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Mail carrier George Scott dies in blizzard, 1917

Arctic & Northern Biographies

Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

The Weekly Star - Friday, December 14, 1917


    Early Monday morning a message was received from W. C. Fraser, Dominion telegraph operator at Lower Lebarge, that an Indian had just reached there with the news that he had found the body of Geo. Scott, the government mail carrier, on the trail about half way between Lower Lebarge and Braeburn. At first it was thought Scott had been caught in a blizzard and frozen to death, but circumstances have since come to light proving almost conclusively that this was not the case.

    So far as can be learned Scott, under an arrangement with Postmaster Geo. Wilson which has been in effect ever since he took the mail contract four years ago, has made one trip in December of each year from Lower Lebarge to Braeburn on the Whitehorse-Dawson trail, to get the mail for the various points which he served, it being considered unsafe to travel over the lake in making the round trip to Whitehorse.

    On Nov. 30 Scott left Lower Lebarge for Braeburn, sixteen miles distant. There was a fierce north wind blowing at the time and the thermometer between 30 and 35 below. Five miles out he was met and passed by a party of Indian hunters returning to Lebarge. After that nothing more was seen or heard of him until the news of his death was received Monday.

    The Indian who made the discovery states that Scott had made camp, erected his tent and tied up bis dogs. The body was found a short distance from camp, on the back trail to Lebarge, in a sitting posture alongsde the trail. Scott's head was bowed and his bare hands clasped his snowshoes, which were sti¬Ęking upright in the snow in front of him. It is rumored the Indian said the face of the deceased was covered with blood, but there is no way of verifying this statement until the return of Constables Vinall and Kinnard, who left Tuesday morning to bring the body to Whitehorse for inquest and burial.

    For many years Scott, a pioneer of Southern Yukon, made his home at various times at Lower Lebarge, on the Thirty-Mile and in the Big Salmon and Livingstone creek districts. Little is known of him previous to his coming to the Yukon except that he was a man of education, a graduate of Oxford. For the past four years he has had the government mail contract between Whitehorse and Lower Lebarge, Hootalinqua, Livingstone creek and Big Salmon., One trip a month was made, in the winter by dog team and in the summer by launch. He was about 50 years of age, wiry and vigorous and, inured to the hardships of the northern winter trail, and it is thought by those who know him best that his death must have been the result of some acute illness.

The Weekly Star - Friday, December 21, 1917

REMAINS OF GEORGE SCOTT Brought In By The Police Wednesday Afternoon, 1917

    Constables Vinall and Kinnard of the R. N. W. M. P., who left last week to bring in the body of the late Geo. Scott from a point half way between Lower Lebarge and Braeburn, where the latter had met his death by freezing about ten days previous, returned Wednesday afternoon between 4 and 5 o'clock. They were gone six days and made the trip by dog team both ways over the ice of the river and Lake Lebarge. The weather was extremely bad, a cold north wind blowing and the snow being deep and badly drifted. They camped one night at Jim Boss' place, on the west shore of Upper Lebarge, and on leaving there the next morning the going was so bad they only made about four miles in three hours. Pluck and determination, however, carried them through all difficulties and dangers, and they fulfilled their mission with commendable expedition and dispatch.

    Scott's widow is an Indian woman and their home was at Lower Lebarge. On learning of her husband's death the woman started out alone to bring in the remains. Her story, as told to the police, is that she found her husband's body resting on his snowshoes alongside the trail, about a half mile from a camp he had made among a clump of trees at the summit between Lower Lebarge and Braeburn. She loaded the body on one sled_and the mail which Scott had been carrying on another and started on her return to Lower Lebarge. After making about two miles darkness commenced to come on, and as she had to travel over three miles of dangerous ice on the lower end of the lake in order to reach home, she abandoned the sled with the body and hauled in the sled with the mail.

    Scott's body is now at the police barracks, where it is being thawed out in order to permit of a medical examination.

The Weekly Star - Friday, January 25, 1918

Funeral Services Monday

    Joint funeral services over the remains of the late George Scott, government mail carrier, and the late Louis Bernick, White Pass section hand, were conducted Monday afternoon at 2 o'clock by Rev. A. C. Field of the Anglican church, interment being made in the Whitehorse cemetery. The pallbearers were Isaac Taylor, L. B. Davis, C. H. Johnston, Geo. Wilson, Capt. P. Martin, and W. S. Watson.

    Scott was frozen to death on the trail between Lower LeBarge and Braeburn sometime between Nov. 30 and Dec. 10, on which latter date his body was discovered by an Indian, and Bernick met a like fate on Dec. 20 while traveling on a railroad speeder between Whitehorse and Cowley station, 15 miles-south of here.

    The remains of the late W. H. Brethour, who came to his death by freezing on the trail on December 11, while making the journey on foot from Atlin to Carcross, were shipped to the home of his parents in Victoria on the last southward sailing of the Princess Sophia.

The Whitehorse Star - Monday, May 2, 1966


by W. D. MacBride

    George Scott was an Oxford Graduate, who had cast his lot with the trappers and prospectors on the Northern frontier. With his Indian wife, Susy, he had wandered far through the Yukon wilds,

    He always wore a mooseskin shirt, mooseskin trousers and moccasins, and walked with the quick long stride of the trail blazer. He made his living from the natural resources of the Yukon, trapping, fishing, hunting, mining and trading with the Indians, occasionally working on salary at some outdoor occupation.

    Scott had a good sense of humour and used a printed letterhead reading "The Anglo-Indian Trapping & Trading Co., George Scott, Manager." He wrote a copper-plate hand and on his occasional visits to Whitehorse always found a pile of "Illustrated London News" and "London Times" awaiting him.

    For several years he had secured the winter mail contract for carrying the mail between Whitehorse and some river points north, by dog team.

    The winter of 1917-1918 was perhaps the coldest ever experienced in the Yukon, with numerous tragedies resulting therefrom. Daring the coldest period Scott left the settlement at the foot of Lake LeBarge (some 60 miles from Whitehorse) with his dog team and the mail, with the temperature in the 60's below zero and was soon reported missing.

    When the weather had moderated a little a search party was dispatched from Whitehorse down the trail to Lake LeBarge, and they found George Scott sitting under a spruce with his arms folded across his chest, frozen stiff and stark. The dogs were alive. His body was conveyed to Whitehorse and had to thawed out before it could be placed in a coffin.