OF 2,000 MILES IN SEARCH OF THE CARIBOU
BEING THE ACCOUNT OF A VOYAGE TO THE REGION NORTH OF AYLMER LAKE
By Ernest Thompson Seton
Author of "Wild Animals I Have Known", "Life Histories", Etc.
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
SIR WILFRID LAURIER, G. C. M. G.
PREMIER OF CANADA
What young man of our race would not gladly give a year of his life
to roll backward the scroll of time for five decades and live that
year in the romantic bygone-days of the Wild West; to see the great
Missouri while the Buffalo pastured on its banks, while big game
teemed in sight and the red man roamed and hunted, unchecked by
fence or hint of white man's rule; or, when that rule was represented
only by scattered trading-posts, hundreds of miles apart, and
at best the traders could exchange the news by horse or canoe and
months of lonely travel?
I for one, would have rejoiced in tenfold payment for the privilege
of this backward look in our age, and had reached the middle life
before I realised that, at a much less heavy cost, the miracle was
For the uncivilised Indian still roams the far reaches of absolutely
unchanged, unbroken forest and prairie leagues, and has knowledge
of white men only in bartering furs at the scattered trading-posts,
where locomotive and telegraph are unknown; still the wild Buffalo
elude the hunters, fight the Wolves, wallow, wander, and breed;
and still there is hoofed game by the million to be found where the
Saxon is as seldom seen as on the Missouri in the times of Lewis
and Clarke. Only we must seek it all, not in the West, but in the
far North-west; and for "Missouri and Mississippi" read "Peace and
Mackenzie Rivers," those noble streams that northward roll their
mile-wide turbid floods a thousand leagues to the silent Arctic
This was the thought which spurred me to a six months' journey
by canoe. And I found what I went in search of, but found, also,
abundant and better rewards that were not in mind, even as Saul,
the son of Kish, went seeking asses and found for himself a crown
and a great kingdom.
Four years have gone by since I lived through these experiences.
Such a lapse of time may have made my news grow stale, but it has
also given the opportunity for the working up of specimens and
scientific records. The results, for the most part, will be found
in the Appendices, and three of these, as indicated - namely, the
sections on Plants, Mammals, and Birds - are the joint work of my
assistant, Mr. Edward A. Preble, and myself.
My thanks are due here to the Right Honourable Lord Strathcona, G.
C. M. G., Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, for giving me access
to the records of the Company whenever I needed them for historical
purposes; to the Honourable Frank Oliver, Minister of the Interior,
Canada, for the necessary papers and permits to facilitate scientific
collection, and also to Clarence C. Chipman, Esq., of Winnipeg,
the Hudson's Bay Company's Commissioner, for practical help in
preparing my outfit, and for letters of introduction to the many
officers of the Company, whose kind help was so often a Godsend.