Oral History Interview:
Bruce Johnstone was born in 1907 and spent most of his life in the Ketchikan area. Bruce's father suffered severe illness during the influenza epidemic of 1917-18. He was disabled for many years. As a boy of ten years, it was necessary for Bruce to support the family of seven. He accomplished this daunting task by hunting bears for the Smithsonian Institute.
In subsequent years, Johnstone began a career as a hunting guide which lasted for forty years. As a young man, he guided the wealthy Mellon family on several extended hunts.
Bruce was severely mauled when attacked by three bears. His hip was badly damaged. He lived with the problem for many years until a fishing client (who happened to be a doctor) arranged for a surgical repair.
Johnstone trapped most of the major furbearing species found in Southeast. In the 1930's, Bruce transplanted marten from the mainland to one of the many islands in the region. He discusses a change in fur color which occurred in the new locale. He also explains a close call when he caught a bear cub in a foot-hold trap.
Johnstone began a small logging operation which provided income for the family. This endeavor provided Bruce with the background to analyze forestry practices in the region.
Although commercial fishing was not a major activity for Johnstone, he was a keen observer. He comments on the advantages and disadvantages of the fish traps which were common prior to Statehood.
This recording with Bruce Johnstone reaches back into a time that only a few people can still recall. You will enjoy hearing about the era from a man who lived it.