The Park Warden Service Alumni Society’s Oral History Project (OHP) started in 2009 with Don Mickle spearheading the initial start-up of the project. The intent is to interview as many retired Wardens (pre-1990s), spouses and associated staff and other people as possible. Over 85 interviews have been conducted with Wardens, spouses, and key support staff (i.e. Barn Bosses, Ya Ha Tinda Ranch staff, etc.). These interviews have been recorded and transcribed. The Alumni is keeping copies of the voice recordings along with each transcript. The recordings, release forms and transcripts are being retained by the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies for safekeeping under a Partnership Gift Agreement. The interviews were conducted by experienced and informed interviewers.
The following are the people that made this happen, the Interviewers:
Christine Crilley-Everts’ father was a park warden who was the Assistant Chief Park Warden in charge of the backcountry for Banff, Lake Louise, Kootenay and Yoho national parks. Christine has personal knowledgeable of the Warden Service’s value, history and tradition. Christine earned a degree in history and anthropology from Simon Fraser University. She completed four cooperative education work terms in Banff National Park under the direction of the Cultural Resource Manager Don Mickle. Each work term involved the completion of an oral history project focusing on different themes related to the history of Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks. Christine also completed an oral history project for the Canadian Avalanche Association on the history of the Canadian avalanche industry.
Mary worked for Parks Canada as an Interpretive Naturalist at Point Pelee National Park conducting research, writing, and interpretive planning for exhibits at Point Pelee, Rideau Canal and Trent-Severn Waterway. In the 1990s, she was Site Manager for an international research project called BOREAS based in Prince Albert National Park; and Communications Specialist with the Banff NP Warden Service in the areas of human-wildlife conflict, public safety, backcountry, fire management, and resource conservation. Her familiarity with the responsibilities and unique culture of the Warden Service proved helpful in conducting interviews for the Oral History project.
Monique Hunkeler worked with Parks Canada as Secretary to Banff National Park Finance Manager. She moved to 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 for the Park Warden Service Alumni Society oral history project.
Susan Hairsine worked for over 30 years for Parks Canada in Resource Conservation and Operations in Mt. Revelstoke/Glacier, Jasper and Banff national parks. She also worked for Public Safety in Western and Northern Region. She was also the Executive Assistant to the Chief Park Wardens of Jasper and Banff national parks. During her career she obtained funding for an oral history of Parks Canada’s avalanche personnel. Her experience working with several of the interviewees during her and their careers has been an asset to the oral history project.
Rod Wallace enjoyed a 35-year Parks Canada career as a Warden serving in six national parks in western Canada (29 years in Jasper, the last twelve years as Cultural Resource Management Specialist). Apart from Rods’ service, he had 10 years of district warden experience at Pocahontas with extensive backcountry patrols in all areas of Jasper National Park. Rod is well versed in the warden culture. He conducted interviews with staff at Ya Ha Tinda ranch, Friends of the Eastern Slopes Association and senior park management as part of Phase 7 of the oral history project.
Don had 34-years with Parks Canada after leaving the guiding and outfitting business in Lake Louise in 1972 to work in Yoho Park on the trail crew and later as Barn Boss. He spent four winters working in Roger’s Pass on Avalanche Control and Research. Don started as a seasonal and then a permanent Warden in Yoho and transferred to Banff in 1983. Don worked in all the general duties, was Front Country Supervisor then, during the last twelve years as a Warden he spent in Cultural Resource Management. Don says, “Let’s keep the memories of the Warden Service alive for the history books!.”
Marie was raised at Bragg Creek and horses were a big part of her life. She married John Nylund in 1969 and they eventually moved to Banff National Park where John worked with horses on the trail crew and later became barn boss. They moved to the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch in 1997 when John became the Ranch Manager. Marie had a keen interest in the horse program and the human and cultural history of the area. After retirement both John and Marie became involved in the Park Warden Service Alumni Society and she became the Secretary-Treasurer and Membership Chairman and oversight for the oral history project.
Perry Davis worked for thirty years in Banff National Park. He started as a clerk with the trails office and advanced to Works Co-ordinator, which became part of the Warden Service. He carried out backcountry human use surveys initially using trail counters previously adopted by Dr. Steve Herrero and then adopted video cameras. In time, he became the Environmental Assessment Office’s Surveillance Officer for Banff. Perry’s work led him to know well Banff Park and the wardens from Banff and adjoining parks. He served as the president of the Banff Warden Social Committee. Perry has been a Park Warden Service Alumni Society member since it started and serves on the executive board and is the newsletter editor.