A ranger camp site set up at Peppers Creek

Photos depict life of rangers in 1940s

Working as a ranger in the 1940s in Clearwater County meant living year-round in the forest, and travelling by horseback to ranger cabins along the trails.

Working as a ranger in the 1940s in Clearwater County meant living year-round in the forest, and travelling by horseback to ranger cabins along the trails.

A handful of photos depicting the solitary lifestyle of those rangers, with the majestic and rugged West Country in the background, were recently donated to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.

“It was almost an Indiana Jones-type adventure to live out there,” said Barry Shellian, information officer with Rocky Mountain House Wildfire Management Area, on Monday.

“The ranger would have had their family living with them at these ranger stations. They did the one-day patrol from cabin to cabin.”

A photo album, found at a garage sale, was passed along to an Olds resident who allowed Alberta Environment to scan and archive the images for use in future books, newsletters, presentations and newspapers.

Shellian said hopefully the people in the photos can eventually be identified because there’s one of a woman on horseback on the Idlewilde Trail wearing a ranger uniform.

“According to our records in that time frame there were no uniformed female forest officers.”

The photos will also be used to look at how the landscape has changed.

One photo captioned “Helen at the lookout” shows a woman sitting in the door frame of the old Baseline lookout tower that has since been destroyed by fire.

“That old building was there until about two years ago, until a member of the public got happy with a match. You can still walk over there from our current lookout and see the foundation.”

He said only 12 historic cabins remain in the area.

Many more used to dot the wilderness.

Now they are used as shelter for back-country patrols or base camps for prescribed burns.

He said many rangers were retired soldiers with survival experience.

Policies and procedures were in place to help keep them safe and they maintained contact with the outside world with a telegraph line.

Shellian said he knows exactly where he is when he’s out in the West Country — within metres — with all the reference points and maps that now exist.

Older maps lack that kind of detail so there was a lot of unknowns beyond the trails and over the hills for rangers in days gone by.

Rangers would get supplies from local communities. But they also would fish and hunt to supplement their food supply.

“It truly, truly was a lifestyle for them and they really loved trees and life and they made a difference.”

Shellian said the duties of forest rangers actually remain pretty much the same as they did back then — to prevent and manage wildfires; educate, engage and assist the public; and to be a presence on the land.

But now rangers have helicopters for rescues and to fight fires.

And if they need to drive from Rocky Mountain House to the Baseline tower, it only takes an hour rather than a three-day journey, he said.


Just Posted

Red Deer property taxes to go up 2.15 per cent in 2019

City council approves $369.8 million budget

Sylvan Lake council approves concept plan for new park

Pogadl Park will eventally be home to numerous ball diamonds and sports fields

One person dead after collision on Highway 2A

Pickup truck and grain truck collided on Highway 2A south of Carstairs

Updated: Trial stalls for man accused in fatal Canada Day 2016 crash

Defence lawyer argued relevant information received only hours before trial to begin

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Shooter pleads guilty to manslaughter in Stettler

A Stettler man charged with second-degree murder has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.… Continue reading

Kentucky canoe outfit borrows photo of Trudeau family to market business

They are in a red canoe, all clad in life jackets, and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and Ella-Grace are waving

Police chief confirms all three Ottawa bus victims were on board when it crashed

OTTAWA — All three people killed in last week’s deadly bus accident… Continue reading

Theresa May wins no-confidence vote after Brexit deal rejection

UK PM can keep her job, after House of Commons voted 325-306

Alberta doctor accused of sexual assault asked to voluntarily give up practice

College says Dr. Barry Wollach should discontinue his practice, given the seriousness of the allegation against him

Speedy acceptance of Saudi shows refugee system’s flaws

Who would not wish Rahaf Mohammed well? The 18-year-old Saudi wants to… Continue reading

Most Read