Parks Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

A History of Canada's National Parks
Volume IV
by W.F. Lothian

Chapter 7
Preserving Canada's Wildlife


Although Canada's first national park reservation was made in 1885 to ensure public ownership of the mineral hot springs which had been discovered near Banff Station, steps to preserve other features of the natural environment in the Canadian cordillera had already been taken. In 1883, the Dominion Lands Act had been incorporated in the Statutes of Canada in order to permit orderly and competent administration of the vast expanse of public land lying between the Ontario-Manitoba boundary and the Canadian Rockies. One year later, the Government of Canada made provision, by an amendment to the act, for the creation of "forest parks." The object of this legislation was 'the preservation of forest trees on the crests and slopes of the Rocky Mountains, and for the proper maintenance throughout the year of the volume of water in the rivers and streams which have their sources in the mountains and traverse the Northwest Territories'.1

Although the areas affected were then remote and practically inaccessible to the average Canadian, the legislators of the day undoubtedly were giving thought to the future, when the existing stretches of wilderness would be traversed first by railways, and later by highways. Improved access in turn would attract settlement and the development of natural resources, with consequent impairment of the landscape and unavoidable depletion of the water resources which today are so carefully guarded. A few years later, this clause of the Dominion Lands Act was employed to reserve as forest or mountain parks, areas which now are included within the boundaries of Glacier, Yoho, Jasper and Waterton Lakes National Parks.

Following the creation of the Hot Springs Reservation at Banff in 1885 under another section of the Dominion Lands Act, conservation measures were limited to preservation of the springs and the surrounding forests. However, by May, 1886, the Minister of the Interior, Thomas White, had approved a recommendation of George A. Stewart, Dominion Lands Surveyor, that the reservation be expanded west, north and east of the hot springs, and that the enlarged area be established as a national park. Stewart was instructed to extend his survey, and on completion, his plan incorporated an area of 260 square miles. As outlined in the first chapter of this history, Rocky Mountains Park came into being on June 23, 1887.

Michel Pablo and his cowboys who herded and corralled 716 buffalo for shipment to Canada. circa 1907

Some of Pablo's buffalo on the Flathead Reservation.

Jasper Park fish hatchery superintendent Bill Cable with visitors at a rearing pond.

Early Conservation Measures

Anticipating the establishment of an enlarged park, the Minister in 1886 had engaged the services of W.F. Whitcher, formerly Commissioner of Fisheries at Ottawa, to undertake an examination of the proposed area and submit recommendations for the protection of the wild game, birds and fish found there. Whitcher's report, dated December 1, 1886, was received in time to be included in the annual report of the department for that year.2 It reviewed the status of the game animals, fish and migratory birds in the proposed park, and included recommendations for increasing the numbers of species which had been depleted by uncontrolled hunting during the period of railway construction. The report also called for the strict control of hunting, shooting, trapping and fishing, and proposed means of restocking lakes and streams with suitable varieties of fish. Whitcher commented on the wasteful destruction of game fish by netting, dynamiting and improvident fishing in the immediate past.

Among the projects undertaken later by Superintendent Stewart was the planting of wild rice in the creeks, ponds and sloughs of the Banff area, including the Vermilion Lakes. A small tree nursery was established at the foot of Cascade Mountain, using a reservoir fed by the cascading waterfall for watering the nursery stock. The project however, failed miserably on the site selected, and a large number of young trees which had been purchased in the northwestern United States were replanted in the vicinity of the Spray River.

Whitcher had expressed concern over the need for fire protection in the vicinity of Banff. The Bow River Valley to the west had been ravaged by frequent fires, and many of them had burned unchecked during the period of railway construction. After the rail service was inaugurated, there still remained a constant danger from sparks thrown out of the locomotives. Whitcher's report proposed firebreaks, and the construction of dams and weirs along the Bow River which would flood adjoining marshes and sloughs and provide effective fire-breaks west of Banff Station.

Remedial Action Taken

In drafting the Rocky Mountains Park Act, the legal adviser of the department incorporated a number of the recommendations made by Whitcher. Provision was made for the enactment of regulations which would permit "the care, preservation and management of the park and of the water-courses, lakes, trees and shrubbery, minerals, curiosities and other matters therein contained". Also provided for was "the preservation and protection of game and fish, or of wild birds generally. . ." These sections of the Rocky Mountains Park Act were translated into park regulations in November, 1889. They required park residents and visitors to exercise care in the lighting and extinguishing of campfires; prohibited the defacement of natural rock formations or curiosities; outlawed the wounding, capturing or killing of wild animals and birds; and limited fishing to that possible by rod and line. The use of firearms within the park, except under permit from the park superintendent, also was prohibited.3

Although statutory authority for forest and wildlife protection now existed, a limited budget and a shortage of manpower hampered the efforts of the park superintendent and his staff. Fire breaks were cut through the woods near Banff in 1889, and in 1891, the road serving the Cave and Basin Springs was extended to Sun Dance Canyon, chiefly for its value as a fire break. The park superintendent had on his staff one officer designated "fire ranger" in the person of John Connor, who resided in Banff. Occasionally Connor had to double as an office assistant. He died in November, 1890, and no record of his replacement as forest ranger has been found. Firefighting became an emergent duty for all park employees and any one else who was available. In his report for 1891, the superintendent stated that a fire bearing down on the villa lot section of the embryo townsite was arrested only after all government staff turned out to repel it.

Game Protection Difficulties

The enlargement of the park area in 1902 from 260 square miles to about 4,400 square miles by an amendment to the Rocky Mountains Park Act, culminated an aggressive campaign carried on by Superintendent Howard Douglas for several years. The park extension, however, added substantially to his administrative problems. It also revealed that much of the wildlife it should have supported had been decimated. In his annual report for 1903, Douglas complained bitterly about the scarcity of game along the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. This situation he attributed to hunting carried on by the Stoney Indians. His views on the matter were set out as follows:

"Twenty years ago, the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains from the Kicking Horse Pass to the boundary line (international), was filled with game. Moose were frequently seen, elk and black tail deer, white tail deer, bighorns and goats were plentiful; now some of these have totally disappeared and the remainder have been so thinned out as to make this hunting ground practically valueless."

"The Stoney Indians are primarily responsible for this condition of affairs. They are very keen hunters, and always have been, and they are the only Indians that hunt in this section of the mountains. For years, from their reserve, south to Chief Mountain, they have systematically driven the valleys and hills and slaughtered the game. ... In season and out, winter and summer, in lambing and fawning time, in fact as long as any game is in sight, they shoot. There is no stop; no rest for the hunted beasts. The old haunts are deserted and sheep runs are falling into disuse, and the greatest game country the sun ever shone on is fast becoming a thing of the past."4

The enlarged Rocky Mountains Park now incorporated much of the eastern slope of the Rockies. It took the form of a huge triangle having a northern boundary 90 miles in length, and tapered southerly to a point where Range 8, west of the 5th meridian, intersects the continental divide. It included a substantial portion of the game-denuded area for which Douglas had expressed concern. Effective control of the wildlife, including its protection, appears to have been impossible until 1909, when the first year round park warden service was established. This development is described later in this volume.

A Park Museum

During the early days of Rocky Mountains Park, the Department of the Interior employed various means of attracting visitors to the park and fostering interest in wildlife conservation. In 1895, a small museum was opened on a site south of the Bow River bridge and east of the Sanitarium Hotel. The building originally had been planned as a residence for the park superintendent, but during a visit to the park in 1890, the Minister of the Interior, Edgar Dewdney, indicated his interest in having it converted to the purposes of a park museum. Completion of the building was delayed for a few years, but in 1894 it was removed from its original location near the Banff Springs Hotel and re-sited on Villa Lot 1 in Block 2. It was opened for public use in July, 1895, and the exhibits, carefully assembled by the curator, Norman Sanson, gradually attracted an increasing number of visitors.

In 1903, the museum was moved to a new building on Banff Avenue which also provided accommodation for the park superintendent and his staff. The museum occupied space on the second storey, and its exhibits included well mounted specimens of larger mammals found in the park, together with mounted birds and waterfowl, and examples of rocks and minerals. Among the most striking exhibits were specimens of mountain sheep and mountain goat, elk, deer and buffalo.

The building, now a landmark in Banff, continues to provide a home for the museum. After a new park administration building was constructed and occupied in 1936, some of the space vacated by the park superintendent and his staff was made available to permit a more advantageous display of the museum's exhibits. Over the years, these have undergone periodical review and rearrangement during which outworn or superfluous items have been discarded or donated to other institutions, thus effecting a more selective and representative display.

Park Buffalo Herd

The role of Canada's national parks as sanctuaries for endangered species of wild life took form in 1897. In October of that year, the department received as a gift from a public-spirited citizen of Toronto, T.G. Blackstock, Q.C., three buffalo for display at Banff. This donation, which arrived from Texas, seems to have been unexpected. Superintendent Douglas had to provide make-shift accommodation for the bull and two cow buffalo in the former grounds of the Royal North West Mounted Police, which he enclosed with a strong fence. Some of the former police buildings, of log construction, were used for shelter, and a supply of hay was purchased for forage.

In June, 1898, this gift was supplemented by 13 head of buffalo from a small private herd maintained near Winnipeg by Lord Strathcona, one of the founders of the Canadian Pacific Railway. These animals had an interesting pedigree. In 1873, C.V. Alloway of Winnipeg and Hon. James MacKay, speaker of the Manitoba Legislature, joined a brigade of half-breed buffalo hunters and captured three buffalo calves southwest of Battleford, N.W.T. Two more calves were captured in 1874, near the International Boundary, and the five young buffalo were raised to maturity with the assistance of a domestic cow. By 1878, the small herd numbered 13 pure-bred and three cross-bred buffalo. MacKay died that year and Alloway sold the herd to Col. S.L. Bedson, warden of Stony Mountain penitentiary, for $1,000.5

Lord Strathcona is believed to have financed the deal, and nine years later received 27 buffalo in payment. Bedson sold the balance of his herd, 100 head, to C.J. "Buffalo" Jones of Garden City, Kansas.

Lord Strathcona's buffalo were maintained on an estate at Silver Heights near Winnipeg. In 1898, he disposed of the greater part of his small herd. Five head were donated to the City of Winnipeg, and 13 to the Government of Canada for its national park at Banff. Superintendent Douglas had been notified in November, 1897 of the proposed donation, and on their arrival at Banff, the buffalo were installed in a paddock located about a mile and a half east of the station. The paddock, consisting of about 500 acres, had been fenced earlier in the year, and contained adequate summer pasture and water. Winter shelter was provided by the construction of semi-enclosed sheds, and hay was purchased to supplement available forage. In 1904, Superintendent Douglas negotiated an exchange of two buffalo bulls from the herd at Banff for two from a herd owned by Austin Corbin of Newport, New Hampshire. Corbin's small herd had been developed from buffalo obtained from "Buffalo" Jones.

Under careful supervision, the buffalo at Banff gradually increased in numbers until it consisted of 107 head in March, 1909. In 1900, Douglas had placed five elk and 12 antelope in the buffalo paddock. The elk, later augmented by a few deer and moose, increased slowly, but the antelope experiment was a failure. The pronghorn antelope is a fleet creature of the western plains, and rarely thrives in any state of confinement.

Demise of Sir Donald

In his annual report for 1909, Parks Commissioner Douglas reported the death early in March of Sir Donald, the patriarch of the Banff buffalo herd. Apparently, he had been attacked by younger bulls, knocked off his feet, and gored and trampled almost beyond recognition. A large handsome bull, Sir Donald was believed to be one of the last specimens of the buffalo that had roamed the Canadian prairies in a wild state. He was one of the calves captured in 1873 by C.V. Alloway and James McKay, and later sold to S.L. Bedson. When Lord Strathcona started his small herd at Silver Heights, Manitoba, Sir Donald was one of 27 buffalo obtained from Bedson. In 1898, he was among those shipped from Silver Heights to Banff.

In reporting the incident, Commissioner Douglas explained that it had been the intention to extend special care to Sir Donald and preserve his life as long as possible as a matter of scientific interest, with a view of determining the longevity of the species. However, Sir Donald had probably by reason of age, been relegated to the status of an "outcast" bull, and his presence in the limited area of the paddock had inspired an attack from his younger rivals which he was unable to repel. Although the carcass was disfigured to an extent that forbad mounting, his head was preserved and mounted for posterity. The old bull buffalo was believed to have attained the age of 37 prior to his death. As Douglas concluded his report of the incident, ". . . His history during his 37 years of captivity had been one of romantic interest to thousands of people as the sole survivor of a noble type of animal, that in its wild state has become only a memory to the Indians, buffalo-hunters and oldtime white pioneers".6

When Howard Douglas made arrangements for the mounting of Sir Donald's head, he probably hoped that it would be preserved in perpetuity. The first destination of the mounted head was Government House, Ottawa, where it was on display for many years. In October, 1926, the Commissioner of National Parks wrote to the Controller, Government House, offering to furnish a newly mounted buffalo head in exchange for "one with a broken horn but of considerable historic interest" which was in his custody. The offer was accepted, the exchange made, and records indicate that Lord Willingdon, the Governor General, was "delighted".

On its return in December, 1926, Sir Donald's damaged head was held in the commissioner's office for several months, and then was presented to the National Museum of Canada. There it remained until February, 1942, when, owing to its fragile condition, it was dismounted. The entire skull, however was retained and, now more than 100 years old, it forms an interesting link with early days on the Canadian prairie.

The Banff Zoo

Another development undertaken by Superintendent Douglas at Banff during the early part of the 20th century was the creation of a zoo. Although this project could hardly be termed a conservation measure — since many of the early exhibits constituted exotic rather than native wildlife — it proved to be an outstanding visitor attraction throughout the years of its existence. In 1901, Douglas began to supplement species in the animal paddock east of the town with other animal and bird specimens. By 1904, these included several Persian sheep, three coyotes, a timber wolf, two cougars, a badger and two golden eagles.

Funds were made available in 1905 for the construction of a large rustic structure or aviary on the grounds at the rear of the Banff museum for the accommodation of birds.

Into this building, which contained nine cages or compartments, Douglas introduced two pairs of Japanese pheasants, the gift of William Whyte, a vice-president of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. To these were added seven pairs of other varieties of pheasant, a very handsome gamebird. In 1906, a new cage for two golden eagles was added, and that year all birds in the animal paddock were relocated in the aviary.

During 1907, the construction of additional cages for the accommodation of the smaller mammals in the paddock was undertaken, and by March 31, 1908, their transfer to the combined aviary and zoo on the museum grounds had been completed. The cages were modern and sanitary in design, having been constructed of iron, concrete and limestone rock. Each cage was supplied with water and sewer connections which permitted a constant flow of water through each unit.

On its inception, the new zoo contained, in addition to a number of birds, three specimens of the black bear family — black, brown and cinnamon; two mountain lions or cougars; three timber wolves; two coyotes; kit and red foxes; and specimens of lynx, raccoon, badger, marmot and porcupine. In 1911, Superintendent MacDonald obtained two grizzly bear cubs for the zoo, and in 1912, a polar bear cub in exchange for two moose from the paddock. A special cage, equipped with a plunge pool, was built for the polar bear, which remained an outstanding favourite with visitors for the next 25 years.

The zoo population varied throughout succeeding years, and probably reached its zenith in 1914 when it contained 50 mammals and 36 birds. Although losses in some species were replaced when possible, a decline in the number of caged birds was noticeable by 1935. Of the 24 birds in pens or cages, 12 were Canada geese. In 1937, the National Park administration at Ottawa decided the Banff zoo was no longer a desirable park feature. A number of animals in cages such as bear, Rocky Mountain sheep and mountain goat normally could be seen along many park highways and trails. Moreover, the spectacle of native wild mammal and bird species being maintained in captivity within a national park — itself a museum of nature — appeared both inconsistent and anomalous.

Consequently, the zoo was discontinued at the close of the 1937 visitor season, and the mammals and birds were either liberated or donated to other zoos.7 The Calgary zoo was the recipient of one of the prized exhibits — the polar bear, together with the four-horned sheep, yak, timber wolves, coyotes and several other species. Donations were also made to zoological gardens at Quebec City, Toronto, Winnipeg and Rome, Italy. The cages, ponds and stone animal dens were dismantled and the site cleared. The former attraction was replaced in 1939 by a picnic area and playground for day visitors. A large parking area for automobiles also was constructed adjoining Buffalo Street.

The disappearance of the zoo brought some protests from the citizens of Banff, particularly from "old-timers" who had witnessed its development. In general, however, both residents and visitors accepted the concept that Banff National Park, containing an area of more than 2,500 square miles, offered adequate opportunity for viewing numerous wildlife species in their natural surroundings.

Game Fish Propagation

Of the numerous recommendations contained in the 1886 report of W.F. Whitcher for the development of Banff National Park, probably the last to be implemented was the construction of a fish hatchery at Banff. This action, long overdue, had been urged consistently by former Superintendent Howard Douglas. Little stocking of streams in the park had been done, and most of what was accomplished had been carried on by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. One notable distribution was the deposit in 1904 of 800 adult Nipigon brook trout in the Bow River west of Banff Townsite.

The Banff Hatchery

The Banff fish hatchery was erected in 1913 by the Department of Marine and Fisheries, which also carried on its operation for the next 18 years. Located in a small park between Glen and River avenues near Bow Falls, the two-storey building was fitted out with 30 hatching troughs in clusters of five. During its first year of operation, one million lake (salmon) trout fry were produced and most of these were distributed in Lake Minnewanka.8 Two large outdoor ponds constructed on the hatchery grounds in 1914 functioned as rearing pools during the summer season. The establishment was complemented by a dwelling occupied by the hatchery superintendent. The hatchery and pools formed an outstanding visitor attraction for many years, until it was found necessary to discontinue their operation.

In 1931, the management of the Banff hatchery was turned over to the Department of the Interior, and the hatchery staff subsequently carried on their duties under the park superintendent. An extensive program of restocking waters in the mountain national parks was carried on, using rainbow, cutthroat, brook trout and lake trout. Although 154,000 Atlantic salmon fry were introduced to Lake Minnewanka in 1919, lake trout continued to provide the principal catch in this popular lake. The Cascade River system, however, was stocked in 1959 and 1960 with eyed eggs of Atlantic salmon imported from eastern Canada.

Normal operation of the Banff hatchery was disrupted in 1947, following the chlorination of the town's water supply. The chemically-treated water had a disastrous effect on the fish fry, and after unsuccessful attempts had been made to carry on fish culture by using sulphur water from the Banff mineral springs, and filtered water from Bow River, the original hatchery was closed in 1956. Fish culture operations then were transferred to a small building at Duthill east of the townsite, and some auxiliary hatching troughs were set up below Johnston Lake at Anthracite. Later, in 1960, when the fish culture activity of rearing rainbow, brook and lake trout in the mountain national parks was consolidated at the Maligne River hatchery in Jasper National Park, the Duthill hatchery operation in Banff Park was reduced to an annual three-month operation for rearing cutthroat trout only. Operations at this site were continued on a seasonal basis until 1969, when the facility was closed permanently.

Development of Splake

Despite the difficulties experienced by the fish hatchery staff at Banff with the water supply, an experiment undertaken by Park Warden J.E. "Ernie" Stenton of the Minnewanka Warden District resulted in the development of a hybrid trout. Warden Stenton's artificial cross was first attempted in 1946, utilizing lake trout and eastern brook trout. Although exposure to chlorinated water resulted in the death of the eggs before complete development, the cross was successfully completed by Warden Stenton during the following year. Later, crosses made by members of both the Banff and Jasper park hatchery staffs were successful, and offspring obtained.9

The cross between female lake trout and male brook trout was successful with low mortality during incubation. Strangely, a reverse cross between female brook trout and male lake trout resulted in heavy losses and deformed fish. The hybrid fish resulting from the successful crosses was designated as 'splake' trout by the biologists of the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, and as 'moulac' by those of the Quebec Department of Fish and Game. Later, a third name, 'Wendigo', was given to the hybrid following publication of a photo of the hybrid in the magazine Forest and Outdoors.

