MH: What do you enjoy doing in retirement?
MD: Well, one of the things I wanted to do in retirement was foster rescue dogs. And so two years ago, we got a dog that had come from Northern Manitoba in February, and it was minus 40 and a rescue group brought 44 Dogs out of this reserve in northern Manitoba and we ended up with one of them. She is a husky shepherd cross and she was about five months old. But we liked her so much we kept her. So it’s called Foster Failing. Now, I’m not allowed to foster again until our older dog passes away (this is according to Joan). That was one of the things I wanted to do in retirement. I’m doing some photography. I really enjoy being out there taking the pictures. I not really into the sitting at the computer doing the editing the pictures yet, saving up a bunch of good pictures, and maybe someday I’ll edit them. And we bought a travel trailer in 2017. We like to travel in the spring and fall. During the summer, when things are really busy, we stick around Jasper. This fall, for example, we took the trailer to the Warden alumni reunion in Nanton and then went to down to Pincher Creek and Waterton, and then up to Lake Louise and over to Dinosaur Provincial Park, and then Cypress Hills and then the West Block of Grasslands and then over to the East Block of Grasslands, so kind of hitting some of the national parks and natural areas

MH: Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you think I should know about the Warden Service?
MD: I wanted to just give credit to a pile of people that I worked with. It started off when I was a patrolman, Gordon Antoniuk kind of took me along with him, and we did some fisheries jobs that helped me gain experience to get into the Warden Service. Rod Wallace from the cultural world and Dave Carnell from the backcountry world and Wes Bradford for problem wildlife. I hope you get to do an interview with him sometime. I had some other mentors like Murray Hindle, as well as, Darro Stinson and Gerry Israelson, in the public safety world. And in the horse world, folks like Jim Chesser, who is the barn boss now, and Dennis Welch, who was the boss. He’s passed away but one of the best (horse) shoers I’m sure almost anywhere. Larry Nelles, his dad Alex Nelles was an old-time warden, but Larry never was. Larry put on some horse clinics in Jasper and yeah, I’ve learned a lot from him. Also Ken Pigeon, Tom Mackenzie and Rob Jennings. John Wilshurst and Steve Otway were supportive Resource Conservation Managers.

And then there were some other folks like Jim Bertwistle who was another horse person. He ended up passing away a few years ago, but he was horseman and he was my supervisor when I was in Elk Island. And other folks from what used to be called the Ecosystem Secretariat, John Taylor, George Mercer and Shawn Cardiff. And boy, I’d be remiss not to mention Kelly Read who is now Kelly Deagle. She started off as the Warden Service secretary and then became the Chief Park Wardens admin assistant. She really did hold the outfit together when she was here. I think Kelly and Jurgen have moved down to Penticton area now, but I know they still might both have substantive positions or they are on a leave from their Jasper positions. And there are many good Seasonal Wardens that have moved on in Parks Canada like Rick Kubian who just retired, Brenda Dobson now Brenda Shepherd who is head of Ecosystem Monitoring for Jasper and folks like Garth Lemke who is still around, and Ben Alderman, Dwight Bourdin, Mike Eder and Trish Tremblay and even Dave Argument was a young seasonal when I was the ops coordinator at one time. As you know, the dispatchers play such an important role in the Warden Service, even though they were maybe not technically in Warden Service. But for us it was folks like Val Young who is still working or Janis Sheriff who just retired and Travis Moorhouse, Patrick Harvey, again, Kelly Deagle, who started up the dispatch in Jasper, and Deke Hammell. Karen Byers, Colin Laroque, Tom Peterson and Peter Murphy in the cultural world. And Sherrill Meropoulis, Greg Deagle, Jim Ochiese, Mike Moberly and Emile Moberly and John and Barry Wesley in the indigenous part of the job. Archaeologists Aaron Osicki, Peter Francis, Jack Porter, Bill Perry and Gwyn Langmann.

And I guess last, while second last, would be my border collie Max that was a great partner to take everywhere with me. He really let me know what was going on. Besides horses, he was the second best for telling me when there was a bear around or people coming down the trail before you could see or hear them. The horses were much more settled when he was around. If there was a scary rock or tree stump ahead on the trail, the horses would be relieved when Max walked by it. The same came for crossing bridges or frozen streams in the late fall.

Mike and Max at Brazeau Cabin
Mike and Max at Brazeau Cabin

And then finally my wife Joan, who is that Silent/Not so Silent partner that played a big part in my career.

Joan on Zambia, leading Erin in Nigel Pass
Joan on Zambia, leading Erin in Nigel Pass

MH: Anyone else to interview?
MD: I gave a bit of a list to Marie Nylund the other day when I was there and might check with her in case I missed somebody. But yeah, Wes Bradford for sure if it hasn’t already happened. Other folks would include: Mike Comeau, Murray Hindle, Rick Ralf, Mike Briggs, Alan Dibb, Kelly Deagle, Dave Smith, Greg Slatter, Mike Wesbrook, Heather Davies (from Cape Breton), she would be a good link to a whole bunch of the other Eastern Wardens that should be interviewed. Larry Vien from Pukaskwa, Norm Cool, Jack Willman. It’s mostly western folks that seem to be in the oral history. We need to get some more of those Eastern people. Also Ron Zink who was the warden stores man and worked on many fires before becoming a radio technician.

Thank you for the interview Monique.

Monique Hunkeler first started working with Parks Canada in 1989 as Secretary to Banff National Park Finance Manager. She moved into a position as Dispatcher for the Banff Park Warden Service and later worked within Banff National Park and Town of Banff’s IT departments. She is experienced with the interviewing, transcription and archiving process the Park Warden Service Alumni Society.