Fonds 133 Folk History Project (Kakwa/Two Lakes Oral Histories) collection

Folk History Project (Kakwa/Two Lakes Oral Histories) collection. — 2002. — 21 sound recordings.

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Agency History

The Folk History Project for the Kakwa/Two Lakes area in north-western Alberta was initiated by Alberta Community Development, Parks and Protected Areas Division to collect information about historical land use in the area and about the people who lived and traveled there. This area contains two protected areas, the Kakwa Wildland Park and the Two Lakes Provincial Recreation Area, but the area of interest for this project extends from Nose Creek to the Kakwa Wildland Park. In 2001, Jim Nelson, a Grande Prairie author and playwright, was contracted to interview long-time local residents who had lived or had consistent contact and experience in the area, or were descendants of some of the earliest residents.

The interviews were completed over the winter of 2001-2002. Jim’s intention throughout the interview process was to cover the history from as many aspects as possible: descriptions of the land, its flora and fauna; origins of aboriginal families that occupy the area as well as their grave sites; local folklore which includes tales of Big Foot, legendary characters and events such as plane crashes; guiding, trapping and “country” knowledge regarding survival in the wilderness and the use of plants for food and medicine; early settlers in the area and the development of communities such as Bridge Creek and South Wapiti; the role of the forestry department, early foresters, the growth of industries and their impact on the environment; fire fighting; development of trails, roads and ferries; and the recreational use of the area.

Due to the small population in the area, the same names come up in different interviews. Some of the more common ones, besides those families being interviewed, are Lee Poole, Adam Kenney, Art Sherman, Ray Smuland, Ole Overland, Ed Schadeck, and families such as the Joachims, Campbells, Wilsons and Wanyandies.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of 21 audio cassettes (recorded on a Sony TcM 5000 EV) containing interviews with twenty longtime residents and travelers in the Kakwa and Two Lakes area: Phil Comeau, Bob Neufeld, Norm Drysdale, Dorothy Comeau, Fred Comeau, Norman Eng, Dave Robertson, June Neufeld, Luther Kozowan, Rick Erlendson, Ben Foster, Pete McCullough, Mable Tennant, Suzy Moberly, Lois Lofstrom, Michael Ryan, Don Nelson, Dave Schenk, Norm Trepanier, and Doug Tennant. The interviewer is Jim Nelson.

Phil Comeau, 2001
sound recording
Phil Comeau was a forest ranger with the Dominion Forest Service in the South Wapiti Region. The first ranger there was Dr. O’Brien, who manned the station for 1 year. He was followed by Phil’s dad, Pete, who held the position for over 30 years (starting in 1933), and then by Phil. This tape covers the history of Dominion Forest Service in the South Wapiti, and aspects of being a forest ranger (duties, pay, forest fires), as well as Phil’s personal history as a ranger. It includes information on the wildlife and incidence of rabies; aboriginal stories; original trails and roads in the SW; stopping places run by Comeaus and Ryans; early Boundary crews; early inhabitants such as the first ranger, Art Sherman (after whom Sherman Meadows is named), Captain Bradley (dairy rancher); industries such as commercial logging, the Imperial Mill; log cabins including the Shuttler flats cabin which is now at the Grande Prairie Museum.
Location: 133.01
Listen to a digitized copy of this item here and here.
Bob Neufeld, 2001
sound recording
Bob Neufeld’s earliest recollections of the Kakwa/Two Lakes area are from his first trip in 1944. He considers this wild area to be “…the best medicine that anyone could have.” His involvement includes 12 years as forest “guardian” for Two Lakes, being a member of the “Wild Kakwa” Conservation Group, whose history he shares with us. This tape covers his first impressions Kakwa Falls and Two Lakes; descriptions of the route to the area; personal experiences with wildlife such as wolves, bears, moose and horn ridge sheep; present cay comparisons with what was in the past; and what he has learned form his association with the area.
Location: 133.02
Listen to a digitized copy of this item here.
Norm Drysdale, 2001
sound recording
Norm Drysdale’s first tirp to Two Lakes and Kakwa Falls was in the 1960s, although he was familiar with the area from working with Grande Prairie Lumber during the 1940s and 50s. On this tape he talks about lumbering and coal exploration in the area; finding directions (or not) on the mountain trails, fish & big game species; alpine turnips, parsnips and onions and medicinal tea; incidents with grizzlies and horses; snow in August; and who you see in the high country today. Specific areas he mentions are Hidden Valley, Paradise Valley, how Dead Horse Meadows got its name, Kakwa Mountain, Pack Saddle Mountain, the Old Cabin on Sheep Creek, the Cabin on Jarvis Lakes, Mount Ida, the Brooks Plane crash on Kakwa Lake, and the time when the Government moved the aboriginals off the Kakwa to Nose Creek.
Location: 133.03
Dorothy Comeau, 2001
sound recording
Dorothy Comeau moved out to the South Wapiti Forest Ranger Station with her husband Pete in 1939. He had been the ranger there since 1933. The family lived year round at the station, and Dorothy considered it “such a natural way of living.” This tape covers the work demands on a ranger’s time; her typical work day; getting food (Last Chance grocery store, canning moose meat); the amount of firewood needed for a year; horses and dogs, bears and moose; crossing the Wapiti in all seasons; the social aspects of ranger life, which included neighbourhood dances and religious instruction as well as nursing care from the Van Ladies, two Anglican Missionaries. At the time of the interview, Mrs. Comeau was 94 years of age.
Location: 133.04
Listen to a digitized copy of this item here.