A shipment of the hybrid trout eggs was made to the Ontario Fisheries Research Laboratory at Maple, Ontario in 1950. Later crosses of trout were carried on by biologists of both the Ontario and Quebec Governments, and by the Wyoming Fish and Game Commission. Plantings of hybrid trout were made in a number of lakes in Banff and Jasper National Parks and after planting, the growth of the hybrid fish was reported to be most satisfactory.

In general appearance, the adult hybrid is midway between the lake and brook trout. The body is not as slender as the lake trout, the tail is forked, and the profile of the head is that of the lake trout. Colouration is variable. The back is usually vermiculated like the brook trout, fins sometimes are banded with white, and the belly is white.

Eventually the planting of splake in park waters was discontinued, particularly after water supply problems prompted the temporary termination of hatchery propagation of fish stocks and the purchase of fry from sources outside the parks.

Operations at Waterton Lakes

Sport fishing in Waterton Lakes National Park was vastly improved and extended following the decision of the Department of Marine and Fisheries in 1927 to erect and operate a fish hatchery there. Since the days of Kootenai Brown, the first settler on land now contained in the park, Upper Waterton Lake had yielded good catches of lake trout. The potential for sport fishing in other park waters, however, had not been exploited. Prior to the advent of the hatchery, the park superintendent relied on the Banff hatchery for most of the fry introduced to the lakes and streams of the park. Donations also were received for several years from a hatchery operated by the United States National Park Service in Glacier National Park, Montana.

The Waterton Lakes fish hatchery was built on a site adjoining the Pincher Creek entrance road about six miles north of Waterton Park townsite. It was served by a good supply of spring water. Completed in 1927, the hatchery was complemented by a dwelling built for the use of the hatchery superintendent, and a combined garage and workshop.10. According to park records, the total outlay for the hatchery and accessory buildings was $8,500. Fry and adult fish reared at the hatchery were distributed not only within the park but also in provincial waters throughout southern Alberta, which received the major share.

In 1931, the operation of the hatchery was transferred by the Department of Marine and Fisheries to the Department of the Interior, and subsequently the rearing facilities were enlarged. In 1937, construction of a group of rearing ponds was undertaken by the park superintendent on a site in Block 35 of the townsite, just south of Cameron Falls. The ponds, together with a supervisor's cabin, were completed and opened for use in the summer of 1938.

The Waterton Lakes hatchery was used until 1960, when the consolidation of fish hatchery operations with those at Jasper Park was effected. Although the hatchery buildings were converted to other uses, the rearing ponds were retained for a few years for holding parent fish stocks which were captured for egg collection purposes. After the fish were spawned, they were returned to the lakes from which they were taken. The townsite ponds also were retained, although in later years they functioned mainly for display purposes and as retention areas for fish intended for planting.

A program of stocking or restocking streams and lakes in the park which was carried on after the opening of the hatchery, provided visitors with excellent opportunities for angling. The most widely distributed varieties of fish were rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout. A number of small lakes at high altitude such as Crypt, Lone and Lost Lakes, Lineham Lakes and Rowe Lakes, were stocked primarily with rainbow and cutthroat trout. Although difficult of access, they usually rewarded the angler for his effort. The main Waterton Lakes, one of which has a maximum depth of 405 feet, for many years offered exceptional trolling for lake trout. The largest game fish recorded by an angler in the park was taken from Upper Waterton Lake in July, 1920, by Mrs. C. Hunter of Lethbridge. It was a lake trout weighing 51 pounds.11

Fish Culture at Jasper

Although Jasper was the largest of the Rocky Mountain national parks, opportunities for sport fishing in its waters during the early 1920's were poor. Many of its lakes and streams were barren of fish, and a growing tourist industry, stimulated by the construction of Jasper Park Lodge, indicated the need for an extensive fish-stocking program. With the assistance of the Department of Marine and Fisheries, the Commissioner of Parks arranged for an investigation of park waters by the Biological Board of Canada. Studies were carried out by a group of scientists from the University of Manitoba in 1925 and 1926 to determine the volume and variety of natural food available for the propagation of fish, as well as the most suitable species that various waters would sustain. Areas investigated included the Maligne-Medicine lake system, and also lakes and streams in the vicinity of Jasper Townsite, in the Yellowhead Pass area, and in the upper Athabasca River Valley.

The recommendations of the investigators, who included Dr. A. Bajkov, Ferris Neave, A. Mozley and Miss R. Bere, later were implemented. Small aquatic plants were placed in several lakes in the vicinity of Jasper Park Lodge in 1927. Brown trout fry also were distributed in Mildred, Edith, Annette and Big Trefoil lakes, by officers of the Banff hatchery. These lakes then were closed to fishing for two years to facilitate the growth of fish.12

The stocking of Maligne and Medicine lakes, and the connecting Maligne River, had been strongly recommended by the Biological Board of Canada. However, the task of transporting fry from the Banff hatchery to Jasper, and from there to Maligne Lake over a rough mountain trail presented a formidable obstacle to the proposed program. After an on-the-ground review of the problem by the park superintendent and the dominion inspector of fisheries of Alberta, it was decided to convert a vacant construction cabin in the vicinity of the townsite water reservoir near Cabin Lake into a temporary hatchery.13 This temporary facility at the townsite reservoir was closed down sometime in the early 1930's. Concurrently, the hatchery operation was moved to the basement of the park administration building, and continued at this site until a new hatchery at Maligne River was brought into service.

Another decision made was the selection of eastern brook trout — an exotic species — for introduction in the Maligne River system. During the winter of 1927-28, 250,000 brook trout eggs were obtained from a commercial hatchery at Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. In July, 1928, 190,000 fry were transported by pack-horse to Maligne Lake. Of these, 178,000 were placed in Maligne Lake, and the balance in a creek linking Beaver Lake with Medicine Lake. A second planting of 208,000 fry was made in 1929 and a final planting of 179,000 fry in 1931.14

Spectacular Success

The stocking of the previously-barren Maligne River system with brook trout was very successful. The fish grew rapidly. In September, 1929, 16 months after planting, some trout specimens taken for observation were reported to measure from 14 to 18 inches in length and to weigh from one and one-half to two pounds. In September, 1931, fish four pounds in weight were taken and in December that year, one of six pounds was captured. Maligne Lake and tributary waters were opened for fishing on June 1, 1932, and many anglers had little difficulty in obtaining their daily limit — then 15 fish — in Maligne and Beaver lakes. In 1932, catches continued to be heavy, and consequently the daily limit was reduced in 1933 to 10 fish per day with a season limit of 200 pounds.

Maligne Lake, 14 miles in length, not only was the largest glacial-fed lake in the Canadian Rockies, but also one of the most scenically spectacular areas in Jasper Park. Published reports of the successful introduction of trout in a previously-barren lake induced very heavy fishing, and during the seasons of 1933, 1934 and 1935, 5,616 trout having an average weight of 23 ounces were taken by anglers. From 1936 to 1940, both the numbers of fish caught and the average weight declined. Although the average weight levelled off to between one and two pounds, Dean Tweedle of Jasper caught a 10-1/2 pound trout in Beaver lake in 1943. The disparity of early and late catches was explained by the Director of Fish Culture, Department of Fisheries as follows:

"The system has apparently gone through the usual phases that occur when barren lakes are stocked and it would seem reasonable to assume that the system is now producing its normal weight of fish in relation to the crops of natural fish food that it produces annually. In other words, the annual crops of fish have reached a normal level".15

Other Waters Stocked

Following the completion of additional biological studies of lakes and streams in Jasper Park, the program of stocking various waters with suitable species of fish was accelerated. By 1940, the limitations of the park fish-rearing facilities were realized, and in 1941, construction of a hatchery was commenced on the Maligne River about half a mile above its junction with the Athabasca River. The new building was completed in 1942, and placed in charge of a hatchery superintendent, William Cable. In 1947, a residence for the use of the hatchery superintendent was erected, and in 1948 a utility building incorporating staff quarters was added to the hatchery complex. The original development included a group of 10 outdoor circular rearing ponds and four rectangular ponds. In the early 1950's, an auxiliary facility was established at the townsite water reservoir near Cabin Lake. The building was used as a sub-hatchery each year from June to September until 1962, when it was dismantled and re-erected at the Maligne River hatchery site.

In 1959, a new source of water supply for the hatchery was brought into use. It came from springs located on the east side of Maligne River, and the water was conveyed to the hatchery by pipe. The use of water from the river was continued, except during brief periods when it was heavily laden with silt. Other improvements made at the hatchery were the installation of concrete raceways, and the construction of a brood pond.

Parks Fisheries Investigations

Before 1940, when the first limnologist was appointed to the Wildlife Division of National Parks Branch, scientific advice on fisheries management was provided by officers of the Biological Board of Canada, the Department of Fisheries, or by private consultants. Mainly, they were concerned with having park waters stocked with suitable varieties of game fish, or alternatively, the removal from park lakes and streams of coarse or objectionable species of non-game fish. Prominent among the early consultants was Dr. Donald Rawson of the Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. Dr. Rawson pioneered game fish studies in Prince Albert and Riding Mountain national parks, and over a period of nearly 15 years, also carried on consultant duties in the Rocky Mountain national parks.

The first national park limnologist, Dr. Harold Rogers, served for a little over a year before he enlisted in Canada's armed forces, and lost his life in war service overseas. He was succeeded in 1945 as limnologist by Dr. V.E.F. Solman. The promotion of Dr. Solman in 1949 to chief biologist in the Wildlife Division led to the appointment as limnologist of Jean-Paul Cuerrier, formerly associate professor of biology at the University of Montreal. Cuerrier subsequently provided consultant services for the national park limnological program for the ensuing 25 years, as chief limnologist in the Wildlife Division and later in the Canadian Wildlife Service. In 1951, J. Clifford Ward, limnologist of the Canadian Wildlife Service was appointed district fishery biologist for the western national parks, with headquarters at Banff, Alberta. When eastern and western regions of the Canadian Wildlife Service were created in 1962, Ward's headquarters were transferred to Edmonton. During his term of office, Ward was called upon for technical advice on many problems associated with game fish management including those at park fish hatcheries.

Angling Pressures Develop

Prior to and following Great War II, the federal and provincial governments, as well as the two Canadian Railway companies, gave considerable prominence in their promotional advertising to game fishing opportunities in Canada. The success attending the stocking of the Maligne-Medicine Lake system in Jasper park had helped focus attention on the national parks game fish possibilities, and gradually park authorities were under pressure to increase the fish population in national park waters. Fish and game associations also became active in calling attention to what they believed to be deficiencies in programs that would satisfy the ever increasing numbers of anglers.

Superintendents of the national parks in western Canada relied mainly on the production of the three hatcheries at Banff, Jasper and Waterton Lakes parks for fry and fingerlings utilized in the annual stocking operations. These supplies were supplemented by donations from provincial sources, mainly on an exchange basis. The lack of a suitable supply of water forced the closure of the main Banff hatchery in 1956, and the Waterton hatchery had a limited capacity. In 1954, Jean-Paul Cuerrier, chief limnologist of the Canadian Wildlife Service, was requested to undertake a review of all hatchery operations in the mountain parks in order to assess their productive capacity. Following his investigation, Cuerrier recommended that the Waterton Park hatchery be abandoned for fish culture purposes, and that the townsite ponds be retained during the summer months for display purposes and for holding fish intended for distribution in local waters. He also recommended that the Banff hatchery be reduced to a six-month operation each year using existing facilities for display and rearing purposes under supervision of the district fisheries biologist.16 His most drastic recommendation involved the recognition of the Jasper Park hatchery as the main establishment supplying the mountain parks with fish. An expansion of the existing Jasper hatchery was urged, together with the provision of an additional water supply during the annual run of silt in the Maligne River. An additional study completed by Cuerrier in 1955 reviewed the costs of operation of the three park hatcheries involved, and the estimated cost of operating a single hatchery at which all fish culture operations might be concentrated.

Central Hatchery Designated

Action on these reports was deferred while the various recommendations were exhaustively discussed both at Ottawa and in the field. Eventually, a consensus favoured a solution that would solve fish rearing problems and reduce staff and expenditures by concentrating all future activities at the Jasper Park hatchery. In February, 1960, chief limnologist Jean-Paul Cuerrier recommended by memorandum to the Chief, National Park Service, that (1) the Waterton Lakes Park hatchery be closed, although retaining the display ponds at Cameron Falls; (2) that the Banff Park operations be confined to retention of the limited troughs at Duthill for the part-time rearing of trout; and (3) that the main hatchery operations be concentrated at the Jasper Park hatchery. A few days later, these recommendations were forwarded to the deputy minister for consideration and approval, with the advice that water supply was a main factor and that only at Jasper could a satisfactory flow be obtained.17 Departmental approval for the new plan of operation was granted, effective May 1, 1960.

Consolidated Program Begun

Following the consolidation of national park fish rearing operations in the summer of 1960, the Jasper Park hatchery embarked on the task of supplying trout fry and fingerlings for all national parks in Alberta, British Columbia, and Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba. A.C. Colbeck, officer in charge of the Waterton Lakes Park hatchery, was transferred to Jasper to supervise the consolidated fish culture operations at the hatchery there. Assistance was received from the park warden service in collecting fish eggs from various park waters for incubation. The balance of requirements was obtained from sources outside the parks, including hatcheries operated by provincial and federal governments and by private enterprise. During the year 1962, more than 66,000 fingerlings were distributed in Jasper National Park and approximately 400,000 more in five other western national parks.18

Losses from Diseases

The rearing of fish from eggs to fingerlings or even to adults is a delicate operation. The temperature and clarity of available water are important factors in hatchery operations as are diet and the risk or presence of viral or bacterial infection. Contamination of water resulting from the use of insect or pest controls such as DDT is also possible. Mortality in hatcheries is also known to have been caused by dissolved copper and zinc from pipes and valves. Losses in national park hatcheries also have occurred from ailments such as "cold-water", "gill", and "kidney" diseases, and from infectious pancreatic necrosis, better known as IPN.

In November, 1955, the officer in charge of the Waterton Lake Park hatchery reported to the park superintendent that heavy mortality had been experienced in the rearing of rainbow and cutthroat trout.19 Early symptoms had included loss of appetite, extended gill covers and twirling, before ending belly up on the bottom of the trough. Specimens were submitted to the microbiological laboratory of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service at Kearneysville, Virginia, for examination. In December, 1955, the park superintendent received a report from the microbiologist, Dr. K.E. Wolf, that the fish were suspected of having died from acute pancreatic necrosis, a new description for a disease previously described as acute catarrhal enteritis. Both the cause and control of the disease were then reported to be unknown.20 Later in October, 1964, Dr. Wolf confirmed the diagnosis of 1955, and stated that the infection then known by its earlier name had been reported in 1940 from the "Maritime provinces of Canada".21

Rearing Problems at Jasper

By the early 1960's, large quantities of fish eggs were being obtained from federal government fish hatcheries in causing concern. After bacteriological and virological examinations of some of the affected hatchery-reared trout were made, the losses were attributed to a viral disease, infectious pancreatic necrosis (IPN). That year, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development entered into a contract with a consultant in Seattle, Washington — Kramer, Chin and Mayo — for a study of the Maligne River trout hatchery, which it was hoped would determine deficiencies in its operation and develop a long range plan for its improvement. The consultant's report, submitted later that year, found the hatchery water supply inadequate in quality and the hatchery obsolete. The report also recommended that a new hatchery be constructed and that the existing hatchery, after improvement, be used as a visitor facility.22

In April, 1972, further study of fish diseases at the Jasper Park hatchery was undertaken by Dr. T. Yamamoto of the Department of Microbiology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, in association with A.H. Kooyman, limnologist of the Canadian Wildlife Service and D. Valin, superintendent of the hatchery. Dr. Yamamoto's report, completed in November, 1972, also confirmed that a high incidence of IPN existed in all adult, two-year-old, and yearling brook trout stocks. It also confirmed the presence of other diseases, including gill and kidney maladies. The report recommended the development of a new hatchery, dependent on the availability of a sufficient and sanitary supply of underground well water. Also disclosed was the fact that if an adequate supply of pure water could not be obtained, a continuation of disease problems at the Jasper hatchery could be expected.23

Also in 1972, a bacteriological examination of fish at the Jasper hatchery was undertaken by members of the Pacific Biological Station of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada, located at Nanaimo, British Columbia. The examination also confirmed the presence of bacteriological kidney disease and IPN at the hatchery. The examining officers, G.R. Bell, T.P.T. Evelyn and G.E. Hoskins, recommended that the hatchery be placed under quarantine until a firm policy respecting its future operation was reached. They also suggested that consideration be given to the elimination of the hatchery and the purchase of certified stocks of fish eggs from other sources.24

Early action followed the receipt of this report. The hatchery was placed under quarantine in September, 1972, and a large number of diseased fish were destroyed. The hatchery grounds also were closed to visitors. During the autumn of 1972 and spring of 1973, the hatchery and grounds were disinfected in an effort to eradicate IPN. However, in May, 1973, the presence of IPN again was detected in a group of 5,600 two-year-old rainbow trout which had been free of disease in 1972. These fish also were destroyed. The remaining stock of rainbow trout found free of disease were utilized in stocking park waters.25

Hatchery is Closed

Following consideration of various factors disclosed by investigational reports, and bearing in mind the cost of replacing the existing hatchery establishment, the permanent closing of the Jasper Park hatchery, effective June 30, 1973, was announced by the Director, Western Region of Parks Canada at Calgary, Alberta. The press release confirming the decision stated that discontinuation of the hatchery was due to the obsolescence of the existing plant and the presence of fish diseases. It also was disclosed that other sources for continuing the stocking of park waters at a desirable level were available.

The decision to close the park hatchery was followed by protests from anglers and other groups. A formal protest by the Jasper Park Chamber of Commerce and the local fish and game association resulted in a meeting of representatives of these groups with senior officers of the Western Region, Parks Canada, and limnologists of the Canadian Wildlife Service. The problems experienced by the park hatchery staffs in trying to provide adequate fish stocks over a ten-year period were reviewed, and future park policy respecting the stocking of park waters with game fish was explained. It was revealed that the incidence of disease in the hatchery could be attributed to the purchase of trout eggs from eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. These purchases had been made to produce fish for stocking purposes, in the light of an ever-increasing demand for better sport-fishing in the national parks.

Public concern and that of national park administrators about impairment of the aquatic environment necessitated a change in management procedures and guide lines respecting sport fishing in the national parks. To correct these conditions, sport fishing has been maintained and managed since 1973 in waters designated for fishing by (a) reliance on wild self-sustaining populations of fish through natural reproduction at the individual lake productivity level, and (b) by stocking waters where game fish already existed and such waters would support a fishery without seriously disturbing the natural balance or causing undue impairment of park values.26

The decision to discontinue the propagation of game fish in national park hatcheries probably was logical. However, it evoked feelings of regret not only among the perennial anglers, but also among park officers and technicians who, over the years, had produced millions of fish fry and fingerlings. Many had been retired, and those remaining had been assigned to other duties. They will no doubt recall with nostalgia, the unfailing services of their associates, including hatchery superintendents Jack Martin, Gerry Bailey, Art Colbeck and Bill Cable. Also to be remembered were the technicians, among whom were Ken Goble, Bob Capel, Jim Stringer and Joe Kilistoff. Not forgotten either, were members of the park warden service who transported live fish stocks up the valleys, over the hills, and across the lakes to their final destinations.

