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.

The Walkedens

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.

Construction

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New Her­itage Cabin 2014

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Ori­ginal River Front Cabin

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

Historical Shot of Main Lodge

Ori­ginal office building 1941

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.

Charismatic Walkeden

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Colonel Tommy Walkenden of the Alberta 49th Division

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

The Thomas Family in front of Heritage Cabin in 1946

The Thomas Family in front of Her­itage Cabin in 1946

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, YOULL BE LUCKY. IFCATCH 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.

Current Owners

Michal with his dog

Michal with his dog

Michal Wasuita and his mother, Connie Bjorkquist

Michal Wasuita and his mother, Connie Bjorkquist

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.