John Motherwell is a retired civil engineer living in Victoria, BC. I first became acquainted with John when he was searching for biographical information on John J. Healy, as he was researching the impact of merchant companies during the Klondike Gold Rush and beyond. John’s own work has seen the publication of Gold Rush Steamboats: Francis Rattenbury’s Yukon Venture in 2012, a detailed and well written
account of a Victoria architect and his enterprise on the Yukon River.
In reviewing my book, Healy’s West: The Life and Times of John J. Healy, Motherwell writes:
“I must say that I think Healy’s West is an excellent book which should be read by everyone interested in the early development of the Plains west or the Yukon. I particularly take note of the extensive research with which you support your book, which I very much like because it lends an immense amount of credibility and authority. I think you have presented Healy as he really was, warts and all, loved by some and hated by others. I have never felt that the Klondike Nugget’s treatment of him was anything more than an attempt to stir up controversy, where none was truly justified, in order to sell a few more papers. The measure of the Klondike Nugget’s integrity was Eugene Allen’s furtive escape at night by dog team over the winter ice to US territory to avoid having to pay his creditors.”
As I believe I mentioned to you once, I was never happy with earlier biographies of Healy,
because I thought [they] gave insufficient recognition of the circumstances which influenced Healy at many critical times in his life. I have read too many historical books by modern authors who judge historical figures according to modern standards, and this is simply neither fair nor logical nor honest. Healy could no better have divined business conditions in the Yukon as they are now any better than we can predict, with absolute certainty, what social conditions in Canada will be in 2114. So I think you have done an excellent job and I hope the book sells well.”