Peace Arch, U.S.-Canada border

The Peace Arch at the border between Surrey, British Columbia, and Blaine, Washington

Canada US pipeline border

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police constable and a state trooper before the official ceremony commemorating the joining of the Portland–Montreal Pipe Line 1 August 1941

The CanadaUnited States border, officially known as the International Boundary, is the longest international border in the world shared between the same pair of countries. The terrestrial boundary (including small portions of maritime boundaries on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic coasts, as well as the Great Lakes) is 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi) long, including 2,475 kilometres (1,538 mi) shared with Alaska. It is Canada's only land border.

History Edit

49th parallel US Canada border

The 49th parallel north forms a border between the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (to the north), and the US states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota (to the south).

Welcome to the United States sign at the Peace Arch

Sign welcoming drivers into the United States

45th parallel US Canada

The 45th parallel forms an approximate border between the Canadian province of Quebec (to the north), and the US states of New York and Vermont (to the south).

US-Canada border counties

U.S. counties sharing a land or water border with Canada

  Land border
  Water border

File:Canada-US border regions.png

The current border originated with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, which ended the war between Great Britain and the separating colonies which would form the United States. The 45th parallel was established as the border between Lower Canada (Quebec) and New York State (including what is now Vermont). The St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes became the boundary between Upper Canada and the United States. The Jay Treaty of 1794 created the International Boundary Commission, which was charged with surveying and mapping the boundary. Westward expansion of both British North America and the United States saw the boundary extended west along the 49th parallel from the Northwest Angle at Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains under the Convention of 1818. This convention extinguished British claims south of that latitude to the Red River Valley, which was part of Rupert's Land. The treaty also extinguished U.S. claims to land north of that line in the watershed of the Missouri River, which was part of the Louisiana Purchase; this amounted to three small areas, consisting of the northern part of the drainages of the Milk River (today in southern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan), the Poplar River (Saskatchewan), and Big Muddy Creek (Saskatchewan).

Disputes over the interpretation of the border treaties, and mistakes in surveying it, required additional negotiations resulting in the Webster–Ashburton Treaty of 1842. The treaty resolved the dispute known as the Aroostook War over the boundary between Maine on the one hand, and New Brunswick and the Province of Canada the other. The treaty redefined the border between New Hampshire, Vermont and New York on the one hand, and the Province of Canada on the other, resolving the Indian Stream dispute and the Fort Blunder dilemma at the outlet to Lake Champlain. The boundary along the 45th parallel had been surveyed after the War of 1812. The US Government began to construct fortifications just south of the border at Rouses Point on Lake Champlain. After a significant portion of the construction was completed, measurements revealed that at that point, the actual 45th parallel was three-quarters of a mile south of the surveyed line; the fort, which became known as "Fort Blunder," was in Canada. This created a dilemma for the United States that was not resolved until a provision of the treaty left the border on the meandering line as surveyed. The border along the Boundary Waters in present day Ontario and Minnesota between Lake Superior and the Northwest Angle was also redefined.[1][2]

An 1844 boundary dispute during U.S. President James K. Polk's administration led to a call for the northern boundary of the U.S. west of the Rockies to be latitude 54° 40' north (related to the southern boundary of Russia's Alaska Territory), but the United Kingdom wanted a border that followed the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. The dispute was resolved in the Oregon Treaty of 1846, which established the 49th parallel as the boundary through the Rockies. The Northwest Boundary Survey (1857–61) laid out the land boundary, but the water boundary was not settled for some time. After the Pig War in 1859, arbitration in 1872 established the border between the Gulf islands and the San Juan Islands. In 1903 a joint United Kingdom – Canada – U.S. tribunal established the boundary with Alaska, much of which follows the 141st meridian west.

International Boundary Commission Edit


The Oregon Country / Columbia District

Height of Land Portage

Height of Land Portage (OntarioMinnesota). The Laurentian Divide is atop the neck of land crossing the picture; the faint vertical line in its center is the boundary vista on the border.

