Sunday, September 06, 2020

Towns on the wrong side of the US-Canada border effectively cut off

There are a couple of anomalous towns that straddle the US-Canada border that are finding things pretty tricky right now, with the border being closed for the foreaeeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Campobello Island belongs to the Canadian province of New Brunswick, but the only access to the island is a bridge from the US state of Maine (or during the summer only, a ferry from mainland New Brunswick to Deer Island, and then a second ferry to Campobello Island).
Over on the west coast, the American town of Point Roberts is technically part of Washington state, but it is actually located at the tip of the Tsawwassen Peninsula in British Columbia, and can only be accessed by driving about 40 kilometres through Canada.
Campobello Island has a permanent population of under 1,000, and Point Roberts has a population of about 1,300. But both settlements are almost totally reliant on the other country for its tourism trade, and indeed for their general livelihoods.
I understand that Point Roberts ended up in the "wrong" country because of where it lies on the map, being just below the 49th parallel, which was the border agreed between Canada and USA in the mid-19th century. But could they really not make an exception? They managed to bend the border around Vancouver Island, for example, otherwise Victoria would be part of the US - imagine that!)
Campobello Island does not even have that excuse. It is one of several islands in the Bay of Fundy, some of which belong to Canada and some to the USA. Campobello is much closer to Maine than to New Brunswick. Could they really not see their way to allocating them a bit more sensibly?
Mind you, I've always thought that Alaska (and probably Maine too) really ought to be part of Canada... (Incidentally, if you've ever wondered why Alaska was sold to the USA and not to Canada, you can read about it here. Essentially, at the time the sale was mooted, Canada was was still a UK dominion, and Russia and the UK were very much at loggerheads politically, whereas the USA was actually secretly aiding Russia against the UK).

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