabine

“After you retired or even now, do you ever miss being a warden?”

(44:90) I actually don’t. I often think about that and it is the funniest thing. My very last day of work I was trying to finish up a project to compile all the information I knew on the communications system in Waskesiu and pass it on to the next guy and I stayed to 5:00 that day, my very last day of work. Everybody left at 4:30 and I worked until 5:00 and you would have thought by that that I hated to leave…but I just moved on and I’m glad to say that. I often wished that I had stayed on for the money. I mean now I am on a pension and I wished that I had stayed for a better pension. But I went on and moved onto (different) things and I have those lasting memories. I have no regrets.

“And your wife, would you say she enjoyed the warden life as well?”

Absolutely! Well, she never said much, but I know for a fact that she would have wanted to work in her career, she gave up her career for mine. She has always enjoyed the different experiences. We look back on our days at Kootenay when we didn’t have anything but love and it was great! We didn’t know what we were missing actually. We thought that we were the lucky ones.

“So in retirement, you mentioned that you are a beekeeper?”

(46:57) I actually started doing woodworking as a hobby in Waskesiu. I wanted to set up shop on my acreage, but the couch and the refrigerator and the 8N tractor with the mower and the deer and the hunting were so close that I never made a go of it. Then I got into beekeeping for three years and I enjoyed that. I am still to this day making beehives and trying to sell them and make a bit of money.

“And then you travel?”

(47:37) We travel too much! Everybody asks us how long we are going to be home. “Why did you buy a house?” “Why don’t you stay home?” We do travel and we travel overseas a fair bit actually because of our experiences in Hong Kong and being able to go to Hong Kong on passes. We are really blessed with having two children and their spouses who love to see us. They just absolutely love to see us, at least that is what they say and I have to believe that! They are all so good to us. We go over to Hong Kong and our daughter and her husband want us to stay there for four and five weeks and want us to go to Bali and want us to go here and go there. Mark and Jeni are so good to us. It is wonderful.

“That is my list of questions, is there anything that you would like to add?”

(48:55) The one interesting thing that I haven’t touched on is especially in Kootenay where we lived at warden stations, when they hired a married warden in those times and in those areas, they actually got two for the price of one. Jackie worked as an information person, a dispatcher, she served coffee and muffins at all hours of the night and sometimes we felt like we were running a bed and breakfast with stranded people on either side of an avalanche who stayed at our place for a few days. We even had somebody break into the house at Marble Canyon when they were stranded and we were gone. They discreetly broke in and ate every bit of food we had in the house…they left a little bit of margarine. In fact, they stacked all the LP records we had in the house I think on the turntable…so much that it was ready to break. But they left some money and they left a thank you and they left some crystal. They made crystal vases or something in Lethbridge, so they left us something. That was interesting.