In 1925, the International Boundary Commission was made a permanent organization responsible for surveying and mapping the boundary, maintaining boundary monuments (and buoys where applicable), as well as keeping the boundary clear of brush and vegetation for 6 metres (20 ft). This "border vista" extends for 3 metres (10 ft) on each side of the line. The Commission's annual budget is about $1.4 million (USD).[3]

The commission is headed by two commissioners, one of whom is Canadian, the other American.[4] In July 2007, the Bush administration relieved U.S. Commissioner Dennis Schornack of his post in connection with a dispute between the boundary commission and the U.S. government over private construction near the border.[5] Schornack rejected the dismissal, saying that the commission is an independent, international organization outside the U.S. government's jurisdiction, and that according to the 1908 treaty that created it, a vacancy can only be created by "the death, resignation or other disability" of a commissioner.[6] The Canadian government said that it was taking no position on the matter,[7] but Peter Sullivan, the Canadian commissioner, said on July 13 that he was ready to work with David Bernhardt, a Colorado-based solicitor of the Department of the Interior, who was designated as the acting U.S. commissioner by President Bush.[8]

Security Edit

Law enforcement approachEdit


A sign at the International Boundary in Point Roberts, Washington, warning against illegal crossing of the border

Hyder AK

The border crossing where British Columbia Highway 37A ends at Hyder, Alaska is unmanned by United States Customs, though Canadian Customs does maintain a presence in the area.

The International Boundary is commonly referred to as the world's longest undefended border, but this is true only in the military sense, as civilian law enforcement is present. The relatively low level of security measures stands in contrast to that of the United States – Mexico border (one-third as long as the Canada–U.S. border), which is actively patrolled by U.S. customs and immigration personnel to prevent illegal migration and drug trafficking.

Parts of the International Boundary cross through mountainous terrain or heavily forested areas, but significant portions also cross remote prairie farmland and the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River, in addition to the maritime components of the boundary at the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans. The border also runs through the middle of the Akwesasne Nation and even divides some buildings found in communities in Vermont and Quebec whose construction pre-dated the border's delineation. On the Maine-New Brunswick border, it divides the Aroostook Valley Country Club.[9]

The actual number of U.S. and Canadian border security personnel is classified; there are in excess of 17,000 United States Border Patrol personnel on the Mexico–U.S. border alone.[10]

Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, border security along the International Boundary was dramatically tightened by both nations in both populated and rural areas. Both nations are also actively involved in detailed and extensive tactical and strategic intelligence sharing.

As of December 2010, Canada and the United States are negotiating an agreement titled "Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Competitiveness" which would give the U.S. more influence over Canada's border security and immigration controls, and more information would be shared by Canada with the U.S.[11]

Security measures Edit


Border crossing between the Yukon and Alaska

Residents of both nations who own property adjacent to the border are required to report construction of any physical border crossing on their land to their respective governments, and this is enforced by the International Boundary Commission. Where required, fences or vehicle blockades are used. All persons crossing the border are required to report to the respective customs and immigration agencies in each country. In remote areas where staffed border crossings are not available, there are hidden sensors on roads and also scattered in wooded areas near crossing points and on many trails and railways, but there are not enough border personnel on either side to verify and stop coordinated incursions.

Smuggling Edit

In past years, Canadian officials have complained of drug, cigarette and firearms smuggling from the United States while U.S. officials have complained of drug smuggling from Canada.

In July 2005, law enforcement personnel arrested three men who had built a 360-foot (110 m) tunnel under the border between British Columbia and Washington that they intended to use for smuggling marijuana, the first such tunnel known on this border.[12]

Cornwall, Ontario, is central to Canada's most notorious area of smuggling due to its location and transportation links which make it a crossroads for cross-border smuggling of illicit tobacco, drugs, firearms, and migrants. The neighbouring Mohawk territory of Akwesasne, which straddles the Ontario-Quebec-New York borders, enjoys a certain "First Nations" sovereignty which prevents Ontario Provincial Police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and New York State Police from ready access to the source of smuggling operations on the territory. Customs and Excise members from the RCMP’s Northwest and Central regions have even gone to Cornwall to learn about the contraband phenomenon.[13] The smuggling industry is rampant, with collusion between local freelancers and international organized criminals. Several lives have been lost by civilians as a result of police chasing smugglers; this on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars lost in uncollected government tax, and millions of dollars spent on law enforcement that has had a negligible effect on smuggling.[14]

Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) Edit

In late 2006, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a rule regarding new identification requirements for U.S. citizens and international travelers entering the U.S. implemented on January 23, 2007, this final rule and first phase of the WHTI specifies six forms of identification—one of which is required in order to enter the U.S. by air: a valid passport, a passport card, a state enhanced driver's license (available in Michigan, New York, Vermont and Washington[15]) approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security, or trusted traveler program card (NEXUS, FAST, or SENTRI); a valid Merchant Mariner Document when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business; or a valid U.S. military identification card when traveling on official orders.[16][17][18]

Since June 2009, every traveller arriving via a land or sea port-of-entry (including ferries) has been required to present one of the above forms of identification to cross the border.

