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

Dick North
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 1 2003
They called it The Arctic Circle War. It was a manhunt 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 a Mountie came to ask Johnson about allegations that he had interfered with a neighbor's trap. No questions were asked. Johnson shot Officer Millen dead through a hole in the wall of his log cabin. A vicious firefight ensued. When the Mounties returned with reinforcements, Johnson was gone, and The Arctic Circle War had begun.

It was a forty-eight-day odyssey across the harshest terrain in the world. On Johnson's heels were a corps of Mounties and an irregular posse on dogsled, supplied by airplanes dropping food. 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 at Eagle River.

There will never be another chase like it.

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"A courageous and unrelenting posse on the trail of a furious and desperate wilderness outlaw more animal¿more a ghost¿than man: 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



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 those other 1930s outlaws, Bonnie and Clyde and 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

From the Back Cover

They called it "The Arctic Circle War." It was a manhunt 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 door of his log cabin. A vicious firefight ensued. When the Mounties returned with reinforcements, Johnson was gone, and The Arctic Circle War had begun.
It was a forty-eight-day odyssey across the harshest terrain in the world. On Johnson's heels were a corps of Mounties and an irregular posse on dogsled, supplied by airplanes dropping food. 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 at Eagle River. In this book, a new photograph solves the mystery of The Mad Trapper of Rat River.
Chances are the world will never see another chase like this one.


--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
Former Royal Canadian Mounted Police Corporal Thomas Coleman always wondered - in view of the saga that was later to unfold - what might have happened if he had kept following the mystery man's trail through the snow that day. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gerrymc Oct. 22 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a fantastic read. The account of the Mad Trapper of Rat River is one of the most famous Canadian Police Stories. It's the story of one of the longest Police Chases in Canadian History. A chase that took place in the Canadian Arctic during one of the coldest winters recorded. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police set out to capture Albert Johnson after he had wounded one RCMP officer and killed another. The story has become one of legend. For years no one knew the identity of this infamous criminal. Dick North has spent many years researching this story. After all this time he believes he has finally found ALbert Johnson's true identity. I would highly recommend that you purchase this book. You will not be disappointed
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Canadian stories you don't hear about Oct. 1 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful true crime story that takes place in Canada's north. It will quickly capture your attention and make you want to more. Anyone interested in the more lively times in Canadian history will enjoy this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars mad trapper March 5 2011
Format:Paperback
how the mad trapper could always manage to escape from the mounties, it's a mystery that no one will ever know who the real persons name was, very interesting
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mad Trapper May 14 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A great book that holds your interest. You wonder how a man could all of a sudden become this way and we never find the answer.
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