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The Mad Trapper of Rat River: A True Story of Canada's Biggest Manhunt [Paperback]

Our Price $ 14.41  
Retail Value $ 16.95  
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Item Number 405293  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   338
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   1.06 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2005
Publisher   The Lyons Press
ISBN  1592287719  
EAN  9781592287710  

Availability  5 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 27, 2016 06:36.
Usually ships within one to two business days from Roseburg, OR.
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Item Description...
"The Arctic trails do indeed have their secret tales, and one of the best is that of The Mad Trapper of Rat River, equal to the legends of Bonnie and Clyde or John Dillinger. Now author Dick North (of course) may have solved the mystery of the Mad Trapper's true identity, thereby enhancing the saga."--Thomas McIntyre, author of "Seasons & Days: A Hunting Life
"A courageous and unrelenting posse on the trail of a furious and desperate wilderness outlaw . . . Lean and bloody, meticulously researched, The Mad Trapper of Rat River is a dark and haunting story of human endurance, adventure, and will that speeds along like the best fiction."--Bob Butz, author of "Beast of Never, Cat of God
They called it "The Arctic Circle War." It was a forty-eight-day manhunt across the harshest terrain in the world, the likes of which we will never see again. The quarry, Albert Johnson, was a loner working a string of traps in the far reaches of Canada's Northwest Territories, where winter temperatures average forty degrees below zero.
The chase began when two Mounties came to ask Johnson about allegations that he had interfered with a neighbor's trap. No questions were asked. Johnson discharged the first shot through a hole in the wall of his log cabin. When the Mounties returned with reinforcements, Johnson was gone, and The Arctic Circle War had begun.
On Johnson's heels were a corps of Mounties and an irregular posse on dogsled. Johnson, on snowshoes, seemed superhuman in his ability to evade capture. The chase stretched for hundreds of miles and, during a blizzard, crossed the Richardson Mountains, the northernmost extension of the Rockies. It culminated in the historic shootout atEagle River.

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More About Dick North

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Dick North has worked as a seaman, a fisheries officer, and a newspaper editor in Alaska and Canada's Yukon. He is also the author of Trackdown, Arctic Exodus, and The Lost Patrol. He is currently the curator of the Jack London Exhibit and Interpretation Center in Dawson City, Yukon.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
The Mad Trapper of Rat River  Oct 25, 2008
Having seen the movie Death Hunt I became interested on learning the real story of the Mad Trapper. I thought it was a well written story and to my thinking solved the mystery of what really happened. Not what Hollywood said happened. Very interesting for those who want the truth about a historical event.
Mad Trapper of Rat River  Sep 21, 2008
This is one of the best books Dick North has written. It is a true story of Albert Johnson's survival and the will to live. As well, it turned out to be the biggest man hunt in the history of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. You are told the history of Albert Johnson (if that was his real name ) where he came from, what he did for work and how good a shot he was. You are also told of the job the Mounties had to do under some very severe conditions. Keeping the peace in the back country was no easy task. Mr. North has done his homework,to get his story and facts correct.He brings in experts on area's of question and disputes some of the rumors that others have said about this case. He writes with a passion. I could tell he enjoyed working on this story.He will keep you on the edge of your seat once the hunt begins. I always looked forward to reading several chapters before I went to bed. What a book. Highly recommended.
Canada, Please Let Dick North finish his quest  Nov 20, 2004
Awesome read, very well written with plenty of facts to back up Mr. North's work. You appreciate his passion for a definitive answer to who A.Johnson truely was. It is sad that the Canadian's refused to solve the mystery. Nevertheless, I am one of the believer's John Johnson was the Mad Trapper.
Where' the justice?  Nov 5, 2003
Thes is a very interesting story.It is well written and well researched.It was also done by Rudy Weibe and Thomas P.Kelley.
Kelley also wrote "the Black Donnellys".His style was much different;more along the lines of a Pulp fiction writer;where the story is essentially the same,but greatly embellished with fictional conversation,descriptions of events and details whenever needed to tell the story as excitedly as possible.
In Johnson's Case, he had every right to refuse entry to someone without a warrant.It may not have been smart on his part,and no doubt really angered the law.So on the return visit the law was going to get him regardless;blow him away if necessary (they were armed and equipped with explosives to do it).What Johnson's mental state was ,who knows,except those who came to get him;and they tried.Don't forget they really had nothing on him at this point except their pride was damaged because of his resisting. What really happened ;there,s only their side of the story. At this point Johnson was in a no win situation and the law knew it,and so did he.I remind you again,the law was in total control when they set off this chain of events.
In the case of the Black Donnellys ;they opened their door to the demand of a constable and posse and 4 defenseless people were murdered and their home burned down on top of them.
These are two very sad stories in Canadian history ;neither one resolved,but both deserve to be known.
Without books like these, stories like these, would be swept under the carpet.
This is real history;not the stuff about trappers exploring a river in a canoe and asking students what they were called.
This brings to mind what a War Correspondant once said;
"Don't believe a politician or anyone in uniform."
Rat River Trapper: Mad or Misanthropic?  Jun 9, 2003
It was a bitterly cold December 26, 1931 when four members of the RCMP approached the small cabin of a mysterious trapper named Albert Johnson. There sole intent was to question Johnson about a complaint made by a neighbouring trapper concerning traps that had been tampered with. But without a word, the trapper fired upon the constables, injuring one. Shortly thereafter, Johnson had disappeared into the bush, thus instigating an epic manhunt that would last close to fifty days, and span some 150 miles.

