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Things for which we do not spare minutes where telephones ring and [cinemas] lurk
around every corner. During 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 therein. My companions were Canadians, Scots, Australians,
Americans, Norwegians, 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 (and in the [?] of such secret informationas may [?] in Government archives) [should?] thought it one of the blunders of the Paris Conference that they gave away Spitsbergen to Norwar,
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 potential importance as a
flying centre. From the point of view of Spitsbergen itself, it may be a blessing
to be under an advanced country that is not too large to pay attention to it.
To Norway itself, the arrangement gives a wonderful pioneering opportunity.
Although the group is not quite as strategically placed in the Arctic as the
Hawaiian Islands are in the Pacific, I fancy it will not be more than two or three
decades until air lines radiate from Spitsbergen somewhat as steamship routes do
now from Honolulu.

We talked of various other arctic islands from the 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.

Chapter II The Early History of Wrangell Island The history of Wrangell Island begins in the scientific theorizing
of the eighteenth 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 northeastern coast of
Siberia. An alternative view with similar implications was to the effect that the
northwest corner of North America lay to the north of eastern Asia.

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

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