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 Alumni Society of Alberta
Oral History Project – Fall 2010
Interview with Jack Holroyd
Interviewed by Christine Crilley-Everts
Sidney BC, October 19, 2010
Place and Date of Birth: Pass Creek Warden Cabin, Waterton National Park. September 4, 1928.
Occupations: After working on his family ranch, and for an oil industry company, Jack joined the warden service in 1959 as an assistant warden in the Minnewanka district of Banff National Park. He then became a district warden at Kootenay Crossing, before moving to Banff as the Assistant Chief Warden. After a year as Chief Warden in St. Lawrence Islands National Park, he took an educational leave to complete his science degree at the University of Calgary. While going to school he also worked at the regional office in Calgary in the off season. After completing his degree, Jack became the Chief Naturalist in Banff National Park. From there he worked as the Superintendent of Pacific Rim. He then moved to back to the regional office in Calgary, to be the Chief of Interpretation. Jack retired in 1986, after eight years as the Chief of Resource Conservation for the Western Region.
Additional Information: Jack grew up in Waterton National Park. His father J.C. Holroyd, or Bo Holroyd as he was commonly known, started with the warden service after the First World War and in 1933 he became the Chief Warden of Waterton Park. Growing up in the Park gave Jack most of the qualifications that he needed to become a warden himself. He is thankful to have been in the service at the time of Walter Perren, who he describes as “such a kind and decent man who was tremendously capable.” The education of Jack’s own sons greatly influenced his career with the warden service. Jack’s movement and sacrifices were not in vain, as one son is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with his own practice in Edson, Alberta and his other son is a Doctor of Optometry with a practice in Carmen, Manitoba.
(0:00:22) I was born in Waterton Park in a warden’s cabin, on Pass Creek. It was called Pass Creek at that time (it is now called Blakiston Brook)…September 4, 1928. Which reveals to you how incredibly old I am! Older than dirt as they say!
(0:01:00) My father’s name was exactly the same as mine. John Charles Holroyd. He was a warden and he was known by the nickname Bo. Everybody called him Bo. I don’t know where he got it (the nickname, Beau)… Some spelled it Bo, some spelled it Beau…My mother’s name was Constance Elizabeth Warburton. They were both born in Prince Edward Island….There was kind of a family connection there I guess, through where they grew up. My dad came west in the winter of 1906-07, as a lad of about 17. He worked on a ranch that was owned by an uncle of his, southeast of Pincher Creek. Then he homesteaded and eventually the First World War came along and he went into the army, I think in early 1915. He served throughout the war in France and Belgium. When he got home, he bought some property; a small ranch, through what they called the Soldier’s Settlement in those days. But times were such that he couldn’t make the payments on it without supplementary income. You didn’t get any freebees back then. So he joined the park warden service in Waterton. I think in 1919.
(0:03:52) I only have one sister living. But I had one brother and three sisters all together. My brother and two sisters have passed on. My brother and sisters were not really involved in the warden service, very peripherally. My brother, when he was going to university, worked as a seasonal warden in Waterton for one or two summers. The closest my sister came, was she had a summer job at the park entrance in Waterton Park as an entrance clerk…But my brother went on and studied engineering and worked as an engineer all his life. My older sister became a nurse and eventually married a rancher near Claresholm (Alberta). My two younger sisters, one was an X-Ray technician and the other one was a nurse as well. As was my mother. That’s where it all started I guess. My mother was a nurse and she just graduated from nursing in 1918 or 1919 when that horrible flu epidemic went worldwide. She had that flu. They called it influenza then and she nearly died. But she happened to be in a very progressive hospital as a trainee, or she may have been a graduate by then, so she got the best care as it was at that time. She survived but an awful lot of people didn’t.
(0:06:15) My dad came west. You have to understand the culture in a place like Prince Edward Island. When he was a youngster it was largely rural and agricultural. Those that didn’t farm went to the sea to fish. There were three boys in my dad’s family and they were on a small farm. So two of them had to go somewhere. As I said, he had relatives in southern Alberta. So that was probably the reason he came this way because he had a place to go, a place to get started. Now, my mother, her family was well acquainted with my father’s family. But when my father came west, he was about nine or ten years older than my mother. So she was just a little girl when he left home. But later on she came west to visit the Jenkins in southern Alberta. My dad’s mother was a Jenkins. By this time she was 20 some odd and he was in his early 30s and they got together and eventually married. in 1924, I think…That’s how they happened to end up in western Canada from as remote a spot as Prince Edward Island…