Captain Charles Atherton Folliott Powell
(Apr 3, 1845 – Jan 26, 1898)
Powell was a Captain in the British Merchant Marine who routinely sailed between England and Australia. He was born in Ashbourne, Derbyshire and had more recently been living in London with his wife Annie (1857-1897) and son Charles. His wife died in 1897 and Charles and his son joined the Helpman Expedition to the Klondike which arrived in Canada in late 1897.
The 13 member team assembled in Edmonton and left for the Klondike in early 1898, assisted by local guides and outfitters. This party intended to carry out mapping and mineral exploration along the way. The expedition party included Major John Henry Helpman, Captain Mathew Evanson O’Brien, Viscount Avonmore (Lord Algernon William Yelverton from Belle Isle, County Tipperary, Ireland), Lt. Col. Augustus Simeon Le Quesne, Captain Edward Wentworth Fisher Holder Alleyne, Captain John Hall, Captain Charles Atherton Folliott Powell, Dr. Samuel Evans Mostyn Hoops, Dr. Francis Hallwright, and Messrs. Charles Atherton Folliott Powell Jr., C.C. Bannister, E.A. Jeffreys and C.H. Simpson. Some of these men were retired British Army and Naval officers, and others were on leave.
While they successfully traveled overland part way, their party separated into two smaller groups and never did reach Dawson City. By 1899 most members of this party had returned to England and Ireland.
Captain Charles Powell was found dead in his bed in Vancouver, B.C. on January 26, 1898 at age 52 after frostbite to his feet in Edmonton. He is interred at Mountain View Cemetery (OLD/3/01/012/0006). There is no marker on his grave. His son Charles Jr. ended up in Austrailia where he died of influenza at the age of 38 in 1919.
According to the Irish Times (Wednesday, December 15, 1897),
“OFF TO KLONDIKE Viscount Avonmore headed a party of retired military and naval officers who arrived at New York by the St. Paul on Saturday, bound for the Klondike. In the party were Colonel Le Quesne, Captain Powell, Dr. Hooper, and Messrs. Bannister and Jeffreys. They left immediately for Montreal, where they join Major Helpman and Captain Alleyne, formerly of the 12th Lancers. From Montreal they go to Tacoma for their outfits. Proceeding thence to Yukon, where they hope to make huge fortunes by gold mining. ”
The Route From Edmonton, northwest to St Albert towards Pembina River, about 55 miles. Then to Fort Assiniboine to cross the Athabasca, about 42 miles. Then through the Swan Hills to the Swan River, 85 miles, and down to Lesser Slave Lake, 25 miles. Then to Lesser Slave Lake post at the west end, another 40 miles. In the winter this could be done on the ice, about 65 miles total. In the summer it would be about 50 miles. From Lesser Lake Post to Peace River Crossing it was 80 miles. From Peace River Crossing to Dunvegan 85 miles. Dunvegan to Fort St. John, 115 miles. Fort St. John to Fort Nelson 200 miles.
Charles Mair in his book written in 1908, Through the Mackenzie Basin (A Narrative of the Athabasca and Peace River Treaty Expedition of 1899) said the following about the Helpman party.
“What was known as the “Helpman Party” was formed in England by Captain Alene, who died of pneumonia in December, 1897, three days after his arrival at Edmonton. The party consisted of a number of retired army officers, including Viscount Avonmore, with a considerable capital, $50,000 of which was expended. They brought some of their outfit from England, but completed it at Edmonton, and thence went overland late in the spring. But sleighing being about over, they got to Lesser Slave Lake with great difficulty, and there the party broke up, Mr. Helpman and others returning to England, whilst Messrs. Jeffries and Hall Wright, Captain Hall, and Mr. Simpson went on to Peace River Crossing. From there they descended to Smith’s Portage, on the Great Slave River, and wintered at Fort Resolution, on Great Slave Lake.
In the following spring they were joined by Mr. McKinlay, the Hudson’s Bay Company’s agent at the Portage, and he, accompanied by Messrs. Holroyd and Holt, who had joined the party at Smith’s Landing, and by Mr. Simpson, went off on a prospecting tour through the north-east portion of Great Slave Lake, staking, en route, a number of claims, some of which were valuable, others worthless. The untruthful statements, however, of one of the party, who represented even the worst of the claims as of fabulous value, brought the whole enterprise into disrepute. The members of the party mentioned returned to England ostensibly to raise capital to develop their claims, but nothing came of it, not because minerals of great value do not exist there, but on account of remoteness and the difficulties of transport.
Adapted from: http://traverslancashire.net/klondike.html (link not working)