RECESSIONAL FOR THE HUSKY
The Canadian icebreaker C. D. Howe sailed from Montreal last week on its annual 15,000-mile supply mission to the Arctic, flagship of a score of vessels that will make the voyage this summer. In its cargo was 24,000 pounds of dog meal, gift of the Ontario Humane Society, which is concerned that the Eskimo sled dog is going out of fashion and that some dogs are starving. "What is happening to the sled dog," an old Arctic hand explained, "is quite similar to what happened to the horse when automobiles and tractors came along."
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, government administrators and those who man the Hudson's Bay Company posts all used to have their own dog teams. Now they have aircraft and snowmobiles. Even many Eskimos, their culture changing as they seek jobs in towns and send their children to school, are abandoning the animal that was essential to their survival in the old days. There are still some 25,000 huskies left in the Canadian Arctic, an impressive number when it is considered that the Eskimo population is less than half that. And so far there are only about 500 snowmobiles. But as the Eskimo moves into town, away from the hunting and fishing grounds, the husky population becomes annually less.
The husky probably cannot adapt to community life like his human master, who never has had a desire to train him except as a beast of burden. The Arcticraised husky's nature, whether he is hungry or not, is to seek food constantly, anything from a chunk of whale meat to a sealskin boot, and he has wonderful cunning, even ferocity, in the fine art of stealing it. He would be a nuisance in a settlement. After all, snowmobiles don't bite.
Since the earth gave a prehistoric spasm and produced the jagged teeth of the Alps, peaceful little Switzerland seldom has experienced such an upheaval as she had last week in celebration of the centennial of the first conquest of the Matterhorn. The imperious, 14,701-foot mountain was not climbed until July 1865, when Edward Whymper, an English artist, scaled the Northeastern Ridge on his eighth attempt. It was a tragic first. Four of his companions were killed on the way down, and the Matterhorn's enticing slopes have since claimed more than 90 victims. But during its 100 years of reluctant submission, 100,000 persons have reached the peak, as many as 158 in one day. One British sportsman made the climb extemporaneously; for an alpenstock he used his neatly furled umbrella. The first woman to climb the Matterhorn did it in a white print dress, and assisted her 63-year-old father to the summit. That was in 1871. Since then a barmaid, an 11-year-old girl, an octogenarian and a cat have made the top. Four Swiss bragged they could push a cow to the peak. They froze. The cow never was found. At one time, before ropes and railings made the ascent less perilous, the Vatican looked askance at the idea of Catholics trying it. Subsequently Pope Pius XI, then a priest, made the climb himself.
The centenary celebration led off last week with banquets, a movie about Whymper, a premier performance of The Alpine Symphony and a raclette (melted cheese, potatoes and pickles) party. A motley, if unhistorical, mock invasion of Switzerland by Augustus Caesar, Roman legionnaires and Hannibal's elephants never came off. Alpine elephants are hard to come by these days. Highlight of the festivities was a TV spectacular. Home viewers saw, and heard, a live, on-the-spot ascent via five fixed cameras, several portable cameras and walkie-talkies. The TV team, encumbered by 10 tons of equipment, duplicated Whymper's 13-hour climb in only nine hours.
THE WANDERING HAMBLETONIAN
Once again the trotting trade journals are carrying notices inviting tracks to bid for The Hambletonian. The present contract between The Hambletonian Society and the Hayes family of Du Quoin, Ill., where the race has been held for eight years, expires in 1966. The society will meet next September 2, open the bids and decide where the event will be held beginning in 1967.
It is hard to believe that trotting's elders still do not understand how they demean harness racing by putting up for auction its most significant race. (Imagine the Kentucky Derby becoming the New York Derby for a few years, and then the Arizona Derby.) In addition, each successive auction is another slap in the face of the Hayes family, which has done such a superb job of promoting and staging the race. The Hambletonian should stay in Du Quoin.