Many economists have pointed out that this constant belief in the yellow brick
road of the North and of American frontiers has been a total myth largely set forth
by developers and entrepreneurs seeking their own riches. However, as countries
neither the United States nor Canada have conscientiously attempted to use both of
their frontiers to provide them with economic expansion. The development in Alaska
of its oil and gas reserves was a one shot deal prompted by the need for energy and
seemed never to have had the comprehensive approach needed to make it a positive
and successful order of business.
Canadians have almost always considered the Northern frontier as something to be
temporarily exploited then abandoned when the profits slowed. In 1980 all of Canadian
attention turned toward the development of a pipeline project along the Alaskan highway
but when conventional oil supplies blossomed the project fizzled.
This week it was announced that the only copper mine in Saskatchewan would be shut
down due to a build up in inventory by the mining company Hudson Bay Oil and Gas.
This is the standard method of operation for Northern exploitation. Faro, Cassiar,
Tungsten, are all Yukon related mega mining projects, all closed down after hopes
and dreams of Northern development saw positive development and settlement in the
Here in Saskatchewan the aboriginal people insisted that they be made part of the
process of Northern development and they are indeed included in the development of
Saskatchewan's uranium mining business which seems to go from boom to bus on a monthly
But the concentration of extractive exploitative development almost guarantees failure.
Today La Ronge is on the edge of Saskatchewan's Northern frontier with offices and
service support to mining and exploration projects that attempt to find magical money
What is not a myth is that when you involve people and their creativity and ability
to find real solutions a positive and permanent cash flow can develop. Manitoba
and Saskatchewan have been following the Ontario example of just extracting from
the North. We need to consider other models and see what we can do to develop unique
and permanent development in the whole Northern half of the province which is now
all but completely uninhabited. By considering what we can do with this land and
how both its indigenous people and those who move there can develop trading, manufacturing,
commercial ventures that do not involve the boom and bust of mining and clear cut
Let us consider some alternatives.
- To the immediate West of Cumberland House there is an amazing delta filled with
the most fertile soil and is just teeming with life. The Delta is more that fifty
miles wide and seventy miles long. Plant a road into that delta with some bridges
and offer the land to both aboriginal and other would be farmers and who knows what
towns and villages might spring up as the land would support a much more diverse
form of agriculture that almost anywhere else in the world.
- Between Cumberland House and Red Earth is a huge swamp, it is the habitat of
a wide range of wild life and because of the difficulties to travel through it few
people have ever seen the mysteries of this area. What an opportunity to develop
wild life tourism, to take people out into a place were all kinds of animals live.
- With communications technology being what it is becoming there is no need for
us to concentrate life in Regina and Saskatoon, why not establish a Northern college
of arts and science at Buffalo Narrows or La Loche.
- With most of the worlds uranium why are we shipping this stuff away for fools
to fashion into bombs. Electricity is in extremely short supply in the United States,
why not start building nuclear power plants at Walaston Lake, far from large populated
centres and export the power while developing bigger and better means of using this
dangerous resource. A construction crew could build power plant after power plant
while twenty years later a deconstruction crew could dismantle the things one after
another in a continuous loop of construction, power production, deconstruction and
A cure for economic recession is economic expansion, now is the time to seriously
consider Northern development only plan this process to be permanent and ongoing.
With development would come prosperity and a larger population using Saskatchewan's
empty resource rich environment.