Sometimes North is South

On October 15, 2009 · 7 Comments

Canada occupies such an amazingly large swath of upper North American that, understandably, one can overlook exactly how far south the country actually extends. The Province of Ontario contains its most southerly extremes: on the mainland at Point Pelee; on solid land at the edge of Middle Island; and on open water at an international boundary upon Lake Erie just south of Middle Island. I may have more to say about Point Pelee and Middle Island someday in the future, but for now I’d like to focus on that line of latitude that happens to nick Canada’s absolute southernmost reach, that portion of the boundary running through Lake Erie.

View Canada South of the United States in a larger map

It’s an easy enough line to draw. I’ve simply extended the endpoints straight along the latitude corresponding to the furthest dip in the international boundary. It’s not particularly remarkable in its own right and you’re probably not too impressed at the moment either. It’s not even a round number, rather it correlates to 41° 40′ 35.47″ (or 41.676519 in decimal notation) according to the International Boundary Commission. However, let’s fly up towards the inner fringes of space and take another look.

View Canada South of the United States in a larger map

Now this is impressive. What this tells me is that there are places in Canada that are further south than territory associated with twenty six twenty seven of fifty United States. Let that sink in: you can remain on the Canadian side of the border and locate yourself at a lower latitude than at least some points in more than half of the states forming the USA. Wow. I had no idea.

Assuming I’ve drawn the line correctly, and with my lack of mapmaking skills that’s always a possibility, then this is how it breaks down:

  • The southernmost point in Canada is completely south of Alaska (duh!); Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
  • It is south of substantial portions of Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut
  • It is south of (generally small) slices of California, Nevada, Utah, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Hey, readers in Chicago, did you know that Canada extends further south than your city? Same for you, Providence and Hartford. Steve, my blogger friend (he would say "bliend") from Connecticut Museum Quest — Canada extends further south than your home too. Crescent City, California… California! for crying out loud, readers there live further north than a portion of Canada.

How’s that for messing with a few paradigms?

On October 15, 2009 · 7 Comments

7 Responses to “Sometimes North is South”

  1. Greg says:

    I just have to say that I’m rather happy to see my neck of the woods (Northern Ohio) sort-of-featured here. We forget, too, how close we are to Canada: Pelee Island can be seen easily from the top of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island, and on a clear day from the tops of three roller coasters at Cedar Point in Sandusky, on the mainland (if you’re in the mood to look out over the lake when a 400-foot drop is imminent).

  2. Neil says:

    27 – Looks like you forgot Rhode Island. (Which is ok, everyone forgets Rhode Island).

  3. Alger says:

    We in Providence grant you props for the notice. The usual run of news up here in the plantation tends to emphasize unemployment and foreclosures, so we are kind of primed to be proud of being north of a Canadian island.

    And no worries about skipping the rest of the state, we don’t notice it’s there half the time either.

  4. Lincoln Ho says:

    That said, how far South does the southern tip of Alaska get compared to the rest of Canada?

  5. Lincoln Ho says:

    I was checking out Wikipedia on the Geography of Canada… and it lists this. But what exactly is a “pole of inaccessibility” and is there a specific spot in the world like that?

    “Extreme points. The northernmost point within the boundaries of Canada is Cape Columbia, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut (83°08′ N, 74°13’W). The North Pole at 90°N is the northernmost water point. The northernmost point of the Canadian mainland is Murchison Promontory on Boothia Peninsula, Nunavut (71°58’N). The southernmost point is Middle Island, in Lake Erie, Ontario (41°41’N, 82°40’W); the southernmost water point lies just south of the island, on the Ontario-Ohio border (41°40’35″N). The southernmost point of the Canadian mainland is Point Pelee, Ontario (41°54’23″N). The westernmost point is Boundary Peak 187 (141°00′ 7.128″W) at the southern end of the Yukon-Alaska border which is roughly following 141°W but leans very slightly east as it goes North.The easternmost point is Cape Spear, Newfoundland (47°31’N, 52°37’W). The easternmost point of the Canadian mainland is Cape St. Charles, Labrador (52°13’N, 55°37’W). The lowest point is sea level at 0 m, whilst the highest point is Mount Logan at 5,959 m / 19,550 ft.The Canadian pole of inaccessibility is Jackfish River, Alberta (Latitude: 59° 2′ 60 N, Longitude: 112° 49′ 60 W).

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