Read the transcript here.

Fred Comeau, 2001
sound recording
Fred Comeau, son of Dorothy & Pete Comeau, was a cat skinner, road builder and seismograph operator south of the Wapiti. The first seismic line was cut in 1949, and Fred remembers “walking” the cat into Stetson Creek and the Kakwa in 1962. He also speaks about the airstrip on Sherman Meadows, original forestry roads and the first roads to the Cutbank Coal Mine, Nose Mountain, Sherman Meadows; Fred also operated a trapline on Nose and Bald Mountains. Suring the war years, he sold squirrel pelts at $2.15 a piece for aviators helmets. His wildlife experience includes sharing the beaver pond with a grizzly bear and guiding moose hunters.
Location: 133.05
Phil Comeau, 2001
sound recording
Phil Comeau’s second tape continues the history of the Forestry in the Kakwa/Two Lakes area: the string of Forestry cabins his father built in 1948, the Forestry Cabin at Rat Lake, where a trapper was lost for 4 days but carried fire with him. It also covers his experience trapping and game hunting: the original Trappers Cabins on Jokers Flats east of Cutbank Crossing; the original campsite of the Campbells, an aboriginal family settlement dating back to 1900; the original Hudson’s Bay cache on the Cutbank; trapping squirrels on Carl Berg’s line south of Wembley in 1945; the first big game outfitters in the 30s and 40s; the best goat and sheep country; and guiding with Carl Brooks, who died in a plane crash on Kakwa Lake, along with some Outdoor Life Magazine personnel. He speaks about dinosaur tracks on the Naraway River, and dinosaur bones at the mouth of Red Rock Creek on the Kakwa River; Ray Smuland prospecting for gold on Red Rock Creek, Gold Creek and Dan’s Creek; Ole Overland who died at Musreau Lake in the 1950s, and Sam Hammerwick who died on the Kakwa River near Prairie Creek in the early 30s.
Location: 133.06
Norman Eng, 2001
sound recording
Norman Eng’s family rafted across the Wapiti in 1930; his mother was the first white woman to stay “a whole year south of the Wapiti.” The aboriginals there were from the Jasper Park area. The tape covers the philosophy of aboriginals on the ownership of land, on fighting forest fires, on “borrowing” from the homesteaders. Norman enjoyed the life, farming with horses, the hunting and fishing, in spite of the bugs. He worked in hunting camps from 1951 to 1952 and in fighting forest fires. Specifically, Norman recalls local his encounters with the local people including several indigenous families. He speaks of an underground stream which flows out of Two Lakes and surfaces a quarter mile east of the first Lake; a geological fault line back from Kakwa Falls 40 miles; and the destruction of the area..
Location: 133.07
Dave Robertson, 2001
sound recording
Dave Robertson is a Fish & Wildlife Officer. His first contact with the area was in 1967, after working at the old Nielson Sawmill on the Kakwa River. The tape covers his duties and helicopter trips over the area; his first impressions of Two Lakes, Kakwa Falls and the Mountains; comparisons of Kakwa with more southern eastern slopes; coal exploration on the South Torrens; and the re-location of the Old Forestry Cabins. He makes reference to the aboriginals still on the Porcupine/Kakwa rivers; Henry and Pete McCullough, Norman Badger, Lee Poole and the Land Use Authority, Billy Sinclair’s guiding camp. He also talks about horse and hiking trails in the area, the numbers of cariboo, problems with bears, and changes over the years caused by cutblocks and snowmobile camps.
Location: 133.08
June Neufeld, 2001
sound recording
June Neufeld traveled and stayed in the Kakwa/Two Lakes area with her husband Bob in his work as guardian in the area. This tape covers her observations of the area: the remains of old cabins and the roads; the types of flowers, berries and mushrooms; the bird life of the Lakes which includes eagles, osprey, loons and humming birds; the wildlife such as mink, otters, beavers, squirrels, bears. She makes reference to Ed Schadick (the first white trapper with a cabin at Two Lakes), Lee Poole, Art and Marianne Lowen, and the “neighbours:” Doug & Mable Tennant and Granny Moberly. She also speaks of Flower Creek Cabin, hiking Coal Ridge, and the floral landmark planted by Gunderson of Gunderson Creek. She feels the land is not the same as it once was—there are fewer campers and more seismic and industrial activity.
