A Dull November Day in Lake Louise  By Art Laurenson

It was between fall and winter, a season that lasts about 6 weeks in the Rockies. In Lake Louise, the clouds were delivering a cold drizzle to the valley bottom with rain mixed with snow up high. The daylight hours were short and getting shorter; it’s a time of year when many people suffer from seasonal affected disorder. Those that can get away often take a vacation to some warm sunny place at this time year. But someone had to man the fort. Dave and I, two experienced and capable park wardens, had drawn the short straw and were working on this dull, depressing day.

The dreary, dismal weather was matched by the work – too early for avalanche work, too late for horse patrols, there was little to do but tedious office chores. Everything about the season, the weather, and the work was dull, dreary and depressing. It was another dull November day in Lake Louise.

About 10 am, the phone rang. “Get the rescue van up to the Chateau as quick as you can!” said the Banff dispatcher, giving no other details. In those days the park wardens in Lake Louise were the first responders until an ambulance crew from Banff could arrive. So off we went and soon arrived at the front door of the Chateau Lake Louise.

The doorman watched us pull up with the red and blue lights flashing. Solemnly, without a hint of excitement or alarm, he swung the door open for us and we stepped into the lobby. There we found a throng of about 150 hotel guests standing in circle looking down. At the center of the circle lay a man, spread-eagled on the beautiful blue and gold carpet – the handle of a large knife sticking out of his chest.

Ron, the village doctor was kneeling over him taking his pulse. Leaning over Ron was Rick, the local RCMP constable. With one hand on his gun, he scanned the crowd – perhaps the assailant was still at the scene. “Make him talk!” Rick told the doctor, “Make him talk!” as he hoped for a clue to focus his investigation. But the man was not talking, and the doctor was more intent on saving his life.

Addressing Dave and I, the doctor ordered “Get the mast pants from the van and put them on this guy! “And then stabilize this knife!” The handle of the knife was moving ominously back and forth with each beat of the victim’s heart. Dave and I sprang into action, sliding the mast pants on to prevent the victim from going into shock and then taping a ring of bandages around the knife.

While busy working on the victim, I noticed a woman’s legs crowding me, so uncomfortably close that I had to turn my head and body at an awkward angle to see who they belonged to. A prim white-haired woman was looking down with interest at the scene. “Is this one of those murder mystery plays?” she asked brightly. Dave was a gruff, no -nonsense type of man never known to mince words. “No!” he barked, “Go away!” The onlookers parted enough to allow the lady to melt back into the crowd.

Eventually the patient was ready for transport; the ambulance arrived from Banff and the doctor jumped in for the trip to a hospital in Calgary. Upon arriving at Foothills hospital, a doctor from the emergency room took a quick look at the patient. The handle of the knife was still moving ominously back and forth with each heartbeat – it’s very difficult to stabilize something like that. “What have his pulse and respirations been over the past two hours?” he asked Ron. Ron reported what he had observed. The emergency doctor then grabbed the knife and with one jerk pulled it out of the man’s chest. Two hours later, with 17 stitches in his chest, the patient was released from the hospital.

Back in Lake Louise, the RCMP constable soon cracked the case. The victim was a cook at the hotel who had just been fired. His plan for revenge was to stab himself in the chest and bleed to death on the carpet in the lobby. Dave and I were back at their desks before noon looking out the window at the grey dismal weather. We could sense that it was going to be a long boring afternoon – another dull, dreary, depressing November day in Lake Louise.