Border lengths Edit

US-Canada-Border-States US-Canada-Border-Provinces
Rank State Length of Border with Canada Rank Province/Territory Length of Border with the U.S.
1 Alaska 2,475 km (1,538 mi) 1 Ontario 2,760 km (1,715 mi)
2 Michigan 1,160 km (721 mi) 2 British Columbia 2,168 km (1,347 mi)
3 Maine 983 km (611 mi) 3 Yukon 1,210 km (752 mi)
4 Minnesota 880 km (547 mi) 4 Quebec 813 km (505 mi)
5 Montana 877 km (545 mi) 5 Saskatchewan 632 km (393 mi)
6 New York 716 km (445 mi) 6 New Brunswick 513 km (318 mi)
7 Washington 687 km (427 mi) 7 Manitoba 497 km (309 mi)
8 North Dakota 499 km (310 mi) 8 Alberta 298 km (185 mi)
9 Ohio 235 km (146 mi)      
10 Vermont 145 km (90 mi)      
11 New Hampshire 93 km (58 mi)      
12 Idaho 72 km (45 mi)      
13 Pennsylvania 68 km (42 mi)      

Notable bridge/tunnel crossings Edit

Ambassador bridge 2

The Ambassador Bridge between Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario, is the busiest commercial crossing between the two countries.

Niagara falls

Niagara Falls: The American Falls is on the left in New York; the Horseshoe Falls on the right separates New York from Ontario.

Other border crossings (airports, seaports, rail stations) Edit

U.S.-Canada border, Rainbow Bridge

Border sign at the Rainbow Bridge, Niagara Falls

The U.S. maintains immigration offices, called "pre-clearance facilities", in eight Canadian airports with international air service to the United States (Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg). This expedites travel by allowing flights originating in Canada to land at a U.S. airport without being processed as an international arrival. Similar arrangements exist at major Canadian seaports that handle sealed direct import shipments into the U.S.

Canada does not maintain equivalent personnel at U.S. airports due to the sheer number of US departure locations with Canadian-bound flights and the limited number of flights compared to the number of U.S.-bound flights that depart major Canadian airports. Additionally, at Vancouver's Pacific Central Station, passengers are required to pass through U.S. pre-clearance facilities and pass their baggage through an x-ray before being allowed to board the Seattle-bound Amtrak Cascades train, which makes no further stops before crossing the border. Pre-clearance facilities are not available for the popular New York City to Montreal (Adirondack) or Toronto (Maple Leaf) lines, as these lines have stops between Montreal or Toronto and the border. Instead, passengers must clear customs at a stop located at the actual border.

Ferry services operate between the province of New Brunswick and the state of Maine, as well as between the province of British Columbia and the states of Washington and Alaska. There are also several ferry services in the Great Lakes operating between the province of Ontario and the states of Michigan, New York, and Ohio. The ferry between Maine and Nova Scotia ended its route in 2009.

Boldt Castle in Heart Island on the St. Lawrence River has a border control point on the island, but no specific location on the Canadian side. Canadians must present identification to land on the island.

Cross-border airports Edit

One curiosity on the Canada–U.S. border is the presence of six airports that straddle the borderline. The airports were built prior to the US entry into World War II as a way to surreptitiously transfer US-built aircraft such as the Lockheed Hudson to Canada under the provisions of the Lend Lease Act. In the interest of maintaining neutrality, US military pilots were forbidden from delivering the combat aircraft to Canada. The aircraft were flown to the border, landed, and then at night towed on their wheels over the border by tractors or horse. The next day the planes were crewed by RCAF pilots and ferried to the Atlantic. [19]

Piney Pinecreek Border Airport is located in Manitoba and Minnesota. The northwest/southeast oriented runway straddles the border, and there are two ramps; one in Canada and one in the US. The airport is jointly owned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the local government of Piney, Manitoba. It is assigned US identifier 48Y and Canadian identifier JX2.

International Peace Garden Airport is located in Manitoba and North Dakota adjacent to the International Peace Garden. The runway is entirely within North Dakota, but a ramp extends across the border to allow aircraft to access Canadian customs. While not jointly owned, it is operated as an international facility for Customs clearance as part of the International Peace Garden.

Coronach/Scobey Border Station Airport is located in Saskatchewan and Montana. The east–west runway is sited exactly on the border. The airport is jointly owned by the Canadian and US governments and is assigned US identifier 8U3 and Canadian identifier CKK3.

Coutts/Ross International Airport is located in Alberta and Montana. Like Coronach/Scobey, the east–west runway is sited exactly on the border. It is owned entirely by the Montana Aeronautics Division. It is assigned US identifier 7S8 and Canadian identifier CEP4.

