Courtesy Reuters

Canada Looks "Down North"

CANADA is one of the few countries with an unexplored frontier, luring the pathfinder into the unknown. This frontier, with its inevitable effect on the life and habits of the Canadian people, is, however, no longer the West. "Go North" has replaced "Go West" as the call to adventure. Robert Service once called the Canadian North the "land where the mountains are nameless and the rivers run God knows where." By now most of the mountains have been christened (one was even re-christened a short time ago as Mt. Eisenhower) and it is known where most of the rivers run. But there is a great deal yet to be learned, and a far greater incentive to learn it now than ever before.

Not long ago this vast Canadian Arctic territory was considered to be little more than a frozen northern desert, without any great economic value or any political or strategic importance. Many thought it might as well be left to the trappers of the fur companies or those wandering stoics of the North, the Esquimaux, who have shown us how easy it is to live and be happy on a nicely balanced diet of blubber and caribou meat. We know better now. Canada, like Russia, is looking to the North as a land of the future.

The reason is obvious. The war and the aeroplane have driven home to Canadians the importance of their Northland, in strategy, in resources and in communications. We should no longer be deceived by the flat maps and "frigid wasteland" tales of our public school geographies. The earth remains round, and the shortest routes between many important spots on it lie across the Arctic ice and over the North Pole. The shortest air line from New York to Tokyo crosses Hudson Bay; that from San Francisco to Berlin, or from New York to Chungking, goes over or near the Pole. These routes are as practicable and as safe as those in many settled temperate areas.

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