Member Stories

Submitted by members Shane Ramstead & Darcy Handy

Back in 2014, Billy Wanyandie was guiding sheep hunters for Kipp Kelley up the Berland River in Willmore Wilderness. Billy noted that a beaver 
dam was very active on a small tributary creek that flows into the 
Berland River right where the Adam's Creek lookout trail hits the main 
pack trail. Billy marked the grave and raised concerns with David 
MacPhee at AWN about the grave being compromised by flooding. In turn, 
David contacted me to discuss having the trappers control the beavers to 
ensure the waters don't flood the grave site.

In the spring of 2015, RFMA holder Darcy Handy and myself went in to the 
site in later May once access was possible and trapped out the beavers. 
Six beavers were removed and the dams opened up to allow drainage. A 
week later it was confirmed the beavers were all removed, the waters 
flowed freely and the grave was not compromised. The trappers were back 
in July and everything was fine with no beavers present and waters 
flowing well. Fast forward to late August and the start of 
sheep/outfitting seasons. Billy Wanyandie is back in the Willmore and in 
passing the grave notes that the water is up again!! Another call from 
David MacPhee and the trappers mobilize again.

On October 1st, the trappers headed into the Willmore to again check out 
the situation. Surprisingly, another pair of industrious beavers had 
claimed the vacant house/dams and set up shop sometime in August! Water 
levels were as high as ever and four dams were threatening the grave 
site more than ever. The main horse trail had water backing up over it 
as well which never had occurred in the past. The beavers were quickly 
removed form the site and the trappers opened up all four dams greatly 
reducing the water levels so the grave and pack trail were not damaged. 
Another check on the Thanksgiving long weekend showed no beavers were
present and the water was still flowing.

We took some photos of the site and grave. Many thanks to Billy 
Wanyandie for putting up the cross at the site. The grave is that of 
Madelaine Fraser who was Adam Joachim's mother. She died at the site in 
1904. Adam was born in 1875 and settled in the Grande Cache area in 
1910. He was an educated man who was a trapper , prospector, guide and 
spiritual leader who was very respected for his honesty and integrity. 
Adam died in 1959 and is buried in the Muskeg cemetery.

We believe that it is very important to preserve this grave and others 
within the Willmore. Tommy Wanyandie had shown me this grave 25 years 
ago and I could never find it again until Billy marked it. The Willmore 
maps have it marked in the wrong location. As you'll note in the photo, 
there are large, flat, shale stones that are on the mound and it isn't 
easy to see. We want to explore preserving/ maintaining this site and 
grave and will seek some input and guidance on helping with that through 
the AWN and RMWS.