Albert Johnson Mad Trapper Of Rat River
February 17, 2012 by staff
Albert Johnson Mad Trapper Of Rat River, Albert Johnson, known as the Mad Trapper of Rat River, was a fugitive whose actions eventually sparked off a huge manhunt in the Northwest Territories and Yukon in Northern Canada. The event became a minor media circus as Johnson eluded the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) team sent to take him into custody, which ended after a 150 mi (240 km) foot chase and a shootout in which Johnson was fatally wounded on the Eagle River, Yukon.
Albert Johnson arrived in Fort McPherson after coming down the Peel River on July 9, 1931. He was questioned by RCMP constable Edgar Millen, but provided little information. Millen thought he had a Scandinavian accent, generally kept himself clean shaven, and seemed to have plenty of money for supplies. After venturing the waterways in a native-built raft to the Mackenzie River delta, he built a small 8 × 10 ft (2.4 × 3.0 m) cabin on the banks of the Rat River. Johnson had not acquired a trapping license which was considered odd for someone living in the bush. At that time many northern native traditional trapping areas were invaded by outsiders fleeing the Great Depression and some complaints may have been intended to remove him.
In December, one of the native trappers complained to the local RCMP detachment in Aklavik that someone was tampering with his traps, tripping them and hanging them on the trees. He identified Johnson as the likely culprit. On December 26, Constable Alfred King and Special Constable Joe Bernard, each of whom had considerable northern experience, trekked the sixty miles to Johnson’s cabin to ask him about the allegations. They noticed smoke coming from the chimney, and approached the hut to talk. Johnson refused to talk to them, seeming to not even notice them. King approached and looked in the window, at which point Johnson placed a sack over it. They eventually decided to return to Aklavik and get a search warrant.
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