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The New North

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"We are as mendicants who waitAlong the roadside in the sun.Tatters of yesterday and shredsOf morrow clothe us every one."And some are dotards, who believeAnd glory in the days of old;While some are dreamers, harping stillUpon an unknown age of gold."O foolish ones, put by your care!Where wants are many, joys are few;And at the wilding springs of peace,God keeps an open house for you."But there be others, happier few,The vagabondish sons of God,Who know the by-ways and the flowers,And care not how the world may plod."

Isn't it Riley who says, "Ef you want something, an' jest dead set a-longin' fer it with both eyes wet, and tears won't bring it, why, you try sweat"? Well, we had tried sweat and longing for two years, with planning and hoping and the saving of nickels, and now we are off!

Shakespeare makes his man say, "I will run as far as God has any ground," and that is our ambition. We are to travel north and keep on going till we strike the Arctic,—straight up through Canada. Most writers who traverse The Dominion enter it at the Eastern portal and travel west by the C.P.R., following the line of least resistance till they reach the Pacific. Then they go back to dear old England and tell the world all about Canada, their idea of the half-continent being Euclid's conception of a straight line, "length without breadth."

Sir Wilfred Laurier

But Canada has a third dimension, a diameter that cuts through the Belt of Wheat and Belt of Fur, beginning south at the international boundary and ending where in his winter-igloo the Arctic Eskimo lives and loves after his kind and works out his own destiny. This diameter we are to follow. To what end? Not, we hope, to come back like him who went from Dan to Beersheba to say "All is barren," but to come near to the people, our fellow-Britons, in this transverse section of a country bigger than Europe. We want to see what they are doing, these Trail-Blazers of Commerce, who, a last vedette, are holding the silent places, awaiting that multitude whose coming footsteps it takes no prophet to hear.

We will take the great waterways, our general direction being that of all the world-migrations. Colonization in America has followed the trend of the great rivers, and it has ever been northward and westward,—till you and I have to look southward and eastward for the graves of our ancestors. The sons and grandsons of those who conquered the St. Lawrence and built on the Mississippi have since occupied the shores of the Red, the Assiniboine, and the Saskatchewan. They are laying strong hands upon the Peace, and within a decade will be platting townships on the Athabasca, the Mackenzie, and the Slave.

There has always been a West. For the Greeks there was Sicily; Carthage was the western outpost of Tyre; and young Roman patricians conquered Gaul and speculated in real estate on the sites of London and Liverpool. But the West that we are entering upon is the Last West, the last unoccupied frontier under a white man's sky....