Virginia Falls- Nahanni National Park

Park Office – Nahanni Butte, Lou in office with dog team lead Chief

(13:46) Then I moved down to Riding Mountain again. (In response to the question, “After your six years in Nahanni then where did you go?”) To the town site (Clear Lake), I was an Area Manager in the town site…After four years they sent me over to Val Marie for a while, in Grasslands before it became a park. I was over there for a while and then I came back to Riding Mountain for a little while and then I went to Wood Buffalo as Chief Park Warden.

Doug Walker and Lou Comin 1985 Centennial Parade – Riding Mountain National Park
Wardens Ed Stewart, Calvin Allan with Wade and Ryan Comin – Riding Mountain National Park

(14:42) I enjoyed Riding Mountain. Back then the kids got good early schooling and they did minor hockey. We liked the park. I had a small farm there, so we had eight or nine horses. We had a lot of fun there too, you know, family stuff, and rodeos.

(15:29) We take them down there for the winter. (In response to the questions, “Gerry says you are still an active horseman and that you take horses with you down to Arizona.”) I still shoe my horses and stuff, but I am getting older everyday!

(15:53) Yeah, I think I ended up being there 12 years. (In response to the question, “Did you retire then at Wood Buffalo?”) I was there longer in Wood Buffalo than any other place I lived, the way it worked out. Longer than I lived in The Pass, Canmore or wherever. I enjoyed Wood Buffalo up until I would say 1995. Then things started changing so much that it wasn’t as much fun. My problem was, I should have moved. They offered me a lot of different jobs, but I didn’t take them. I should have moved. That would have changed my whole outlook I think. By then I had been offered superintendent jobs and stuff. I decided I was going to put in my time until I was 55 and then I wanted to get my own horses and retire. I retired in 2002.

(17:18) Wood Buffalo had a lot of challenges when I went there. A huge fire program, the bison disease issue was big, the Bennett Dam was causing us problems, the delta, there were problems there…problems with the Indians and treaty rights. So it was a very challenging job and I really enjoyed it. No, I lived in Fort Smith… (In response to the question, “Did you live in Fort Chip?”) When I was in Fort Smith, Gord Antoniuk was my Area Manager at Fort Chip. No, I was the Chief Warden there. (In response to the question, “Sorry, at Wood Buffalo were you an area manager?”)

Wood Buffalo National Park – Banding peregrine falcons

Wood Buffalo National Park – Fire camp

(18:40) In about 1995, they started doing a lot of changing. I went from being the Chief Warden of Wood Buffalo to being…I forget even what it was called. It was like the Resource Conservation Manager for the NWT (North West Territories). So I had stuff to do with all the parks, the new parks especially, Banks Island and all that kind of stuff eh. I did that for two or three years and then they reorganized again and I ended up being back at Wood Buffalo as the Chief Warden. Yeah, he could probably see the writing on the wall. (In response to the comment, “I know my dad retired in 1995…)

(20:11) I got to tell you a story about your dad. Your dad was a very good guy, you know that? One time Campbell, Gerry, sent me out to Banff to go on this glacier trip. I knew how to ski and everything like that, so that wasn’t the issue, especially from living in Canmore. But anyway, he sent me out there with hardly any equipment and Keith ended up getting me a pair of mountaineering boots, a decent pair of skis, that kind of stuff eh? He was good to me on that trip, I don’t know if I would have survived otherwise! I wanted to go on the course, it’s just that Riding Mountain is a long way from Bow Summit.

(21:46) I think it was all of them, plus you felt like you were doing something, like making a difference. (In response to the questions, “What about the warden service was important to you? Was it the adventure, the idea of protecting national parks or keeping people safe?”) It wasn’t just an ordinary job. In fact I am sitting down here at my desk and I’ve got a plaque on the wall. I got a Governor General’s Award for public service, “Significant contributions to public service, to the … community and to Canada.” I think that you really did have an opportunity to do something, if you wanted to do it. That was good. The other thing I liked about it was the whole idea of it, the family aspect of it. (In response to the question, “The camaraderie?”) I guess so. Yeah, it was. I don’t think it is like that anymore. (In response to the comment, “It was definitely a unique organization.”) I think that Gerry’s time in it was very good and just about 90% of my time was very good, but I wouldn’t want to be in it right now…I think when it started back in 1885 they had independence, they were doing things, up until probably 1995. It was a long time.

Lou Comin with Governor General Award