View Full Version : Albert Johnson, The Mad Trapper

03-10-2005, 04:23 PM
This question is directed primarily to Kutenay. Kutenay, what did the Old Timers you grew up around in the backwoods of British Columbia have to say about Albert Johnson? I know that the chase of Albert Johnson occurred more in the NWT and Yukon Territories, but apparently it was so highly publicized that they must have had opinions. I just finished reading Dick North's history of the Mad Trapper and his hypothesis about who Albert Johnson really was. One thing comes through clear: Johnson was a very accomplished outdoorsman with amazing survival skills. Any thoughts? Thanks.

03-12-2005, 07:35 PM
I really wish someone would answer your post. I, too, have read "The Mad Trapper of Rat River" and ever since have been very intrigued about just who Albert Johnson was. A fascinating story...

03-13-2005, 06:33 AM

03-13-2005, 07:54 AM
There are several books on the Mad Trapper but who knows the origin of Albert Johnson? Dick North probably expended more research time than others and may be accurate but all that was before DNA.

About twenty years ago, I met a very elderly native lady at Aklavik that had met Albert Jihnson in her younger days. But the language barrier and age prevented any converstations.

Albert's rifle and gear is in the RCMP Museum in Regina should you be interested.

There is a modern day Mad Trapper story also. Michael Oros roamed the wilderness of northern BC and southern YT during the early 80s. He murdered a local trapper and a Mountie over a period of several years that he was hunted. Descent into Madness [Vernon Frolick} contains excerpts from the mad man's diary. A good paperback to have in the tent for those socked-in days.

03-15-2005, 03:56 AM
I did not see this question and have been busy for several days with home issues; my apologies for not replying sooner, I was not trying to ignore you, or be rude.

As it happens, I don't really remember hearing much about Johnson when I was a kid, but, am familiar with the story. The last surviving member of the R.C.M.P. patrol that finally got him just died here in Vancouver, about a year or two ago. He was not, as indicated above, the only lunatic that has caused tragedy in remote parts of Canada. I think that his bush skills were considerable, but not unique in this country at that time; I think that chance and the huge, empty Canadian north was much of the reason for his exploits.

Ironically, there was just another incident of this type in northern Alberta just as you asked your question. Four young "Queen's Cowboys" were ambushed and shot to death by a whackjob withh both a long, violent, criminal history and guns; this is what our current gun laws are supposed to prevent....hah!

It was quite moving, on T.V. to see both the pregnant, young wife of one of these kids at the huge national memorial service and a phalanx of Mounties in their scarlet order of dress, glittering sabres, marching in rigid formation to the wail of the pipes, playing that beautiful lament, "Flowers of the Forest". Both my wife, who was an outpost nurse in the N.W.T. and the Yukon and I, who once briefly worked for the R.C.M.P. were deeply saddened by this horrible event, as were 30+ million other Canucks.

But, that is part of the job, I worked in forest fire suppression for many years and we always knew that the next chopper ride could be the one bringing you or a good buddy home in a maroon coloured bag. There is something in the wilderness and in remote rural areas that either drives people nuts or intensifies their mental illness, I have actually seen this. So, the Johnsons, Oros and so on will be with us for probably as long as humans survive on this Earth.

03-15-2005, 02:13 PM
Thank you Kutenay. I figured you were busy elsewhere. I raised the question in part because of the parallels between the recent murders of four Mounties and the Johnson case. I am sorry for the RCMP's loss.

03-15-2005, 03:04 PM
Reminds me of a book a friend of mine had about a guy in Idaho.

Ridgerunner: Elusive Loner of the Wilderness (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0960356649/ref=lpr_g_1/102-2539412-6272923?v=glance&s=books)

"The story of an mysterious outsider, living in the Selway-Bitteroot wilderness from the 1940s-1960s."

Haven't read it yet, but it looked interesting.

03-16-2005, 06:53 AM
Confusing Hollywood with history I remembered a classic film about this: Death Hunt - Charles Bronson & Lee Marvin. Good film but seemingly flimsy on the factual side of things!

Sorry to hear that you've still got your share of dangerous loons up there, I thought us "civilized" city dwellers had a monopoly on that sort of thing, we just had some nut chop a fellows head off with an axe!

03-16-2005, 07:22 AM
I tried watching that movie, it was a bloody disgrace as Corp. Edgar "Spike" Millen was a very fine man of impeccable personal habits, not a loudmouth, drunken lout as portrayed by Marvin. I have actually worked and lived in the North as has my wife and I have relatives who were in the RCMP more than fifty years ago. The Hollywood and, generally speaking, most other foreign concepts of what the RCMP, the North and Canada in general is like are so far from reality that it is laughable.

For example, think about a "Coldstreamer", "Life Guard" or "Household Cavalry" officer, that is the quality of man that the RCMP was made of during the era in question; drunks and drinking on duty were simply not tolerated, then or now.

There are whackos everywhere, Canada has our share, for sure, just as we have corrupt politicians, mindless bureaucrats and dimwits posing as journalists. The chhopping off of heads, though, is kind of traditional, eh wot, think of Hardrada, the Varengian Guard and "the thin smiles of the English axes"..... or Henry of the many matrimonies!

03-16-2005, 08:52 AM
Had a feeling Mr Marvin had hammed up that role. A real shame as it was good watching for 'fictional' cinema. Also the film portrays Albert Johnson as a blameless victim, which seems contrary to stuff I've read. I can see how these two 'minor distortions' of the truth would infuriate a RCMP affiliated local! that film must have caused some bad feeling in your neck of the woods when released!!

In general I think you Canucks get a pretty good world press! certainly better than your Southern neighbours and us Brits. We (me& the Mrs) are so used to hearing how much better Canada is than the U.K. (health/education/law&order/standard of living etc.etc.) that we've looked into moving! and I'm partial to anywhere with mountains&snow and being able to parlais Anglais!

I think the beheading tradition is one of the very very few I wouldn't mind seeing disappear once and for all /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

03-16-2005, 09:56 AM
Johnson was just an evil s.o.b., but, so frequently since the '60s, the bad guy is considered a "victim"....you know, sort of like those "wets" in the U.K. who actually think that Myra Hindley should be allowed escorted day parole......................

Anyway, this is off-topic in terms of the purpose of this forum, but, I would encourage you to immigrate to Canada, although it is not a simple or easy process, (unless you are some r-head terrorist, it seems) and if I can help, p.m. me here. If it's mountains, snow and wilderness you crave, we got plenty!!!