stefansson-wrangel-09-25-005-004

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Samara Cary at May 15, 2024 01:49 PM

stefansson-wrangel-09-25-005-004

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of whatever nation cared to claim them either through discovery or
contiguity. Now these islands were about to receive a value that would
gradually develop until some decades hence a few of them at least (and we
could not tell in advance which) would be coveted much as certain tropical
islands now are by great nations that quarrel about them. During the last
three hundred years the British have done as much northern exploration as
all other European nations combined. Accordingly, they had already the moral
claim of discovery and exploration to most of the islands north of Canada
and to some islands north of Asia. I argued it was important to continue
the exploration of these islands and to do whatever was necessary to make
it clear to the world that they valued them and intended to keep them per-
manently. It was also important to explore the areas thus far never
traversed, both to accumulate information and to acquire discovery rights
to any islands that might be found. I thought that five years probably, and
ten years inevitably, would see the clear dawn of a normal popular under-
standing of the Arctic. Then would begin a possibly jealous competition
among nations as to which could discover and claim the new islands and as to
which had the right to hold permanently islands which had been so long neg-
lected by their discoverers that they had become no-man's land, open for
occupation by whatever country had the enterprise.

There were many in Canada who had views similar to
mine, and several who were sufficiently interested to urge them upon the
Government. Between us we spent an aggregate of weeks talking to Cabinet
ministers and politicians, we wrote reams of semi-confidential letters of
argument, we begged and implored. Then came the minor good fortune that one
of the European nations through diplomatic channels cast some doubt upon the
validity of Canadian claims to a certain "Canadian" arctic island. This

stefansson-wrangel-09-25-005-004

- 4 -

of whatever nation cared to claim them either through discovery or
contiguity. Now these islands were about to receive a value that would
gradually develop until some decades hence a few of them at least (and we
could not tell in advance which) would be coveted much as certain tropical
islands now are by great nations that quarrel about them. During the last
three hundred years the British have done as much northern exploration as
all other European nations combined. Accordingly, they had already the moral
claim of discovery and exploration to most of the islands north of Canada
and to some islands north of Asia. I argued it was important to continue
the exploration of these islands and to do whatever was necessary to make
it clear to the world that they valued them and intended to keep them per-
manently. It was also important to explore the areas thus far never
traversed, both to accumulate information and to acquire discovery rights
to any islands that might be found. I thought that five years probably, and
ten years inevitably, would see the clear dawn of a normal popular under-
standing of the Arctic. Then would begin a possibly jealous competition
among nations as to which could discover and claim the new islands and as to
which had the right to hold permanently islands which had been so long neg-
lected by their discoverers that they had become no-man's land, open for
occupation by whatever country had the enterprise.

There were many in Canada who had views similar to
mine, and several who were sufficiently interested to urge them upon the
Government. Between us we spent an aggregate of weeks talking to Cabinet
ministers and politicians, we wrote reams of semi-confidential letters of
argument, we begged and implored. Then came the minor good fortune that one
of the European nations through diplomatic channels cast some doubt upon the
validity of Canadian claims to a certain "Canadian" arctic island. This