hand-built log cabin

Photo of the Day

The Mad Trapper destroyed Cabin.?Albert Johnson kept fighting from a hole in the ruins of his cabin on Rat River after Royal Canadian Mounted Police besieged and destroyed it with dynamite. In these days of forgone privacy and hi-tech forensics, it?s rare to find a high-profile criminal case that is still unsolved, but such is the case of the mysterious Mad Trapper of Rat River who rolled into the Canadian wilderness out of nowhere and proceeded to go on a crazed tear through the wilderness with the mounties hot on his heels.

Mad Trapper of Rat River

Albert Johnson?s?arrival in Fort MacPherson, July 9th 1931 on the southern edge of the Mackenzie delta was by all accounts non-eventful. He was about 35 years of age, a very taciturn person with cold blue eyes coupled with a stocky muscular build. These physical characteristics in men that trapped for a living in the north were nothing out of the ordinary.

What the local people considered strange, however, was the fact that Albert Johnson did not bother to get a trapping license even though he built an 8? X 10? cabin with a good view on 3 sides in a prime trapping site on the Rat River.

With the trapping season in full swing by early December, some of Albert?s neighbours began having someone disrupt their traps. The only change from last season to this one ? was Albert Johnson.

He led authorities on the longest manhunt in Canadian history, fleeing across frozen tundra and scaling a mountain in blizzard conditions. Albert Johnson played the leading role in a seven-week game of cat-and-mouse that captivated a nation. The story of The Mad Trapper of Rat River is a legendary Canadian mystery that still begs to be solved.

The entire tale unfolds during the alarming sub-zero temperatures of the mid-winter darkness above the Arctic Circle. In 1931, an unfamiliar man by the name of Albert Johnson spontaneously arrives in Fort McPherson, building a small cabin on the banks of the Rat River, near the Mackenzie River delta. In December of that same year, members of Aklavik’s detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were obliged to question Albert Johnson as a result of a formal complaint filed by local trappers. Someone was tampering with traps, and it wasn’t long before the antisocial newcomer was identified as the likely suspect.

Constable Alfred King and Special Constable Joe Bernard trudged out to Johnson’s forlorn cabin to discuss the allegations against him. It was reported that Johnson refused to acknowledge the presence of the inquiring RCMP. It was decided that returning to Aklavik for a search warrant was the next step in the investigation.

Constables King and Bernard returned two days later with two additional RCMP officers and a civilian deputy. Johnson again refused to answer any questions. In due course, Constable King decided to implement the warrant and force the cabin’s door.

Read more »

Photo of the Day

Over the years they retreated deeper into taiga, building a series of wooden cabins amid the pine trees. Pictures: Igor Nazarov, Igor Shpilenok, Vladimir Makuta

Over the years they retreated deeper into taiga, building a series of wooden cabins amid the pine trees. Picture: Igor Nazarov, Igor Shpilenok, Vladimir Makuta.

?Lost in the?Taiga

Agafia Karpovna Lykova is a Russian Old Believer, part of the Lykov family, who survived alone in the Taiga for most of her life. Agafia became a national phenomenon in the early 1980s when Vasily Peskov published articles about her family and their extreme isolation from the rest of society. Agafia is the sole surviving member of the clan and has been mostly self-sufficient since 1988, when her father died.

Lykova was born in a pine trough in 1944 to Karp Osipovich Lykov and Akulina Lykova. She was their fourth child, and the second to be born in the Taiga.

Agafia lives 500 feet (150 m) up a remote mountainside in the Abakan Range, 150 mi (240 km) away from the nearest town. For the first 35 years of her life, Lykova did not have contact with anyone outside of her immediate family. Information about the outside world came from her father?s stories and the family?s Russian Orthodox bible.

In the summer of 1978, a group of four geologists discovered the family by chance, while circling the area in a helicopter. The scientists reported that Lykova spoke a language ?distorted by a lifetime of isolation? that sounded akin to a ?slow, blurred cooing.?This unusual speech led to the misconception that Lykova possessed little intelligence. Later, after observing her skill in hunting, cooking, sewing, reading and construction, this original misconception was revised.

Read more »