On October 24, 1918 the Princess Sophia with all 356 human passengers onboard sank after running aground on the rocks at Vanderbilt reef in the Lynn Canal. There were however, two non-human survivors: one was a dog that jumped ship and swam ashore to save itself (very un-Lassie like, surely he could have dragged a couple of women and children ashore with him).
The other survivor is less known: Polly the Parrot.
Now Captain Alexander and his supposed wife left the mine near Atlin to head south for a holiday (like many of us do these days). Along the way he dropped off his parrot, Polly, who he claimed was over 45 years old, at the hotel in Carcross which also had a bar. When the good Captain and “wife” did not return Polly was left in Carcross where he spouted obscenities at the patrons for the next 50 years. When Polly died he was buried in the Carcross cemetery with a little brass plaque near the gate. Over the years people have added little toys to the grave, although I admit I haven’t been there in 2 years.
When the courts were settling the estate of Captain Alexander, his wife and daughter in England set the record straight that they were not with him on the Princess Sophia. Then who was this mysterious woman who drowned? Hmmm, the clot plickens….
In this photo Capt James Alexander is seated in the middle and “Mrs. Alexander” is holding the bird in the doorway.