The Arctic Prairies By Ernest Thompson Seton


In the north the grand event of the year is the opening of the
rivers. The day when the ice - Page 5
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In The North The Grand Event Of The Year Is The Opening Of The Rivers.

The day when the ice goes out is the official first day of spring, the beginning of the season; and is eagerly looked for, as every day's delay means serious loss to the traders, whose men are idle, but drawing pay as though at work.

On May 11, having learned that the Athabaska was open, we left Edmonton in a livery rig, and drove 94 miles northward though a most promising, half-settled country, and late the next day arrived at Athabaska Landing, on the great east tributary of the Mackenzie, whose waters were to bear us onward for so many weeks.

Athabaska Landing is a typical frontier town. These are hard words, but justified. We put up at the principal hotel; the other lodgers told me it was considered the worst hotel in the world. I thought I knew of two worse, but next morning accepted the prevailing view.

Our canoe and provisions arrived, but the great convoy of scows that were to take the annual supplies of trade stuff for the far north was not ready, and we needed the help and guidance of its men, so must needs wait for four days.

This gave us the opportunity to study the local natural history and do a little collecting, the results of which appear later.

The great size of the timber here impressed me. I measured a typical black poplar (P. balsamifera), 100 feet to the top, 8 feet 2 inches in circumference, at 18 inches from the ground, and I saw many thicker, but none taller.

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