Does it sound very much to you like a region where the settler would ultimately drive out the fur trade? What would he settle on? That is the point. Nature has taken good care that climate and swamp shall erect an everlasting barrier to encroachment on her game preserves.
To be sure, if you ask a fur-trader, “How are furs?” he will answer, “Poor—poorer every year.” So would you if you were a fur-trader and wanted to keep out rivals. I have never known a fur-trader who did not make that answer.
To be sure, seal and sea otter, beaver and buffalo have been almost exterminated; but even to-day if the governments of the world, especially Canada and the United States, would pass and enforce laws prohibiting the killing of a single buffalo or beaver, seal or sea otter for fifty years, these species would replenish themselves.
“The last chapter of the fur trade has been written?” Never! The oldest industry of mankind will last as long as mankind lasts.
I read also that “the last chapter of the fur romance has been written.” That is the point of view of the man who spends fifty weeks in town and two weeks in the wilds. It is not the point of view of the man who spends two weeks in town and fifty in the wilds; of the man who goes out beyond the reach of law into strange realms the size of Russia with no law but his own right arm, no defense but his own wit. Though I have written history of the Hudson’s Bay Company straight from their own Minutes in Hudson’s Bay House, London, I could write more of the romance of the fur trade right in the present year than has ever been penned of the company since it was established away back in the year 1670.
Space permits only two examples. You recall the Cambridge man who thought it a short distance to go only fifty-five miles by dog-train for a doctor. A more cultured, scholarly, perfect gentleman I have never met in London or New York. Yet when I met his wife, I found her a shy little, part-Indian girl, who had almost to be dragged in to meet us. That spiritual face—such a face as you might see among the preachers of Westminster or Oxford—and the little shy Indian girl-wife and the children, plainly a throw-back to their red-skin ancestors, not to the Cambridge paternity! What was the explanation? Where was the story of heartache and tragedy—I asked myself, as we stood in our tent door watching the York boat come in with provisions for the year under a sky of such diaphanous northern lights as leave you dumb before their beauty and their splendor? How often he must have stood beneath those northern lights thinking out the heartbreak that has no end.