Rich in History
Colonel Thomas Jefferies Avarne Walkeden & his wife Naiomi were successful bidders to a tender that was given out to establish a bungalow camp at Cottonwood Creek in Jasper National Park in October, 1936.
There were 2 sites that were being built up: this one at Cottonwood Creek on the banks of the Athabasca River & another at Miette Hot Springs. Mr. Becker was the successful bidder for the Miette Hot Springs site.
Our site was first known as Cottonwood Creek, then The Walkedens and, finally,
as Pine Bungalows.
By July 1936, Colonel Walkeden & his wife had built 25 cabins & a manager’s quarters / office. Only 6 years later, the site contained 42 bungalows and, shortly thereafter, 50 cabins were available for rent.
Harold Blacklock remembers that from March to October 1940 he sawed about four carloads of bridge timber into dimensional size to frame the 17 cabins that he helped to build.
Harold, along with the others, dug sewers for 42 cabins. He lined several cabins with plywood on days unfit to work outside. He also cut wood for all the cabins using a tractor & power saw, splitting the wood with a power splitter. There was never any idle time.
The chief plumber was recalled to Edmonton after the tourist season slacked. Harold along with the plumber’s helper, Bob Hole, finished installing the plumbing.
National Parks & Stormy Relationships
The singular most prominent feature of this site was Walkeden himself. He was something of a maverick. The colonel seems to have totally disregarded the fact that his business was located in a national park & that his operation of the property was as a leaseholder & not as an owner.
Walkeden treated his site as if he owned it and ran it much as one would run a sovereign country. He was continuously at odds with the local superintendent, directing all of his correspondence and dealing with Parks Canada through the Director’s Office in Ottawa and, on occasion, through the Prime Minister’s Office.
This stormy relationship meant that he didn’t follow the normal administrative channels. Thus, key documents, like building permits, are absent or were issued well after construction was complete.
The Original Tea Room
On August 28th 1935, a license was given to the Walkeden’s for 5 years. On March 1st 1940, a 21-year license was issued for “bungalow camp, store & tea room for guests only.”
On October 26th 1942 the Walkeden’s license was for joint tenants & on May 26th, 1958, after it was sold, the new owners, Stevenson & Tredway, incorporated it as Pine Bungalows Ltd.
Nonetheless, the bungalow camp seems to have been run, in the early years at least, at an acceptable level. Complaints, some stemming form hilarious incidents, seem to have derived from Walkeden’s peculiar attitude toward business.
In 1936, the cabins cost about $1,000 each to build. Some reports indicate that there were some deviations from the plans. We don’t know who the architect was, neither the builder, but suspect that Walkeden was both.
In 1961, a report states that two bungalows, an office building, a laundry building and a staff building appeared on the site but there had been no building permits issued nor were the dates of construction known.
The Outhouse Days
When the cabins were built, there was no running water in them. Electricity was used for lighting. There were strategically located outdoor toilets, and the holes can still be found, although they have caved in quite a bit.
Linen cupboards were placed around the property but the cleaning supplies, mops, etc. were all carried in little red wagons. How the staff hated those wagons! When it rained, they were doubly cursed.
Run Like the Army!
The staff all stayed on the property in a large two story building. The top floor was where the staff slept. Half of the lower floor was a dining hall, the other half kitchen, bedroom and bathroom for the cook. There was no laundry staff and when the cabins had been cleaned the staff were expected to do all the laundry, including the Walkeden’s clothes.
The Colonel had a sign on one of the storage sheds that read:
“IF THE POLICE CATCH YOU, YOU’LL BE LUCKY. IF I CATCH YOU, GOD HELP YOU!”
It was not unusual for Col. Walkeden to have a bed check, popping up unannounced and scaring the girls out of their wits. One night one of Jasper’s Romeos missed curfew, bringing one of the maids home late. Out of the darkness came the yell, “I’ll get you, you @!#$%&!”. Then “BOOM”, rock salt fired from a shotgun was flying all around!
The Walkeden’s left Jasper in 1957 and with an investment of $150,000.00, they started up the 800-acre Lake Isle Pheasant Ranch, 46 miles west of Edmonton. And true to form, went ahead and bought a stock of pheasants hoping that the government would pass legislation allowing private hunting preserves. However, in May 1962, Lands and Forest Minister, Norman Wilmore told them they were closed down. Faced with feeding bills of $1,500.00 per month and other expenses running as high as $3,000.00 per month, the stocks of 10,000 pheasants were destroyed. The Walkeden’s then moved on to Edmonton.
Pine Bungalows’ New Owners
When the property was sold in 1957 to the firm of Stevenson & Tredway (Morris Stevenson and Cliff Tredway), Pine Bungalows was still run on a license only. On December 4th 1964, Pine Bungalows was bought by the Defoort Family, Dave, his wife Grace and son Grant (Butch), Archie and his wife Norah, Mike, and Madeline (Defoort) and her husband Oden. Thirty years after the tender for its construction, it came on stream with the rest of the Park by being granted its first 42-year lease. The lease to start April 1st 1966 and run to March 1st 2008.
Dave and Grace Defoort moved to Victoria, B.C. Archie’s wife Norah passed away at Pine Bungalows in 1967, and Archie with his second wife, Vera, moved back to Cypress Manitoba, where they were originally from; Mike passed away shortly after Pine Bungalows was sold and Madeline and her husband, who had never lived in Jasper, remained in Saskatoon.
In 1974, Pine Bungalows was purchased by Victor and Connie Wasuita and their son, Michal. Under the new owners, the cabins were completely remodeled and 22 new cabins were built, making 72 cabins in total on the premises. Victor passed away in January 1997. His son Michal & Connie Bjorkquist now operate Pine Bungalows.