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

Jonas Peter Hagstrom

Jonas Peter Hagstrom was born on April 11, 1871 in Sweden. Although happily married with a daughter, he decided to go to the Yukon to search for gold around 1906. Maria and Elsa stayed in Sweden but he wrote to them during the decades that he lived at Teslin in a little cabin. Here is part of one poem he wrote:

“…for you know tis constant dripping

wears away the hardest stone.

Never slack sublime endeavour,

nor midst cheerless toil despair;

If you’d rise above your fellows

Remember you must “Win and Wear”.

Jonas, or John as he adopted the local name, was found dead in 1941 in his cabin.

Every Trail has a story: Heritage Travel in Canada, by Bob Henderson and James Raffan.

John W. Nordstrom

John Nordstrom was born on this day, February 15, 1871 in Alvik Neder Lulea, Sweden.
According to some sources he “found $13,000 in gold in Skagway” and so, being a good Swede and a businessman, he went south and started a store. That store is now very famous and has a reputation for being very helpful and courteous. I find I cannot walk through it without having at least a couple of helpful ladies ask if they can help me find anything. Jag älskar Nordstrom’s!

Anyway, John left Skagway about 1899 and was in the Yukon in 1901. He died in 1963 at the age of 92. Vad en lyckosam guy!


Godfrey Otto Chealander

Mr Chealander was born in Kalmar Sweden in 1867 and came to America where he settled in Kankanee Illinois. He married Mary Cecelia Costello there in 1893 and then moved to Tacoma. The family then decided to move to Skagway in 1897. Godfrey opened a cigar store business and was later the Skagway City Clerk in 1901. He was one of the organizers of the Arctic Brotherhood Camp #1 in Skagway and served as the Grand Arctic Recorder in 1905.

While living in Nome in 1907, he had been helping to collect the official Alaska exhibit for the Portland fair. But something about that exhibit was bothering him. It just wasn’t going to do Alaska justice, he thought, tucked away in a corner of the U.S. Government Building, alongside every other government department. Homeseekers and investors might never notice.

Chealander had an idea-and now he knew where to write. He sat down in the lobby of Nome’s Golden Gate Hotel, picked up a pen, and wrote a letter to his friend John Edward Chilberg. This was the letter that started everything. It opened with a bang:

“An Alaskan exposition for Seattle in 1907-how does the idea strike you?”

He was very involved in organizing this Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle Washington, the world’s fair that in 1909 drew more than three million visitors. Of course, being Swedish they also made sure there was a “Swedish Day” for all the Swedes in the area. (Yay Swedes!)

Godfrey later became involved in Washington politics and history. He died on this day, December 4, 1953 in Los Angeles.

from Washington history online