Memories of ‘Hardrock’
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.