Location: 133.09
Luther Kozowan, 2001
sound recording
Luther Kozowan worked in the Kakwa/Two Lakes area as an employee of Proctor and Gamble Woodlands in the 1970s. This tape covers his observations and philosophies about the development of the wilderness and the things he has seen in them. This includes a sighting of Sasquatch (or Wee-the-go) near Red Rock Creek shared by 5 members of his woodland crew in the early 70s. Luther has a special interest in people lost in the area, in the muskegs and difficult terrain. This includes incidents of airplanes and their remains lost in the area: a Hercules on the Smoky, a Twin tail closer to Valleyview, a plane in the belly of Kakwa Lake, and a Barcly Crow at Kakwa Lake. There are othe planes lost in the area which have never been found: the Dale Trottier plane en route from Fox Creek to Prince George, and a Skywagon in the Red Rock Creek area. He also speaks of the trainspotters relaying planes though this country in the WW II years. Other themes in the tape include nature looking after herself, and the “common knowledge” among natives and early whites.
Location: 133.10
Rick Erlendson, 2001
sound recording
Rick Erlendson is involved with the Peace Country Pioneer Camps which have organized horse camps and trail rides into the Kakwa/Two Lakes area since 1979. This tape covers the history of the camps and its base camp just west of Sherman Meadows; descriptions of the sights such as the “bib bowls” on Sulphur Ridge, the Torrens Chutes, Dinosaur Ridge opposite Selkirk, Coal Ridge, Kakwa Falls, the old farmsite not far from Sherman Meadows, ice climbing the falls; and Rick’s perception of how logging, industry and the helicopter traffic are affecting the area. He refers to Lee Poole of “Wild Kakwa Adventures”, Bob Neufeld’s mapping of the hiking trails, Preston and Sandra Manning being on staff one summer, senior forester with the Alberta Forest Service Chuck Rattliff, and other camp crew members. Rick publishes a calendar illustrated with photographs of the area.
Location: 133.11
Ben Foster, 2002
sound recording
Ben Foster is a grand nephew of Lee Poole, a long-time resident of the South Wapiti area. This tape records Ben’s memories of Lee, his character and incidents in his life: his wife drowning in the Wapiti River; his mountain career; his involvement with Junior Foresters, archaeologists, hunters and trail rides; his role as entertainer; his learning to speak German for the European trade; his guide to the constellations; the tragedy on Cecelia Lake where Lee swims out with his grand-daughter while others drowned; and the Carl Brooks crash on Kakwa Lake. Ben makes reference to 15 hours of Lee Poole tapes which he possesses and ends with the last word on Poole.
Location: 133.12
Pete McCullough, 2002
sound recording
Pete McCullough started trapping in the South Wapiti District in 1928, when he was 11 years old. He identififies name origins for several places in the Kakwa/Two Lakes area: Gunderson Flats and Cabins and Brooks Falls; the origins of the Nose Creek community; and places which have more than one name: North Side Horne Ridge (Lonesome Valley), Ceceilia (Green Water) Lake, Mouse Cache Creek (Bread Camp; Dead Horse Meadows). Pete talks about famous guides from the early days: Paul Wanyandie, Wapiti Brown. He worked with Bert Osborne on the 1937 pack trip taken by students from Upper Canada College, then started guiding with his brother Henry in 1938, but when he married in 1946, his wife became his guiding partner. He also worked with geologists and speaks of gold, burial sites and a Buffalo Head Camp where buffalo skulls could be found in the wake of early hunters. Pete’s “country knowledge” includes how to eat porcupine and using moss for eye medicine. He sold off his pack string of more than 100 horses in 1985 because of the effect industry was having on game in the area.
Location: 133.13
Listen to a digitized copy of this item here.

