National Treasure #3: Canada – US Border

This being Independence Day, it seems right that today’s national treasure should have something to do with our ally and neighbour/neighbor, the United States of America, and it does: It’s the border between our countries.

Growing up in Alberta, I knew the border as the 49th parallel (well, except for the border with Alaska), but of course it’s significantly south of that in these parts. The 1783 Treaty of Paris established the 45th parallel as the border between Quebec and New York and Vermont, and the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes form part of the border for Ontario, providing the delightful option of crossing the border on a ferry.

Canadian and American flags on ferry superstructure.
Flags on ferry from Wolfe Island ON (near Kingston) to Cape Vincent NY.

The border is worth celebrating for four reasons:

  • Length – Its 8,891 kilometres make it the longest international border in the world.
  • Status – It’s pretty much undefended, which is just as well, because I figure it would take almost half of us (17,782,000) to cover the border if we linked arms along it (counting two people per metre or 2,000 per kilometre).
  • Beauty – It’s definitely prettier on our side of the line.  But we don’t make a big deal about it.
  • Weirdness – It’s stranger than I knew, that’s for sure.  Watch this great video to learn all about the no-touching zone and about border anomalies.

This is one of a series on Canadian national treasures – my sesquicentennial project. They reflect people (living and dead), places and things that I think are worth celebrating about our country, and are done in no order of precedence.

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