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11

bound for days. Then we sit cosy in our snow-houses that are brightly
lit and adequately heated by seal-oil lamps which we trim so carefully
that they produce neither smoke nor odor. On such occasions we specu-
late for hours upon things for which we can not spare minutes where tele-
phones ring and movies lurk around every corner. The winters of 1914
to 1918 we used to talk a great deal about the coming era of northern
development and the part which our respective countries would play there-
in. My companions were Canadian, Australian, American, Norwegian,
South Sea Islanders,--men from more than a dozen countries. We talked
much of the importance of Spitsbergen to which Britain then had (it
seemed to us) a stronger claim than any other nation. From the British
point of view it has seemed to me a blunder exceeded by only two or
three of the colossal calamities of the Paris conference, that they gave
away Spitsbergen to Norway, not one-half aware of its mineral riches,
not one-fourth informed as to its real climate, and apparently not at all conscious of its great potential
importance as a flying center. It is not quite as strategically placed
in the Arctic as the Hawaiian Islands are in the Pacific, but I fancy it will not
be more than two or three decades until air-lines radiate from Spits-
bergen
somewhat as steamship routes they do now from Honolulu. From the point of view of Spitsbergen itself
it may be a blessing to be under one of the
an most advanced country and and that is
not too large to pay attention to it. For Norway itself
the arrangement gives a wonderful pioneering
opportunity.

We talked of various other Arctic Islands from this point of view
and among them of Wrangell, the history, climate and resources of which
we knew, and the importance of which seemed clear to us.

The history of Wrangell Island begins in the scientific theorizing
of the early nineteenth century. At that time it was supposed that
most of the Arctic was occupied by a great continent of which Greenland
was one corner. Another corner was thought to lie undiscovered just
North of the north-eastern coast of Siberia.

This was the time when the Russian Empire was expanding into Asia
to form the country now politically described as Siberia, and the Czar's

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