By: Thomas M Griffiths
Read By: Doug aka GoatHollow
Any historian familiar with the march of empire across the American West should now be able to predict the succession of frontiers due to sweep across the Peace River landscape. That he might, in this instance, be wrong is not to his discredit, for destiny and environment have operated in another fashion here, although superficially the ingredients seem to be the same that have produced an orderly succession of fur-trade, cattle grazing, mining, and farming in the development of other frontier lands.
Throughout history the wave of the farming frontier has never been able to move very far for very long before it has washed up against some geographic barrier that has either stopped it cold, diverted it, or turned it back upon itself. In the mountainous West, altitude and its attendant severity of climate have impeded the expansion of agriculture. In the High Plains and the South west aridity represents a similar climatic barrier; low temperatures and short growing seasons hamper farming in the northern High Plains. Sizable islands of unused or barely used land dot the map of the West, a continuing affront to the sensibilities of modern “pioneers,” who would like the land to be used for something. Where impatience to own and develop land oversteps the logical bounds of technological possibility we experience the tragedy of a dust bowl.
More recently, the agricultural technician has been able to keep somewhat abreast of this pioneering drive, and a systematic advance into previously unused lands has occurred. The Peace River country of northwestern Canada is a particularly intriguing case study of this new pioneering process, for it is largely a phenomenon of the twentieth century. This does not imply that the Peace river country has lain completely hidden in the wilderness like an undiscovered Shangri-La; quite the contrary, for its “history” began early in October of 1792 when a tough young pathfinder named Alexander Mackenzie launched out form the North-West Company trading post at Fort Chipewyan, on lake Athabasca in the northeast corner of what is now the province of Alberta.
Just a taste of a great historical read about conquering the West.
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