Meanwhile, resource conservation policy will continue to be reviewed with the object of ensuring that sport fishing may continue to be part of a "park experience" for visitors in years to come.

Preserving the Buffalo

One of the most ambitious experiments in wildlife conservation ever undertaken in Canada involved the purchase by the Department of the Interior, of the largest herd of buffalo remaining in private ownership on the North American continent. The object of this investment was to ensure the perpetuation of a species which had once ranged over much of western Canada and the United States in millions, only to be reduced by hunting almost to the point of extinction.

The American bison, better known as the buffalo, had the distinction of being the largest and most abundant big game animal on the continent. Its amazing size, enormous head, and splendid chest and shoulders covered with a magnificent coat of shaggy brown hair, combined to provide a description by a well known naturalist as "the grandest ruminant that ever trod the earth". During the period in which exploration of the North American continent began, no other large game species exceeded it in numbers, and few have equalled it in value to mankind. It provided the native Indian tribes and early settlers with food, clothing and materials for shelter. Its meat was nutritious and well-flavoured; its thick robe was valued for protection against bitter cold; its hide was used for tepees and boats; and even its hair, horns and hoofs were used for various articles of personal use and adornment.

When exploration and settlement of the great central plains of North America began, the buffalo population was incredibly large. It roamed in great herds, some of which were recorded as moving forward on a front of not less than two miles in width and 25 miles in depth.27 Its range, according to Dr. W.T. Hornaday, an authority on the species, extended from tidewater on the Atlantic coast westward across the Allegheny Mountains to the prairies along the Mississippi River and southward to the delta of that great stream. The buffalo also were found west of the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico, Utah and Idaho, and northeast of the Rockies to Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories.

Slaughter followed Settlement

The buffalo provided the Indian tribes of the great western plains of America with much of their subsistence, and although these aborigines showed little inclination to abstain from killing more animals than actually were needed, their destruction had, for many years, little effect on the annual increase of the herds. However, following the opening up of the American west by railway construction and the arrival of settlers and others who brought more efficient weapons, a disastrous inroad on the species began. By 1820, systematic slaughter of the buffalo was under way. A commercial demand for buffalo robes made the hunting of buffalo a lucrative undertaking, and many adopted it as a means of livelihood. Organized expeditions numbering hundreds of hunters accounted for an increasing number of animals killed. By 1840, buffalo were very scarce in the vicinity of the Red River settlement, where settlers and Indians had virtually extinguished the formerly numerous buffalo. The construction of the Union Pacific Railway between 1865 and 1869 divided the buffalo in the United States into two great herds — northern and southern. Easier access to the great plains area brought additional hunters, and the slaughter of the buffalo reached its peak in 1873. By the end of the following year, the extinction of the southern herd had virtually been completed. Hornaday estimated that 3,158,730 buffalo were killed by hunters in the three-year period of 1872-1874.28

Concurrently, the slaughter of the northern herd, whose range extended northerly from the Platte River into Canada, was hastened by the construction of the Northern Pacific Railway. The rails of this line were laid to Bismarck, Dakota, in 1876, and from that date onward it received for transportation to eastern markets, all the buffalo robes and hides that came down the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers. Most of the wild herds, other than scattered bands had disappeared from western Canada by 1879, and consequently, the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway across the prairies during 1882 and 1883 had no effect on the buffalo population.29 The Metis or half-breeds of Manitoba, the Plains Crees of Qu'Appelle, and the Blackfeet of the South Saskatchewan country had swept bare of buffalo, the great belt stretching from Manitoba to the Rocky Mountains. By the end of the 19th century, the only wild buffalo remaining in any quantity in Canada comprised the small herd of "wood bison", a sub-species of the plains bison, which occupied a range in the Northwest Territories bounded by the Slave, Peace and Hay rivers, and the southern shores of Great Slave Lake. These animals enjoyed police protection under Canadian law after 1890, and in 1922 much of their range was incorporated in a national park.

The eventual disappearance of such a large grazing animal dependent on vast grazing areas was inevitable. History has confirmed that the indigenous game of any country must disappear or suffer drastic reductions with the advance of settlement. In western North America, the feeding grounds of the buffalo were supplanted by farms, ranches, towns and even cities. To later generations, made more sensitive to the loss of native wildlife by modern conservation practices and education, the rapid and reckless destruction of such a magnificent mammal seemed lamentable. No doubt the public conscience, in the closing years of the 19th century, influenced the development of small exhibition herds of buffalo from surviving specimens, including that established at Banff in 1897.

Privately-owned Herds

By 1900, the buffalo population in North America had reached its lowest ebb. Two existing wild herds, one located northwest of Lake Athabasca in the Northwest Territories of Canada, and the other in Yellowstone National Park, Montana, had quasi-legal protection.

A number of privately-owned herds maintained in captivity or semi-captivity had been developed by ranchers and others, and these in future would form a nucleus for the preservation of the species. Mention has been made earlier in this chapter of the herd developed at Stony Mountain, Manitoba, by S.L. Bedson. Other privately-owned herds of the period were those owned by the Canadian Department of the Interior at Banff in Rocky Mountains Park; by Colonel Charles Goodnight in Texas; by C.J. "Buffalo" Jones at Garden City, Kansas; and by Arthur Corbin of the Blue Mountain Forest Park near Newport, New Hampshire. Other small herds included the W.C. Whitney herd near Lenox, Massachusetts, and the Trexler herd near Allentown, Pennsylvania.30

The Pablo-Allard Herd

The largest privately-owned buffalo herd in the United States — believed to contain 300 head — was owned by Michel Pablo of Ronan, Montana. The origin of this herd provides an interesting story. In 1873, a Pend d'Oreille Indian known as Walking Coyote, was fortunate in capturing four buffalo calves — two bulls and two heifers. Accompanied by his squaw and his stepson, the Indian had been wintering on the Milk River near the present site of Buffalo, Montana. During a hunting expedition, of which Walking Coyote was a member, the four calves were cut out of a large herd, and in accordance with a characteristic peculiar to the buffalo, the calves followed the horses of the hunters who had killed or separated them from their mothers.31

The following spring, Walking Coyote took his four buffalo calves to the St. Ignatius Mission, located in the centre of the Flathead Indian Reservation. Here the calves, by now tame, became pets and objects of interest at the mission. As the calves matured, they began to breed, and by 1884 the group had increased to 13 head. Walking Coyote found the cost of their maintenance beyond his means and he decided to dispose of them. Charles A. Allard, who was carrying on ranching operations on the reservation, learned of the proposed sale. Impressed with the possibility of developing a profitable venture in this group of almost extinct animals, Allard managed to interest a fellow rancher, Michel Pablo, in their purchase. The two formed a partnership and bought 10 of the buffalo for $2,500. Under careful supervision their herd increased, particularly after the infusion of 26 more pure-bred buffalo which were purchased from the "Buffalo" Jones herd in 1893 together with 18 hybrids. These buffalo were part of the group obtained by Jones from S.L. Bedson of Stony Mountain, Manitoba — also the source of the buffalo donated by Lord Strathcona to the Canadian Government for the exhibition herd at Banff.

The partnership was dissolved following the death of Allard in 1896. The buffalo herd, then numbering about 300 head, was divided equally between Michel Pablo and Allard's estate. The heirs sold their individual shares of the herd, and that of Mrs. Allard was purchased by Charles Conrad of Kalispell, Montana. Other buyers included Howard Eaton of Wolf, Wyoming, a noted hunter, who acquired the shares of the Misses Allard and their brother Charles, Jr. Later, Eaton's small herd was bought by Buffalo Jones for inclusion in a new herd established at Yellowstone National Park in 1902. Buffalo owned by Joseph Allard, the remaining heir, were purchased by Judge Woodrow of Missoula, Montana, and later were turned over to the 101 Ranch.

Pablo's Herd Threatened

Now the sole owner of a pure-bred herd of buffalo, Michel Pablo disposed of a number of his stock in small consignments shipped to various destinations. Many of his choicest specimens later were found in zoological gardens and private preserves in the eastern United States. Under ideal range conditions prevailing along the banks of the Pend d'Oreille River, his buffalo gradually increased. His hopes for a very large herd, however, were dashed when he learned in 1905 that his grazing privileges in the Flathead Reservation would be terminated shortly, when the land would be opened up for settlement.

Faced with the loss of his range, and with it the possibility of retaining his buffalo herd intact, Pablo sought help in disposing of his prized possessions. Howard Eaton tried unsuccessfully to influence the United States government in their purchase, and the recently formed American Bison Society was unable to help. Pablo visited Washington and aroused the interest of President "Teddy" Roosevelt, who recommended to the 60th Congress that the animals be purchased for a national herd, but failed to win support and an appropriation. Pablo is reported to have received an offer of $75 per head for his buffalo from a local speculator, but it was rejected.

Canadian Aid Sought

After his return from Washington late in 1905, Pablo was visited by Alexander Ayotte, an assistant immigration agent for Canada who was stationed at Great Falls, Montana. A native of St. Boniface, Manitoba, Ayotte had, on his appointment to a post south of the border, mastered Spanish and Indian dialects, and had become friendly with Pablo, a halfbreed of Mexican descent. Pablo explained his predicament to Ayotte. On his return to Great Falls, Ayotte brought the matter to the attention of J. Obed Smith, then Commissioner of Immigration at Winnipeg. On November 20, 1905, Smith wrote to W.D. Scott, Superintendent of Immigration at Ottawa as follows:

"I have been advised by Mr. Ayotte that during his travel in Montana in the interests of emigration, he met Michel Papleau (Pablo), whose post office address is Missoula, Montana, and he was told by Mr. Papleau that he was anxious to move his herd of buffalo, consisting of 360 head, from Montana to Western Canada. It occurred to me, however, that perhaps some of the Departments of Government are desirous of acquiring some of these animals for the Banff National Park, and as this appears to be a valuable herd and has been brought up in a district very similar to what we have in our own West, it affords an opportunity to secure a desirable bunch of these animals from the one owner."32

Scott sent a copy of Smith's letter to the Secretary of the Interior, P.D. Keyes, who in turn referred the matter to the Deputy Minister, W.W. Cory. Keyes' memorandum added the information that "the herd of buffalo now at Banff is as large as the Park can comfortably accommodate". The file indicates that the proposal was referred to the Minister, Frank Oliver, and on its return it bore a single word, "No"! On January 8, 1906, Cory advised Keyes that he had brought the matter to the Minister's attention and it had been decided that the government could not entertain the proposal. Smith was notified accordingly.

Pablo's need for assistance, however, was not allowed to remain unnoticed. On March 6, 1906, Benjamin Davies, the Canadian Emigration Agent at Great Falls, Montana, wrote directly to W.D. Scott, Superintendent of Immigration at Ottawa, stating that his assistant, Alex Ayotte, had been approached for assistance by Michel Pablo of Ronan, Montana. Pablo had explained that he was being forced to find a new pasture for his buffalo, as the Flathead Indian Reservation was being opened for settlement. Pablo wanted to know if the Canadian Government would grant him a grazing lease in southern Alberta and permit him to drive his herd across the international border, duty free. Davies concluded his letter with the information that "If the Government prefer to purchase the 300 head, he is open to sell at a reasonable figure."33

This communication was referred in turn to the Timber and Grazing Branch, the Forestry Branch, and the Deputy Minister of the Interior. Mr. Cory advised Mr. Scott on March 24 that

"I would be glad if you would find out from Mr. Davies at what figure Mr. Pablo would be willing to dispose of his buffalo to us."

Available records indicate a gap in the correspondence, but apparently on May 22, 1906, Howard Douglas, superintendent of Rocky Mountains (Banff) Park was instructed to proceed to Great Falls, contact Davies, and then inspect and report on Pablo's herd. Although not recorded in official reports to Ottawa, Howard Douglas consulted Norman Luxton, a Banff newspaper publisher, on the purchase of the Pablo buffalo herd. Luxton later accompanied Douglas to Montana where he witnessed the early round-up and shipment of part of the herd. In 1908, Luxton published a brief history of the Pablo buffalo, its purchase and shipment to Canada, in the illustrated booklet The Last of the Buffalo.

Douglas Reports on the Herd

On June 15, Douglas submitted a long report to Deputy Minister Cory from Banff. After leaving Great Falls, he proceeded to Missoula where he picked up Ayotte. They hired a team and drove 80 miles to the Flathead Reservation where he met Pablo and saw part of the buffalo herd, believed by the owner to contain 300 head. Douglas stated that his own estimate was 350. The negotiations, carried on with the help of Ayotte as interpreter, revealed that Pablo wanted to sell all his buffalo. Douglas obtained an option, valid to July 17, 1906, for the entire herd at $200 per head, subject to a down payment of $10,000 and the balance on delivery. Douglas strongly recommended the purchase as the animals were pure-bred, and stressed the importance of closing a deal before the United States Government learned of the proposed departure of the animals from Montana. In closing, Douglas commented:

"In my opinion the scheme is quite feasible and could be carried out successfully. It would certainly be a great advertisement for Canada, as, with the wild herd in the North and this bunch, Canada would own 8/10 of all the buffalo living, and including the herd here, there should be a thousand head in five years with ordinary luck."34

Existing departmental files covering the period from late June, 1906 to January, 1907, are devoid of any correspondence on the proposed purchase of buffalo. However, undoubtedly there was some unrecorded activity, for it developed later that an item of $100,000 was included in the department's estimates for 1906-07. In passing, it might be recalled that the fiscal year for departmental business then commenced on July 1, and any delay in negotiations probably was due to budget uncertainty.

This assumption is given credence by the contents of a memorandum forwarded many years later by Commissioner Harkin of the National Parks Branch to the Deputy Minister of the Interior on April 20, 1929. This communication dealt with the early history of the buffalo purchase and included the information that "The matter appears to have stood pending the passage of a vote by the House of Commons of $100,000 for the purchase of the herd".35

The inclusion of funds in the estimates for any fiscal year usually required the approval not only of the Minister of the department concerned but also that of the Cabinet. The writer was informed years later in August, 1969 by Mabel B. Williams that "We owe the Pablo herd to the Honourable Frank Oliver, who persuaded Sir Wilfred (Laurier) to buy it". Laurier was Prime Minister from 1896 to 1911. Miss Williams had served with J.B. Harkin on the Minister's secretariat from 1901 to 1911, and on the formation of the National Parks Branch in 1911, became one of the original members of Commissioner Harkin's staff.

There seems no doubt that Howard Douglas, while superintendent of Rocky Mountains Park, strongly advocated the purchase of Pablo's herd of buffalo and urged his Minister, Frank Oliver to obtain the concurrence of the Prime Minister and his cabinet. An article which appeared in the Edmonton Journal following Douglas' demise in 1929 strengthened this supposition, and stated that W.S. Fielding, then Minister of Finance, and Arthur Sifton, Chief Justice of Alberta, had extended their support.36

Buffalo Purchase Approved

By early 1907, Ayotte's repeated representations, Davies's letters and Douglas's persistence, all had paid off. On January 9, Deputy Minister Cory advised Douglas by letter that it had been decided to buy the Pablo herd at $200 per head, provided the buffalo were pure bred. Cory asked Douglas to obtain more information on the quality of the herd, and if satisfied, to make the necessary arrangements for the transaction, based on delivery at Elk Island Park. This request was passed on to Alex Ayotte through Ben Davies. Negotiations, however, were accelerated after Cory received a letter from Douglas dated January 17, with a clipping from an unidentified newspaper, which stated that the American Bison Society at Washington had undertaken to buy all buffalo herds in the United States. Douglas suggested that if the department was at all anxious to buy the Pablo herd, a deal must be arranged at once and a deposit made.

This letter brought immediate results. The Deputy Minister referred the letter to Frank Oliver, the Minister, and recommended that a telegram be sent to Douglas "to close a bargain for the herd". Oliver concurred, and after being notified, Douglas arranged to meet Ayotte at Great Falls and proceed with him to Missoula. On February 4, Douglas was able to report to Cory that he had obtained a new option expiring on March 1, 1907, covering the purchase of the buffalo at a cost of $200 each, together with the sum of $18,000 for the delivery of the animals in sound condition at Edmonton, Alberta. A deposit of $10,000 in Pablo's bank at Missoula also would be required.

Alternative Agreements Drawn

An Ottawa legal firm, McGivern and Haydon, was engaged to draft a suitable form of agreement with Pablo. This was reviewed by the department's legal adviser, T.G. Rothwell, who recorded his misgivings over the desirability of paying over to Pablo, prior to the delivery of any buffalo, a deposit of $10,000. Accordingly, duplicate copies of two separate agreements, signed under the seal of the department by W.W. Cory, the Deputy Minister and, witnessed by J.A. Cote, his assistant, were forwarded to Howard Douglas for completion by Pablo. Agreement 'A' provided for payment of $10,000 to Pablo on delivery of the buffalo at Edmonton, whereas Agreement 'B' entitled Pablo to receive $10,000 on execution of the document. Both forms of agreement called for the delivery of not less than 300 and not more than 400 head of buffalo; guaranteed the animals to be pure bred; and provided for payment of $200 per head in addition to the sum of $18,000 for delivery to Edmonton. The latter amount was subject to a deduction prorata for each buffalo that was found on inspection to lack pure bred qualities. Under either agreement, the deposit of $10,000 was to be applied to the overall cost of the buffalo delivered.37

New Agreement Completed

On arrival at Pablo's ranch with the agreements — already completed on behalf of the department — Douglas found himself dealing with a shrewd but honest vendor. Pablo had two main objections to the terms of the agreements, and refused to sign either of them. First of all, he did not want to undertake delivery of his buffalo beyond the nearest rail shipping point at Ravalli, Montana. He also would not commit himself to the delivery of more than 150 head. As Douglas explained, Pablo agreed that he had admitted ownership of 350 buffalo the previous autumn, but had not seen them since. Consequently, a number of them might have died during the current winter, a very hard one on wildlife, and he thought the Canadian government might insist on the delivery of 300 head whether or not he had them.

Douglas solved his problem by taking Pablo back to Missoula where the latter had a trusted adviser in the local bank manager. With the aid of this official and Alex Ayotte, who sat in as interpreter, a new agreement was drawn, signed by Pablo, and witnessed by the bank manager on February 25, 1907. Patterned after original Agreement 'B', it called for the delivery at Edmonton of 150 buffalo, subject to the provision that the sale covered the entire herd, with the exception of 10 heifer calves and two bulls which Pablo wished to retain. Other changes included a clause providing for the examination of the buffalo for quality of breed before shipment, and finally, if less than 300 head were delivered by the vendor, a deduction of $60 for each animal under that number would be made from the shipping allowance of $18,000.

The agreement in duplicate, after approval by the department's legal adviser, was completed by the Deputy Minister. One copy, together with a draft for $10,000 in gold, was forwarded to the manager of the First National Bank in Missoula for delivery to Pablo. The department's copy of the agreement was turned over to the chief accountant of the Department of the Interior for safe keeping. Its eventual fate is unknown, for it cannot be found on the files dealing with the buffalo purchase. One copy of the uncompleted Agreement A' and two copies of the uncompleted Agreement 'B' were returned to the department by Douglas. Although the return of the second copy of Agreement 'A' was requested by the Deputy Minister, it is not on file.38 It must have been retained by Douglas as a souvenir. Its possession by Thomas Douglas, a son of Howard, was disclosed in an article which appeared in the Edmonton Journal on September 1, 1955.