Del Bonita/Whetstone International Airport is located in Alberta and Montana, and similarly has an east–west runway sited exactly on the border. It is assigned US identifier H28 and Canadian identifier CEQ4.

Avey Field State Airport is located in Washington and British Columbia. The privately owned airfield is mostly in the US, but several hundred feet of the north-south runway extend into Canada and both Canadian and US customs are available. It is assigned US identifier 69S but does not have a Canadian identifier.

Cross-border buildings Edit


Half of this bench is in the United States and the other half is in Canada

The Haskell Free Library and Opera House straddles the border in Derby Line, Vermont and Stanstead, Quebec. Private homes are divided by the International Boundary line between Estcourt Station, Maine and Pohénégamook, Quebec. Private homes between Beebe Plain, Quebec and Beebe Plain, Vermont, a seasonal home between Alburgh, Vermont and Noyan, Quebec (at the intersection of Matthias Lane in Alburgh and Chemin au Bord du L'eau in Noyan) as well as between Richford, Vermont and Abercorn, Quebec (1 house)[20] also are divided by the border.

The Halfway House, a tavern also known as Taillon's International Hotel, straddles the border between Dundee, Quebec and Fort Covington, New York.[21] It was built in 1820, before the border was surveyed.[22]

Land exclaves of Canada contiguous with the United States Edit

Land exclaves of the United States contiguous with Canada Edit

Remaining boundary disputes Edit

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ pie (1842). "Webster-Ashburton Treaty". Yale Law School. Retrieved 2007-03-01. 
  2. ^ Lass, William E. (1980). Minnesota's Boundary with Canada. St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society. p. 2. ISBN 0-87351-153-0. 
  3. ^ Schiff, Stacy (July 22, 2007). "Politics Starts at the Border". New York Times. 
  4. ^ Organization Chart, International Boundary Commission, accessed July 27, 2007 Archived July 6, 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Blaine couple, U.S. agency settle border wall case". Seattle Times. January 15, 2009. 
  6. ^ Bowermaster, David (July 12, 2007). "Firing by Bush rejected by boundary official". Seattle Times. 
  7. ^ Fong, Petti (July 26, 2007). "Politics delineates boundary dispute". Toronto Star. 
  8. ^ "Fired border official's job filled quickly: White House refuses comment on former bureaucrat involved in lawsuit over couple's fence". Globe and Mail. July 13, 2007. 
  9. ^ Aroostook Valley Country Club, Club History
  10. ^ Jeffrey, Terence P. (24 September 2009). "Administration Will Cut Border Patrol Deployed on U.S-Mexico Border". Cybercast News Service. Retrieved 25 September 2009.  and
    Shacat, Jonathon (25 September 2009). "Fewer border agents in south". The Sierra Vista Herald. Retrieved 25 September 2009. 
  11. ^ Mark Kennedy, PostMedia News Political Time Bombs Litter Harper's Path, December 13, 2010
  12. ^ Frieden, Terry (July 22, 2006). "Drug tunnel found under Canada border: Five arrests made after agents monitored construction". (CNN). 
  13. ^ Royal Canadian Mounted Police, "Fifteen People Arrested for Possession of Contraband Tobacco during High Intensity Enforcement Project", press release, February 25, 2009
  14. ^ Cockburn, Neco (November 21, 2008). "Smuggling's price". Ottawa Citizen. 
  15. ^ WHTI: Enhanced Drivers License
  16. ^ (5 December 2006) "DHS Announces Final Western Hemisphere Air Travel". Retrieved on 2007-12-02. Rule
  17. ^ "Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative: The Basics". Retrieved on 2007-12-02. 
  18. ^ (January 13, 2008) "Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative". Retrieved on 2007-01-12. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ 1000 Drew Rd - Richford Vermont
  21. ^ Wikimapia
  22. ^ Taillon's International Hotel, Taillon's International Hotel - straddling the US-Canada border!

20. Paulus, Jeremy and Asgary, Ali (2010) "Enhancing Border Security: Local Values and Preferences at the Blue Water Bridge (Point Edward, Canada)," Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management: Vol. 7 : Iss. 1, Article 77.

Further readingEdit

  • Anderson, Christopher G. Canadian Liberalism and the Politics of Border Control, 1867-1967 (University of British Columbia Press; 2012) 280 pages; studies pivotal episodes in Canadian immigration policy that shed light on more restrictive approaches today.

External links Edit

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Canada–United States border. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.