(41:23) You know I thought of that question a lot too, like if you could name the top ten. (In response to the question, “Is there anyone from the service who stands out in your mind?”) For sure Gerry Campbell would make the list, without a doubt. Another guy who was a really good chief was Al Sturko. He died, no Al died quite a few years ago. (In response to the question, “Was it just recently?”) He was a guy who was in excellent shape, everything like that you know and then he gets a heart attack and dies. I think he had been retired a year. As far as working wardens, there was some really good working wardens, Gordon Bergeson, he was an excellent working warden. Art Cochrane, it would be hard to beat him. Gordon Bergeson, he died. (In response to the question, “Where is Gordon Bergeson?”) He retired and then he died in a farm accident. Ray Frey, another great guy. There are guys like Ray who really contributed to the warden service a lot…He was a great guy. There were just a lot of really good wardens. And I think that there are some chief wardens that were out there, that I didn’t know that well, but you could tell that they were making a difference. Peter Whyte was…really good, Bob Haney…I could go on and on, Paul Galbraith and Perry Jacobson…The more you think about it, the more you could see where lots of them had impact, they were dedicated, hardworking with lots of integrity. Plus the other thing was for the warden service to be successful they needed the other sub activities to help them and sometime I don’t think that they were given that much credit, like general works. A lot of times I know that we were in fights with the garages and stuff, but they fixed our skidoos and made our trucks run, all that sort of stuff. The plumbers fixed our houses and the electricians. I know myself as the Chief Warden I couldn’t be successful in the park if the other sub activities weren’t supporting me and I wasn’t supporting them. It could be a lady in the office making sure that my budget was okay. Like I had a secretary in Wood Buffalo and I don’t know if I could have managed without her. Marion Burles was just an excellent lady…I think for the warden service it was definitely a great organization, but it had to have the other ones.

(46:16) Another thing that we haven’t talked about is women in the warden service. Like they were a fairly new thing you know. But I had a lady in Wood Buffalo, Janet Mercier. I tell you, she could out work two wardens! She was good in the field, she was good with computers, she could talk, and she could write and think. Yeah, she is out in the Gulf Islands. (In response to the question, “Is she still a warden?”) Her husband was a warden also, George and he is retired. He retired with this last round of reorganization…Another one was Teresa Conquin. She is an RCMP now, but she was a great, great warden.

(48:18) I think that they should know that the warden service is an organization that has evolved. (In response to the question, “Is there anything about the warden service as you knew it that you would like future generations to know?”) People should be aware of where they were, where they are, and where they might be going. If you looked at the original wardens, in the first 20/30 years, they are definitely different than the ones after that, and (we were)…and now the next set is different. But you know, there are a lot of things if we just want to look at one small park like Banff, after growing up in Canmore and seeing Banff change and for sure it has. Sunshine has gotten bigger, Lake Louise has gotten bigger, but the ski hills at Sunshine are probably not much different than they were back in 1964, they haven’t changed that much. If you take a pack trip into Bryant Creek or Marvel Lake and over to Assiniboine, that country probably hasn’t changed that much. So the organizations are changing, but when you look at the purpose of the National Park Act, “dedicated to the people, unimpaired for use, enjoyment and education.” That’s been like that for a long time and they are probably still fulfilling that role. But I think new people, recruits should be aware of the history…and (know that) when they come in at a certain time, it is not going to stay static. If they come in today, in 2013, 20 years from now it is not going to be the same. The organization is not going to be the same. They will be doing things differently, using different methods. But the reason they are there is for the park and as long as the organization basically serves that purpose, that is okay. A lot of us guys you know, we weren’t flexible enough to be able to adjust to that type of change. Sometimes change happens fast. Like…in this new organization…a lot of people went back to being seasonal. But if you go back 20/30 years there were a lot of seasonals and there were fewer fulltime employees then there were when they changed just now. They’ve taken some fulltime (wardens) and now they are seasonal again…I think what is important is the history.

(52:48) When I was in, the reason it was the way it was is because of the way that they recruited people. They recruited a certain type of people, a certain person… (In response to the question, “What made the warden service such a unique organization?”) I know that there were other people in my forestry class for instance who wanted to be wardens, but they never cut it with the way the people that were recruiting back then wanted it to be. The reason people generally saw eye to eye, or I could understand where Gerry was coming from is because I was probably recruited that way. I didn’t know it, but obviously the people on the board had an idea of what they wanted. I know when we tried to bring in more scientists and that into the warden service, it was hard because they didn’t think the way most of the wardens thought…You just think, like I don’t think that they could have sent just anybody to Nahanni at the time. We had generators to look after, we had to fix our own skidoos, we had jet boats and you had to change engines out of our jet boats, we did that. Plus we climbed mountains, canoed rivers and skied down slopes. It was a varied skill set that people had. I am not just talking about myself there were lots of other guys.

(55:27) Yeah, I really enjoyed skiing. (In response to the question, “You had done some skiing and climbing growing up in Canmore?”) I remember when I was working at the mines and I was a lot younger then…I would go up to Banff and I would put in a half day at Norquay before my afternoon shift.

(56:17) Oh, I don’t know, I’ve got a lot of memories. Boy oh boy at night they just run around! (In response to the question, “Do you have any lasting memories of being a warden, a park, a cabin, or a horse?”) I think the horse I liked the best was the one Gerry gave me, a mare called Bea. And boy was she a good horse, a really good horse. She was fast, she was surefooted, she would go anywhere and do anything you wanted. I’d love to have that horse right now! Well right now we only have two. (In response to the question, “How many horses do you guys have?”) I’ve got one that would make a nice park horse, the other one is okay, but not the greatest. A good horse for my wife!

(57:26) Yeah, I do. (In response to the question, “Do you ever miss being a warden?”) What I miss, I miss that, but you (also) miss the people you know. You miss the backcountry trips, I don’t miss the management meetings, but you do miss the people. Yeah, Cheryl and I had a good time there. (In response to the question, “Were you able to go out to the Warden Centennial?” (In 2009, the National Parks Warden Service celebrated 100 years of service in Banff. )

(58:25) Come home and get caught up, there is a lot of work to do after being away for six months! (In response to the question, “In retirement you and Cheryl go to Arizona for the winter and then come home?”) This is a nice area here. Cheryl still works a little bit. We have the yard here with a couple of horses and a bunch of chickens and fruit trees, it keeps you busy!

(59:23) Cheryl – I think he has covered it all there Christine. (In response to the question, “Is there anything that I haven’t asked, that you would like to add or if Cheryl would like to add anything?”) Oh, we have had! (In response to the comment, “You sound like a great woman and it sounds like a pretty amazing life that you have had…”) I was just going to say in Canmore in our grade nine high school class, we were in the same class together, in grade nine and then again in grade 12 we had the year book and when you say what you are going to do when you grow up, Lou said, “He said was going to be a park warden and marry Cheryl dePencier. I said that, “I was going to a nurse and marry Lou Comin.” Then in grade 12, we said the very same thing and here we are 43 years later! It’s been great. We’ve had just a great time with Parks. We’ve lived in the greatest places and met the greatest people, it was really, really good.

Lou Comin – Loving the outdoors and enjoying the view