The Bastard of Fort Stikine: The Hudson's Bay Company and the Murder of John McLoughlin Jr.
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Is it possible to reach back in time and solve an unsolved murder, more than 170 years after it was committed?
Just after midnight on April 21, 1842, John McLoughlin, Jr. � the chief trader for the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Stikine, in the northwest corner of the territory that would later become British Columbia � was shot to death by his own men. They claimed it was an act of self-defence, their only means of stopping the violent rampage of their drunk and abusive leader. Sir George Simpson, the HBC's Overseas Governor, took the men of Stikine at their word, and the Company closed the book on the matter. The case never saw the inside of a courtroom, and no one was ever charged or punished for the crime. To this day, the killing remains the Honourable Company's dirtiest unaired laundry and one of the darkest pages in the annals of our nation's history. Now, exhaustive archival research and modern forensic science � including ballistics, virtual autopsy, and crime scene reconstruction � unlock the mystery of what really happened the night McLoughlin died.
Using her formidable talents as a writer, researcher, and forensic scientist, Debra Komar weaves a tale that could almsot be fiction, with larger-than-life characters and dramatic tension. In telling the story of John McLoughlin, Jr., Komar also tells the story of Canada's north and its connection to the Hudson's Bay Company.
237, 239, 251-252, 257-262, 265, 272, 274, 276 attitude to John McLoughlin Sr. 50 attitude to women 120-122 Character Book 57-58 childhood 58-59 death of 200-201 and Dickson 76-78 and HBC’s investigation of McLoughlin Jr.’s death 153-164 health 197, 199 impressions of John McLoughlin Jr. 27-28, 179 impressions of people 56-58 investigation into John McLoughlin Jr.’s death 45-46, 79-85 knighthood 150-151 marriage 122-123 McLoughlin Sr.’s reaction to investigation 95-98, 135-145
Character Book reads more like an unintentional autobiography than a searing exposé of others. Simpson’s lifelong tendency to tar others with a brush best suited to himself is well-represented in the historical record, leading scholar Alan Cooke to posit the Governor was “an outstanding example of an immature ego possessed by personal complexes, which he projected onto his colleagues.” The most telling projection of all was Simpson’s denouncement of Francis Heron as “a perfect Hypocrite.” The
caps was seared into John Jr.’s brain, and when he took command of Stikine, he implemented the practice with his own country wife. The men didn’t like it but obeyed. Failure to comply meant a beating, another on a growing list of reasons McLoughlin raised his hand to the men — or so it seemed. Thursday, April 21, 1842 — Dawn fort stikine The fort’s journal entry paints a sterile, detached scene: “Daylight, fine weather and no wind.” It would have been a lovely morning were it not for the
a “justifiable homicide.” Despite Simpson’s concerted efforts to plug the holes in his own investigation, “a number of new facts came to light, all of which pointed strongly to the conclusion that his assessment of what had happened was not only hastily conceived but seriously flawed.” nine Prior Bad Acts The best predictor of future action is prior behavior. To understand a man’s choices, you need look no further than his past, where his character is forged by the incidents and accidents of
McLoughlin Jr., January 12, 1836, in Barker, The McLoughlin Empire, 218-20. Dr. McLoughlin learns of McLoughlin Jr.’s departure: From the postscript of John McLoughlin Jr.’s letter to Simon Fraser, October 26, 1831, reprinted in Barker, The McLoughlin Empire, 191-92. “did not know John’s age”: Cited in Barker, The McLoughlin Empire, 108, paraphrasing Simon Fraser’s letter to Dr. McLoughlin, April 20, 1827. “I spent the winter very gay”: McLoughlin Jr.’s letter to John Fraser, May 18, 1832,