The Mystery of the Ice River Guitar
The year was 1976 – I was a Park Warden in Yoho National Park. Dale Portman,
another Warden and I were patrolling the Ice River Valley on Snow-mobiles.
We came across fresh snow-shoe tracks on the trail. Soon we came across a lone man
walking up the trail. He had a large pack with rusty old cramp-ons hanging off it. We
stopped him and found that he did not have any Park permits. He acted a little strange
and didn`t want to show us any I.D. We took him back on the snow machine and drove
him to the R.C.M.P. In the Town of Field.
The Officer checked him out but found no Police records so let him go. There was a
Hotel with a Bar in Field at that time. The stranger went into the Bar. A friend said that
he was talking about two Wardens that man-handled and threatened him. Actually we
were quite friendly with this very odd fellow.
A few weeks later we found a large supply of flour, rifle bullets and a meat grinder
stored behind a shed at Leonchoil, the beginning of the Ice River Trail.
That summer I rode horseback from the Lower Ice River Warden Station to the Upper
Ice River cabin. Both cabins had been broken into. There were several magazines with
entries of a diary written in some of the pages. There was some food — and a Guitar.
The diary told of riding the C.P.R. Train. The Writer was able to get the train to stop at
the Leonchoil Siding, close to the Ice River Trail head. This peculiar person packed
supplies to both remote Warden cabins throughout the Winter. He wrote about going up
the Valley to stay in an old abandoned Zinc Mine. He wrote of planning a Winter climb
of Mt. Goodsir, a forbidding Mountain at the head of the Valley. We later found a 22 rifle
behind the stove in the cabin. I packed out the Guitar and kept it at the Warden Office.
When no one claimed it I took the Guitar home. That was 42 years ago!
A couple of years later – in the late Autumn I rode my horse to the Upper Ice River
cabin on Boundary Patrol. I had our dog – Gem and my horse Red – and a rifle.
Gem growled all night . Red pawed and snorted in the corral and did not eat a bite of
hay. I was awake most of the night with my rifle close by.
We were being watched – by something – or someone?
In the morning I slowly circled the forest beside the cabin looking for bear tracks. The
ground had a skiff of snow and I found no tracks – except what may have been the
imprint of a boot heel. My horse was shaking and nervous. Gem was still growling and
her hair was standing on end. My eyes were darting about the forest surrounding the
cabin. I saddled up quickly and we made fast tracks down the Valley!
I will never know for sure what – or who was watching us. We never heard anything
more about the weird stranger who broke into our cabins and left his curious diary.
Maybe he is still there??
The Upper Ice River Warden Cabin – 40 years later
(photo by Perry Davis)
The Ice River Guitar
The Guitar is named ‘ Winston’ . I looked it up.
Winston Guitars were made in Japan during the late Sixties and Early Seventies.
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Wow! Amazing story! I’ve lived on and off at the beginning of the Beaverfoot from 2016-present and would love to hear more stories about this road from the past. It would mean a lot to me if we could get in contact.
Hello Chris – I was park warden in Yoho Park during the 1970’s. Our family spent two years at the ‘West Gate’ warden station, which has long been removed.
I will send you an email with some details from that time.
I love this story and we still have the guitar!