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Leask Lake's Namesake
by June Allen


August 27, 2004

I enjoyed seeing the Chris Wilhelm photos of the recent Leask Lakes hike. While looking at them, it occurred to me that I didn't know who Leask Lake, Leask Creek and Leask Cove were named for. I knew that there are numerous members of the Leask family in Metlakatla and Ketchikan, and wondered which ancestor was honored with the "forever" place name. With a little help from librarian Judith Anglin at the Ketchikan library, the Ketchikan Museum folks, and the good old internet I was able to find out!

He was James Conrad Leask (1880-1969), one of the founders of Metlakatla. Born in Old Metlakatla in British Columbia, James Leask was one of the pioneers who moved to new Metlakatla on Annette Island with Father Duncan in 1887. He became a carpenter and commercial fisherman. He built the well known seiner Lady Alice, which - at his retirement - he sold to his son Harvey. In those early turn-of-the-century years, James Leask also discovered and operated a salt mine at the head of George Inlet. The Leask-named geographical features are near the probably now-vanished salt mine. He moved to Ketchikan in 1912.

An Internet item by one of his descendants, Janie Leask, says that the original Leask progenitor of that name was a 19th century English seaman who jumped ship in British Columbia and married a Tsimshian woman.

James C. Leask's published obituary in the Ketchikan papers and in the Alaska Magazine note that he died June 29, 1969, in Ketchikan at age 89. The obituary notes that he was a member of St. John's Church and also a member of the Ketchikan Community Orchestra, although it doesn't say what instrument he played. Bayview Cemetery records show that he is buried in plot #3906, next to his wife Lillian, who preceded him in death in 1967.

It notes that he left sons James, Harvey, Karl and Henry, and daughters Mrs. Wilson Peratrovich, Mrs. Sam J. Decker, Mrs. Donald Newman, Mrs. David Demmert and Mrs. Robert E. Hunter.

And now we know.

June Allen
Ketchikan, AK - USA


Related Photograph:

'Leask Lakes Hikers' photo by Chris Wilhelm



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