Temporary Destination Selected

Meanwhile, consideration had been given to the selection of a suitable area for establishment as a buffalo park. Howard Douglas had suggested a site in either of the Sarcee or the Stoney Indian Reserves east of Banff, but another plan was adopted. An examination of Dominion Lands records at Ottawa revealed that a large area of relatively vacant land was available east of Battle River in Alberta, between the Wetaskiwin branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the main line of the Grand Trunk Pacific railway then under construction. This area was examined by J.A. Bannerman of the Dominion Lands office at Edmonton and pronounced suitable for buffalo range. On August 6, 1907, Frank Oliver, Minister of the Interior, signed a memorandum to the Commissioner of Dominion Lands ordering the reservation from settlement of about 160 square miles of public land.39 A few sections within the proposed reserve had been granted to the Hudson's Bay Company and to the Canadian Pacific Railway and arrangements were made for the surrender of these holdings in return for vacant land to be selected elsewhere.

As some time would be required to adjust land titles, fence the new park, and erect administrative quarters and housing for the park staff, plans were made to deliver the 1907 shipments of buffalo to Elk Island Park east of Edmonton. This area of 16 square miles had been reserved in 1904 for the preservation of elk, and a contract had been awarded in 1906 for its enclosure by a strong wire fence. One of the group which had been instrumental in having the elk park established was F.A. Walker of Fort Saskatchewan, who, in 1905, was elected a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. Walker was requested by Deputy Minister Cory to use his influence in having the fence completed by the contractor not later than the end of May, 1907.

In March, 1907, Howard Douglas had informed the Deputy Minister that he had undertaken to make the necessary shipping arrangements for Pablo, which would involve the use of the Northern Pacific, Great Northern, and Canadian Pacific Railway lines. The buffalo would be loaded in cars at Ravalli, Montana, south of Pablo's ranch, and it was hoped to make the run to Edmonton in not over 36 hours. On arrival at Edmonton, it was planned to switch the cars to the Canadian Northern line, which would permit unloading at Lamont, a short distance from the north boundary of Elk Island Park.

The Buffalo Roundup

The roundup and shipment of the herd began in May, 1907. Pablo's buffalo had never been herded, and were as wild as the original animals of the plains. Although Pablo secured the services of the most experienced cowboys he could assemble, and bought the fastest horses obtainable, the task of rounding up and loading his buffalo took more than four years. During the first year, some 75 riders, including Charles Allard, Jr., a son of his former partner, took part. Norman Luxton, described the roundup as follows:

"Day after day these untiring men and horses surrounded the wild herds of buffalo in the Flathead Reservation, and three times in only six weeks of daily drives were they successful in getting any of the buffalo to the corrals. The buffalo, when they found themselves being urged from their native pastures, would turn on the riders and in the wildest fury, charge for the line, scattering to all parts of this cactus-grown country the dare-devil cowboys."40

On reaching the corral at Pablo's ranch, the buffalo lost some of their spirit. The drive down the Mission Valley to the railway was accomplished without too much difficulty, and not until they reached the loading corrals was any serious trouble encountered. This is how the Daily Missoulan described the loading in its May 29, 1907 issue:

"But at the sight of these loading pens the big beasts attempted to back away. Their speed, however has been checked, and they cannot run over the line of horsemen that is drawn close around them. Gradually they are worked into the big pens as they are wanted for loading, and when they are once in the corrals the real trouble of loading begins. The pens are built as strongly as they can be made. . . . Once in the pen, the animals are cut out, one by one, and run into the loading pen. They are wild and by this time angry. A few pawings at the earth, a toss of the mighty head, and the imprisoned bull looks around him. A narrow gate is open and it seems to him to lead to liberty. Through the opening he dashes, the gate swings behind him, and he is in the chute that leads to the car."

"Perched on a running board along the chute is a big Indian with his lariat loop swung wide open. As the buffalo lunges forward below him, he drops the noose over the angry head. A turn around a snubbing post and the noose is tightened and the animal is held fast. Bars are thrust behind his back so he cannot back out; then he is under control and is eased into the car. . .

"The loading has been accomplished with but one serious accident. One bull so injured himself that it was necessary to kill him. In an incredibly short time the carcass was skinned, the meat distributed among the Indians, and the head and robe packed away for presentation."41

On hand for the loading of the first shipment were Howard Douglas, Norman Luxton, Alexander Ayotte, Dr. David Warnock, a Canadian veterinary surgeon, a Mr. McMullen, freight agent of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and of course Pablo, the vendor. On June 11, Howard Douglas reported to the Deputy minister that 199 head of buffalo had arrived at Lamont, Alberta, over the four railway lines already mentioned. The cars arrived at Strathcona (now South Edmonton) on May 31, and were unloaded at Lamont the following day. All animals were inspected before shipment by Dr. Warnock. Altogether, 204 buffalo were driven from the ranch near Ronan to Ravalli, but Pablo lost five head in loading and three died after delivery at Lamont. Douglas stated that nearly half of the load had to be drawn into the railway cars with block and tackle. Once inside, each buffalo was roped by the neck and a two-inch plank gate installed between it and the next occupant.

Pablo accompanied the first shipment to Lamont, and inspected the range in Elk Island Park. This he considered unsuitable — too much bush and the available grass quite different to that prevailing on the range in Montana. Although he recommended that another location be found before the next shipment was made, later events proved that the buffalo would thrive on the Elk Island range.

Before the arrival of the railway cars at Lamont Station, the fencing of Elk Island Park had been completed. In addition, F.A. Walker had supervised the construction of a lane fenced with strong wire from the station to the north boundary of the park, a distance of two and three-quarter miles. An unloading chute and corral also had been constructed at Lamont, and the buffalo were herded along this temporary lane to what was intended as a temporary home.

Appropriation Increased

By mid-July, 1907, it had become evident that Pablo had under-estimated the number of buffalo in his herd. In a letter which he sent to Alex Ayotte on July 19, he complained about the clause in his contract covering the cost of shipping the animals to Canada. He enclosed a statement alleging an expenditure of $10,216 for the 199 head already delivered, which averaged out at $51 per head. As Pablo now believed the herd actually contained 500 buffalo, it was evident that the $18,000 allowance would not cover the cost of shipping more than 400 head.

Ayotte passed on this information to Douglas. He, in turn wrote to the Minister, Frank Oliver at Edmonton, advising that on the assumption that 350 more buffalo were available, an additional appropriation would be required. Douglas also wrote Deputy Minister Cory at Ottawa, providing an estimate of the cost of acquiring a total of 550 buffalo, together with additional shipping costs estimated at $45 per head, and incidentals amounting to $3,000. Evidently Cory was absent from Ottawa for J.A. Cote, the Assistant Deputy Minister, consulted Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier and obtained permission to buy the entire herd. Frank Oliver wrote Cote from Edmonton to confirm that Pablo might be paid a shipping allowance of $45 per head for future shipments but no more.

A submission to the Governor General in Council was signed on August 12 by Laurier in the absence of Oliver. It recommended that authority be granted to increase the existing appropriation of $100,000 by an additional $75,000. The recommendation was approved on August 1, 1907, and funds now were available to purchase all the buffalo that Pablo was expected to provide.42

A second shipment of buffalo made in 1907 from Ravalli, Montana arrived at Lamont on October 11. This shipment of 211 head contained a great many more cows and heifers than the first one, and their assembly apparently gave Pablo and his cowboys less trouble. Pablo had hoped to deliver more than the number loaded, but that summer the Montana range had experienced a grasshopper invasion, and many of the buffalo had crossed the Pend d'Oreille River to the Bitter Root Mountains in search of better pasture. In reporting the shipment, Douglas volunteered the information that at least 200 more animals would be available in 1908, and recommended their delivery to the new park in the Battle River area.

The shipment in October, 1907, which brought the total delivered to 410, suffered only one casualty in transit. This was an injured bull which had to be destroyed on arrival. A freak accident, however, caused the loss of 10 buffalo already in the park. On October 13, Ellsworth Simmons, the resident caretaker, reported that after the buffalo had arrived in the park, an attempt was made to drive them farther south to an area of open hills. Eleven animals were discovered in one of the many patches of muskeg that existed in the northeastern part of the park, and after they were dragged out with the aid of horses, only one was alive. Simmons concluded that the buffalo either had become mired while attempting to obtain water, or were crowded into the muskeg by animals which had arrived in June, the greater proportion of which were bulls. The animals lost included three mature cows, three heifers and four calves.

New Contract Prepared

With more than half his buffalo safely transferred from their Montana range to a new one in Alberta, Pablo was giving thought in October 1907 to the problems involved in rounding up an expected 200 more. In the light of experience gained during the assembly of the animals already shipped, and the fact that the Minister of the Interior had agreed to a new flat rate of $45 per head to cover shipping costs from Ravalli to Edmonton, Pablo wrote to both the Deputy Minister at Ottawa and Howard Douglas at Banff, requesting a new contract to cover future sales.

Douglas undertook the preparation of this document, a copy of which remains on file. Dated the 21st November, 1907, it followed closely the agreement completed by Pablo and the Deputy Minister earlier in the year. Amendments, however, set out clearly the new rate of $245 for each buffalo loaded at Ravalli, shipped, and delivered to Edmonton. It also stipulated that inspection of the animals prior to shipment would be made by the Minister or his representative at Ravalli Station or at the ranch of the vendor. Pablo's signature on the agreement was obtained by Alex Ayotte, and after completion at Ottawa, Pablo's copy was forwarded to his banker at Missoula.

An Unproductive Year

High hopes for the completion of the roundup of the remaining buffalo and their safe transfer in 1908 to either Elk Island or Buffalo National Park were dashed by a series of misfortunes. Owing to sickness in his family and personal ill-health, Pablo was unable to commence the work until late in the season. Douglas reported that only after a second visit to the ranch were operations commenced. Pablo had constructed a wing fence eight miles in length at a cost of several thousand dollars to assist in the drive, and had purchased the best saddle horses available. After several weeks of hard riding, his cowboys had enclosed 120 buffalo in the ranch corral preparatory to driving them 36 miles to Ravalli. However, on the night after the last buffalo was corralled, the animals stampeded, climbed an almost perpendicular clay cut-bank at the rear of the enclosure, and escaped! As early snow was falling in the adjoining mountains, the possibility of recapturing the frightened buffalo was unlikely. Douglas recommended to the Deputy Minister that an extension to May, 1908, be given Pablo in which to fulfil his contract. This reprieve was granted, after Pablo had agreed that the department would be required to pay for only one-half of the calf crop included in subsequent shipments.

First Shipments to Wainwright

The fencing of the new park reserve east of Battle River, to be known later as Buffalo National Park, was completed by September, 1908. It involved the erection of 73 miles of exterior and interior fencing, including the enclosure of a paddock of 2,800 acres for the display of a number of buffalo, and a few moose, elk and antelope. The initial cost of the fence was $60,000. Additional land outside that originally reserved was acquired at the northeast corner of the park from the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company for the erection of a superintendent's residence. By May, 1909, the new park was in a position to receive its buffalo population and during the month of June 325 head were shipped from Elk Island Park. The 1907 operation at Elk Island was reversed when the buffalo were driven up a fenced lane to Lamont Station, loaded on 26 railway cars, and unloaded by chutes into a corral at Wainwright Station, located about a mile from the northeastern corner of Buffalo Park. The transfer, the largest single movement of buffalo since the herd was purchased, was accomplished with the loss of only three head, — a young bull, a two-year-old heifer, and a calf.

The shipment included most of the buffalo that could be rounded up. Unlike the Montana range and that of the new park at Wainwright, Elk Island Park had a substantial forest cover, mostly poplar. Prior to the roundup, Caretaker Simmons had estimated the number of buffalo in the park at 403, but after the drive had been completed, it was believed that the number was closer to 375. The buffalo remaining in the park, later estimated at 48, formed the nucleus of a herd that eventually contained 2,000 head. In reporting to the Deputy Minister, Howard Douglas recommended that all buffalo be removed from Elk Island Park. However, this suggestion was not implemented, probably because of the difficulty that would be experienced in locating the survivors, and also because by 1909, the buffalo had become the stellar attraction at that park.

An unusual incident attended the unloading of the buffalo from the railway cars at Wainwright when Howard Douglas, who supervised the operation, sustained the loss of personal funds and a government cheque drawn in his favour for $20,000. As Douglas later explained the mishap, he had the cheque and $200 in cash in a purse tucked in the inside pocket of his suit coat. Clad in a heavy oilskin, Douglas had worked hard in the unloading operations, and after a day spent in climbing in and out of cattle cars, missed his purse at six o'clock in the afternoon. An intensive search, including the raking of the emptied cars, failed to disclose the missing article, and Douglas promptly wired the Department to have payment on the cheque stopped, in case it was presented. It represented an advance to cover the estimated cost of shipping the train load of buffalo, and had not been endorsed. As Douglas commented in his report on the loss, it probably was lost in the mud and manure generated by an all-day rain.43 The cheque was subsequently replaced.

Later Shipments of Buffalo

Early in July, 1909, Pablo completed the successful shipment of 190 head of buffalo directly to Wainwright. More than half of the animals were female, and 13 of the 26 calves included were exempt from payment under the terms of the latest agreement. Many of the loading difficulties and losses previously experienced in Montana were avoided by a new method of shipment. Pablo had 50 heavy crates or cages constructed of planks, and instead of driving the animals from the ranch corral to Ravalli, each buffalo was driven into a chute which led into a cage. The cages were then drawn by wagons to railhead for shipment. At Ravalli, the animals were driven from their temporary cages into cars in which separate compartments for each animal had been installed. Another shipment of 28 buffalo received on October 19 at Wainwright brought the total number delivered in 1909 to 218. Later, on October 31, Howard Douglas transferred 77 head of buffalo from the exhibition herd at Banff to the herd in Buffalo National Park.

After three seasons which involved much hard riding and resulted in some disappointment, Pablo had not yet exhausted his supply of buffalo. On November 4, 1909, he recounted his latest misfortune in a letter sent to W.W. Cory at Ottawa. Evidently a group of Indians engaged in chasing and rounding up wild horses on the range in the Flathead Reservation had destroyed parts of his wing fence so essential to the success of his buffalo drives. He had hoped to ship 100 more buffalo, but the damage sustained had prevented further deliveries that year. Consequently, Pablo requested and obtained permission to defer additional shipments until the year following. During 1910, 46 buffalo were received at Wainwright on June 12, and an additional 28 on October 18.

Corbin Herd Acquisition

Although he lacked veterinary or biological training, Howard Douglas apparently believed that an introduction of buffalo from other sources would improve the strain at Buffalo National Park. Early in 1910, he learned that Mrs. Alicia Conrad had a number of buffalo surplus to her requirements in a herd developed by her late husband, C.E. Conrad, at Kalispell, Montana. The nucleus of this small herd had been purchased from the estate of Charles Allard, who had been Michel Pablo's partner in the buffalo venture. Douglas brought the matter to the attention of Frank Oliver, who authorized him to make inquiries and if buffalo could be obtained at $250 per head, to arrange for their purchase. Later in the year, Douglas was successful in negotiating the acquisition of 30 head at $250 each. By mutual agreement, delivery was taken over a six-month period. The first shipment of 15 head was received at Wainwright on November 23, and the remaining 15 on April 20, 1911.

Pablo"s Final Shipments

Meanwhile, Pablo was making a final effort to complete the terms of his agreement with the Department of the Interior. Douglas reported on June 16, 1911, that Pablo had let a contract to Charles Allard Jr. to corral the balance of the Pablo herd still running wild. Under the contract, Pablo would pay Allard $100 a head for each buffalo he could deliver to Ravalli Station. On May 30, a shipment of seven buffalo and seven elk was received at Wainwright, for which Pablo received $2,100. It was evident that Allard was having little success in his drive, for no additional animals were shipped that year. The year following, 1912, Pablo made his final shipment of seven buffalo which were received on June 6. This small delivery brought to 716, the number of buffalo for which he received payment. Nearly two years later, on March 31, 1914, Douglas added 10 more buffalo from the exhibition herd at Banff to the expanding herd in Buffalo National Park.

Michel Pablo's contract had been extended on the recommendation of Parks Commissioner Harkin to March 31, 1913. In a final letter to the department, Pablo in August of that year reported that no more buffalo could be expected, as the scattered few remaining could be corralled only during the winter. This information, however, was not disturbing, for Canada now had in Buffalo National Park what was believed to be the largest single herd of buffalo in the world. A census taken by the park superintendent on March 31, 1913, had disclosed a total of 1,188 head. Elsewhere there were 71 buffalo in Elk Island Park, 28 at Banff, and an unknown number of the northern wood bison in a remote area of the Northwest Territories. The plains buffalo, once practically extinct in Canada, had been restored in numbers, and offspring of the former Pablo herd would in future, be distributed as exhibition animals to zoological gardens all over the world.

Buffalo National Park

A new home for the buffalo herd purchased from Michel Pablo was created in the form of a national buffalo park by federal Order in Council of March 7, 1908.44 The new park contained about 160 square miles of rolling prairie located southwest of Wainwright, Alberta. Set with numerous small lakes and supporting stands of aspen and extensive wild hay meadows, it contained unmistakable evidence of former occupation by buffalo. Skulls, bones, dried wallows and partly obliterated trails identified it as part of the vast range traversed by the great migratory herds of years gone by.

Later, the original area was subjected to adjustment in the settlement of land claims, and by the purchase of additional land. New legislation passed in 1911 — the Dominion Forest Reserves and Parks Act — permitted the formal establishment of Buffalo National Park on March 27, 1913, with an area of 159 square miles.45 In March 1925, an addition of 36 square miles comprising an area capable of producing large crops of hay and grain was incorporated in the park. Subsequent land purchases brought the park area to 200 square miles.

Park Administration

Concurrently, with the movement of 325 head of buffalo from Elk Island to Buffalo National Park in 1909, Howard Douglas, the Commissioner of Parks at Edmonton, had arranged for the transfer of Edward Ellis, caretaker of the wild animal enclosure at Banff, to the new park at Wainwright. Later Ellis was confirmed as the park's first superintendent. He was replaced in June, 1912, by W.E.D. McTaggart, who occupied the position until 1916. That year, Alfred G. Smith of Edmonton was appointed superintendent of Buffalo Park, and continued in charge until his retirement in 1940.

Buildings for administrative and staff purposes gradually were constructed at various locations in the park as appropriations permitted. Extensive farming operations in the southeastern part of the park were undertaken to provide food for the buffalo and other wildlife species during the periods in which grazing was poor or impossible. Following an increase in the buffalo population, a centre for these operations was developed at Gat lake in the southern part of the park. Interior cross-fencing permitted the creation of a winter range of about 12,000 acres for the buffalo, and the segregation of the southeastern portion of the park for agricultural activities.

Measures to control grass fires and to prevent them from entering the park included the ploughing of fire-guards 20 feet in width along each side of the exterior park fence, and along much of the interior cross-fencing. For the purposes of game protection, the care of animals, and general range supervision, the park was divided later into two areas or districts, each in charge of a park warden. The warden stations were erected at strategic locations, where gates controlled the entry of vehicles to park roads which were accessible from the provincial highway system. Much of the routine work in the operation of the park, however, centred around the production of annual hay and grain crops.

The park administration office was situated for many years on a site adjoining the superintendent's residence, but in 1929 it was moved to the Federal Building in the nearby town of Wainwright. The park buildings included stables, barns, bunk-house for seasonal staff, garage and repair shops for vehicles and farm equipment, and an abattoir for processing the carcasses of buffalo and other animals slaughtered to keep the herds within the grazing capacity of the park. After the fencing of the park had been completed, it was discovered that a number of wild elk, moose and deer had been enclosed.

Later the increase in these species produced herds that in the aggregate, not only rivalled the buffalo in numbers but provided serious competition for the natural grasses on the range.

Recreational features were developed at Mott Lake, situated about a mile inside the park entrance on the north boundary. Here a sandy beach, a pavilion and dressing-rooms for men and women offered inducements to residents of Wainwright and vicinity to enjoy bathing and picnicking. In the early development of the park, consideration had been given to the survey of a cottage subdivision there, but fortunately the proposal was discarded.

