Did you know that there is a 302-square-kilometer part of Minnesota that, due to a map error in 1818, is technically located across the Canadian border? The town is the Northwest Angle and Islands and its residents recently tried to secede from the United States.
Grant Stoddard tells us all about it in a great piece in The Walrus.
Here is a snippet:
To access this American outpost by land from the rest of Minnesota, one must cross the border into Manitoba, drive through the hamlet of Sprague, and continue along several kilometres of unpaved roads before re-entering the United States at the Northwest Angle. There, arrivals are required to check into a booth at “Jim’s Corner” and report to US Customs via videophone. Before leaving the Northwest Angle by road, one must report to a Canadian customs officer stationed in the same retrofitted porta-potty. In addition to laminated signs explaining the peculiar protocol for phoning in declarations, the booth’s walls are plastered with posters advertising various items for sale and upcoming community events, which imparts a quaint, welcoming feel.
I’d made arrangements to stay at Jake’s Northwest Angle, a resort run by the Colson family, whose forebears arrived here in 1917. Paul Colson, now forty, was one of the would-be revolutionaries, along with Dietzler, but it was Paul’s wife, Karen, a native of Dauphin, Manitoba, who showed me to my cabin when I arrived, just after sunset.
“Our kids have dual citizenship,” she said after I expressed my interest in the township’s previous flirtation with Canada. “I have a green card but am in no hurry to naturalize at this point. It would require me to make an oath renouncing any allegiance to Canada, and I don’t wanna do that. But you never know what’s going to be around the corner, so Paul and I wanted to give our children as many options as possible.”
Shooing away several large white-tailed deer from around the deck, Karen gave me a quick tour of my cabin. It’s a homey, cozy sort of place where the Bibles left by the Gideons aren’t tucked away in the nightstands’ drawers but left on top of them, opened: Galatians in one bedroom, Acts in the other. “Oh, it’s a thing my mother-in-law used to do,” said Karen when I asked her how deliberately the passages were chosen. “Now the cleaning lady does it.”
When I asked about the events leading up to the proposed secession, she smiled and recommended that I speak with her husband about it, as he’d been more intimately involved with the process.
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