Vintage Photographs of Park and Game Wardens

I’ve been fascinated with the National Parks Warden Service for years. They’ve been the topic of several stories, including my years long search for one of Bill Peyto’s mysterious cabins and they were profiled in my running series on Wild Jobs. For this post I opted to share some historical pictures of both Park and Game Wardens from Canada’s west. I felt the following blurb, which I penned for the aforementioned Wild Jobs story, is a fitting intro to these guardians of the wild.

The Warden Service has been in existence for over a century. The person first appointed to the role of warden (known as Forest Rangers at the time) was John Connor, back in 1887. In those early days their main concerns were with fire suppression and game management. Over twenty years later, in 1909, the warden service was officially realized by the Department of the Interior. Permanent positions were created, luring some of the most famous characters the warden service ever produced, such as ‘Wild’ Bill Peyto. As tourism in Canada’s west increased, so too did the responsibilities of the wardens. Search and rescue became more apparent, as did trail building and maintenance. A series of backcountry cabins were erected to assist on those long patrols searching for illegal hunters and poachers. Even public relations became more commonplace. Park and Game Wardens were a remarkably knowledgeable bunch, so visitors turned to them for their expertise of the natural world. Today, law enforcement plays a substantial role in the duties of Park Wardens, and an increasing amount of their time is spent in the park’s most frequented locales, instead of those sought-after remote confines. Although the job description has repeatedly changed, they are still the guardians of our wildest places.

Portrait of Bill Peyto, guide and park warden, Banff area, Alberta, 1900-1903
Park warden at lodge. Sign reads, “RMP NO.1” – Rocky Mountains Park, Spray Lakes, Alberta, 1938
Bill Peyto, Banff National Park, Alberta, 1890s
Bert Barnes, park warden, on patrol with dogs in Belly River Valley, Waterton Lakes National Park, 1929-1930
Relief camp 3 on Crooked Creek. Saddle horses belonging to park warden in foreground. Chief Mountain highway, Alberta, 1940
Park warden, Bert Barnes, at Carthew summit. With saddle horses. Park ranger was on patrol during relief camp project to construct Chief Mountain highway, Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, 1942
Cowboy with horse and dog on top of Burgess Pass. The cowboy is possibly Yoho park warden Jack Giddie. British Columbia, 1914
Members of Banff Park Warden service, Banff, Alberta, 1938-1939. L-R: Bert Davies; Jim Raby Sr.; Cliff Murphy; Walter Childs; Ulysses LaCasse; Cyril Fuller; Bill Potts; Beef Woodworth; Walter Peyto; Jack Naylor; Bill Neigh
Jack Meredith, park warden, at Warden’s cabin Number 3, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, n.d.
Park Warden E. J. (Bud) Cotton, Buffalo National Park near Wainwright, Alberta, 1909-1914
Park wardens at Buffalo National Park near Wainwright, Alberta, 1930s
Bill Peyto, warden at Rocky Mountains Park, Alberta, 1910
Game warden with poacher, Hardisty area, Alberta, 1912
E. J. “Bud” Cotton, warden, Elk Island National Park, Alberta, 1937
Game Warden Bill Neish, Canmore, Alberta, 1935
Game warden and forest ranger, Link Creek, Alberta, 1920s
Mr. McAllister, warden and wife, Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, n.d.
Walter Peyto, chief warden, Banff National Park, Alberta, 1940
Game wardens at no. 3 Windy Lodge warden cabin, Banff National Park, Alberta, 1945
Cyril Fuller, game warden, Banff National Park, Alberta, 1945
Warden D. Davison and his pet elk “Maud”, Buffalo National Park near Wainwright, Alberta, 1920s
Sunwapta Falls, Warden’s cabin, Jasper National Park, Alberta, 1927
View of exterior of the Jasper National Park Administration Headquarters, erected around 1911. New housing supervisory warden of Jasper park. 1911. Object #A5471
End of the Colin Range with boathouse built by Curly Phillips at centre and the old warden’s cabin in the distance. n.d. Object #A3085
View of Chipewyan looking west from monument. The Indian Agency buildings are on the left and the big house in the centre is the Wood Buffalo Park Warden’s House. Photographer is Harold Routledge. 1949. Object #A17141
View of a dog camp for police dogs and the Wood Buffalo warden’s dogs. Bill Braden is the manager. Photographer is Harold Routledge. 1952. Object #A17163

The photos above were collected from the Glenbow Archives and the Provincial Archives of Alberta. If you’re interested, additional information can be found for each photograph on the Glenbow website by searching the identification number that is printed on the photo. There is also the option to purchase a high resolution copy. If you search the object number that can be found in the photo captions, you will find additional information about the photographs on the Provincial Archives website. Stay tuned for additional posts featuring historical photos from across Alberta. We’d love to know what you think in the comment section below.

Tyler Dixon
About Tyler Dixon 163 Articles
Tyler is originally from Saskatchewan, and yes he cheers for the Roughriders, but don’t hold that against him as Calgary has been his home for the past eight years. He is a teacher working at a wilderness- based treatment program for youth working to overcome addiction. Tyler is also a volunteer with the GOT Parks initiative, which aims at reconnecting Canada’s youth with our national, provincial, and territorial parks. During his time away from work, Tyler enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and snowboarding, team sports, travelling, photography, spending time with good friends, and being at home with his wife and German Shepherd, Rome.