Cattalo Experiment

In 1916, an area of 2,800 acres in the park south of Jamieson Lake was made available to the federal Department of Agriculture for experimental work involving the cross-breeding of buffalo with domestic cattle, and later with yak. The area was separated from the main buffalo range by a strong wire fence. Experimental cross-breeding of buffalo in Canada was pioneered by Mossom Boyd of Bobcaygeon, Ontario, who began this work in 1894 by crossing a buffalo bull with domestic cows. Following the death of Boyd in 1915, his herd of hybrid buffalo was sold. Twenty of these animals were purchased by the federal Department of Agriculture and shipped to its experimental farm at Scott, Alberta.

In 1916, by agreement between the Director of the federal Experimental Farms Service and the Commissioner of National Parks, the hybrid buffalo experiment was relocated in Buffalo National Park. The area made available was fenced and then divided into enclosures where cross-breeding was carried on by utilizing male and female buffalo from the park, and domestic cattle purchased by the Experimental Farms Service. A small herd of 19 yak — a species native to Tibet — was transferred from the wild animal enclosure at Banff to Buffalo Park in 1921, for use in the project.

The purpose of the cross-breeding was to develop an animal that would have the rugged health and the foraging qualities of the buffalo, and thus decrease the cost of winter feeding. The buffalo hybrids also tended to carry a higher percentage of flesh along the back than do domestic cattle, and accordingly promised to provide a carcass that would compete successfully with that of cattle in the fresh meat trade.

Problems that involved the production of cross-breeds included mortality of calves at birth, particularly when domestic cows served as mothers. Lack of fertility in the first cross-breeds also was pronounced. Over the years, however, the Department of Agriculture enjoyed considerable success in cross-breeding buffalo, and the resulting hybrids were a source of great interest to park visitors. After the operation of Buffalo National Park was suspended in 1940, the experimental work was carried on by Department of Agriculture officials in the cattalo enclosure for several years. In 1949, the calves born that year were transferred to a federal experimental farm at Manyberries, Alberta, and the following year the balance of the breeding stock was relocated there. The cattalo experiment at Manyberries was closed down permanently in 1964.

Growth of the Buffalo Herd

Before the final delivery of seven buffalo had been made in 1912 by Michel Pablo, the national herd at Buffalo National Park had begun to expand. On March 31, 1912, it numbered 994 head, a net increase of 263 over the 731 buffalo received to that date from various sources. In March, 1915, the count was 1,640, and a year later, the buffalo herd contained 2,077 animals. From 1917 onwards, the herd increased steadily, and requirements for winter feeding necessitated the harvesting of more hay and grain. By March, 1921, the proportion of male and female buffalo was estimated to be even, and with 5,152 head in the park, consideration was being given to a reduction in the number of buffalo bulls which was by then double the normal requirement.

In the summer of 1922, the first steps preparatory to the reduction of the herd by slaughter was undertaken. The first unit of an abbatoir, together with a bunkhouse and barn, were constructed in the northern part of the winter range. Later in the early winter of 1923, 264 buffalo were shot and butchered under the supervision of a dominion veterinary inspector, Dr. I. Christian. As the Department of the Interior was interested in the general health of the herd, Dr. A.E. Cameron, later the Veterinary Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture, and Dr. Seymour Hadwen of the Ontario Research Foundation, also were present. The inspectors found that 75 percent of the animals slaughtered had some form of tuberculosis lesion.46 Dr. Hadwen recommended the elimination of the herd to avoid the spread of the infection, but the proposal was not acceptable to park authorities. Dr. Hadwen then offered suggestions to the Department of the Interior for reducing the percentage of disease in the herd. These proposals included improved methods of feeding the buffalo in winter, and the slaughter of the older animals whenever possible.

Herd Reduction Measures

The initial slaughter of buffalo undertaken in 1923 as a means of reducing the herd was regarded as an experiment by the Commissioner of National Parks. As only older males were killed, it was decided that most of the meat could best be utilized as pemmican. The department arranged for the manufacture of this product — once a staple food of pioneers — according to the original Indian recipe. In essence, it was a mixture of dried buffalo meat and melted buffalo fat. Substantial orders for pemmican later were received from northern Canada.

During the summer of 1923, plans were completed for a very substantial reduction of the buffalo herd. This was carried out during the following winter, when 1,847 animals were shot and slaughtered in the park abbatoir, which had been enlarged. The fresh meat resulting from the kill was marketed through packing houses in various parts of Canada, and the hides disposed of by sale. The presence of disease was withheld from public knowledge as a matter of departmental policy. Every care, however, was taken to protect public health as all carcasses from the slaughter were rigidly inspected by a qualified veterinary inspector, and any meat unfit for food was destroyed. Consequently, it was believed that no more hazard existed than would be the case in the normal slaughter of cattle. The sale of buffalo meat was stimulated by the printing and distribution of small brochures by the National Parks Service.47 These pamphlets contained recipes for the preparation and cooking of buffalo meat, and also of pemmican.

Filming "The Last Frontier"

An interesting episode in the history of Buffalo National Park was the roundup and use of the buffalo herd in the filming of a silent "Western" motion picture film in October, 1923. Earlier that year, the Commissioner of National Parks had entered into an arrangement with the Thomas H. Ince Studios of Culver City, California, to provide buffalo and the services of some of the park staff in completing scenes in a scenario based on The Last Frontier, a novel by Courtney Ryley Cooper. The arrangement had two purposes in mind — revenues and extensive free advertising.

By March 31, 1923, the buffalo herd in the park numbered 6,780 head. After adding the expected calf crop, it believed that by autumn the buffalo count would be over 8,000. This number greatly exceeded the grazing capacity of the park, which had been impaired by successive dry seasons from 1917 to 1922. Consequently a substantial slaughter of older animals during the coming winter had been decided upon. Coping with surplus buffalo on a commercial basis involved the disposal of heads, hides and meat. Buffalo products had been off the market for upwards of 40 years, and a strong demand for buffalo robes, steaks and mounted heads was anticipated. To obtain the most rewarding returns on the slaughter required the public interest, and one of the ideas proposed for the education of the public was the making of a movie.

The scenario approved by the commissioner called for the roundup and stampeding of about 100 buffalo through a fenced funnel to provide the effect of a "thundering herd", and the shooting, during a simulated buffalo hunt, of a limited number of aged bulls. The script involved the participation of a band of 150 Indians from the Cree Reservation at Hobbema, Alberta, who were provided with a campsite in the southern part of the park. The arrangements also called for the donation to the department by the film company of surplus cuttings from the thousands of feet of film it was expected would be exposed. In consideration of its assistance, the Department was to receive a fee of $2,500, together with $250 for each buffalo killed.

Rehearsing and filming in the park occupied six days from October 17 to 22, 1923. The major buffalo hunt scene was staged on the third day, when a herd of almost 4,000 buffalo was driven by mounted horsemen between two heavy woven wire fences erected in the shape of a huge funnel. Cameras were placed on a camouflaged stage at the narrow end of the funnel, and other cameramen were concealed behind brush on adjoining hillsides. oncoming herd of buffalo.

Expert riflemen, also in hidden pits, opened fire as the buffalo came within range of the cameras, and 34, mostly bulls, were shot. Some dropped immediately, but others, although wounded, ran for some distance. Later they were located by armed riders and dispatched. A report filed by an officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who attended the filming, commented on the fact that although the stampede was a hazardous undertaking, it was carried out successfully without injury or loss of human life. The balance of the filming operation occupied the final three days of the camp, and included scenes depicting a battle between Indians and the American cavalry, Indians chasing buffalo, and a pow-wow staged at the Indian camp around an evening campfire.

The use of Buffalo National Park and the killing of a few buffalo aroused considerable public criticism, particularly after the Edmonton Journal published a story, quite unfounded, that the Indians would be "shooting feathered barbs into vital spots from bows." As Commissioner Harkin explained in a prepared statement:

"Newspaper stories teeming with misrepresentation and exaggeration have appeared all over America. Overlooking for the moment the criticism of government officials, the outstanding fact is that the Wainwright buffalo herd has had the most wonderful advertising which can be capitalized not only in regard to our forthcoming sale of buffalo products but also in regard to tourist business next year for Buffalo Park. Years of ordinary publicity work would not have served to educate the public of this continent on Buffalo Park and buffalo products as this has done in a few weeks; and the educational work will be increased when the film is put into circulation and all the advertising of the film by the Ince people carried out".48

The arrangements agreed upon called for a credit in the main title of the completed film, acknowledging the co-operation of the Canadian government in making available Buffalo National Park for scenes requiring the use of the buffalo herd. Some misunderstanding on the part of park superintendent Smith resulted in the roundup and use of about 4,000 buffalo rather than the 100 head originally contemplated. The riflemen also greatly exceeded the quota of animals to be shot, for in addition to 10 buffalo bulls, 19 buffalo cows and five calves were killed. However, as 2,000 buffalo were to be slaughtered in the course of a reduction program a few weeks later, the numerical loss was insignificant. The Ince company included the value of all buffalo destroyed in their financial settlement with the department, and also spent about $46,000 in wages and miscellaneous disbursements while on location in Canada.

Park Film Produced

The advertising value of the Ince Company's activity is difficult to gauge, but the annual visitor attendance at Buffalo National Park showed substantial increases during the next 10 years, particularly in 1928 and 1929 when attendance totals of 18,000 persons were recorded. The national parks publicity division moreover, received a permanent visual record of the buffalo roundup and stampede in the form of film cuttings from the editing of the original film exposed by Ince photographers. This material, augmented by footage added later to the National Parks Branch film library, permitted the production in 1933 of a new film subject, Return of the Buffalo, which incorporated a number of spectacular scenes of the buffalo in motion. The film, with accompanying sound narrative, was made with the assistance of Associated Screen News Limited of Montreal, and later was made available for showing by theatrical exhibitors in Canada and the United States. The theme of the film was the part played by the government of Canada in restoring the numbers of the American bison — once so numerous — but later reduced by indiscriminate killing almost to the point of extinction.

A highlight of this motion picture was a stampede scene which portrayed a veritable stream of brown-robed bodies flowing in undulating waves across the screen. It also depicted from ground level, the onrush of hundreds of buffalo, whose pounding hooves swept over a pit in which the cameraman was installed. This scene was filmed by William J. Oliver of Calgary, Alberta. For many years, Oliver had been the official photographer engaged by the national parks publicity division in the production of scenic and wildlife films, and was the only cameraman known to have entered a pit on a buffalo range and permitted a buffalo herd to be driven over him.

Several of the park wardens assisted in the filming of the Ince motion picture, as their services were essential in organizing the stampede scenes. One of them, E.J. (Bud) Cotton, was interviewed at Calgary by the writer in October, 1978. Although 88 years of age, Cotton remembered vividly the stirring days of 1923 on the buffalo range, and also those of later years when the park wardens assisted Bill Oliver in obtaining additional motion picture footage and still photos for park publicity purposes. Riding herd on buffalo was dangerous work, Cotton recalled, especially during annual round-up time when the herd was counted and animals selected for herd reduction by slaughter. Riders occasionally were thrown, rolled on by fallen horses or crushed in the corrals. During Cotton's terms of service, two of his assistant wardens were accidently killed on duty. A third, D.W. Davison, finished his later years of service minus one arm.

Shipments to Northern Canada

Press publicity given to an announcement by the Department of the Interior in 1923 of its intention to reduce the buffalo herd in Buffalo National Park by phased slaughters brought considerable criticism. No doubt the public attitude had been influenced in part by irresponsible stories concerning the filming of the herd in October, 1923. Letters addressed to the department, to the Commissioner of Parks and to Canadian newspapers suggested as an alternative, the shipment of buffalo to other areas including northern Canada. A proposal of this nature had been made to the commissioner in 1919 by Maxwell Graham, a member of his staff, whose duties involved the care and administration of wild animals in the national parks. At that time, however, the grazing capacity of the park had not yet been impaired, and the suggestion was not acted on.

In 1924, the proposal was revived, after consultation between the director of the Northwest Territories and Yukon Branch of the Department, O.S. Finnie, and Parks Commissioner Harkin. Finnie and his staff favoured the southern part of Wood Buffalo Park — established in 1922 — as a logical destination. Commissioner Harkin and his officers were aware of the hazards involved in shipping buffalo from Wainwright to the northern park, where the wood buffalo or bison, a distinctive species, would be liable not only to hybridization, but also to tubercular infection. As proposed in early discussions, any buffalo shipped north would be restricted to young animals, which had been subjected to a tuberculin test.

Eventually, with the concurrence of the Deputy Minister, a decision was reached to make successive shipments of buffalo, equivalent to the annual calf crop, from Buffalo Park at Wainwright to Wood Buffalo Park in the Northwest Territories. These shipments, phased over several years, were forecast in an article prepared by Maxwell Graham, then on the staff of Mr. Finnie's Branch, and published in the December, 1924, issue of The Canadian Field Naturalist. The article, which appeared under the authority of the director, Northwest Territories and Yukon Branch, quoted an opinion expressed in a report of Charles Camsell, who had investigated the wood buffalo range in 1916, that there was no contact between separate herds of wood bison occupying northern and southern ranges. Although the article confirmed that integration of the buffalo from Wainwright with the southern herd of wood bison in Wood Buffalo Park was probable, the writer believed that "the northern herd of wood buffalo would remain inviolate so far as admixture with the introduced buffalo is concerned."

Publication of the article brought protests from zoologists and naturalists who deplored the introduction of plains bison in the wood bison area. Prominent among these communications was a letter addressed to the editor of the magazine by Francis Harper, a zoologist on the staff of Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, who had visited the range of the wood bison in 1920. Harper prophesied inbreeding and the spread of disease in the wood bison herds, and concluded with the rhetorical question "Must the huge and vigorous wood buffalo be doomed to deterioration through unnatural inbreeding with its smaller cousin of the Plains?"

The reproduction of this letter in the February, 1925 issue of The Canadian Field Naturalist apparently aroused the ire of senior officials of the department, which was directed against the president of the Ottawa Field Naturalist Club, Hoyes Lloyd, and the editor of the club's magazine, Dr. Harrison F. Lewis. Both were officers of the National Parks Branch, and as the letter criticized departmental policy, both men were required to vacate their positions on the club executive, under threat of discharge from the department. Years later, the writer asked Dr. Lewis if the ultimatum which he and Lloyd received was conveyed by letter or memorandum. "No", he replied, "it just came down from the Deputy Minister's office by the grapevine."

Preparations for Shipment

The reduction of the buffalo herd at Wainwright by slaughter was suspended pending the selection and shipment of young animals to Wood Buffalo Park. During the autumn of 1924, 1,200 calves born that year and in 1923 were segregated for shipment the following spring. Col. J.K. Cornwall, an officer of Northern Trading Company of Edmonton, solicited and obtained an exclusive contract for transferring the buffalo from Waterways, Alberta, the railway terminus, to Labutte Landing in Wood Buffalo Park. The first shipment of buffalo by rail from Wainwright to Waterways, via Edmonton, was made on June 15, 1925, and weekly consignments followed until 1,634 head had been sent forward. They were loaded from the railway cars to specially designed barges, and pushed down the Athabaska and Slave Rivers to the park by the sternwheeler Northland Echo with little loss.

Long before the first shipments were made, the early plan to have the buffalo tested for tuberculosis was discarded. After a meeting held in the Deputy Minister's office on April 9, 1924, Superintendent Smith of Buffalo Park was notified by letter that the original proposal for a tuberculin test had been dropped. One officer of the National Parks Branch at Ottawa, however, recorded his disapproval. In a memorandum to the Commissioner, Hoyes Lloyd, Supervisor of Wildlife Protection described as "very bad epidemiology", the decision to ship buffalo from a herd known to be diseased and place them in contact with the buffalo at Wood Buffalo which, so far as known, were not diseased. Lloyd commented that "It is thought that the biologically correct way of dealing with the excess buffalo is to slaughter the excess, thus realizing on the surplus stock."49

The departmental file discloses no particular reason for the decision, but it is assumed that it not only reduced the cost of preparing the animals for shipment, but also reflected the current belief that disease was confined to the older animals and that the selection of one and two-year-old buffalo would result in little infection. This theory is given support by the contents of a memorandum from Commissioner Harkin to the Deputy Minister dated June 1, 1925, which read in part as follows:

"There is less danger of the young animals, even though infected slightly, succumbing to disease on the more open pasture of the northern range, where there would be little danger of their infection from other buffalo and where they would have the maximum chance of recovery in consequence."50

Additional Buffalo Transferred

In spite of the 1925 shipment of young animals, the main herd at Buffalo National Park continued to grow. During that year, the natural increase was 2,000, and further reduction was imperative. During the summer of 1926, 2,011 young buffalo were cut out of the main herd and shipped north at two-week intervals to Waterways for their journey down river to Wood Buffalo Park. Similar procedures were followed in 1927, when 1,940 one-, two-, and three-year-old animals were rounded up and transported. The last shipment of young buffalo to Wood Buffalo Park was undertaken in June, 1928, when 1,088 yearlings were sent north. All but two of this group were delivered safely to their destination. Over the four-year period from 1925 to 1928, these shipments accounted for 6,673 buffalo.

Surprisingly, the export of buffalo to new pastures failed to halt the annual increase at Wainwright and during the winters of 1926-27 and 1927-28, it was found necessary to slaughter 2,000 and 1,000 buffalo respectively. The resulting buffalo meat was placed on the market through national packing-houses. A surplus of buffalo robes induced the National Parks Branch to promote a market for this product of the slaughters. Several well-known Canadian furriers were persuaded to make a few sample fur coats as an experiment. Modern tanning methods had resulted in lighter and more pliable hides, and samples of coats and robes exhibited at the Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto, and other places in Canada, helped stimulate a demand for a product which, for many years, had not been available.

Park Problems Develop

The early 1930's ushered in a period of administrative difficulty for Buffalo National Park. Drought conditions in western Canada in 1929 had impaired the grazing on the park range, and placed more emphasis on the production and harvesting of hay and grain crops for animal food during the winters. In 1932, the superintendent's annual report contained the statement that "It is becoming increasingly apparent that overcrowding and incessant close cropping have contributed to the present difficulty of maintaining grazing facilities in the park on a level with requirements." A study of range conditions was undertaken by a federal government agrologist, S.E. Clarke, in 1931. He reported the intrusion of prairie sage, a virulent weed, on the range, and expressed the opinion that the maximum grazing capacity of the park was 5,000 buffalo. He recommended that the buffalo herd be reduced to 4,500, and that unfenced portions of the park on the eastern side be enclosed and added to the grazing range.

Disease problems in the buffalo herd were increased by the discovery that many animals were infected with an internal parasite known as the liver-fluke. An investigation undertaken by a representative of the Health of Animals Branch of the federal Department of Agriculture revealed that most of the numerous shallow lakes and ponds in the park contained a species of snail, which served as an intermediate host in the life cycle of the liver-fluke. Studies carried on in 1933 and 1934 led to the recommendation and initiation of measures to combat the infection.

Slaughters Resumed

Following the final shipment of surplus young buffalo to Wood Buffalo Park in 1928, park authorities reverted to regular annual slaughters during the early winter as a means of keeping the buffalo at Wainwright within the grazing capacity of the park. From December 1929, to December, 1934, more than 6,300 buffalo were killed. Until 1933, tenders were solicited from a selected list of packing firms, and the meat sold to the highest bidder. In 1933, during the height of the economic depression, beef and cattle prices were extremely low. The highest offer received for buffalo meat that year was so ridiculously low that the Commissioner of Parks decided to ship meat to various camps which had been established in a number of national parks to provide useful work for the unemployed. The same procedure was followed in 1934, but the annual slaughter planned for 1935 had to be abandoned after the park abbatoir was destroyed by fire on November 19 of that year.

