National Geographic : 1968 Jul
rainfall averages scarcely ten inches a year, yet it traps and holds and freezes the water. Evaporation is slight, and there is little vege tation to drink water from the ground. Canada holds a sizable portion of all the fresh water in the world; estimates range from a seventh to a third. Some of it flows usefully through that narrow east-west strip of the continent where most Canadians live, pressed close to the United States border. But vast quantities of water are frozen in the barren North. Each year much of it melts, to spill uselessly into the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. Possible slip in subtraction causes more anxiety than does a droopy petticoat for an Indian student at Good Hope Lake, a road maintenance camp in British Columbia. Her teachers, a husband-and-wife team, came from Vancouver on a year-long assignment, part of Canada's push to extend education to all her citizens. As recently as 1955, few Northerners had access to formal education; now the vast majority of school-age children attend classes. Sounds from a city intrigue Indian children of Fort Resolution in the Northwest Terri tories. They listen to a tape during a slide show about skyscrapers, go-go clubs, and freeway traffic. Hostess Georgina Blondin, a Slavey Indian, center, answers questions aboard the Mackenzie River Centennial Barge. Last summer the showboat, a float ing feature of Canada's celebration of 100 years as a confederation, brought exhibits of modern technology and urban life to towns on the river and Great Slave Lake. "Water is one of our most magnificent re sources," I was told one day by W. O. (Bill) Findlay, resident manager of the Portage Mountain hydroelectric project (pages 2-4). We were deep in the clanging darkness of the world's largest underground powerhouse. It is being constructed on the Peace River by the provincial government of British Columbia. When its last turbines are installed in the 1970's, it will be one of the world's biggest producers of electricity. "Water means not only power," Bill said. "It means a habitat for fish, for birds, for game. And hope for people. The provinces and the states to the south need more than electricity. They need drinking water, bath water, irrigation water, and industrial water."