20 Wonderful Facts About the US-Canadian Border

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Canada and the US share much, trade agreements, for some a common language, sports leagues, and much more, but mainly we share a border, and it is huge, beautiful, safe and very important.

1. Canada Has Eight Provinces and Territories on the American-Canadian border

Everything’s bigger in The US, even its neighboring border states. Canada has eight provinces and territories on the American-Canadian Border. They are, from left to right when consulting a map (and North if you are counting Alaska): The Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick. 

If you thought that was a lot, everything is bigger in America. The US has thirteen states along the American-Canadian border. They are Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

If you were to follow the border from end to end, you could travel from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. For a closer analysis, you should check out the Canada-United States Transportation Border Working Group for an interactive map with which you can explore the border in greater detail.

northamericaImage Source: Tbwg

2. The Border is HUGE!

canada_mapImage Source: Travel Guide

The border’s length from coast to coast (excluding the Alaska-Yukon border) is 3987 miles. The Alaska-Yukon border is 1538 miles. By contrast, the US-Mexico border, which has been in the news for months now, is only 1933 miles.

Let’s hope the Canadians never build a wall or we will be forced to listen to Game of Thrones references for thousands of years. But, if they do decide to go through with the plan, you can be certain they will consult Donald “the wall expert” Trump for advice on how to do it properly.

3. Bordering on the Quiet Life

main_900Image Source: The Atlantic

Americans may be surprised to know that 90 percent of Canadians live within 100 miles of the border. Only 12 percent of Americans live within 100 miles of the Canadian border though. This makes sense since America is much warmer than Canada, and has 10 times the population. The size of Canada and America, however, are negligible.

By contrast, when you think of major population centers in the US, you might think of California, Texas, and New York. However, 39 percent of the total US population live on the shoreline. Basically, few people live in the middle of the nation and everyone else lives on the coast.

4. Canada and the United States trade A LOT

20141108_AMC093Image Source: Economist

Trade volume will obviously be dictated by the comparative economies of Canada and America. When Canada’s dollar goes down in value, exports to the US increase, and vice versa (when that rarely happens). In 2014, however, Canada-US trade was an astounding $658 billion dollars, or the net worth of 7.69 Bill Gates’s.

5. Mineral fuels are the Most Traded Resource


The largest import to America from Canada is mineral fuels. Americans imported $70 billion worth of it.

The largest import to Canada from America is agricultural products. Canadians imported 24 billion worth of agricultural products in 2015.

Each country imports what they need and the other has. Canada has oil but the harsher weather prevents them from growing much agriculture, especially for specific foods like California oranges. America has oil but they want more, so Alberta’s oil sands conduct much business with their Southern trade partner.

6. Point Roberts, Washington

Point_Roberts_MarinaImage Source: Bellingham Home

Many people point to Point Roberts, Washington, as some sort of geographical oddity. It is part of the United States but it is not connected to the rest of the US. Of course, this is an oddity but it is not rare. Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and more are all considered part of the US but they are not connected to the mainland.

It still feels strange that you need to leave the US and drive through Canada to get back into the US, sometimes those lines we draw on maps just don’t make too much sense.

7. Many Vietnam War Draft dodgers fled to Canada

vietnam_1280Image Source: CBC Canada

Americans have always been welcomed into Canada for disagreeing with official US policy. During the Revolutionary War of American Independence, many “Loyalists” fled the continental US and settled in British North America (the future Canada). They returned to Washington briefly in 1812 but returned to the Great North.

During the Vietnam War when the draft was imposed, many draft dodgers fled to Canada to avoid serving. Former President Jimmy Carter pardoned them all though so they are no longer outlaws. Canada is preparing for an influx of Americans in November. Liberals will most likely reside in Toronto, the New York of Canada, with twice the pomposity and half the importance.

8. 13% of the Canadian population lives in the US

2.8 million Canadians currently live in the US. By contrast, there are 36 million Canadians living within their own borders. That’s almost 13% of the population.

9. A lot Fewer Americans Live In Canada (For Now)

13124633_1715956001949740_8025477627719526472_nImage Source: Facebook

The number of Americans moving to Canada is much less than the number of Canadians who move to the US. Approximately only 9 thousand Americans live North of the border. It could be due to the higher standard of living in Canada than America. It could be due to the currency conversion, which favors Americans. It could be due to the colder weather and the more liberal political sentiment.

However, the number of Americans moving to Canada may increase after this coming election.

10. Canada Shares Many of the Great Lakes with the US

1237_GL_MAP_CAN-US_e_11-rev_141104Image Source: Binational Net

There are five Great Lakes that border Canada and America. While you cannot own water, you can own the land around the water, thereby controlling access to that water. Since the Lakes are between Canada and America, neither owns them outright. The Great Lakes are: Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. Both America and Canada take much influence from the Native culture. For the dedicated angler, you can find over 170 different types of fish in the Great Lakes so fire up the pan and cast your fly!

11. Items You Can Only Find on One Side of the US-Canadian Border

Pirate JoesImage Source: NYDailyNews


Michael Hallat, a.k.a. Pirate Joe, has been smuggling Trader Joe’s products into Canada for years and selling them at his own knock-off version, Pirate Joe’s.

