He was shot down in February 1932 but his true identity is still unknown

The harsh winter landscapes through which a mysterious fugitive fled for 33 days in Canada

The American writer Jack London popularized a fascinating but very hostile place with his adventure novels: the Yukon River Valley.

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This river crosses the province of British Columbia, in Canada, and the state of Alaska, in the United States, to empty into the Bering Sea. At the end of the 19th century, that river became very famous for the gold rush that broke out in one of its tributaries, the Klondike River. This area was the scene of the largest persecution in Canadian history.

The only known photo of Albert Johnson alive (Photo: Radio Canada International).

It all started with a mysterious man, who called himself Albert Johnson, who arrived in the Canadian town of Fort McPherson, in the Northern Territory, in the summer of 1931. He was a man of few words. and apparently of Scandinavian origin like many trappers and mine workers in Canada.

Albert Johnson's cabin after being dynamited by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Photo: Radio Canada International).

This man settled in a cabin in the middle of the forest, on the banks of the Rat River, without obtaining a license to be a trapper, something very strange for a person who lived in such an isolated place. The problems with this man began when some trappers reported him to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), accusing him of manipulating his traps. An accusation that was never known if it was true or if it had the sole purpose of expelling from there a stranger whom they distrusted.

Some of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers who participated in the chase (Photo: Radio Canada International).

Aklavik RCMP officers made a long trip of almost 100 km to speak with Johnson. When they arrived at their cabin they saw smoke coming out of the chimney, but that man did not want to talk to them. A few days later, four RCMP officers returned to the cabin with a search warrant. Once again, Johnson did not utter a word or respond to his orders to open the door for them. When they decided to force entry, Johnson began shooting at them from inside, wounding one of the agents.

Albert Johnson managed to flee for 33 days through a rugged environment, in the middle of a harsh winter and with temperatures of up to -40ºC (Image: Exploring with Wade).

After what happened, the RCMP decided to act forcefully. A group of officers returned to the cabin and threw dynamite inside. The cabin was blown up, but Johnson opened fire again from a shelter he had built under the house. A long and tough chase then began that lasted 33 days and took Johnson to travel 137 km through the Northern Territories and the Yukon Valley, with winter temperatures that reached -40ºC. The fugitive proved to be very skillful and elusive, even using caribou tracks to camouflage his footprints.

The sign indicating the grave of Albert Johnson in Aklavik, Canada (Photo: caveat.doctor).

Finally, the RCMP managed to hunt down Johnson on February 17, 1932, with the help of an airplane. There was a shootout in which Johnson was killed and one of the Canadian Police officers was seriously injured. But the story didn't end there. For years several investigations have been carried out to know the true identity of that mysterious man, who is popularly known in Canada as the Mad Trapper of the Rat River, since it is considered that the name of Albert Johnson was a false identity, perhaps used to evade the action of Justice. DNA studies have been done on him, but without satisfactory results. To this day, the real identity of that fugitive remains a mystery. his remains were buried in Aklavik, where his grave is a tourist attraction.

Two months ago, Exploring with Wade published an interesting video about the story of that mysterious fugitive, showing the rugged landscapes through which he managed to evade the Mounted Police for more than a month:


Main image: Exploring with Wade.

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