“Remember that the greatest happiness is in scattering your enemy, driving him before you and watching his cities reduced to ashes and those who love him shrouded in tears. Nothing should give you greater pleasure than gathering unto your bosom his wives and daughters and forcing your will on them….”
- Genghiz Khan, on a pep-talk to his troops, before the final assault on the gates of the Genoese trade-fortress of Caffa, in Crimea (1220AD)
Situated on the Canadian-US border in Southern Saskatchewan, is a tiny municipality named Coronach, that used to be a small wayside stop for trappers and hunters crossing over in search of game. Off season, the population hovered around 200 and at the start of fall, when the Canadian hunting season began, the figure jumped to 350-400.
Then, in the early 1970s, a coal-fired power plant came up nearby and the population jumped to 1000 and has remained at that level ever since. The Poplar River Power Project and the adjacent coal mines did inject some life into the otherwise somnolent little town, but only slightly. Pay days saw a slight increase in the hustle bustle at The Rustic Tavern, on Center Street and Sunday attendance at the Coronach Catholic Church grew just a little. Otherwise, Snooze City would be a more apt name for Coronach.
Before the Annexation of 2018, the US and Canada had the world’s longest undefended border and it was dotted with more than a hundred little towns like Coronach, all the way from Lake Champlain to the North Cascades National Park, south of Vancouver. If you were either a Canadian or an American, all you had to do to cross was show up with your passport or Nexus-Card.
For ‘obviously white’ travelers, US/Canada border crossings were astonishingly fuss-free. You were in and out within a half-hour, no sweat. But post September 2001, if you were non-white, with a name like Mohammad or Abu Bakr or something, it would take longer and would even get dicey if you couldn’t converse with the border agents in English.
Then there are towns that straddled the border, before the Annexation removed it altogether. Two readily come to the mind. Beebe Plain (population 2000), on the Quebec/Vermont border, was one. The border ran right down the middle lane divider of Canusa Street, no kidding. If you overtook someone on Canusa Street, there was a good possibility you would be pulled over by a border patrol agent for unauthorized incursion. To be safe, you had to always carry your passport around, in Beebe Plain.
I remember once, way before the Annexation, we were on a weekend drive around Quebec, when we stopped at Beebe Plain for sandwiches. The Beebe Plain Post Office used to be a tourist attraction because it straddled the border. It had two doors and a counter for each country. Afterward, we came out the wrong door by mistake and were traversing the parking lot when we realized we were in the US. By then two hefty (but courteous) Americans appeared and walked us to our side of the border and everybody had a good laugh over it.
Five miles to the east of Beebe Plain is another border straddling town, named Derby Line in Vermont and Stanstead, in Quebec (population 800). Before the Annexation, the international border passed right through private houses. You could literally make breakfast in America and sit down to eat it in Canada.
If one were to draw a polygon that touched those quirky border towns, the two oceans on either side and the northernmost reaches of the province of Nunavat, then that is Canada, a landmass whose staggering natural grandeur is paralleled only by it’s enormous mineral wealth.
Those upper regions of Nunavat, engulfing Baffin Bay, Hudson Bay and the maze of straits and inlets that collectively call themselves The Northwestern Passages – those 3 million square miles of Canadian territory alone are home to 15% of the world’s known untapped oil reserves and 22% of the unexploited natural gas, collectively totalling 60 BTOE (Billion Tons of Oil Equivalent). Those are just the known reserves – serious exploration hasn’t even started yet.
The far north is not the only oil rich region of Canada. In the Canadian southwest, over millions of years, the Pacific Plate has pushed inward and slid underneath the North American Plate, causing the earth to buckle and rise high until it became the Canadian Rockies, all the while squishing at high pressure miles and miles of vegetation, turning the topsoil into bitumen that became a thick gooey mud we now call ‘tar sands’. The Canadian province of Alberta, east of the Rockies, sits on over a trillion tons of the tar sands, which in turn translate to 15 billion barrels of crude oil.
Besides oil and natural gas, the remote wilderness of the north also sits on immense deposits of other minerals, such as iron ore, copper, zinc, silver and diamonds. The world’s richest diamond mine is not in South Africa, but at Diavik, in Nunavat, Canada, where one single strain churns out over 10 million carats of large, spectacularly clear, gem-quality diamonds every year.
When you leave the northern territories behind and venture south, you find massive herds of caribou grazing over barren semi-frozen land that looks deceptively empty. But take a pickaxe and drive it into the ground and a whole new world opens up before you – one that has obscenely rich deposits of nickel, vanadium and molybdenum, three metals without which the world would never have had stainless or maraging steels and cars would never have been commercially viable as a consumer product. To the east, in Ontario, large open-cast mines are spewing out titanium – a metal that is absolutely essential to the aerospace industry – from ore that is 15% rich.
Go further south, along the wilderness of the Cascades and the Rockies, down along the rolling prairies of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and another land of Aladdin emerges, one that is rich in potash, gold, silver, zinc, copper and platinum and rare earths like tantalum and niobium and a host of heavy metals such as uranium, cesium, tellurium and selenium.
If there is one thing that history has taught us over and over, it is that when you live in a nation that is endowed with enormous natural wealth, you possess something which someone else may covet – especially if that someone else is a militarily immensely powerful neighbor with a hair-trigger demagogue at it’s helm – one who has bet his fellow citizens’ lives and well-being on trickle-down economics that has refused to trickle down and now he is about to go bust with $25 trillions in debt.
And if the nation you live in is a part of alliances with other nations that assure your security, like the UN Security Council, NATO or NORAD, the same history shows that alliances dissolve over time and that if you don’t plan for that day and arm yourself, you will be vulnerable.
Sounds outlandish, doesn’t it – Canada bent over, it’s shorts around it’s ankles, facing aggression and needing to defend itself? But then so did it sound to many Czechs, back in 1939.
(to be continued…)
ps: Can an entire nation, that sprawls over six time zones, be grabbed by the pussy, the way Turkey was, by Genghiz Khan and his hordes? Yes it can, trust me on this. Just hang on for Part-3 to see how.