Read a transcript here.

Mable Tennant, 2002
sound recording
Mable Tennant is the daughter of Alex Moberly and a present resident of Nose Creek. Her mother is Adelaide Joachim, originally from Jasper. This tape gives information about Alex Moberly as trapper, guide, horseman and free range cattlema; and the story of Mable’s childhood, the original family cabins at Sherman Meadows (across the Torrens river), camping in the mountains to avoid the floods, and her blind Grandmother. The story extends to Mable’s adult life: the opening of the store at Nose Creek, the school at the Creek, and fishing and trapping. Her memories include get-togethers at the Creek revolving around the Priests’ visits, burial sites and neighbours such as Adam Kenney. Mable shares aboriginal knowledge such as tanning/sewing crafts; a step by step description of the tanning process, including the receipe for the brain solution; beadwork designs; berries in the area and the making of “Indian ice cream” and her favourite bannock receipe.
Location: 133.14
Suzie Moberly, 2002
sound recording
Suzy Moberly lives at Kilometer 104 on the Two Lakes road. She was 3 years old when her family came to Nose Creek, the first family there. They came from Jasper, Grande Cache and Sherman Meadows and traveled as far as McBride, BC. Suzy speaks of the families of the area, of Alex Moberly and his activities, and of the “basics” of living in the bush. Her memories include sleeping under a tree, tracking a race horse with her dad, her first trip to Kakwa Falls and Two Lakes. From riding in the mountains, she remembers old, old graves on the Porcupine (Kakwa) River, and graves at Sherman Meadows. Suzy’s mother was the medicine lady for her area but Suzy talks about Adam Kenney’s practice, treating her father for heart disease and seeing the “specialist” in Hinton.
Location: 133.15
Lois Lofstrom, 2002
sound recording
Lois Lofstrom was the wife of Alphonse Lofstrom, one of the first settlers to come south of the Wapiti in 1928. Her family, the Ryans settled on the Stoney Creek near the Pinto in 1930. Lois attended a one room school with 35 children. She speaks of community life in the late 30s and 40s, the assistance of her aboriginal neighbours, Adam Kenney’s honeymoon at the Ryan’s, the first ferry at Pipestone, the first roads (built by Albert Campbell), the first sawmill (Henry McCullough’s on Bald Hill), an early coal mine on Pinto Creek, and the first oil well in the area on Chinook Ridge (1950s), a dentist who made house calls, and the time her 6 year old brother’s appendix ruptured. Second voice is her brother Michael Ryan, who talks about the logging roads pushing back to Two Lakes in 1971, open range cattle ranching, early Indian settlement at Two Lakes, Pinto and Nose Creeks, Kakwa, etc. He remembers a triple wedding of aboriginals from the foothills at Pipestone Creek around 1946, the River clinics, the Anglican Van girls on horseback, other visitors and neighbours, and trapping.
Location: 133.16
Michael Ryan, 2002
sound recording
