The Northwest Mounted Police reported that on May 28, 1898, Robert T. Veitch drowned at Lake Bennett. The news reported that Veitch was hit by the boom of the sailboat and knocked overboard.
On the same day, May 28, 1899 a year later, Mr. Hiliger and Mr. Schock also drowned in Lake Bennett.
“Two men, a Mr. Schock the proprietor of a road house on the upper end of Lake Laberge, and a man named Hiliger were drowned in Lake Bennett on May 28, about three miles from Bennett. Both were newly married, and their wives were on the shore and saw them drown. It appears they were on their way down with a scow, and, having forgotten something, started back for the same in a small boat. A gale was blowing at the time and the boat capsized, and before help could be secured they were both drowned. An inventory of the effects of the road house was taken and a full report forwarded to Dawson, and the public administrator notified.” from the NWMP record.
NWMP Annual Reports; familysearch; explorenorth; NY times June 18, 1898 online;
One of the most common ways of death in Skagway was not murder or disease, but curiously, drowning. Skagway is a port town and ships come and go all the time. These days, the docks are wooden and concrete, but around the turn of the century they were just wood. As any local resident knows, wood becomes slippery and so you generally walk in the street or walk with ice-creepers if you take the boardwalks.
Poor Hector, born in Wood Island, PEI, was only 41 when he began his trip south. The Edmonton Daily of December 17, 1907 reported:
“Halifax, Dec 13, Hector McDonald, of Prince Edward Island, master builder for the Guggenheims at Bonanza Creek, Yukon, was drowned recently at Skagway on the eve of his departure for San Francisco, when attempting to make his way across the dock to the steamer Princess Royal, which was about to sail, he tripped over a guard rail, fell backwards into the bay and was drowned. A boat was lowered and the steamer’s searchlight turned on, but no trace of MacDonald could be found.”
Although the Skagway Death Record says he died on October 30, 1907, the Dawson Daily News pinpointed his death on Friday November 5, 1907. Since by December they still had not found the body, it must of sunk to the bottom of Lynn Canal. His is not the only body to disappear in the frigid waters. In any case, in the winter, be careful when walking on the docks and don’t lean over if you hear a peculiar cry coming from the water below.