People passionate about nature

Walter Danyluk

Ralph Bird Award recipient 1993

For most of his career, Walter Danyluk worked as a mole. He probably would not have described himself that way then nor would he now. After all, the label carries with it a measure of opprobrium. But that is the label that writers of cold war fiction about spooks and spies applied to people like Walter. Walter probably did not view himself as a mole. He probably saw himself a dedicated civil servant working in government for what he believed in, and still does see himself that way. And, indeed, that is what he was.

For most of his career, Walter Danyluk worked for government agencies, for politicians, and among colleagues who persisted in the view that nature must be tamed. Walter was a senior civil servant who swam upstream against a current of government policy that held that the only good forest is a forest managed for the production of fibre, and the only valuable lake is a lake prized by fishermen. The prevailing view of government in those days was that prairie must be ploughed and prairie potholes drained.

It was in this environment that Walter Danyluk fought for the creation of a park system for Manitoba. But guided by his vision of a system of provincial parks and protected areas for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations, Walter persisted. We now have a park system that, admittedly, is not perfect but it is there and it would not be there if not for Walter’s stubborn dedication.
Because government is run by politicians and civil servants work for government, credit for the good works of civil servants tends to go elsewhere. Civil servants who innovate do so at great risk to their careers. At the time it was created, Manitoba’s park system was truly an innovation. Walter risked his career at every step of the way in its achievement.