During 1936, a new abattoir was constructed and the annual slaughter was resumed in December and carried over into January, 1937. The number of buffalo disposed of was 1,522. Similar operations carried out in 1937 and in 1938 accounted for an additional 3,246 buffalo. Over the years, the herd of elk in the park had greatly increased, and at the end of March, 1938, was estimated to contain 1,781 head. Consequently, when the buffalo herd was reduced in December that year, 485 elk also were slaughtered. The carcasses of these animals were donated to various Indian agencies, for distribution to needy bands in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

End of the Road

By 1939, officers of the Lands, Parks and Forest Branch of the Department of Mines and Resources had serious misgivings over the continued operation of Buffalo National Park. The grazing range was seriously impaired by periodic drought and over-grazing by the buffalo herd and to a lesser extent by elk and deer. To supplement the natural food on the range, the park superintendent was forced to carry on an extensive farm operation, which involved the cultivation of 400 acres, and the harvesting of upwards of 10,000 bushels of oats and 2,000 tons of hay annually. The oats were fed to the park horses, and any surplus was sent to Banff National Park. Yearly slaughters of buffalo, averaging over 1,300 head between 1931 and 1938, were required to preserve the existing inadequate range. In short, the park had, through various circumstances, taken on many aspects of a commercial stock farm.

Overshadowing these undesirable conditions was the spectre of disease, not only among the buffalo but also in the large herd of elk. Reports of veterinarians who provided meat inspection services at all general slaughters, continued to record a declining yet high incidence of bovine tuberculosis in the buffalo carcasses. The presence of disease in the elk, deer and moose occupying the park range also was suspected. Accordingly, arrangements were made in May, 1939, for an examination of park animals on the ground by Seymour Hadwen, a doctor of Veterinary Science and a member of the Ontario Research Foundation at Toronto. Dr. Hadwen was familiar with conditions at Buffalo Park, having attended the first general slaughter of buffalo in 1923.

Dr. Hadwen's report, received in September, 1939, covered his examination of wild animals in both Elk Island and Buffalo national parks. Dr. Hadwen confirmed a decline in the productivity of the summer grazing range in Buffalo Park, where many of the palatable grasses had been replaced by inedible weeds. Elk and deer were found to be infected with liver fluke, and the continued presence of tuberculosis was confirmed. Dr. Hadwen believed that the disease was being spread through mating, and expressed doubt that it could be eliminated from the herd by testing and other means.51

Having regard for the fact that the department possessed a large clean herd at Elk Island National Park, and smaller disease-free herds at other parks, Hadwen recommended the slaughter of the entire buffalo herd at Wainwright, together with the elk, deer and moose there. As he commented in his report 'There should be no hesitation, in my opinion, in carrying out this action, because of the danger of dissemination of the disease to other districts through shipment of animals, and also because we have plenty of clean healthy buffalo to breed from in other parks.'

Hadwen then went on to say:

"in fairness to the Departmental staff who have taken care of the Wainwright herd, I should like to add that the herd has been guarded and every precaution taken to keep it healthy. Where did the disease originate?"

"Superintendent Smith informs me that the original animals which came from Montana were divided and some went to the Elk Island Park and some came to Wainwright. Why did the herd at Elk Island remain clean and those at Wainwright become infected? It appears from the records that two other shipments came to Wainwright which had no contact with the Elk Island buffalo. One of these shipments came from the Conrad herd in Montana and the other from Banff which consisted of small herds gathered up in other places. The latter shipment is the most probable source of the trouble."

It may be recalled that the source of the exhibition herd at Banff was explained earlier in this chapter. Most of the animals were descendants of buffalo donated by Lord Strathcona, which in turn had been bought by Governor Sam Bedson of Stony Mountain Penitentiary from Alloway and McKay. Some of the calves captured by the latter back in 1873 and 1874 had been reared with the assistance of a domestic cow of dubious origin. Dr. Hadwen recited these facts and concluded his report with the statement that the progeny of the McKay-Bedson Strathcona herd were the probable source of the infection:

"Eighty-seven buffalo in all came from Banff to Wainwright. They were derived from various sources. The incident of the calf quoted above is simply to show that it may not have been the only case of the kind, and it is just this sort of contact with cattle which may have introduced tuberculosis into the herd."52

Hadwen's Report Reviewed

The recommendations contained in Dr. Hadwen's report, while not unexpected, posed some problems for the parks administration at Ottawa. Although it was agreed that the buffalo, elk, deer and moose should be destroyed, the release of this information to the public would require careful handling. On completion of the slaughter of the park animals, retention of the park for future re-stocking with disease-free buffalo had to be decided on. A series of consultations followed, after which Dr. C.H.D. Clarke, the branch biologist, recommended that the park be retained as part of the national system. In a memorandum to the controller, National Parks Bureau, Clarke stated "This park alone can provide the spectacle of a buffalo herd in entirely natural surroundings with adequate range for summer and for winter."53 Dr. W.A. Allen of the Health of Animals Branch, Department of Agriculture, had estimated that a period of up to five years would be required to restore the unoccupied range to a state in which sources of infection would no longer be found.

Fortunately, an alternative use for the land comprising the park materialized. During the summer of 1939, the threat of another world war loomed, and the Department of National Defence had made inquiries concerning the possible use of the Cooking Lake Forest Reserve adjoining Elk Island Park, or a portion of Buffalo National Park, as a military training area. During negotiations leading to the transfer of natural resources in Alberta from Canada to the provincial government, agreement had been reached in 1926 that the Cooking Lake Reserve would remain under federal control for forestry purposes and as a reserve for military purposes. This arrangement, however, was not incorporated in the Alberta Natural Resources Act in 1930. The province, however, had developed community pastures in the reserve, and consequently was reluctant to part with any of it.

After war was declared in September, 1939, the Department of National Defence made formal application for the use of the entire area of Buffalo National Park. Apparently the comparatively unwooded character of the park admirably suited it for military manoeuvres. It also was large enough to permit artillery practice. After considerable deliberation, the director, Lands, Parks and Forests Branch, passed on to the Deputy Minister, the recommendations of the National Parks Bureau. These included the slaughter of the entire animal population of the park, exclusive of those involved in the cattalo experiment; completion of arrangements that would permit occupation of the most of the park for military training purposes; and the opening of negotiations with the province of Alberta for the acquisition of part of the Cooking Lake Reserve as an extension to Elk Island Park. As the director observed in his covering memorandum, "The outstanding feature of the whole matter from our standpoint is that the present is the first opportunity we have had to wind up affairs at Wainwright without admitting publicly that the herd is in bad condition." The recommendations were approved by the Minister after discussion with members of the Cabinet Council.54

Slaughters Completed

The slaughter of the park buffalo was carried on in November and December, 1939. The animals were shot by the park marksman, Sam Purchel, and hauled to the park abattoir where the carcasses were skinned and dressed under contract by a Canadian meat-packing company which had purchased the meat by tender. Later in the new year, the elk, deer and moose were disposed of, the operation having been conducted by park staff. Several hundred buffalo hides were reserved for the use of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the meat and hides of the other game animals were shipped to agents of the Indian Affairs Branch at various places in the prairie provinces. Altogether, 2,918 buffalo, 1,806 elk, 113 moose and 242 deer were killed.55 All carcasses were inspected by veterinarians of the federal Department of Agriculture. Later, A.W. Allen, V.S., reported that the incidence of tuberculosis in the buffalo killed in 1939 was lower than that recorded in previous years. This decline was attributed to the fact that the average age of the animals, including cows and calves, was less than that prevailing at previous slaughters. Approximately six percent of the moose and elk examined showed evidence of tuberculosis, while only two of the 242 deer killed were found to be infected.

Protests Received

The public learned of the proposed slaughter through a news item released by the Canadian Press early in November, 1939. It not only forecast the slaughter of the entire buffalo herd but also stated the park would be closed. The news resulted in a deluge of letters and telegrams to the department, protesting the action. A statement prepared by park officials explained that the decision to kill off the park animals was brought about by the inadequate grazing range, which required an extensive farming operation to raise winter feed for the buffalo. It also called attention to the existence of an adequate number of buffalo in Elk Island and other parks to guarantee perpetuation of the species. Correspondents also were informed that a national park could not be abolished until the necessary legislation had been approved by parliament.

Information concerning the prevalence of disease in the herd was released on a confidential basis only to the Prime Minister, and to Ministers of the Crown. In January, 1940, the Winnipeg Free Press carried a story written by its parliamentary press correspondent, Grant Dexter, which stated that the animals in Buffalo National Park were infected with tuberculosis, and for that reason were being killed. The story went on to inform readers that meat produced by the operation was carefully inspected, and any infected carcasses were condemned.

Eventually, public acknowledment of disease in the national buffalo herd was made in the House of Commons by the Minister of Mines and Resources on June 24, 1940. In replying to a question placed on the order paper by the Member for Yukon, Mr. Crerar stated that the destruction of the buffalo was necessary as they were badly infected by tuberculosis. By that time, all products of the slaughter had been disposed of, with a resulting revenue of $60,000.

Military Takeover

In February, 1940, the Assistant Deputy Minister informed the Deputy Minister of National Defence that the lands comprising Buffalo National Park, exclusive of 2,800 acres being used by the Department of Agriculture, could be made available for military training purposes. As the park had been established for a particular purpose, it would be necessary to sanction the proposed occupation by Order in Council. The document required was approved by the Privy Council under authority of the War Measures Act, and authorized the Department of National Defence to occupy most of Buffalo Park during the continuance of the war.56

Arrangements subsequently were made for the disposition of surplus improvements, equipment and staff. The superintendent of Elk Island Park was offered farm equipment which he required in his own operation, and the balance was distributed among other national parks. The Department of Agriculture, which had hoped to continue its cattalo experiment for a few years, was presented with a team of horses, harness, a haymower, wagon, and a plough. Considerable inside fencing was dismantled and stored for future use at Elk Island National Park.

A formal takeover of the park by the military authorities was accomplished on September 30, 1940. The park superintendent, A.G. Smith, was assigned to special duties, but later decided to retire. One park warden, Ray Sharp, and the farm superintendent, D.H. Folkins, were transferred to Elk Island National Park and two members of the office staff went to Jasper Park. Park Warden E.J. Cotton, who had been a staff member since April 1913, was retained as park caretaker by the Department of National Defence until August, 1944. He was then transferred to Elk Island National Park were he served as park warden until his retirement in November, 1947.

New Uses of Park

Military use of 150 square miles of Buffalo National Park began in 1943, after a Brigade Group Camp was constructed at a cost of $1,600,000. Units of two Canadian infantry divisions, together with some units engaged in coastal defence, took part in training exercises in 1943. During the year following, training was carried on at brigade level. Each brigade was given artillery support in manoeuvres, and were joined by a company of tanks from the United States army. Military authorities considered the area to be an excellent one for various types of training, including the use of tanks and medium-range artillery. In December, 1944, the premises were converted to a prisoner-of-war camp, with accommodation for 2,000 of all ranks, and essential services for a total of 6,000 persons.

Park Future Discussed

By May, 1941, national park administrators at Ottawa had formed the opinion that the use of Buffalo National Park after the war ended was not desirable, and that future buffalo conservation should be carried on at Elk Island National Park. Discussions had been held with representatives of the Alberta government with a view to obtaining a portion of the Cooking Lake Forest Reserve for extending the Elk Island Park buffalo range. Provincial authorities expressed the opinion that any concession of this nature should be matched by the surrender of some other federal land as compensation.

Further discussions about an exchange of land were deferred during the war years, but were revived in 1945 when the possibility of transferring to the province, the portion of Buffalo Park not in use for military purposes, was suggested. In April, 1946, the Minister of National Defence informed the Minister of Mines and Resources that, following the closing of the prisoner of war camp in Buffalo National Park on July 1, the continuing use of the park area as a permanent military training area was desired. Negotiations at the top government level then began in earnest. The Alberta authorities signified their willingness to surrender land in the Cooking Lake Reserve, if Canada would relinquish Buffalo National Park. Eventually agreement was reached whereby Canada would, by an amendment to the National Parks Act, declare that Buffalo National Park, Nemiskam National Park, and the eastern portion of Waterton Lakes National Park, were no longer required for national park purposes. In return, Alberta would convey to Canada a portion of the Cooking Lake Reserve for incorporation in Elk Island National Park. Lands withdrawn from national parks in western Canada automatically reverted to the province concerned under the provisions of the 1930 Transfer of Natural Resources Acts. Consequently, the proposed exchange was brought to the attention of the Department of National Defence, so that it might arrange with the province for the right to continue occupation of part of Buffalo Park.

Later, the Minister of National Defence negotiated with the Minister of Lands and Mines for Alberta, the terms of an agreement which were approved by the Governor General in Council on May 16, 1947. Execution of the agreement was contingent on the abolition of Buffalo and Nemiskam National parks, which would vest title to the park lands in the province of Alberta. The agreement also provided that Alberta would transfer to Canada, for the use of the Department of National Defence, the administration and control of 150 square miles of the former Buffalo National Park, including the cattalo area. The occupation of this area would initially be for a term of 10 years, and later for such period as might be required, subject to the payment of an annual rental. The agreement also protected the use of the cattalo area by the Department of Agriculture. Finally, the terms of the Agreement confirmed the obligation of the Province to transfer to Canada for national park use, title to an area of 24 square miles of the Cooking Lake Forest Reserve.

Parks Are Abolished

Legislation abolishing Buffalo and Nemiskam national parks, and withdrawing from Waterton Lakes National Park an area of 16 square miles, was passed in July, 1947.58 The amendment to the National Parks Act also added to Elk Island National Park, an area of 24 square miles, title to which was transferred from Alberta to Canada. The agreement covering future use of the former park lands by the Departments of National Defence and Agriculture, was completed on behalf of Alberta and Canada by representatives of the departments concerned in January, 1948.


So, with little fanfare, nearly 200 square miles of the vast range that once supported millions of buffalo passed from Canada's national park system. In spite of the troubles that beset the national herd in the later years of its existence, Buffalo Park contributed to the perpetuation of one of the largest and most spectacular mammals ever to inhabit North America. From the original 748 animals that formed the nucleus of the Buffalo Park herd, the total increase was estimated to be approximately 27,000. Choice specimens of the herd were donated to zoological gardens around the world. Buffalo robes and coats, relics of a previous century, again made an appearance on the Canadian market. Descendants of the Pablo herd remained in hundreds in Elk Island National Park, and in lesser numbers at Banff, Waterton Lakes, Prince Albert and Riding Mountain national parks. The Pablo buffalo purchase was indeed a timely and worthy effort in wildlife conservation .

For the purposes of record, the appended schedules of buffalo acquisitions and deliveries may be of interest.

Statistics Relating to the Purchase of the Pablo
Buffalo Herd and Other Buffalo Purchases

ShipmentDestination Date of DeliveryNo. Buffalo Parks Canada File
1Lamont1 June 1907199Bu. 209 (1)
2Lamont11 October 1907211Bu. 209 (1)
3Wainwright3 July 1909190Bu. 209 (2)
4Wainwright17 October 190928Bu. 209 (2)
5Wainwright12 June 191046Bu. 209 (2)
6Wainwright17 October 191028Bu. 209 (3)
7Wainwright30 May 19117Bu. 209 (3)
8Wainwright6 June 19127
Bu. 209 (3)


Shipments to Buffalo National Park

From Pablo Herd

SourceDate of DeliveryNo. of Buffalo

Elk Island Park16 June 1909325

Ravalli, Montana3 July 1909190

Ravalli, Montana17 October 190928

Ravalli, Montana12 June 191046

Ravalli, Montana17 October 191028

Ravalli, Montana30 May 19117

Ravalli, Montana6 June 19127


From Conrad Herd

Kalispell, Montana23 November 191015

Kalispell, Montana20 April 191115


From Banff Herd

Banff, Alberta31 October 190977

Banff, Alberta31 March 191410



Shipments from Wainwright. Alberta to Wood Buffalo Park

19251 634
19262 011
19271 940
19281 088

6 673

National Parks established for the protection of American Bison and Pronghorn Antelope. (click on image for a PDF version)

Pronghorn antelope at Buffalo National Park, Alberta.

The Antelope Parks

The pronghorn antelope once shared with the bison, the vast plains region of North America. The range of the antelope extended westerly from southern Manitoba across southern Saskatchewan to northeastern Alberta, and southerly to Mexico. The most graceful and fleetest of the four-footed animals on the continent, it existed in almost uncountable herds. Ernest Thompson Seton, an internationally known naturalist, author and authority on big game, estimated that the antelope population of North America in 1868-69 was about 45,000,000.59 Yet, like those of its companion species on the prairies — the bison — its numbers declined early in the 20th century to a figure that verged on extinction.

Drastic Losses

Undoubtedly, the advance of settlement across western Canada and the United States with attendant hunting and loss of range had contributed to its destruction. The antelope also was very susceptible to blizzards and severe weather. The winter of 1906-07, long remembered as a "hard" winter in southern Saskatchewan and Alberta, was a disastrous one for the antelope in Canada. Thousands are believed to have perished from exposure and starvation. During the same period, many ranchers in western Canada lost from one-third to one-half of their cattle. One observer, V.W. Heydlauff, of Wildhorse, Alberta, informed Dr. A.L. Rand of the National Museum of Canada that, during the summer of 1907, he recalled seeing only seven live antelope in an area in southern Alberta where herds of from 500 to 1,000 were common in previous years.60 Another observer, J. Linder, of Govenlock, Saskatchewan, recalled that of 600 antelope that frequented a ranch just south of the Cypress Hills, not one, he believed, had survived the severe winter.

The recovery of the antelope in point of numbers was very slow. G.R. Sexsmith of Regina, Saskatchewan, whose occupation required him to travel extensively in southern Saskatchewan and Alberta, recalled details of the antelope population encountered in 1913. Bands numbering from five to 30 were observed along the South Saskatchewan River. In the Great Sand Hills area east of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, and in the vicinity of Val Marie, the total number observed did not exceed 60. Sexsmith also recalled that until 1920, he had considered the species practically extinct. Elsewhere, small bands of antelope survived and provided the nucleus of breeding herds that eventually permitted survival of the species.

Physical Characteristics

The pronghorn antelope has several unique characteristics. It constitutes the sole member of a special family found nowhere outside of North America. For that reason alone its extinction would be a calamity. Its chief claim to scientific distinction lies in the fact that, like the cattle tribe, it has hollow horns but unlike them, it sheds the outer sheath each year as members of the deer family shed their antlers. Moreover, while the entire horn of the deer family is dropped, in this antelope only the outer sheath is shed. The inner core remains, and gives rise to a new horn which in this species is pronged. This phenomenon gave it the name "pronghorn", by which the species is correctly known, for it is not a true antelope.61

The pronghorn is not a large animal. It is tan and white with black areas on the head. An adult male has a length of about 52 inches, stands about 36 inches high, and is distinguished by its peculiar horn structure described above. Another peculiarity is a white patch of hair on the rump, which is erectile at will, and serves as an excellent signalling device to other members of the herd. Observers have commented on the value of this natural semaphore to the species, especially when frightened or when danger is sensed.

Antelope at Banff

Early efforts by the administrators of Canada's national park system to conserve antelope met with little success. In May, 1900, the Deputy Minister of the Interior, J.A. Smart, authorized the issue of a permit for the capture of several antelope for display at Banff.62 Altogether, 12 head, all fawns, were obtained and placed in the wild animal enclosure there in July, but all died during the following winter. In his annual report for 1905-06, Superintendent Douglas acknowledged the acquisition of a male antelope for the paddock, but this solitary specimen was killed by a mule deer in 1908.

