Capt. Charles John Bloomquist of the Sophia

In the midst of the 1918 Influenza epidemic and World War One, another big marine disaster occurred in the cold waters of the Lynn Canal.

Capt. Charles John Bloomquist was a passenger on the night of the grounding of the Sophia. The story of the Princess Sophia loss on October 24, 1918 in a blinding snowstorm, has been well documented, with a number of White Pass employees onboard heading back to Victoria for the end of the season. One report in the Daily Colonist on November 3, 1918, stated that only 2 of the victims drowned, the rest suffocated in the crude oil spilling from the ship.

I was curious to know a bit more about the Swedish Captain Bloomquist. He was born in 1867 in Stockholm, Sweden and came to Canada in 1883. He lived with his wife, Catherine at Shawnigan Lake, a small farming community 28 miles north of Victoria. He was listed there in the 1909 directory of Vancouver Island, also he kept a room at the Dominion Hotel in Victoria.  He left behind 4 sisters but no children.

He had worked for 20 years on the boats in the Yukon. He was the master of the White Pass Steamboat Dawson.  Before that he had worked for the Canadian Government on the Quadra and the Sir James Douglas.

The Princess Alice brought many of the bodies back to Victoria on the 12 of November 1918. On November 15 he was buried in Victoria with the Victoria Columbia Masonic Lodge as pallbearers. Rev. F.A.B. Chadwick gave the service. Catherine is buried with him at the Ross Bay Cemetery, she died November 27, 1969 at the age of 92! Here is a picture that Anne Scott made of the grave in Victoria! Posted on Find A Grave for this story – Thank you so Much Anne!!!


from the Daily Colonist October 29, 1918

Sophia victims

While researching Albert David Pinska (born on this day, February 10, 1877 in Minnesota and drowned on the Princess Sophia), I found some interesting facts about other victims on the Princess Sophia. The dates of death of some of the victims were later reported in news accounts that put the death dates later than the actual death dates of October 25, 1918. Some victims even fail to show up in the Ken Coates book on the Sinking of the Princess Sophia, 1991.

The Daily Alaska Dispatch Newspaper of 29 OCT 1918, Juneau, Alaska stated that additional victims of the Princess Sophia had been identified. “Advices from Skagway show there were ten more people on the vessel than shown by the list, to-wit: Geo. Allen, W. Barton, Jim Kirk, N. McLeod and wife, C. P. Queen, H. F. Robinson, D. Williams, W. Wright and George Williams, the latter being aboard without having purchased a ticket.” (Mrs. Pinska was later identified as a victim also).

There was a G.W. Williams who worked for Soapy but left Skagway June 16 1898.
The San Francisco Call, on March 16, 1905 said that John Lee Kirk, a Soapy Smith collaborator, was arrested in Victoria for crimes committed in Nome, in 1905 – however he was released three hours later for lack of a warrant. (See SoapySmiths.blogspot of April 17, 2009)
The Fairbanks News reported the deaths of a G.W. Williams and a William Wright on December 10,1918 – these reports could have been delayed and the deaths occurred earlier, such as in October, not December 1918.

Could G.W. Williams and Jim Kirk actually have been the G.W. Williams and John Lee Kirk who worked for Soapy? Or just a case of similar names. The fact that George Williams on the Princess Sophia was reported to have been onboard “without having purchased a ticket” throws suspicion his way. Whether the Jim Kirk is the same as the John Lee Kirk who was arrested in 1905, and released is pure conjecture, I know, but its a delicious thought to think that these scoundrels were still working their tricks in 1918.

And furthermore, was James Kirk’s middle name Tiberius?
see British Colonist online March 16, 1905.