BACK I first heard of Jack McQuesten at about the same time that I was reading the novels of Jack London -- still just a very young boy, totally unaware of the connections between myself and these two famous men named Jack.
Through the years I learned that Jack London received much of his inspiration and information about the Yukon from Captain Jack McQuesten, and that McQuesten was, in fact, a close relative of mine, despite the fact that his name was spelled slightly different. London used the McQuesten or McQuestion name in 4 novels, 4 short stories, and an essay on Jack McQuesten.
Extensive DNA testing has been done over the last several years linking all the spellings of the McQuiston/McQuestion/McQuesten name to one single Scotch-Irish family. Other branches use a "C" in place of the "Q" and they also had matching DNA.
This proven family link to Captain Jack, along with encouragment from Jack McQuesten's grandson, Walter, and also from Yukon authors and historians, Ed and Star Jones, led to the writing of "Captain Jack: Father of the Yukon", the biography of a true North American hero.
I've always been fascinated with Jack London's stories, many of which revolve around wolves and dogs. I became a fan of the Iditarod and of dog sled races held in the town where my mother was born. As a youth, I was also a big fan of Sgt. Preston of the Yukon and his dog, Yukon King, as well as of documentaries by Pierre Berton on the Yukon gold rush. Ed and Star Jones wrote the foreword for my book, and Pierre Berton wrote the foreword for their book, just before he passed away, and so I have inherited an incredible Yukon writer's heritage.
Ed and Star also introduced me to nearly every living Yukon historian, including Dick North, the very man who rescued Jack London's cabin from the wild. Dick rebuilt half of the cabin in Dawson City and the other half in London's hometown of Oakland, California.
Captain Jack was one of the first European white men to enter the Yukon River Valley. His wife, Kate, was one of the first native women to marry into this new western culture that would change the face of the Yukon Valley.
Together, Jack and Kate plied the waters of the great river on a handful of steamboats, or over the ice by dog sled, setting up trading posts, establishing towns and grubstaking thousands of gold miners, allowing for the greatest discovery in gold rush history - the Klondike Stampede - and making it possible for many prospectors to get their one big chance at the good life.
Jack captained the very first steamboats on the Yukon, including the first one, appropriately named the "Yukon", its replacement also named the "Yukon", the "New Racket", the "Prospector" and the "St. Michael". He founded four towns - Fort Reliance, Fort Nelson, Fortymile, and Circle City, and also had trading posts at Eagle, Fort Yukon and Tanana Station.
By the time he returned to the lower 48 Jack had acquired the names Father of Alaska and Father of the Yukon, names he became known by, across America.