Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  8 (1884), 103–16.

The North Shore

John A Butler


Essay, Travelogue

Relevant illustrations:

eng. [11]


Geology, Physical Geography, Biogeography, Mining, Wonder, Creation, Anthropology, Race

Publications cited:

Agassiz 1850

    Recounts a journey around the shores of Lake Superior, noting that the lake 'which was once mainly distinguished from the sea by its freshness, has now been found to contain all the essential salts, at least in the waters of Thunder Bay [...] and as early as 1851 Professor Agassiz announced the fact that the beach pea is found along the North Shore, together with other plants and insects peculiar to the ocean'. The lake, though, has 'lain there these many million years, hemmed in by a rim of rocky mountains which were twisted and marred by the fires which shaped the globe, and as a model about which the continent was formed, presents an epitome of antiquity before which the age of the eternal hills is but an instant in the march of time'. (103) Observes that this stunningly beautiful 'terra incognita' now contains a 'few scattered towns along the lake' which are 'the result of mining, which has been encouraged by geological surveys', although it remains uncertain 'whether the deposits of silver and other metals be rich or otherwise' (106). The precipitous cliffs of Thunder Cape give rise to awed reflections on 'how supreme they were as they seemed to look down upon us across these many million years since the earth was young, and their scarred and wrinkled fronts echoed the tumult of creation!' (111) After visiting a Christian mission on one of the many islands (James E Cabot 'estimated that were nearly thirty-six thousand islands in the lake' (111)), comments that 'In the conversion of the Indian it seems, curiously enough, that the main bulwark to be carried is his fondness for drumming—a ceremony senseless and monotonous enough to us, but full of mysterious importance to those who, in the simplicity of race childhood, are awed by natural phenomena' (112).

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