Mem­o­ries of ‘Hardrock’

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - Rat River, News The News The Mad Trap­per of En­cy­clo­pe­dia, Cana­dian

BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL

Staff Alan John “Hardrock” Mac­Don­ald may be gone, but to his nephew, he’s cer­tainly not for­got­ten.

“Alan John was my un­cle. In fact, I have a brother who’s Alan John, and my son is called Alan John, af­ter ‘ Hardrock,’” 5th of Kenyon res­i­dent Don Routhier told re­cently.

“I never met him. He was gone be­fore my time. I’m 63...but oh ya, he was very well-known (in the Yukon, where he spent much of his adult life min­ing and prospect­ing).”

Mr. Routhier ex­plains that “Hardrock,” who grew up on a farm on the Sixth Con­ces­sion of Kenyon, west of Fas­sifern, and passed away in Daw­son City in March 1959, five months shy of his 70th birth­day, hasn’t to­tally been for­got­ten in the Yukon ei­ther.

“There’s ac­tu­ally a moun­tain there, named af­ter him, Mount Mac­Don­ald, and across the val­ley is Mount Pro­feit, which was named af­ter a young na­tive fel­low who was very good friends with ‘Hardrock,’” says Mr. Routhier.

“The two moun­tains kind of look at each other, across the val­ley.” Mr. Routhier also re­called how “Hardrock” once crossed paths with one of the re­gion’s most in­fa­mous fugi­tives. “In the book,

about Al­bert John­son, who back in the 1930s eluded the Moun­ties, in the Yukon, for weeks, ‘Hardrock’ is men­tioned twice,” he says.

“It says that Al­bert John­son had asked him for di­rec­tions (on how to get to Fort McPher­son in the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries), and of­fered to pay him for that in­for­ma­tion.

‘Hardrock’ found that very strange be­cause di­rec­tions were gen­er­ally given very freely.”

The book, which refers to Alan John Mac­Don­ald as “a friendly gi­ant of a man in a re­gion of tough men,” re­calls how John­son promised “Hardrock” five dol­lars – the equiv­a­lent of about $85 in 2019 – to show him the route north to the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries dur­ing his flight from the au­thor­i­ties in early 1932.

“‘Hardrock’ was sur­prised by the of­fer of money for di­rec­tions he would gladly give for noth­ing,” wrote au­thor Dick North.

“This, and the strange at­ti­tude of the tran­sient, per­plexed him. Why would any­one pay for in­for­ma­tion in a re­gion where the hos­pi­tal­ity of the peo­ple was taken for granted?”

Al­bert “The Mad Trap­per” John­son – who went on the lam af­ter killing a Moun­tie who was in­ves­ti­gat­ing a trap­ping dis­pute – was even­tu­ally tracked down by a posse of RCMP of­fi­cers fol­low­ing a five-week man­hunt, and fa­tally shot near Aklavik, N.W.T. in Fe­bru­ary 1932. Ac­cord­ing to the

John­son pos­sessed $2,410 (nearly $42,000 in 2019) in Cana­dian cur­rency, $10 in Amer­i­can cur­rency, “five pearls of low value, and a small amount of gold that in­cluded pieces of den­tal work” at the time of his death.

His true iden­tity – Al­bert John­son had been a pseu­do­nym – has never been de­ter­mined.

Amanda Si­mard

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