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MAD TRAPPER

 

Albert Johnson.

This is a true story about a man, Albert Johnson — the Mad Trapper of Rat River — who was wanted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. For forty-eight days and over 150 miles, they chased him in an area well north of the Arctic Circle. The conflict got the nickname "the Arctic Circle War."

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police used a plane and radio for the first time as they tried to track down the Mad Trapper, which made it possible for the outside world to follow the event that took place in the normally isolated Arctic. During the chase of Albert Johnson, he was in four shoot-outs with his pursuers, wounding two men and killing a third before he was killed in 1932.

The Story Behind The Story...

Albert Johnson was a stranger to the people at Arctic Red River, where he decided to build a cabin, settle down and start trapping. He kept to himself and lived in a small cabin in a very isolated spot. Nobody knew where he came from and who he was…he just came out of the blue.

Very little was heard about Albert Johnson until a trapper complained to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Arctic Red River that Johnson was springing his traps and hanging them on trees. Constable King and Special Constable Bernard were ordered to mush to Johnson’s cabin and question him about the incident. When they arrived to Johnson’s cabin, they saw snowshoe prints in the snow and smoke coming out of the stovepipe, so they knew that Johnson was home. They even saw him through one of the windows, but Johnson did not react to the Constable’s approach. They found this very unnatural, especially for an individual that lived in such isolation, to ignore a knock on the door or a greeting. The constables realized that something was wrong and that they could do nothing more until they acquired a search warrant. So they did.

They went to Aklavik and reported the incident. A couple of days after, they went back to Johnson’s cabin with reinforcements, but Johnson still would not answer. When they decided to force their way in, they were met with a shot through the door, which hit Constable King. Johnson’s shot was answered with a series of shots to keep him down, and he returned fire……this was the beginning of the forty-eight day chase of Albert Johnson.

The Mad Trapper of Rat River by Dick North

"The man was five feet nine inches tall. He had blond hair and pale blue eyes. He weighed 175 pounds, with legs like tree stumps; his neck and shoulders were as powerful as a caribou bull’s. His name was Arthur Nelson. He unslung the two rifles he carried over his two-hundred-pound pack. He put one rifle into the snow. It was a Winchester .22. He hefted the other rifle in his hands and quietly racked a shell into the breech. It was a 30-30 Model 99 Featherweight "take-down" Savage, and made up in muzzle velocity what it lacked in size. Slowly, the rugged, clear-eyed man knelt down into the snow. Unseen, he eyed the figure of a man following him here, above McQuesten Flats, fifteen miles north of Keno, Yukon Territory. It was May 7, 1931, and he was heading to the Beaver River, then across the Wernecke Mountains to the Arctic slope, and from there north to the Porcupine country. He wanted to be alone and was ready to ensure that he would be. Slowly, he raised the rifle to his shoulder. Ten more steps and the man would be close enough. Nelson put his index finder through the trigger-guard of the rifle. He counted nine, eight, seven, six, five — suddenly the stranger stopped, looked around briefly, and then turned and started back the way he had come. Nelson brought the Savage down from his shoulder. He had seen that the man wore the chocolate brown drill parka of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Nelson shrugged his shoulders, slung the two rifles over his pack, and continued north. He was never seen again.”

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