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McLeod, Charles Ernest Sr.

by Jeannette Doucette McLeod

Charles Ernest McLeod was born in Glasgow, Scotland, September 19, 1925, to Charles E. (Schultz) McLeod and Mary (Molly) Hartley. His father was at that time a lighthouse keeper in the Lighthouse Service. His mother had been a clerk in a tobacco shop before her marriage. Charles’ father returned to Alaska in 1925. In May, 1926, nine months after his birth, Charles and his mother traveled by steamship to Canada, crossing by train to Vancouver and by steamship to Ketchikan. They then took a small boat to Point Retreat Lighthouse where his father was stationed at the time. The family lived at Point Retreat Lighthouse until his father’s death in 1929.

The family moved to Juneau where his mother married Edward Maki, a miner and later fisherman in 1930. The family then moved to Chichagoff Mining camp in 1932, and then back to Juneau, relocating to Fish Creek at the north end of Douglas Island. Charles, his family and other families living in the area built their own school house and attended school there until 1940, as at that time there was not a road to this community. Access was by hiking the trail and crossing the bar of Gastineau Channel at mean low tide or by boat around Douglas Island and then up the channel. Charles was employed as a fisherman by his stepfather. In the off season, he was known for his merchandising of fresh clams, fish and kippered salmon.

Charles was employed at a young age by the AJ Mine. Later he was employed by CCC to build and maintain trails and paths in the Juneau-Douglas area, particularly the Thane to Point Bishop area where they had uncovered several burial grounds. He also towed log rafts for the logging companies and local sawmills. As there was not a local ice packing company, Charles would tow in small icebergs to the local bars and restaurants for their refrigeration and ice for cold drinks. He also was a construction pile buck and boat hand on mail boats for J.V. Cole, John Willis and Dave Rieschl. He worked the herring pot at Indian Cove for many years.

In 1949, he married Jeannette Doucette. They had two children, Charlene McLeod Stanley and Charles E. McLeod Jr., both born and raised in Juneau. He then fished for salmon and halibut for 15 years. He was hired during off fishing season by the Pilots Association to transport pilots to vessels entering the inside waters, in all types of weather, year around. He was a relief captain for the Fish and Wildlife Vessels Department for two years and then a permanent captain transferring from one vessel to another as needed. He ran all of the Fish and Game boats from 1966 until his retirement 19 years later. He was known for his expert handling of all vessels in all weather. He traveled an area from Seattle to the Bering Sea. He participated in the Aleutian Sea Otter harvest and was lauded by the Sea Otter workers for developing a more advanced skinning process. He was noted for his rescue efforts and saving of many lives on the water when running his own fishing vessels and while employed by Fish and Wildlife. Charles was an avid hunter and fisherman. He kept the freezer stocked with deer, goat, rabbit, ptarmigan, grouse, salmon, halibut and much more. He enjoyed all aspects of the outdoors. He also enjoyed entertaining his friends with stories of his adventures.

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