I’ve discussed border anomalies between the United States and Canada before. Previously I focused on little areas of the U.S. separated from the rest of the country such as Point Roberts, the Northwest Angle and Alburg, Vermont. Here I give equal time to the Canadians by outlining a couple of instances where citizens of that great northland country will be inconvenienced by the border instead.
St. Régis, Québec
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The border between Canada and the United States follows the North 45th parallel between the St. Lawrence and Connecticut Rivers, the U.S. states of New York and Vermont. There’s a slight surveying error which I’ll mention but not elaborate upon in this entry, but think N45 latitude and basically a straight line and you’ll get the picture. It creates the same condition as the Point Roberts example except in mirror image. If a visitor wishes to drive to St. Régis, Québec from elsewhere in Canada, she needs to leave Canada, enter the United States, and then drive back into Canada.
These types of situations sometimes present themselves when two nations agree upon a straight line rather than a geographic feature to represent a boundary. In this instance the St. Lawrence River blocks land access between St. Régis and the remainder of Canada.
St. Régis is part of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation as is the land immediately south and contiguous to it in the United States. I would imagine there’s probably considerably less hassle getting into St. Régis than Point Roberts (where one has to clear customs at a formal border station) even though it’s in Canada. While I’ve not been there on the ground to confirm this, I would imagine the border would be quite porous due to affinity relationships between members of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation regardless of the irrelevant borders established by people of European descent.
Another noteworthy feature — unrelated but still interesting — is that this stranded bit of land is surprisingly close to the tripoint between the the State of New York and the Provinces of Ontario and Québec. Time to find a boat!
Campobello Island, New Brunswick
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This is an interesting border anomaly only because someone built a bridge to the island in 1962. Prior to that it was just another Canadian island in Passamaquoddy Bay. It just happened that the bridge spaned from Lubec, Maine (the easternmost point in the contiguous United States, yet another geo-oddity for you) so it now involves an international border crossing. In contrast, no bridge reaches Campobello Island from any other point in Canada, so once again if one wishes to drive to the island it involves a trip through the Unites States and a crossing of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Bridge.
Well, let’s put an asterisk next to this one. If you’ve ever seen my Ferries of Canada page you already know that in the summertime you can take a ferry from Campobello Island to Deer Island, and then from there take another ferry to l’Etête on mainland New Brunswick and never have to cross into the United States. If that sounds far-fetched, the route is actually touted both as a way to shave nearly 100 miles of driving and as a means to avoid long lineups at more popular border crossings further west. The crossing at Campobello Island takes an average of less than fifteen minutes.
I learn a lot of non-geography information when I put together these posts. That’s one reason I like doing this. As I researched Campobello, I saw that this was where the Roosevelt family maintained a summer home for many decades. This is also where Franklin Roosevelt came down with the polio that crippled him for life, although in fairness to Canada he caught it on the U.S. side of the border in all likelihood and only came down with the symptoms on Campobello.
The Roosevelt’s summer home is now a park. Interestingly it’s run by an international organization, the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission, even though it’s located wholly within Canada. This unique arrangement was created through a formal treaty between Canada and the United States: both countries support the park financially; both help run it and maintain it; and both provide employees in roughly equal proportions. This recognizes its important historical meaning to both countries, and a sign of cooperation and friendship.