Forty years later, author Dick North set out to document the story, and, more importantly, try and cast light on the identity of the mysterious Albert Johnson. Relying heavily on eye-witness accounts, North pieces together an interesting, sometimes rivetting story. But admittedly, there are limitations, and in the end, much is left to conjecture.

North concludes that Albert Johnson was more than likely a man who also went by the name of Arthur Nelson, and who for seven years prior to his death supposedly trapped and prospected in northern Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Alway quiet and "non-commital" this Arthur Nelson came and went mysteriously, and exhibited traits quite similar to that of the Mad Trapper.

Although disdained by some--especially women, around whom he evidently was extremely shy--many were understanding of his peculiar loner idiocincricies. But, provided that this Arthur Nelson is in fact Albert Johnson--which appears to be fairly likely--he apparently grew increasingly paranoid and suspicious of people. All of which led people to believe that he was hiding something. And as is always the case, there is much speculation as to what it was.

The author addresses this at the end of the book, but given that there is little evidence to work with, it's left to the reader to decide: was he a murderer, illegal immigrant, or simply a misanthrope caught up in events beyond his control?

All and all, a very interesting book and thrilling read, but in order to get the fully story--supposedly--of who the Mad Trapper was, one has to read Trackdown, which was published in 1989.

Trackdown is the result of twenty-odd years of North's obsessive research into the identity of the Mad Trapper. In the first part of the book, North addresses several theories of who the Mad Trapper could have been, but in each case he manages to uncover evidence that dismiss these individuals.

The turning point in his hunt comes when he was contacted by the North Dakota State Historical Society. As it turns out, there is a small article in a county history stating that the Mad Trapper may have in fact been a man by the name of Johnny Johnson.

Born Johan Konrad Jonsen in Norway in 1898, Johnson had emigrated to the USA with his parent at the age of six. Life in Dakota was a constant struggle and brought the family little gain, so at a young age Johnson reverted to crime. This resulted in several prison sentences before finally in 1923 he disappeared, presumably heading north into Canada.

Initially, I was very skeptical about this theory; to me, there was little resemblence between the three mug shots of Johnny Johnson, the 1930 Ross River photo showing Arthur Nelson and the pictures of the dead Mad Trapper. But as I read on, North did put together a compelling argument, and the more I read and the more I studied the pictures, the more plausable it all became. Interestingly, the Johnson family had in fact been in contact with the RCMP several years after the incident; Johnson's mother, having seen the picture of the Mad Trapper, was certain that he was her son. But the RCMP dismissed this claim, as it did all other such claims, leaving the mystery unsolved.

While North's argument seems plausable, I was still left with a nagging sense of doubt. While his evidence is compelling, it is far from conclusive and could quite easily be picked apart by someone with the time and resources to do so. One way to solve the matter would of course be to exhume the Mad Trapper and take DNA samples and conduct other forensic tests. North, believing that the body would still be in reasonably good shape, attempted to do this; but these efforts were stymied by the locals.

So although North presents a compelling argument for Johnny Johnson being the Mad Trapper, the case is not closed. The myth lives on.


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