Douglas, George M.
Seller ID: 2262
G. P. Putnam’s Sons (Knickerbocker Press): New York, 1914. First edition (xv, 285, append.). Colour frontis of the author from the portrait by Grier and 182 b&w photo illustrations mostly in text, two maps at rear. Large octavo (23 cm), in dark blue cloth, gilt lettering to titles, t.e.g. From the collection and with the signature of Douglas’ cousin, Lewis W. Douglas (1894- 1974), Democrat politician under Roosevelt, ambassador to Great Britain, and business executive (‘L. W. Douglas/ New York 1924’) and, later, from that of Francis Campbell Bell, once Manitoba’s minister of mines, who has copied out Douglas’ obituary notice and placed it in an envelope at the rear. Also included, separately, an offprint of the article ‘The Copper Bearing Traps of the Coppermine River’ (Ottawa 1913) by [Dr.] James Douglas, L. W.’s grandfather, (1837- 1918), mining engineer and president of the mining company Phelps Dodge, which consists largely of August Sandburg’s report of the geological findings of the expedition. Originally from Lakefield, Ontario, George Mellis Douglas (1875- 1963) was an engineer chiefly employed in the copper mining industry in the U. S. southwest. He set out in company with his brother Lionel (‘Lion’) and the geologist August Sandburg to visit the Coppermine River country in the Canadian arctic with half a mind to locate copper deposits in the area, the presence of which was suggested by tools and decorative objects worked in copper by people of the Western Arctic. Much of expedition’s success was due to the travellers’ skill with small boats and, according to Douglas, to their independence of local support, the dependability of which Douglas was rightly skeptical. The fine sailing canoe Douglas used on the trip north is on display at the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. In the result, while no great copper deposits were discovered, they did wander profitably for the reader through the high and low spots of the country-- the sweep of the Mackenzie River, the deaths in winter of two trappers, smiling Inuit families are captured in Douglas’ fine photographs (Robert Service appears in one snap-shot at the dead trappers’ cabin.) In Arctic Profiles, Finnie says, in part, ‘George M. Douglas was one of the most efficient and well-informed explorers of the Mackenzie District, particularly the northerly reaches of Great Bear Lake and the Coppermine River as far as the arctic coast, during the early years of the twentieth century.... [He] was a pioneer who opened up new vistas for mineral investigation and development. Yet he is chiefly known for his only book, Land Forlorn [sic], which, published in 1914, is noteworthy for its accuracy, attention to detail, and superb photographs. It stands as one of the classics of northern literature. His work in the Southwest was interrupted by the first of his northern explorations. This was for a 1911-1912 expedition to Great Bear Lake, the Dismal Lakes, and the lower Coppermine River to search for copper deposits.The Douglas party tracked up the swift-flowing Great Bear River with a York boat to Great Bear Lake, towing a canoe. They sailed across the lake to the northeasterly corner at the mouth of the Dease River, where Lionel Douglas built a substantial cabin for the winter. Meanwhile, George Douglas and August Sandburg canoed up the Dease to the Dismal Lakes and thence to the Kendall River and the Coppermine. They explored the Coppermine Mountains during the first season before returning to the cabin. The party ranged as far as Coronation Gulf, meeting some of the Copper Inuit but missing Vilhjalmur Stefansson, who had visited the Dismal Lakes only a few months prior to their arrival. (George Douglas and Stefansson eventually became life-long friends.) The entire expedition was noteworthy for its meticulous planning and successful execution, with no serious mishaps. He wrote well and kept journals of all his journeys, profusely illustrated with his photographs of consistently professional quality, yet he published only one book and a couple of articles for technical magazines’ (ASTIS 32608). See Enid Mallory’s Coppermine: The Far North of George M. Douglas. A handsome, solid copy of a scarce book on arctic exploration.
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