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Parallel Destinies

Canadian-American Relations West of the Rockies

Ken S. Coates

Publication Year: 2002

These essays view the boundary between Canada and the United States not just as a dividing line but also as a regional backbone, with people on each side having key experiences and attitudes in common. In their eloquence and scope, they illustrate how historical study of Canadian–American relations in the West might be expanded beyond the parameters of the nation-state.

Published by: University of Washington Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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Preface - Scholars and the Forty-ninth Parallel

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pp. vii-xix

The authors whose work is assembled in this collection of essays were given a single challenge: to consider the historical significance and impact of the Canadian-American border on the lands and peoples west of the Rocky Mountains. This task is more difficult than it might seem, for most scholarship remains locked within the parameters of the nation-state. In an age of free trade, globalization, internationalism, transboundary migration, and the pervasive impact of popular culture, this assertion may seem odd. ...

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pp. xxi-xxii

Because this collection received its start during the 1996 symposium “On Brotherly Terms,” it is important to acknowledge the many contributions that made that event a success. The conference was cosponsored by the Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest, in the Department of History at the University of Washington, and the Canadian Studies Center, in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. Doug Jackson, then director of the Canadian Studies Center, was...

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Introduction: 1. Border Crossings: Pattern and Processes along the Canada–United States Boundary West of the Rockies

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pp. 3-27

Borders are artificial. Even when lines of national demarcation follow clear geographic features, there is nothing fixed about their location or their function. Borders have been around for hundreds of years and gained new authority with the evolution and development of the modern state. As governments gained greater social, economic, and political prominence, it became imperative that they demonstrate their authority by defending their...

I: The Permeable Border

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2. No Parallel: American Miner-Soldiers at War with the Nlaka’pamux of the Canadian West

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pp. 31-79

In 1858 the Native lands along the southern section of the Fraser River corridor below the fifty-first parallel were invaded by large companies of foreign miners organized into armies of conquest that had effectively triggered Indian wars in Washington and Oregon and by extension, the Fraser River War of British Columbia. Abraham Lincoln’s future secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton, who declared, “A marvellous thing is now going on here. . . [that] will prove one of the most important events on the Globe,” was not the only...

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3. Work, Sex, and Death on the Great Thoroughfare: Annual Migrations of “Canadian Indians” to the American Pacific Northwest

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pp. 80-103

A dramatic reorientation of the Pacific Northwest’s many worlds took place between 1841 and 1871, forcing the territory’s aboriginal inhabitants to reformulate their lives and economies. This chapter looks at one aspect of the reorientation of these North Coast peoples as they came face to face, for the first time, with towns and cities of immigrants, and more specifically, as they encountered capitalist wage work and assimilated it into their longstanding practices of slave-raiding, taking heads as trophies, and potlatching. ...

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4. Borders and Identities among Italian Immigrants in the Pacific Northwest, 1880–1938

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pp. 104-122

When we discuss Canadian-American relations, we make several assumptions: we recognize the existence of two political nation-states, Canada and the United States, whose governments and citizens “relate” or “related” to each other and thus recognized each other as “Canadians” and “Americans.” We also assume the existence and recognition of a border that separates the nations and the peoples, that they relate to each other from specific and di¤erent places that are divided by an important line. ...

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5. Nationalist Narratives and Regional Realities: The Political Economy of Railway Development in Southeastern British Columbia, 1895–1905

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pp. 123-151

The forty-ninth parallel, which divides British Columbia and Washington state, is an invisible line. Unlike “real” boundaries—rivers, oceans, or the height of land—this parallel is geographically meaningless. It is an imagined border, legitimized by an agreement made in 1846 between two states far removed from the region. Over the next fifty years the forty-ninth parallel acquired new significance and its purpose was defined in different ways. ...

II: Negotiating the International Boundary

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6. The Historical Roots of the Canadian-American Salmon Wars

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pp. 155-180

In the past few years Canada and the United States have clashed in remarkably vitriolic fashion over the fate of Pacific salmon. In 1994, Canada tried to leverage changes in international harvest allocations by imposing fees on American vessels bound for Alaska through British Columbia waters. American o‹cials responded by threatening to raise duties on ships traveling to Canadian ports through Juan de Fuca Strait. The following year, Indian tribes and the...

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7. Who Will Defend British Columbia? Unity of Command on the West Coast, 1934–42

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pp. 181-202

Autonomy in the face of centralizing forces emanating from the United States has long been a vital theme in Canadian history, but one strand in particular has attracted Canadian intellectuals and nationalists. Giving “critical emphasis to Canada’s lack of domestic and socio-economic and external political independence from the United States and the world centred upon it,”1 the peripheral independence school is unique in that its adherents range across the political spectrum—from Donald Creighton’s and George Grant’s...

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8. That Long Western Border: Canada, the United States, and a Century of Economic Change

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pp. 203-217

At the start of the twenty-first century, according to the pundits of newspaper opinion pages, international borders were fast becoming relics. Germany and Italy had become members of the same European Union. Guest workers crossed and recrossed the borders of Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Transnational corporations sought workers and investments across dozens of national divides. Global financiers shifted wealth around the world with a few strokes on the computer keypad. The northwest quadrant of North...

III: National Distinctions

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9. Borders of the Past: The Oregon Boundary Dispute and the Beginnings of Northwest Historiography

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pp. 244-268

Traveling south from British Columbia to Washington State, one passes the whitewashed Peace Arch that straddles the border between Canada and the United States. Marking a boundary that has stood 150 years, the arch proclaims these two nations “Children of a Common Mother.” Of course, time has a way of calming nerves and tensions and of making boundaries such as this appear natural. But as Ken S. Coates notes in his introduction to this collection, there is little that is natural about these “artificial lines.” ...

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10. Wild, Tame, and Free: Comparing Canadian and U.S. Views of Nature

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pp. 246-273

“I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil,—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.” Those oft-quoted words from Henry David Thoreau, published in 1862, ring through the subsequent years of American history. Although they were made deliberately extreme and one-sided and although they came from a man who often felt marginal to his society, they express some central ideas in...

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11. Sleeping with the Elephant: Reflections of an American-Canadian on Americanization and Anti-Americanism in Canada

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pp. 274-293

Arriving in Canada in 1969, direct from the doctoral program at Northwestern University, wet behind the ears, and as ignorant of my new homeland as are almost all Americans, I had no idea of what subtle and not so subtle differences I might encounter. As do most Americans in Canada, I have stayed on and contributed and more or less disappeared into the Anglo-Canadian mainstream. Indeed, almost uniquely among immigrant groups to Canada, we Americans have little visibility as a group. Despite a proud...


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pp. 295-296


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pp. 297-302

Production Notes, Back Cover

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p. 303

E-ISBN-13: 9780295801247
E-ISBN-10: 0295801247
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295982533
Print-ISBN-10: 0295982535

Publication Year: 2002

OCLC Number: 757822287
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Parallel Destinies

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Relations -- Canada.
  • Canada -- Relations -- United States.
  • United States -- Boundaries -- Canada.
  • Canada -- Boundaries -- United States.
  • Northern boundary of the United States -- History.
  • Northwest, Pacific -- History.
  • Canada, Western -- History.
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