(0:41:23) In Kluane, it was the big country. There was lots of wildlife there too and the gold history. I was there when the price of gold was high, about $700/ounce in 1979. The boys and I did a little bit of fooling around. I had a claim staked that we would go to on my annual leave. On the mountain side of stuff, it was more rescues, helicopter rescues. There were a number of fatalities. On the south side of Mount Logan, three guys went over the edge. One guy fell on this bump of ice and he was able to traverse out, but two guys went over. One of them was a Maytag, from the Maytag washing machine family in California. I had the pleasure of running the coroners’ inquest…It wasn’t much fun. We couldn’t recover the bodies. The boy was 17 going on 18. It was very hard.

(0:42:32) Things were different in the north…I don’t know how to explain it. But when I worked in Jasper every role was filled eh, and you had no authority. As a district warden if I wanted a roll of toilet paper, I would have to get a requisition. I needed somebody with authority to approve it. When I went to Nahanni, I went up and had a look at the place with Kay and the kids and we went to Fort Smith in Wood Buffalo for a couple of days. The suits said, “Gather up all the stuff that you need, buy some groceries. You are going to stay over to freeze up, until November.” So I went down and chartered a Gateway twin otter and away we go. We flew from Fort Smith to Hay River and picked up some of our stuff that had come by truck. We picked it all up and the pilot said, “Well I got to go to Fort Simpson to see what the water level in the river is like and I got to gas up…I like to gas up when I come rather than on the way home.” So then we flew to Fort Simpson and then out to Nahanni Butte and we had all this stuff to unload. When it was all done the pilot got this charter ticket book and said “Sign here.” He brought it to me as we were loading the boat. I’ll never forget, the bill was $2,900! This was 1972. I said, “You want me to sign that?” He said, “Yeah, you sign the god dam thing!” Just to authorize payment was something (because in Jasper, you had to get authorization to buy toilet paper!) That was one of the things about being in the north. There was nobody there in any of the parks with experience that you could go to and ask advice. Nahanni Butte was 400 air miles away and there was no communication, so it was hard to ask for advice. You were by yourself and you were too far away for anybody to follow up and check on you. So you didn’t have to tell anybody (what you were doing), nobody knew. On the other side, you could fix your mistakes!

(0:45:27) We never felt sorry for ourselves (as wardens). I thought that we had the best job in the world! But we went to Nahanni in 1972 and Sean was not a very healthy kid. He was close to dialysis a couple of times and he needed specialized medicine. We went out there and it was a really good job, interesting and exciting, but we gave up a lot too, just living there and working there with the damned mosquitoes and being away from the rest of our family. We never got much thanks and we seemed to fight a lot with our superiors. At Nahanni Butte, Deputy Minister Robinson thanked me for the job that I was doing and for being there. He said, ‘If we had more people in the department, just like you guys, it would be good.” He was from outside. He was not from the warden service or parks…We told too many superintendents that they had to follow our own rules and laws and that caused us lots of problems. I think we paid for it in the organization…

(0:47:32) When I came here to Riding Mountain in 1987 there was a project on the go to repave the streets and put in sidewalks and storm sewers. We had no storm sewers then. In those days resource conservation did the environmental assessment. It was the first week that I was there…They were putting in the storm sewer, and two outlets into the beach. Everybody and his brother come to this park to swim and recreation centers on the water. And they were going to put this storm sewer outlet there… So we argued this strenuously…but we were told it was a done deal. We couldn’t change it. Now it is 2012 and I see that they are changing the storm sewers in Riding Mountain, taking them out of the beach area. We also said then that the problem is there is a lagoon that leaks…we had nutrients going into the lake and the lake is the reason for the park. A couple of years ago they fixed the lagoon, before they rerouted the main (line) that was broken. And they are continuing to monitor the nutrient levels in the lake. There is a dramatic change in the nitrates and phosphates in the water and they are patting themselves on the back, saying “Good job!’ Well we told them this 20 years ago…But to tell them that now, is small comfort.

