CHAPTER I INTRODUCING AN AIRSHIP AND COUNT ZEPT
This story, which is an account of the peculiar and marvelous adventures by which two Canadian boys—Norman Grant and Roy Moulton—achieved a sudden fame in the Arctic wilderness of the great Northwest, had its beginning in the thriving city of Calgary. The exact time was the big day of the celebrated “Stampede,” Calgary’s famous civic celebration. It was in July and among the many events that had drawn thousands of people to the new Northwestern metropolis, Norman and Roy were on the program as aviators and exhibitors of their new aeroplane.
These young men were born in Calgary and had lived eighteen years in that city. Since this almost covered the period of Calgary’s growth from a trading post to a modern city, each young man had a knowledge of the wilderness and its romance that other boys could get only from history. This meant that they knew plainsmen, scouts, ranchmen, cowboys, hunters, trappers, and even Indians as personal friends. It meant also that they had a real knowledge of the prairies, the woods and even of the mountains. Their knowledge of these men and the land in which they lived was personal and did not come from the fanciful narratives of books of adventure.
Each boy was the son of a mechanic, men who had come into the Province of Alberta with the first railroads. And each boy was educated in all that a grammar school affords. The picturesque romance of the Northwest having been a part of the life of each, it might have been supposed that the ambitions of the two lads would have run toward mining or ranch life or even toward the inviting work of hunters or trappers.
To the gratification of their fathers, however, they fell in with the modern movement and turned toward mechanics. When the furore for aeronautics reached even far-away Calgary, the boys found themselves passionately absorbed in all airship discoveries. Mr. Grant’s position as a division mechanic of a great trunk railroad, and Mr. Moulton’s “Electrical Supply Factory,” gave the boys their starting point. Later, in Mr. Moulton’s factory, an outbuilding was appropriated and in this place, with the approval and assistance of their fathers, the two boys finally completed an airship. This was but a spur to a renewed effort, and within a year, the boys attending school meanwhile, they finished their improved aeroplane. It was named the “Gitchie Manitou” or “Spirit of the Wind”—words taken from the Cree Indians.
The original ideas that resulted in this ingenious contrivance came mainly from the boys themselves. Yet they neglected no suggestions that they could find in the latest aeronautical journals. This wonderful machine was only locally known, but when the citizens of Calgary planned their local celebration, known as the “Stampede,” there was knowledge among the promoters, of the just completed “Gitchie Manitou.” It was fitting that this modern invention should be shown in contrast with all that was being collected to exhibit the past, so an arrangement was made with the young aviators to give a daily flight in the new airship....