By LEE J. SMITS,
N. E. A. Staff Correspondent.
Vancouver, B. C., Dec. 16. - A squadron of Northwest Mounted Police, fur-clad and patrolling on snow shoes, is holding back frenzied oil prospectors at Fort McMurray to prevent them from risking their lives on the 1000-mile trail to the fabulous fields opened up at Fort Norman by the Imperial Oil Co.
A repetition of the Yukon gold rush, in which many lives were sacrificed, is feared by the mounted police and by officials of the Hudson Bay Co., and Northern Trading Co., Ltd., whose trading posts are the only white settlements along the Peace and Mackenzie rivers leading to the rich oil strike.
Food Is Short.
Last winter concluded a period of such prosperity for the Indian trappers that they have neglected to accumulate the usual store of winter food and famine certainly would attend any influx of fortune-holders.
The Fort Norman gusher not only taps what is believed to be vast reservoirs of oil, but the product is of higher grade than any hitherto discovered in Canada. There are about 20 whites at the scene of the strike, and claims have been staked for 15 miles up and down stream from the big find.
Prepare for Rush.
The break up of ice, late in the spring, will leave a waterway between the rail terminus and the oil field, which is less than 100 miles south of the arctic circle. Boat building is being rushed, despite deep snow and bitter cold.
Captain C. Smith of the Lamson-Hibbard steamer, Lady Mackworth, passed through here on his way south with the latest report on the sensational strike of the Imperial company.
"From the new field to the railroad there is a continuous water route in summer," said Captain Smith, "save for a 161 mile portage between Fort Smith and Fort Fitzgerald. This gap will be bridged with a pipe-line next summer. Oil can be delivered at the railroad at about 50 cents a barrel."
Warns About Food.
"The Lamson-Hibbard Company will make every effort to meet the emergency by putting additional steamers in commission as rapidly as possible, but the public should be warned against a stampede.
"Unless a prospector knows where every day's grub is coming from during his stay north of McMurray, he should not start out. The Hudson Bay Company cannot import more than the provisions needed for its trappers."