The Force in the North


The Lower Laberge detachment was located at the foot of the 50-kilometre-long Lake Laberge.

[In 1897] Constables George Barnes and Anson Lynn were left at Lower La Barge to build a cabin and establish a post. In February 1898, Inspector Wood was instructed to report to Commissioner Walsh at Big Salmon. Wood and 32 non-commissioned officers, 43 pack horses and nine dog teams left Skagway on February 3. They arrived at Bennett on Feb 6 and Wood organized three parties of ten men and ten horses to haul freight to Tagish and La Barge [sic]. In the spring, Sergeant William Haslett and 18 men came down from Tagish to man the boats built by Sergeant Service and his crew at Lower Laberge. Inspector Starnes left Lower Laberge on May 9 and picked up provisions along the way at Hootalinqua and Little Salmon. He arrived at Dawson with 50,000 pounds of food. (Jim Wallace, Forty Mile to Bonanza: The North- West Mounted Police in the Klondike Gold Rush. Calgary: Bunker to Bunker Publishing. 2000:77, 79, 106.)

Stables were erected during the winter of 1900/1901 at: Upper Laberge, Lower Laberge, Chico, Montagu, Tantalus, and Five Finger. One fairly old team of horses has been working continuously since they came in on the Stikine trail in 1898. They were turned out for the summer and then sent to Lower Laberge greatly improved and will last another year at slow work. (Report of the North-West Mounted Police, 1901. Sessional Papers, Volume 11. Ottawa: Queen’s Printer. 1902:21, 27.)

The new winter trail to White Horse, just completed, will need 5 new police detachments as with three exceptions it does not pass near the summer outposts on the river. It only passes one telegraph office in the whole 323 miles. The winter detachments at Lower Laberge and Chico were cut off by the new wagon road to White Horse and will not be occupied this winter, but the buildings will be moved to points on the new road. (North-West Mounted Police Annual Report. Sessional Paper No. 28. 1903:14.)

The bodies of those drowned on the steamer Goddard on October 12, 1901, were found in Lake Laberge during the summer of 1902. Charles McDonald was found on May 3, Fay Ransome, the cook, was found on July 8, and John Thompson, the engineer, was found on July 27. The three were buried at the back of the Lower Laberge detachment by the members of the detachment. (North-West Mounted Police Annual Report. Sessional Paper No. 28. 1903:31.)

In 1915, there was a detachment at Lower Laberge during the period when freight was being hauled over the lake to the steamers at that point just prior to the opening of navigation. This detachment was closed in June. (Report of the North-West Mounted Police, 1915. Sessional Paper No. 28. Ottawa: Queen’s Printer. 1915:247.)