(0:50:52) In Jasper I worked with George Camp. He was a wonderful man and he taught me a lot. He had a lot of patience. Frank Burstrom was the town warden, he had been in the Brazeau for 13 years. All these guys that had been around forever, when I first got there. They were very independent and they worked alone all their lives. They taught you to be careful and not in a rush. That is probably one of the best things for a young guy to learn…They were strong guys. Larry Tremblay, who a lot of people didn’t respect as a warden, but he was one of best guys that I ever worked for, he just understood people so well. There are lots of individual wardens. Art Cochrane…he loved the field bar none. He never would take a promotion. He just loved the field. The organization was always bugging you to recruit future Chief Wardens. I said, “Well there are 30 parks and 300 wardens, they can’t all be Chief Wardens. We got to hire some guys who are happy to be wardens.” The organization was push, push. But anyway, I think that we did a good job. I am proud of what I did and what the guys I worked with did…Sometimes in an organization you get together by accident or with management a group of the people who really click and work together really well. Or sometimes you get together and nothing happens. There is no teamwork. You just got to pull your neck in and let all the brown stuff run off…I think right now we are in that situation with law enforcement where we have to pull in our heads in let the brown stuff run off for a while. Canadians have lots of faith that we are going to make the right decisions. If they have the information and they see that this is not just a place to have fun.

Warden training at Palisades, Jasper, Alberta.
Warden training at Palisades, Jasper, Alberta. Photo courtesy of Ray Frey.

(0:53:37) So I must have known your dad…Keith? I never worked with him, but I met him a few times. I didn’t know too many Banff wardens. In the early days Bob Hand (Banff Chief Warden) and Mickey (Jasper Chief Warden) had quite a competition between the parks with the staffing positions over there and the staffing positions over here. They used to do turkey trades ever once in a while and we were the turkeys!
(0:54:23) On one of my good days in Kluane we rescued Peter Perren and Tim Auger when they fell off Mount Logan. (In May of 1980, a team of 13 wardens went to climb Mount Logan. Four wardens Tim Auger, Tom Davidson, Peter Perren and Murray Hindle were chosen to summit the mountain. Calvert, Kathy and Portman Dale. Guardians of the Peaks (Surrey: Rocky Mountain Books, 2006), 169).

A snow step broke on Tim and he went over the edge and took Peter over because they were on the same rope…They fell thousands of feet through the snow and an avalanche before they got to the bottom. It had snowed so much that there were fresh snow avalanches. So all our guys were on the mountain except Jim Macintyre and me. We got the radio call and we flew in…All of equipment in the park was there too. They took everything we owned in case there was a rescue while they were out climbing. So that they could affect a rescue. It snowed like hell so the pilot, Ron Eland couldn’t find where the base camp was. It was all covered in snow, just a wand sticking out here. Anyway Willi was on the radio up on top, “They are alive! They are over there. Go get them!” He directed us. So we went in and landed and gave some help…The helicopter brought Ron Chambers down. Tim wasn’t hurt, other than some scrapes and bruises, but Peter’s leg was 180 degrees backwards…so we carried him down and put him in the backseat of the helicopter. Ron did first aid there and I went up and got Tim and away we went. It could have been pretty brutal…It was pretty scary. We landed at Haines Junction. I said we were coming right to the Trans North Base to fuel up and I wanted a nurse there with a stethoscope or anything ready to take blood pressure. Because I had no medical equipment, I didn’t know if they were bleeding internally. We were an hour out, a little better than an hour. We got there, gassed up and with the public health nurse we flew into Whitehorse with them and I stayed there. I have never met Peter Perren to this day. (Peter Perren is a lawyer in Canmore, Alberta). Tim, I have met lots. Yeah, I knew Peter went into law. I knew his dad. Walter ran the first ski school that I went on.

(0:57:55) I miss the places I’ve been and the people I worked with, but I don’t miss the politics (In response to the question, “Do you miss being a warden?).

Group photo taken at the Palisades, Jasper National Park.
Group photo taken at the Palisades, Jasper National Park. Photo courtesy of Ray Frey.