In 1909, Douglas, now Commissioner of Parks, made another attempt to breed antelope at Banff. He entered into a contract with Charles Blazier of Brooks, Alberta, to capture and deliver 10 antelope at a cost of $40 each. Blazier, who had enjoyed considerable success in live-trapping antelope, delivered seven which were installed in the Banff paddock. They survived the winter of 1909-10, but during 1911, three died. By that time, Park Superintendent MacDonald had concluded that the climate and available forage at Banff were unsuitable for antelope, and the remaining specimens there were shipped to Buffalo National Park at Wainwright, where a much larger range promised some hope of survival.63

Limited Success at Wainwright

After the erection of the fence surrounding Buffalo National Park had been completed, it was found that in addition to several elk and deer, a few antelope also had been enclosed. Parks Commissioner Douglas decided to continue his efforts to propagate the species, and succeeded in having nine head delivered in 1910 by Charles Blazier from the vicinity of Brooks to Wainwright. Unfortunately, six of the antelope died that year and two more expired the year following. The loss was partially offset by the receipt of four antelope from Banff in 1911. That year, eight more were obtained from Blazier, and by March 31, 1912, the Park Superintendent was able to report the presence of 14 antelope in Buffalo National Park. Superintendent McTaggart, however, had little success with the imported animals, and on March 31, 1913, he was able to account for only four antelope in the park — all of them males. These animals gradually dwindled in number, until the sole survivor died in 1933.

First Antelope Reserves

The first move to set aside reserves where the antelope could enjoy protection from hunting and other disturbance was made in 1910. The Director of Forestry, R.H. Campbell, who also had supervision of the national parks and reserves at the time, received a letter dated May 11 from T.N. Willing, chief game guardian for Saskatchewan, calling attention to the decline in the antelope population in an area about 70 miles south of Saskatoon. He suggested the creation of reserves on Dominion lands situated east and west of the "elbow" of the South Saskatchewan River which were frequented by antelope. Campbell submitted the letter to his Deputy Minister, W.W. Cory, suggesting that temporary reserves be created until the lands could be examined as prospective forests reserves. No action was taken on the submission, and Campbell resubmitted his recommendation in March, 1912. Cory then approved the suggestion and a temporary reservation was placed on the vacant lands in Townships 23 and 24 in Ranges 2, 3, and 4, together with those in Townships 24 and 25 in ranges 5 and 6, all west of the Third Meridian. The reservation included a portion of the Qu'Appelle River Valley in what is now known as the Sandhills district southeast of Elbow, Saskatchewan, together with the land within the elbow of the South Saskatchewan River.64

Early Park Studies

The administration of national parks had been transferred to a new branch of the Department of the Interior in 1911, and by 1913, the new Commissioner, J.B. Harkin, was giving serious attention to the plight of Canada's diminishing pronghorn antelope. Early in 1914, he received departmental authority to have vacant Dominion lands in southern Saskatchewan and southeastern Alberta examined in the hope of having permanent antelope reservations made which might later be established as parks. The services of Ernest Thompson Seton, naturalist to the Government of Manitoba, were obtained to undertake the survey. He was to be accompanied by Maxwell Graham, Supervisor of Park Animals in the Dominion Parks Branch, on a tour of the antelope ranges.

Graham left Ottawa on May 8, 1914, picked up Seton at Winnipeg, and arrived with his distinguished associate at Medicine Hat, Alberta, on May 13. Here the investigators hired an automobile and visited areas frequented by antelope north of Medicine Hat, Alberta, and south of Moose Jaw and Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. The land examinations occupied about ten days, during which telegrams were sent to the Commissioner of Parks recommending the immediate reservation of certain lands to protect them from homestead entry or inclusion in grazing leases.

On their return to Ottawa, both of the investigators filed reports, which were carefully examined. Subsequently, three separate areas were reserved on their recommendation, in the records of the Land Patents Branch of the Department of the Interior, for the protection of the pronghorn antelope.65

Canyon Antelope Reserve

One of the areas especially recommended by Thompson Seton lay north and west of a bend of the South Saskatchewan River called the Rapid Narrows. This area, which included portions of three townships, totalled 54 square miles, and was designated the Canyon Antelope Reserve. The southern boundary of the reserve was about 28 miles north of Medicine Hat, Alberta and about 32 miles northeast of Suffield, Alberta. The reserve occupied a plateau located above the South Saskatchewan River having a general elevation of 2,200 feet above sea level. Along the river, the land fell precipitately into a gorge, while elsewhere, it was broken by ravines and gullies.

The investigators found the grass on the Canyon Reserve was better than that on other ranges examined, and several natural springs also were observed in the area. The largest water supply was found at the bottom of a coulee. Seton also identified on the area, various shrubs and plants known to be favoured by the antelope as food. It was estimated that, should the area be enclosed in future, about 35 miles of wire fence would be required.66

Reserves in Saskatchewan

Of the two reserves set aside in Saskatchewan, the larger was situated about six miles southeast of Maple Creek. It formed a rectangular block about four miles wide and three and a half miles deep, incorporating an area of nearly 20 square miles. The land reserved included 12 sections in Township 10, Range 26; four sections in Township 10, Range 25; and four sections in Township 9, Range 26, all west of the third meridian.

The other reserve was situated east of Old Wives Lake, about 15 miles southwest of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. It included sections 11, 12, 13, 14, 23 and 24 in Township 14, Range 28, and sections 7, 18 and 19 in Township 14, Range — all west of the second meridian. The manner in which these sections were selected resulted in a square block of land having an area of nine square miles.67

Early Reservations Cancelled

A temporary reservation that had been made of lands located east of Big Stick Lake, Saskatchewan, was cancelled. It had consisted of vacant lands in Townships 14, 15 and 16, Range 24 west of the third meridian, in the Maple Creek land district. Presumably, the reservations made in 1912 on the recommendation of R.H. Campbell of the Forestry Branch also were cancelled, as no further mention of them appears in the correspondence files of the National Parks Branch dealing with the pronghorn antelope.

Reservation near Foremost

An additional reserve for the protection of the antelope was confirmed during the next year, 1915, following the location of a herd of antelope that frequented an area in the vicinity of Foremost, Alberta. An examination of the latest area to be set aside for the protection of antelope followed the receipt of information in February, 1915, by the Secretary, Department of the Interior at Ottawa from the Royal North West Mounted Police detachment at Foremost, that about 200 antelope in the vicinity were in danger of death by starvation.68 The reserves already established north of Medicine Hat and south of Maple Creek were too far distant to accommodate this particular herd of antelope and the Commissioner of Dominion Parks, to whom the matter had been referred, decided that steps should be taken to feed the animals on the ground. Consequently, Maxwell Graham, who had accompanied Thompson Seton in 1914 during the examination of other antelope ranges, was instructed to proceed to Foremost and investigate the problem.

On arrival at Medicine Hat, Alberta, Graham, by prior arrangement, was met by Ben Lawton, Chief Game Guardian for Alberta, Chief Park Warden Howard Sibbald of Banff National Park, and by H.H. Fauquier, Chief Forest Ranger in the Cypress Hills Forest Reserve. After consultation with the Mounted Police, Lawton and Sibbald were assigned to investigate territory in the vicinity of Carlstadt and Suffield, Alberta, while Graham and Fauquier undertook to reconnoitre the Foremost area. Sibbald and Lawton found no antelope, but Graham and Fauquier located two bands of the animals on benches above the Chin and Fortymile coulees, about three miles due north of Nemiskam, Alberta.

During the interval between the receipt of the police report about the precarious condition of the antelope, and Graham's arrival on the scene, a chinook wind had melted much of the snow on the ridges and sides of the coulees, and the antelope had been able to obtain a limited supply of natural fodder. Graham and Fauquier then decided to feed the animals on the ground and a supply of hay was purchased in Foremost and scattered in areas frequented by the animals. Provided the antelope could be induced to accept feed at one place, it was planned to attempt to enclose them in a corral.

Part of the area on which the antelope were grazing comprised public land occupied under grazing leases issued by the Department of the Interior to Edgar McHugh and Murdo Mackenzie. Maxwell Graham wired the Commissioner of Parks at Ottawa requesting permission to purchase materials which would enable the construction of wing fences and a corral in which it was hoped to impound the antelope. Permission was granted and Graham completed a corral, wing fences and swing gates on the Mackenzie leasehold, but a chinook wind melted most of the snow remaining on the ground and the antelope dispersed.

Later, Graham learned that about 50 antelope frequented a summer range in the Chin Coulee on land included in the McHugh grazing lease. Graham concluded that the area might be completely fenced and after consultation with the Commissioner at Ottawa obtained permission to make the attempt. McHugh, who ran cattle on his leasehold, was an ardent advocate of preserving the antelope and volunteered to assist in the operation. The Minister of the Interior had sanctioned the proposal and Graham began the construction of the fence in May, 1915. Further observations of the antelope habitat induced Graham to expand the proposed enclosure, after agreement was reached with owners or lessees of the lands affected, whereby they would accept title or rights to land elsewhere in exchange for their present holdings. The fencing job was completed in November, 1915, with the exception of two gaps, in which wing trap gates were installed. These gates were designed to admit additional antelope to the fenced area.

On December 18, 1915, Dr. W.J. Roche, Minister of the Interior, approved the formal reservation of more than seven square miles as an antelope preserve, as well as an exchange of land with homesteaders who had acquired title to lands or rights to lands within the reserve. On January 13, 1916, the Commissioner of Dominion Parks was able to inform the Deputy Minister that a count of animals in the recently completed enclosure had revealed the presence of 42 antelope. It also was disclosed that the fencing operation, which incorporated part of McHugh's ranch, had been completed at a cost of approximately $2,500. Land exchanges which involved a total of 1,400 acres held by seven individuals were completed in 1916 under authority of the Governor General in Council.69

Departmental authorities, from the Minister down, seemed to have appreciated the successful outcome of the efforts of Maxwell Graham, assisted by Edgar McHugh and H.H. Fauquier. As Commissioner Harkin observed in a memorandum to the Deputy Minister, "The wisdom of Mr. Graham's proposal to enclose wild antelope in their natural habitat, which proposal was favourably recommended in my memorandum to you of March 31 last, appears to be fully vindicated. The fact that the Dominion today possesses a herd of antelope, living under natural conditions, and yet safely enclosed, and with every prospect of securing in the near future further antelope, is most gratifying, more particularly perhaps to this Branch, because the practical work successfully carried out on the ground culminated in the securing for the Dominion of these antelope." With these sentiments, Minister Roche and Deputy Minister Cory expressed their concurrence.70

Grazing Privileges Granted

Most of the land within the antelope reservations was unsuitable for agriculture, but satisfactory for the grazing of live stock. Two years after the Canyon Antelope Reserve was created, an application was received in the Department of the Interior for the privilege of grazing cattle there. The area was unfenced; it contained some privately-owned land; and the possibility of obtaining funds for its development was uncertain. Consequently, the Commissioner of Parks recommended to the Deputy Minister that grazing under permit be allowed in the reserve until such time as the Department was in a position financially to fence the area and develop it as a national antelope park. The privilege of obtaining permits was to be restricted to settlers living in the vicinity. In 1921, a resident of Cavendish, Alberta, complained to the department that a large number of horses was being illegally grazed on the reserve. This complaint led to the appointment of W.J. Little of Medicine Hat, Alberta, as honorary caretaker of the reserve. Little had volunteered to undertake supervision of the reserve without remuneration, and later he also was appointed as a game guardian under the authority of provincial legislation.71

Nemiskam Land Agreement

Little information is available concerning the antelope reserve situated south of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, as the departmental files relating to the area were destroyed after 1930. The reserve north of Nemiskam, Alberta, however, had been fenced, and it became the focal point for antelope conservation. Much of this reserve was located within portions of two deep depressions or gullies known as the Chin and Fortymile Coulees. One quarter-section within the reserve was privately-owned by Edgar McHugh, and other portions were under lease to him. Prior to the reservation of the land, Maxwell Graham had entered into an agreement with McHugh whereby the latter would be permitted to pasture live stock in the reserve during the winter, provided their number did not exceed 250 head. In return, McHugh agreed that some 5,000 acres of land which he held under grazing lease, as well as the 160-acre homestead for which he held title, might be enclosed within the fence surrounding the proposed antelope reserve. This arrangement had been predicated on the assumption that the Nemiskam reserve would be a temporary one, pending the transfer of antelope to one or more of the other reserves which had been selected by Thompson Seton and Graham in 1914.

Antelope Parks Established

By early 1922, the Commissioner of Parks, J.B. Harkin, had decided to establish formally as national parks, three of the areas reserved for the protection of antelope. On May 22, 1922, Harkin informed the Deputy Minister by memorandum that with one exception, land exchanges involved in the assembly of the Nemiskam and Maple Creek areas had been completed. In the case of the Canyon Reserve, to be known in future as Wawaskesy Park, there had been very few settlers involved, and no steps had been taken to arrange for an exchange of holdings. Consequently, Harkin submitted for the consideration of the Minister, a draft Memorandum to Council which, if approved, would establish three new parks under the provisions of the Dominion Forest Reserves and Parks Act.

The recommendation was accepted and on May 31, 1922, Order in Council P.C. 1134 authorized the proclamation of the following 'Dominion' parks:

1. Menissawok Park, comprising land totalling 17 square miles, located south of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan.

2. Nemiskam Park, comprising 8.5 square miles in the Chin and Fortymile Coulees, located about three miles north of Nemiskam, Alberta.

3. Wawaskesy Park, comprising 54 square miles previously known as the Canyon Reserve, situated north and west of the South Saskatchewan River, and north of Medicine Hat, Alberta.

A press release issued by the Department of the Interior explained the origin of the names of two of the parks. "Wawaskesy" was the Cree Indian for antelope. Conversely, the name "Menissawok" meant "common or national property", the nearest Indian expression for "national park."72 Apparently, another reservation which had been made in November, 1914, for the protection of antelope in the vicinity of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, was cancelled, for no further reference to it appears on the relevant files.

Menissawok Park Abolished

In the years following the establishment of the antelope parks, the species had increased under sanctuary conditions. By 1927, the number within the fenced park near Nemiskam was reported by the honorary caretaker to be about 400. Figures for Menissawok and Wawaskesy Parks for the earlier years of their existence are not available, but later estimates placed the number of antelope in Wawaskesy Park as high as 500. When the National Parks Act came into force on May 30, 1930, several small areas which had been designated Dominion Parks were abolished. Among these were Menissawok Park, situated south of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, which had functioned as an antelope reserve since 1914. A general increase in the numbers of this animal throughout southern Saskatchewan and Alberta supported the belief that the two remaining parks, Nemiskam and Wawaskesy, would provide adequate range for a species no longer in danger of extinction. The land comprising Menissawok Park reverted to provincial administration and control.

Changes at Wawaskesy Park

For 12 years after the establishment of Wawaskesy Park, its open pastures were shared by the antelope with the horses and cattle of several settlers in the vicinity. Of the 54 square miles that made up the park area, 720 acres were privately-owned, and about 7,680 acres or 12 square miles were held under long term grazing leases. The latter expired in 1933, and were not renewed. In 1932, an inspection of the park was made by A.G. Smith, Superintendent of Buffalo National Park, and the original caretaker, W.J. Little, was replaced the following year by a younger man, W.J. McLennan.

Meanwhile the antelope population of western Canada was on the rise, and eventually the abolition of Wawaskesy Park was given consideration by departmental officers. Nemiskam Park now contained a satisfactory number of antelope, and it was believed that one fenced park would be sufficient to ensure preservation of the species. During its 1935 session, the Legislative Assembly of Alberta passed a resolution calling on the federal government of Canada to take steps necessary to fence Wawaskesy Park, or alternatively to vest title to the park lands in the province. The resolution alleged that the grazing of cattle and horses within the park had driven the antelope from the range, and as a consequence, farmers living outside the park were sustaining damage to crops of hay and grain.73

The representations contained in the Assembly's resolution were not entirely justified, as the Commissioner of National Parks had arranged in 1934 for an investigation of range and grazing conditions in Wawaskesy Park by an officer of the Soldier Settlement Board at Calgary, Alberta. A report prepared by H. Allam, Chief Field Inspector, was received in June, 1935. It disclosed that although from 1,000 to 1,200 cattle and from 200 to 300 horses had been grazing within the park in 1933 and 1934, this number had been reduced to a total of 350 in 1935.

Five settlers, resident either in or near the park, had enjoyed grazing privileges, which, according to Inspector Allam, had been fairly distributed. Allam also stated that the park caretaker, McLennan, had experienced difficulty in collecting the grazing fees payable by one rancher, whom he described as "70 years of age, cranky, evasive and difficult to talk to." Inspector Allam recommended that grazing permits issued in future cover not more than 800 head of livestock, and of these, not more than 300 head should be permitted to remain in the park during the winter season.74

Allam included in his report, an interesting observation on the antelope population. Although he estimated that the park contained from 500 to 600 head during the period of his inspection, residents of the area advised him that very few antelope wintered in and around the park. Apparently, during the autumn of 1934, the animals had drifted to the south, and large bands wintered on the Saskatchewan River near Medicine Hat, and in the Tilley East area south of the river. In conclusion, Allam stated that he did not recommend fencing the park unless three-strand cattle fence was erected. This type would permit freer movement of the antelope and enable them to migrate, if desired, to a natural wintering ground south of the park.

Abolition of Park Proposed

In the light of the information contained in the report submitted by the Soldier Settlement Board, and the resolution passed at the latest session of the Provincial Legislative Assembly, Commissioner Harkin believed that Wawaskesy National Park had outlived its usefulness. Consequently, in June, 1935, he recommended to the Deputy Minister that the province be advised that the department was prepared to transfer the administration of the lands comprising the park to the province for continuation as a wildlife sanctuary or for other use as desired. Harkin also observed that formal transfer of title to the land was not possible except by an Act of Parliament.75 The memorandum was referred to the department's legal adviser who ruled that the Alberta Transfer of Resources Agreement would prevent the acceptance of Mr. Harkin's proposal unless title was transferred.76

In December, 1936, the Department of the Interior was absorbed by a new Department of Mines and Resources, and Commissioner Harkin retired. On December 21, 1937, the Minister, Hon. T.A. Crerar, made a formal offer to Hon. N.E. Tanner, Minister of Lands and Mines for Alberta, to abolish Wawaskesy Park and vest title to the lands in the province, on the understanding that other lands in the Cooking Lake Forest Reserve would be made available as an addition to Elk Island National Park. This offer was accepted by Mr. Tanner in the course of a meeting with Mr. Crerar at Ottawa on January 17, 1938. In June, 1938, Mr. Crerar introduced a bill in Parliament to amend the National Parks Act. It provided, among other items, for the abolition of Wawaskesy National Park. The amendments received royal assent on June 24, 1938, and title to lands in Wawaskesy National Park automatically reverted to Alberta, in accordance with provisions of the Alberta Natural Resources Act of 1930.77

Private Lands Acquired

Of the three national parks established in 1922 for the protection and conservation of antelope, that near Nemiskam, Alberta, would have the longest period of existence. Title to the existing freehold of 160 acres formerly owned by Edgar McHugh was eventually extinguished, and the grazing leases which included land within the park were terminated on expiry of their latest terms.

In October, 1920, Commissioner Harkin had advised Edgar McHugh that although the Nemiskam antelope reserve originally had been created as a temporary one, it was now proposed to have the area established as a permanent park. It also was explained that it would be necessary to obtain title to McHugh's homestead land consisting of 160 acres located within the reserve. Rather than compensate the owner, it was proposed to offer other land outside the reserve in exchange.

