National Geographic : 1961 Dec
Canadians now. They shared something in common. I hoped my trip would tell me what it was. The plane came down on the flat green delta of the Fraser River, and I walked across to the hangar of Okanagan Helicopters, Ltd. When I lived here 14 years before, this com pany was Carl Agar, a middle-aged pilot who feared heights, with a mechanic and one Bell two-seater. Now it was the biggest com mercial helicopter line in the world. Making Molehills out of Mountains "We couldn't have developed this country in any other way," said a tall, lean pilot, Alas tair Smillie. This summer he would be one of fifty helicopter pilots flying oilmen and fed eral map makers around the Yukon and Northwest Territories, a near-empty region two-fifths as large as the United States that we usually refer to as "the north." But there are many norths. There's the Yukon, range upon range of mountains, where flowers and vegetables thrive in the summer sun. And there's the central Barrens, Fisherman Challenges Fighting Trout on a Branch of the Similkameen River Autumn leaves color a valley in British Co lumbia's Cascade Range near the U. S. line. Tag on a red, or sockeye, salmon helps a biologist determine the numbers of the fish in the Adams River of British Columbia. Within two or three weeks, the salmon will spawn and die. By checking tags on dead fish, experts estimate the size of the spawn ing run. The Adams River forms part of the Fraser River system. where birches are mere flattened shrubs because of wracking winds. This desert of tundra, stippled with shallow lakes and strewn with boulders, stretches from the bushland drained by the great Mac kenzie River east to Hudson Bay and into the high north on the islands that hump from the pack ice nearly all the way to the Pole. Here, on cloud-wreathed Ellesmere Island, the Canadian shield, a U-shaped rampart of ancient rock around Hudson Bay, rises and curves down in lonely magnificence through Baffin Island to Labrador. In all these Northwest Territories there are few roads and no rail lines. Development oil strikes or mining-depends on airplanes.