Okay, so how about Oregon Trail, only for finding the Northwest Passage? Like, you pick an era of exploration, and what kind of ship and what sorts of crew, and how much you want to invest in stocks to search overland and over ice? And you make decisions about what currents to follow and when to keep poking into a bay and when to give up a path as probably useless? And trying to figure out which is just an estuary and which is a major river and where portages would be useful? Also so that you don’t go in knowing that there’s no finding one you have to go searching the shore of a procedurally generated Canada?
Yes, a good idea, sure. But mostly I say this because I want to get the concept of the “procedurally generated Canada” out there. Isn’t that a great notion? Sure. Just imagine a world where Montreal isn’t an inevitability but must instead come about by a lucky result on a random number generator. What about a Prince Edward Island tucked right in the middle of Baffin Bay? Ooh, there must be the chance there’d be, like, four Albertas, one right after the other, surrounding Labrador like it was ganging up on Saint Pierre and Miquelon? And wouldn’t it be something if the Saint Lawrence River led directly to — let’s say something hilarious here — Edmonton or maybe Churchill? A Toronto that’s balanced on top of Vancouver? And underneath a second Vancouver? Yes, this is a thing we should have. You’re very welcome.
So, a close examination of the sidewalks in my neighborhood for reasons that are perfectly legitimate and not at all odd, thank you very much, led me to a January 1912 edition of The M.A.C. Record, the student newspaper for what would become Michigan State University. Amongst the items listed in “About The Campus” was this intelligence:
O. I. Gregg writes that he has placed an order for a large number of fruit and walnut trees, to be planted on the Fairview fruit and poultry ranch at Grant’s Pass, Oregon. Mr. Gregg enjoys the West, and states that the weather is very mild at this time of year.
I realize that this is not in substance any different from the things people post on their Facebooks or Twitter feeds today, but I can’t help imagining Mister O. I. Gregg, then now of Grant’s Pass, Oregon, stopping in the telegraph office and declaring, “Gadzooks! It’s the New Year! I must send a message to the Michigan Agricultural College and notify them of my purchase of fruit and walnut trees, as well as to attest to the mildness of the weather at this time of year!” Probably there was a crowd, too, of all the college men in Grant’s Pass, Oregon, gathered around and figuring out how many trees they were going to tell their alma maters they had purchased.
I wonder if the weather really was mild in Grant’s Pass, Oregon, in the winter of 1911-12. Maybe the college graduates just reported it was, so everyone would figure they were doing comfortably well, what with their fruit and their walnut trees, and wouldn’t worry about them and wouldn’t lose heart in their academic studies or dreams of someday moving to Oregon.