In reply to Harkin's letter, McHugh informed the Commissioner that he had sold his quarter section and improvements in 1918 to the Pick Two Stock Company and also had assigned his grazing leases to them. After McHugh was informed that the department would hold him responsible for carrying out the terms of the agreement he had made with Maxwell Graham on behalf of the department, McHugh interviewed the president of the stock company, W.E. Bullock. The latter indicated his willingness to exchange title for the homestead land within the reserve for another quarter section outside the reserve, but within the limits of one of the grazing leases. Authority was obtained from the Governor in Council for the exchange, but Bullock later refused to carry out his commitment to complete the transfer. The department then obtained authority from the Privy Council to expropriate the former McHugh property in the reserve, which, in 1922, had become Nemiskam National Park.70

An agent of the Minister of Justice attempted to register the expropriation in the provincial Land Titles Office, but was informed that title had reverted to the province of Alberta under tax forfeiture proceedings. At the request of the Commissioner of Parks, the Department of Justice successfully undertook to obtain title to the land from the province. Later Commissioner Harkin received from the province, without charge, a certificate of title to the property.79

Meanwhile, McHugh, who held an overdue mortgage from Pick Two Stock Company on the grazing leases and his former homestead, had regained rights in 1923 to the mortgaged property. Under the Public Lands Act of Alberta, persons whose lands had been sold for non-payment of taxes had the right to regain possession on payment of tax arrears. Commissioner Harkin offered by letter to obtain a grant of land for McHugh, if the latter would pay the tax arrears. Unfortunately, McHugh's letter of acceptance, which he claimed to have mailed, never was received in the National Parks Branch at Ottawa. Nearly six years later, McHugh endeavoured to revive the proposed exchange, but by that time, title to all vacant public lands had passed to the province, under the Transfer of Resources Agreement. It was then impossible to effect the proposed exchange.

McHugh had served as honorary caretaker of the reserve since its inception, and had undertaken patrol and maintenance work without remuneration. In 1919, he received a temporary appointment as caretaker at a small salary and in 1925 was appointed as a full time warden. By 1935, he had reached his maximum salary for the position, $1,740. Early that year, the Commissioner received, through the local member of parliament for Medicine Hat, a resolution passed by the Municipal District of Fortymile No. 64, Alberta, on December 15, 1934, alleging that only a small number of antelope were confined in the park, and that a greater number roaming at large were destroying crops of farmers in the vicinity. The resolution also charged that the salary paid to the park warden was excessive and recommended that the park be closed to save increasing expenditures.

Park Inspection

The department requested the director of the Soldier Settlement Board of Canada to have an inspection of the park carried out by one of its officers to ascertain if the allegations contained in the resolution had substance. The inspection was made by H. Allam, who observed in his report of June 14, 1935, that the park was being well administered by Warden McHugh. He also reported that the fences were in good repair, the water supply adequate, and the pasturage good. The opinion also was expressed that any damage sustained by farmers in the vicinity was caused by antelope outside the park.80

Allam's report disclosed that the antelope population in the Nemiskam region had increased considerably during the past five years. Warden McHugh informed him that the park had contained about 320 antelope during the autumn of 1934. A discussion between Allam and members of the municipal council revealed that the chief grievance was the salary being paid to McHugh. The latter, they claimed, was a well-to-do rancher who, in addition to receiving a salary, was permitted to graze cattle in the park during the winter season. Probably the animosity was engendered by the fact that in many areas of Canada, including southern Alberta, the existing economic depression had lowered the general level of incomes. Following a careful review of Allam's report, officers of the department, with the Deputy Minister's approval, decided to take no action on the resolution.

Soper's Wildlife Study

Nemiskam National Park had few physical attractions, other than those of interest to a rancher or a naturalist. J. Dewey Soper, chief federal migratory bird officer for the prairie provinces, conducted a study of wildlife in the park in June, 1940. His report described it as part of the semi-arid Great Plains region, characterized by short-grass vegetation and the absence of trees. Sagebrush and greasewood, however, were familiar features of the landscape, especially at the lower levels.

Soper described the upper plains as gently rolling in character, in which the well-spaced undulations seldom rose from a common level to more than 10 to 20 feet. The outstanding characteristic of the area, however, comprised the giant coulees that traversed the plains. The park contained portions of two of these great depressions, the Chin and Fortymile Coulees, which provided ideal rough country for deer and antelope. Chin Coulee formed the principal depression in the park, and was coursed by a small creek which, after leaving the park, flowed on to Seven Persons Coulee, where it was joined by the run off waters from Fortymile Coulee.

During his studies, Soper found varied vegetation typical of the region, which in addition to sagebrush and greasewood already mentioned, included a little cushion and prickly pear cactus. Also observed were snowberry, chokecherry, saskatoon, silverberry, wild rose and dogwood. The park also supported a number of mammals, including the plains coyote, great plains wolf, weasel, badger, kit fox, jack rabbit, ground squirrel and of course, pronghorn antelope and mule deer. Bird life was plentiful, and altogether 48 species were noted.81

Park Improvements

In September, 1922, the Commissioner of Parks made available an appropriation of $1,000 with which McHugh had constructed a small warden house, barn, and surrounding fence in the southeast corner of the park. In June, 1924, additional funds were provided to improve the park water supply. McHugh built a small earth dam across a creek in Chin Coulee about a mile northwest of the warden station. This created a pond surrounded by a marsh, which in periods of good precipitation, had an area of about 100 acres. In October, 1924, an artesian well was built near the warden station, which produced a flow of 25 gallons per hour. The overflow was directed by means of a steel pipe and wood trough to the creek which crossed the southeast section of the park. A second artesian well, which produced a flow of 30 barrels an hour, was drilled in the southwestern corner of the park in January, 1938. Its overflow drained into the creek on which a dam and reservoir had been constructed.

McHugh remained the park warden until February, 1938, when he died. A.F. Honner of Nemiskam succeeded him as acting warden for nearly a year, after which Edwin Matthews was appointed warden in 1940. During 1939, the warden's cottage, barn and a fuel shed were relocated to a more suitable site near the artesian well in the southeast corner of the park.

Increase in Antelope

The increase in the number of antelope in Nemiskam Park was slow but steady. Annual reports of the Department contain population figures which reflected the warden's count or estimate. By March 31, 1917, the original herd of 42 antelope had increased to 70. On April 1, 1920, the number was estimated to be 100. Five years later, the number of antelope in the park was believed to be 235, and in 1926 the figure given in the annual report was in excess of 300. The high point in the park's antelope population was reached during the latter part of 1927, when Warden McHugh estimated the number to be 405. However, he reported that on December 27 of that year, the antelope drifted in such numbers against the park fence during a storm that their weight broke the wire of the eight-foot enclosure. All but 19 animals drifted away during the storm, and later only 152 were recaptured.02 From 1931 to 1938, the antelope population of the park as reported, averaged slightly more than 300, but from 1937 onwards, the number declined. For the two years prior to June, 1944, when the antelope were released from confinement, it contained about 110 head.

Park Existence Criticized

After 1940, pressure from farmers and ranchers to have the park abolished became evident. Ranchers of the region evidently wished to extend available pastures for stock by having the park revert to public land available for grazing. Some members attending the annual meeting of the Alberta Fish and Game Association held in 1942 at Calgary, voiced the opinion that as the antelope population had increased greatly, the existence of the small park was no longer necessary, since it contained less than 150 of the species. The matter of the park's continued existence was referred to the Advisory Board on Wild Life Protection at its January, 1943, meeting in Ottawa. The board adopted a resolution recommending that the park and protection of the antelope be maintained until equal protection was assured in some more suitable area.83

In April 1944, a group of 30 farmers in the vicinity of Nemiskam Park made representations to the Minister of Mines and Resources that the range in the park was urgently required for cattle grazing and, if not made available, valuable breeding stock would be sacrificed. The Minister of Lands and Mines for Alberta was consulted, and in reply he advised that he had no objection to the granting of grazing privileges in the park. In May, 1944, the department decided, as a temporary measure, to release the antelope and permit grazing in the park.

The park warden was advised of the decision and requested to consult the secretary-treasurer of the muncipality of Fortymile in reaching a decision concerning the number of cattle that might be grazed in the park without seriously endangering the range. Park Warden Matthews protested the decision by writing to his Member of Parliament, stating that farmers who wanted the park opened had the mistaken idea that they could graze all the cattle desired. The department, however, upheld its decision, and the park warden position, now no longer required, was dispensed with at the end of June, 1944.

Matthews, however, later acted as agent for those grazing cattle, and, under temporary appointment, issued permits for the national parks administration. A total of 36 permits for 210 head of cattle were issued in 1944; 24 permits for 195 head in 1945; 20 permits in 1946 for 211 head; and 17 permits in 1947 for 222 cattle.84

Rand's Antelope Census

In June, 1945, the director, Lands Parks and Forests Branch, requested the assistance of the director, Mines and Geology Branch of the department, in having a study made of the antelope population in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Subsequently, the services of Dr. A.L. Rand, biologist of the National Museum of Canada, were made available. Dr. Rand already had planned to carry on mammalian studies in Waterton Lakes National Park and in the Cypress Hills area to the east, and it was hoped that the supplementary study would assist in determining whether the continuation of Nemiskam was necessary for the survival of the species.

Dr. Rand devoted nearly a month, between September 18 and October 15, 1945, to a study of the antelope population in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. The government of Alberta co-operated by placing an automobile and one of its game officials, W.E. Wales, at Dr. Rand's disposal for two periods in October. Rand inspected all the best known ranges for antelope, and in a report submitted in 1946, estimated the antelope population in the southern part of the two provinces to be 29,406.

The areas containing the greatest concentration of antelope were found to be south of the Milk River where the number was estimated to be 4,500; the Manyberries Wildhorse area which supported approximately 5,000; the Suffield-Brooks-Bassano area which Rand estimated to contain 8,000 antelope; and the Cypress-Hills-Val Marie area which Rand believed had an antelope population of nearly 5,000.85

In April, 1946, the Minister and the Deputy Minister of Lands and Mines for Alberta visited Ottawa to confer with the director of the Lands, Parks and Forests Branch about national park matters. During the discussions, the Alberta officials indicated that they favoured the relinquishment by Canada of the lands occupied by Nemiskam National Park. Details of subsequent discussions relating to the abolition of parks have been reviewed in a previous section of this volume, dealing with Buffalo National Park.

Nemiskam Park Abolished

By early 1947, it was apparent to officers of the Department of Mines and Resources that the retention of Nemiskam National Park as an antelope sanctuary no longer was desirable. Dr. Rand's report of his study had been published as a bulletin of the National Museum of Canada, and had disclosed that only 30 antelope had been observed within the park in 1945. Dr. Rand also had offered the opinion that the park had outlived its usefulness, for it now lay on the western edge rather in the centre of what was considered to be antelope range. The mammalogist of the National Parks Branch, Dr. A.W.F. Banfield, concurred in this opinion, stating that he "could find nothing in the report that could be quoted against the release of Nemiskam Park."86

The efforts of the National Parks Service in conserving and restoring the antelope population of western Canada passed into history on July 17, when assent was given to the National Parks Amendment Act of 1947, which abolished Nemiskam and Buffalo National Parks. During the period between 1914-15 when the first antelope reserves were created, and 1945, the numbers of this once almost extinct species had increased from a few hundred to approximately 30,000. An area of some 4,000 square miles lying immediately west of what once constituted Wawaskesy National Park now provided a range for an estimated 8,000 antelope. The Maple Creek — Walsh — Cypress Hills area, which formerly had included Menissawok National Park, contained at least 1,000 of the species. In addition, the Seven Persons-Nemiskam-Lucky Strike area, covering about 1,800 square miles, also supported about 1,000 antelope. It seems reasonable to believe that the early park reserves which were situated within these areas and later were established as national parks, had a definite influence in restoring the pronghorn antelope population of western Canada to desirable numbers.


1 Statutes of Canada, 47 Victoria, Chap. 25, April 19, 1884

2 Annual Report, Department of the Interior, 1885-86. Part II, p. 86

3 Order in Council P.C. 1350, 27th November, 1889

4 Annual Report, Department of the Interior, 1902-03. Part VII, p. 6

5 Winnipeg Evening Tribune, June 24, 1925. Report of Interview with C.V. Alloway on buffalo capture

6 Annual Report, Department of the Interior, 1908-09. Part V, p. 7

7 Annual Report, Department of Mines and Resources, 1938. p. 87

8 Annual Report, Commissioner of National Parks, March 31, 1915. p. 33

9 Cuerrier, Jean-Paul. The Splake — This is a Great Fighter. Forest and Outdoors. May, 1954

10 Annual Report, Commissioner of National Parks, March 31, 1928, p. 12

11 Ibid. March 31, 1921, p. 14

12 Ibid. March 31, 1928, p. 13

13 Ibid. p. 13

14 Rawson, D.S. The Eastern Brook in the Maligne River System of Jasper National Park, Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, Washington, D.C. 1940.

15 National Parks Branch File No. J. 296-1-36, Vol. 2, Letter, J.A. Rodd to James Smart, January 8, 1942

16 Cuerrier, J.P. Review of Fish Hatcheries in the Mountain National Parks, August 11, 1954

17 National Parks Branch File U. 296-1. Memorandum February 26, 1960, J.R.B. Coleman to Deputy Minister R.G. Robertson. Public Archives of Canada (R.G. 84, Vol. 410)

18 Annual Report of the Superintendent, Jasper National Park, April-December, 1962. (Parks Canada File J.112, Vol. 6)

19 Waterton Lakes Park File W. 296-12. Memorandum Nov. 25, 1955, A. Colbeck to Park Superintendent

20 Ibid. Letter Dec. 7, 1955, K.E. Wolf, to Superintendent, Waterton Lakes National Park.

21 Letter Oct. 13, 1964, K.E. Wolf to J.P. Cuerrier, Canadian Wildlife Service, National Parks Branch

22 Parks Canada File C-9875-8/J1, Vol. 1. A Study of the Maligne River Trout Hatchery, Jasper, Alberta, Kramer, Chin and Mayo, Seattle, Wash. March, 1970

23 Ibid. Yamamoto, T., Maligne River Fish Hatchery Disease of Fish. National and Historic Parks Branch, Dept. of Indian and Northern Affairs, Ottawa, November, 1972

24 Ibid. A Bacteriological and Virological Examination of the Maligne River Trout Hatchery, and some recommendations for the operation and organization of the Hatchery, Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, B.C. Sept. 1972

25 Parks Canada File C 9875/Cl (Vol. 1)

26 Ibid. Letter, May 27, 1975, Hon. Judd Buchanan to Joe Clark, M.P.

27 Hornaday, W.T. The Extermination of the American Bison. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 1889. p. 390

28 Ibid, p. 499

29 Ibid, p. 504

30 Garretson, M.S. The American Bison. Zoological Society of New York, N.Y. 1938

31 Luxton, Norman. The Last of the Buffalo. Tom Jones, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1908

32 Parks Canada File Bu. 209, Vol. 1 (Public Archives of Canada)

33 Ibid.

34 Ibid.

35 Parks Canada File Bu. 2, Vol. 2

36 Edmonton Journal, January 29, 1929

37 Parks Canada File Bu. 209, Vol. 1 (Public Archives of Canada)

38 Ibid.

39 Parks Canada File Bu. 2, Vol. 1

40 Luxton, Norman

41 Annual Report, Department of the Interior, 1907-08, p. xliv

42 Order in Council P.C. 1865, August 31, 1907

43 Parks Canada File Bu. 209, Vol. 2. May 18, 1909

44 Order in Council P.C. 463, March 7, 1908

45 Order in Council P.C. 646, March 27, 1913

46 Hadwen, Seymour, Tuberculosis in the Buffalo, 1941. Parks Canada File Bu. 299-2 (Public Archives of Canada)

47 Hints on Cooking Buffalo Meat and Pemmican, Department of the Interior, 1923

48 Parks Canada File Bu. 117-1

49 Parks Canada File Bu. 232-1, Vol. 1 Public Archives of Canada

50 Ibid. Memorandum J.B. Harkin to W.W. Cory, June 1, 1925

51 Parks Canada File Bu. 300, Vol. 1 (Public Archives of Canada)

52 Ibid.

53 Ibid. Memorandum C.H.D. Clarke to F.H.H. Williamson, September 15, 1939

54 Memorandum R.A. Gibson to F.H.H. Williamson, October 18, 1939. Parks Canada File Bu. 2, Vol 2.

55 Annual Report, Department of Mines and Resources, 1939-40, p. 103

56 Order in Council P.C. 1036, March 19, 1940

57 Order in Council P.C. 1818, March 16, 1947

58 National Parks Amendment Act, 1947, 11 George VI, Chap. 66

59 Seton, Ernest Thompson, Lives of Game Animals, Vol. 3. p. 426

60 Rand, A.L, The 1945 Status of the Pronghorn Antelope in Canada. King's Printer, Ottawa, 1947

61 Hewitt, C. Gordon, The Conservation of the Wild Life of Canada. C. Scribner's Sons, New York, 1921

62 Parks Canada File U. 211, Vol. 1. (Public Archives of Canada)

63 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Dominion Parks, year ending March 31, 1911, p. 34

64 Parks Canada File 578,206, Memorandum March 20, 1911, R.H. Campbell to Deputy Minister (W.W. Cory)

65 Parks Canada File Wa. 2, Vol. 1. Memorandum November 19, 1914, F.H.H. Williamson to N.O. Cote, Controller and Registrar of Dominion Lands Patents, Department of the Interior

66 Ibid. Report of Maxwell Graham, June 10, 1914

67 Ibid. Memorandum, November 19, 1914, F.H.H. Williamson to N.O. Cote

68 Parks Canada File N. 2, Vol. 1. Letter, February 13, 1915, L. Fortesque, Controller, R.N.W.M.P., to Secretary of the Interior

69 Orders in Council P.C. 676 and 677, March 28, 1916

70 Parks Canada File N. 2, Vol. 1. Memorandum J.B. Harkin to W.W. Cory, December 13, 1915

71 Parks Canada File Wa. 2, Vol. 1. Letter April 25, 1921, Ben Lawton, Chief Game Guardian, Edmonton, to J.B. Harkin

72 Parks Canada File N. 2, Vol. 3, July 15, 1922

73 Parks Canada File Wa. 2, Vol. 2. Memorandum June 6, 1935, J.B. Harkin to R.A. Gibson

74 Ibid. Report on Inspection of Wawaskesy Park by H. Allam, June 4, 1935

75 Parks Canada File Wa. 2, Vol. 2. Memorandum June 26, 1935, J.B. Harkin to R.A. Gibson

76 Ibid. Memorandum July 17, 1935, K.R. Daly to R.A. Gibson

77 National Parks Amendment Act, June 24, 1938, 11 George VI, Chapter 35

78 Order in Council P.C. 1973, September 21, 1922

79 Duplicate Certificate of Title 29B70, March 6, 1923, Alberta Land Titles Office, Calgary

80 Report of H. Allam, Chief Field Inspector, Soldier Settlement Board of Canada, Calgary, Parks Canada File N. 2, Vol. 4

81 Soper, J. Dewey, Preliminary Faunal Report on Nemiskam National Park, Alberta, Parks Canada File N. 300, March 3, 1942

82 Annual Report, Commissioner of National Parks, year ending March 31, 1928, p. 11

83 Advisory Board on Wildlife Protection. Minutes of meeting held January 18, 1943. Parks Canada File N. 2, Vol. 4

84 Parks Canada File N. 35, Vol. I (Public Archives of Canada)

85 National Museum of Canada Bulletin No. 106. The 1945 Status of the Pronghorn Antelope. King's Printer, Ottawa, 1947

86 Parks Canada File N. 211. Memorandum A.W.F. Banfield to J. Smart, February 7, 1947

previous Next