Although not technically illegal, Michael and others have been banned from specific Trader Joe’s stores for purchasing large quantities of items in bulk in order to take them across the border. This business exists in a grey market due to the fact that Michael never received permission from Trader Joe’s to sell their products, but his business model is essentially legal.

Apparently, the founder of Trader Joe’s did something similar in the 1980s, in order to avoid paying premium prices from official merchandise sources. Hallat has been sued for his actions.

12. That Time America Invaded British Columbia

OregaImage Source: Wiki

President James Polk, best know for starting a war with Mexico, almost started a war with Canada, back when it was known as British North America (so it’s totally legit). At that point in time, Oregon Country’s borders extended beyond the current Canadian border, and American settlers started settling the land. The problem was that Britain also claimed that land. To avoid war, since Polk was also fighting the Mexicans, he compromised with the British and the Oregon ended at the 49th parallel. The treaty is known as the Oregan Treaty.

Can you imagine if Polk had won, and British Columbia became a state of eco-friendly, positive, animal-loving, organic food eating, drinkers of coffee beans from regions they couldn’t even pronounce? Actually, it would be the exact same it is today.

13. Illegal Canada/US Border Crossings

US Canada border signImage Source: Makaristos Wiki Commons

Illegal border crossings are not just something that happens on the US-Mexican border. They have happened throughout history on the US-Canada border too.  

During the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush, after gold was discovered in the Yukon Territory, 10,000s of thousands of prospective prospectors traveled North in search of fortune. Few struck it rich though and, by mid-1899, the Klondike Gold Rush ended. Prospectors left to find

Figures for illegal crossings of borders are inherently hard to accurately estimate. However, a 2014 report by the Department of Homeland Security noted that there were 775 Canadians apprehended crossing into the United States illegally. Considering the vast border, it would not be a surprise for the actual number of illegal crossings to be significantly larger.

Perhaps more interesting is the amount of Canadians who overstay their visas in the US. As of 2015 the DHS estimates that over 93,000 Canadians have overstayed their visas in the US. More than double the overstays from Mexico.

On a lighter note, the recent “Pokemon Go” craze has of course also played a part, two Canadian citizens crossed the border trying to “catch them all“, they were quickly apprehended and sent back, likely without a fine.

Technically under US Code 19 1459, crossing the border illegally can lead to up to a $5,000 fine. Although it looks like this is rarely given, but two Candian men crossing the border in 2014 were fined.

14. Border Towns: A Museum With An Entrance On Both Sides Of The Border

Derby LIne Vermont

Derby Line, Vermont is recognized legally as a part of the United States although its territory is actually located north of the Canadian border. This discrepancy was due to a surveying error in the 18th century when kids did not have the luxury of Pokemon Go to tell them where they were.

It is not all fun and games, though. If you choose to drive through Derby Line, you need to declare your citizenship and pay duties on anything you bought on the other side of the border. 

You can visit the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, which has an entrance on both the Canadian and US side of the border. It was purposely built to straddle both countries.

15. Places You Can Cross the Border

There are 119 official border crossings along the US-Canadian border. This includes the border between Alaska and the Yukon Territory. You can find a list of them here.

May These Gates Never Be ClosedImage Source: Canadian Content

16. Making Canadian Apple Pie American with Ryan Reynolds

Canadian Actor Ryan Reynolds once smuggled apple pie across the border. Although smuggling is an illegal act, regardless of what you smuggle, you are allowed to transport food across the border, with several stipulations. You need to declare the food you are bringing over and let the border agents inspect it. A list of prohibited foods can be found here.

Ryan Reynolds Smuggling Apple Pie

17. Pure Canadian Maple Syrup

Drinking Maple SyrupImage Source: Super Troopers

Pure Canadian maple syrup can only be bought in Canada. If it was bought in the States, it would be American maple syrup. Ok, enough of the Dad jokes. When you buy maple syrup, there’s a high chance it is Canadian in origin because Canada produces 71% of the world’s maple syrup. Although Canada does not have a national drink, it should be 100% Canadian maple syrup, once we redefine what a drink is. Also, Canada has a Maple Syrup Reserve, because of course we do! 

In 2014 the US imported nearly $148 million (US) worth of maple syrup from Canada.

18. The “No Touching Zone”

No Touching ZoneImage Source: Huffington Post Canada

There is a 20-foot gap between America and Canada in some places along their border (each country relinquished 10 feet) in order to better monitor border crossings. It is far easier to do so when you have a large open space, rather than a single small strip of land covered in forest. This gap is 5,500 miles long and is “considered the longest deforested straight line in the world” because people will do anything to appear in the Guinness World Records!

19. The “Wall”

South Park Canada Border WallImage Source: South Park Comedy Central

In recent years, US Customs and Border Protection explored the idea of building a fence along the border in order to stop illegal crossings. This border was not going to extend the entire length of the border but instead focus on “hot spots” where illegal crossings occurred. Now, the only physical barrier that exists along the US-Canadian border is in an episode of South Park!

20. The Border is not Straight

When you look at a map of the US-Canadian border, it is easy to think that it is a straight line. After all, that is how the border is printed and presented to us. However, the real border actually zig-zags since it was first surveyed in the 18th Century using local boundary monuments. This is surely a conversation starter at your next Canada-themed party!

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Canada & The United States (Bizarre Borders Part 2)

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