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Warden History is about the National Park Warden Service and especially the wardens in Prince Albert National Park. It was done by Ione Langlois, Curator, Waskesiu Heritage Museum for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Warden Service. She requested information from wardens and/or their families, researched the Warden Service, and compiled the information and photographs.
The original document she created is in the Museum. Some pages of the project, Warden Service 1909 – 2009 A Hundred Years, are reproduced and available here with her permission.
The District System in Prince Albert National Park
At one time there were 10 districts. They were:
The district system was changed in 1970. Since 1973 all Park wardens have been stationed in the Waskesiu townsite. Many of the district buildings have been sold, but a few are used on a patrol basis, as are a number of patrol cabins in the Park.
The patrol has always been one of the most important of warden activities. In the early years, summer patrol was carried out on foot and horseback and by canoe. Dog teams were used during the winter, but were soon replaced by horses and toboggans. It is reported that a warden travelled 600 miles monthly.
Fire and poaching have been the wardens major concerns throughout the years, along with building and maintaining may of their facilities with the Park such as patrol cabins, fire roads, etc. The other major concern was dealing with Park users. Their role in resource study and management has been stressed more in recent years.
“It was a lonesome isolated life. A work day consisted of 10 hours but wardens were on call 24 hours a day and were expected to work whatever hours during fire and hunting seasons. The warden’s life was physically challenging and sometime dangerous. Injuries suffered while alone could be life threatening. Sometime poachers or wildlife attacked the wardens. This situation was alleviated by hiring married men. Women played key roles in the day to day activities of the Warden Service. The wives of wardens became unpaid silent partners sharing their husband’s workloads and the primitive living conditions. In 1916 when Tom Staples of Rocky Mountain Park died his wife Annie took over as gatekeeper wearing a navy blue uniform complete with official Canada buttons. She served into the 1930s. In Nemiskam Antelope Park, Florence McHugh, wife of Ed McHugh, served as the first and only park warden to be assisted by his wife in all phases of park work. Florence became the only warden’s wife to be responsible for a national park when she took charge of the duties for two years when her husband died in 1936.
“Throughout the 1950s and 1960s wardens’ wives continued to be unpaid assistants of the Warden Service. Their responsibilities encompassed such jobs as telephone dispatchers, gate controllers, information centres, weather recorders and public safety officers.”
Quote from an unpublished History of the Warden Service by Ione Langlois, former Curator of the Waskesiu Heritage Museum.
“We had been provided with a generator about 1960 so we had an early electric washing machine in the warehouse at Crean Lake. The water was provided by a fire pump from the lake.
“Two children were in diapers. No Pampers back then and not for quite awhile.
“Reta looked after hundreds of boat travelers while I was away. She gave first aid, directions, advice etc. No pay of course. This was a common practice among all of the wives of wardens while they were out on patrol. Wives and children were left on their own for long periods of time. It was a long period of isolation.”
Ron Davies talking about his wife Reta and their time at the warden cabin at Crean Lake
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