Michael Ryan’s family settled in the south Wapiti area in 1930. He remembers guides right back to that period: Bert Osburne, Adam Kenney, Carl Brooks and Henry & Pete McCullough; and the first rangers: Dave Schenk and Mrs. Sherman. He talks about canning meat in the Kakwa for early hunters, Wapiti Brown, Mick’s guiding (1960s), the wild fowl and bears, and how they lived, fished and hunted at Stoney Creek in the 30s and 40s (canning suckers, canning blueberries in wine jugs, preserving meat). Everything has changed now—people are dependent on power and water and are not self sufficeint. Even the way they take care of the land has changed. The spring burns were ended by the Forest Ranger, but now there are problems with fires. “Back then” they “had nuthin’… and shared everything.” Michael’s opionion is that the biggest source of change to the area is the road.
Location: 133.17
Don Nelson, 2002
sound recording
Don Nelson was a hunting partner of Pete Campbell, whose “dad rode with Louis Riel.” He tells Pete’s stories of pre WWI survey crews, and talks about the High Country, burial sites at Porcupine Flats, Totems with Cree writing, the old “Indian Trails” on the eastern slopes, hunting horses with the Wanyandie boys, and his friendship with Lee Poole.
Location: 133.18
David Schenk, 2002
sound recording
Dave Schenk was one of the early Rangers in the Kakwa/Two Lakes area. He identifies grave sites dating back to the 1800s in Sherman Meadows, Felix Campbell’s grave near Entrance, the Buffalo Head Camp with its 1896 landmark grave, the graves of Adam Kenney’s young brother and sister, Sam Wilson’s aunt, and other graveyards on Nose and Copton Creeks. As a Ranger, Dave was responsible for fighting forest fires. He remembers the bad one in 1961, having 16 fires in one day, press ganging fire fighters in bars, Adam Kenney and his bible against a “wall of fire.” He talks about Ole Overlund, Ray Smuland, Harvey Wilson, Pete Comeau, Cliff Ross, Bobby Ryan. Dave’s “medicine bag” holds cures to sinus problems with Indian medicine and uses for rat root, etc. His philosophy is that there is “something beautiful in every fire…” and that “scary times lead to great good.”
Location: 133.19
Norm Trepanier, 2002
sound recording
Norm Trepanier was acquainted with the Two Lakes area before he moved to Grande Prairie. His brother, Adrian Trepanier was a fish and game officer, and Norm remembers the first stocking of fish at Two Lakes, 7 lb. trout, Indians loading live fish on horseback. After Norm moved to Grande Prairie to work for the City, he made numerous trips back to the area. He talks about the Kakwa Experience and interaction between campers and wildlife
Location: 133.20
Doug Tennant, 2002
sound recording
Doug Tennant came to Nose Creek via Toronto and then Grande Prairie. He feels that the Kakwa/Two Lakes area is unique—God’s Country, where a man can be himself and a great place to raise kids. He enjoys living 40 years back in time with horse drawn wagons and no electricity. Doug talks about the origins of the non-treaty peoples of the Creek (a stopping place, a choice of a “clean” lifestyle, and the original Moberly residences at km 105 traded with Dave Joachim) and the Jasper original ancestral lands for which there was no treaty until 1987. Until then, the government was pressuring the “squatters” like Doug to move out, even after he bought land in 1984. Two other subjects covered are Alex Moberly and the Nose Creek Store history.
Location: 133.21
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