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The Borderlands of the American and Canadian Wests

Essays on Regional History of the Forty-ninth Parallel

Sterling Evans

Publication Year: 2006

The Borderlands of the American and Canadian Wests is the first collection of interdisciplinary essays bringing together scholars from both sides of the forty-ninth parallel to examine life in a transboundary region. The result is a text that reveals the diversity, difficulties, and fortunes of this increasingly powerful but little-understood part of the North American West. Contributions by historians, geographers, anthropologists, and scholars of criminal justice and environmental studies provide a comprehensive picture of the history of the borderlands region of the western United States and Canada.

The Borderlands of the American and Canadian Wests is divided into six parts: Defining the Region, Colonizing the Frontier, Farming and Other Labor Interactions, the Borderlands as a Refuge in the Nineteenth Century, the Borderlands as a Refuge in the Twentieth Century, and Natural Resources and Conservation along the Border. Topics include the borderlands’ environment; its aboriginal and gender history; frontier interactions and comparisons; agricultural and labor relations; tourism; the region as a refuge for Mormons, far-right groups, and Vietnam War resisters; and conservation and natural resources. These areas show how the history and geography of the borderlands region has been transboundary, multidimensional, and unique within North America.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

No international boundary could have less physiographic reality than the forty-ninth parallel of latitude that divides the U.S. West from its Canadian counterpart. The boundary’s inception was entirely political. In 1818, British and American diplomats who had never seen the fortyninth parallel arbitrarily chose it to separate U.S. from British territory...

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pp. xv-xxii

The idea to create an edited collection of essays on the history of the western U.S./Canadian borderlands stems not from the scarcity of published material on the subject but rather from how it has been a scattered literature. There has also been a lack of any such collection to bring together some of the new scholarship in what is an emerging discipline on the western...

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pp. xxiii-xxvi

Developing this anthology was made easier and more pleasant with the help and support of many individuals. First, it was made financially possible by grants from the Humboldt State University Foundation and the hsu Office of Research and Graduate Studies (a Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity award). I express my sincere thanks to the directors...

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Duty-Free: An Introduction to the Practice of Regional History along the Forty-ninth Parallel

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pp. xxvii-xxxvi

On my first expedition to western Canada in 1985, I (Isern) commenced a study of the North American plains on an international basis. I exited the United States by auto via Portal, North Dakota, and entered Canada at North Portal, Saskatchewan, without incident. Traveling with me was my wife, a German citizen. The following year, this time traveling alone...

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Part 1: Defining the Region, Defining the Border

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pp. 1-16

The borderlands of the American and Canadian Wests are made up of four distinct subregions: the Northern Great Plains, the Northwestern Plains and Rocky Mountains (Chinook Country), the Columbia Plateau (or Inland Empire), and the Pacific Coast (sometimes referred to as Cascadia). (See the map in the preface, p. xvi, for more specific descriptions.)...

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1. The Case for Cross-National and Comparative History: The Northwestern Plains as Bioregion

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pp. 17-41

In order to make their research projects manageable and their analysis and interpretation coherent, historians necessarily set boundaries around their studies. Most historical studies include temporal boundaries. Historians of aboriginal peoples often organize their studies around tribes. For example, there are fine histories written of the Crees, Blackfoot, Crows,...

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2. The Pacific Coast Borderlands and Frontier

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pp. 42-48

It took at least a century for the boundary between the United States and British North America, later Canada, to be established. In 1818, the fortyninth parallel of latitude was established as the boundary in theWest, but this agreement did not apply beyond the Rockies. Finally, in 1846, it was agreed by treaty that this line should be extended to the coast at the Strait...

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3. Conceptual and Practical Boundaries: West Coast Indians/First Nations on the Border of Contagion in the Post-9/11 Era

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pp. 49-66

A few years ago I wrote about the forty-ninth parallel, the international border between the United States and Canada or, more specifically,Washington State and the province of British Columbia, focusing on the largely invisible ways in which the border disrupted and bifurcated the communities of Coast Salish and adjacent Interior Salish peoples. I noted that...

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Part 2: Colonizing the Borderlands with Trails, the Law, and Ranching

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pp. 67-74

The four chapters in this section speak to various aspects of interactions in the borderlands of the American and Canadian Wests during the mid- to late nineteenth century when the region was being colonized by Euro-Americans and Euro-Canadians. Colonization was more than a westward-moving settlement process; it had south-to-north and north-to-south...

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4. The Trail to the North in Whoop-Up Country

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pp. 75-80

Today’s tourists traveling northward on U.S. Highway 91 [now Interstate 15] from Great Falls, Montana, to visit the Calgary Stampede or Banff and Lake Louise speed through a vast plain of wheat and grass. Though little remains to remind them of its past, they are passing through a region that pioneers called the Whoop-Up Country, and their modern hard-surfaced...

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5. Above the Blue Line: Policing the Frontier in the Canadian and American West, 1870–1900

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pp. 81-106

Capt. Cecil Denny, who rode out with the first contingent of North-West Mounted Police (nwmp) in 1874 on its historic “march west,” in his memoirs later asked, “Was the saddle over the Canadian?” According to his account, the country’s western frontier was a composite of evils—battles, murder, plunder, and sudden death from the Red River to the Rocky...

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6. Does the Border Matter?: Cattle Ranching and the Forty-ninth Parallel

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pp. 107-116

International boundaries often influence spatial patterns of land use, society, culture, politics, and humanized landscapes. Geographers have long assumed that such borders can exert a shaping influence on human occupancy. As early as 1935, Derwent Whittlesey penned an article entitled “The Impress of Central Authority upon the Landscape,” a sentiment...

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7. “Their Own Country”: Race, Gender, Landscape, and Colonization around the Forty-ninth Parallel, 1862–1900

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pp. 117-130

In a September 1862 diary entry, Carolyn Abbott Tyler, a member of the 1862 Fisk expedition from Minnesota to Fort Benton, Montana, wrote that “every one [was] thankful the Blackfeet had gone [back] to their own country” after being in the region to hunt buffalo. A local Indian agent even warned the party not to winter in a certain valley because the...

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Part 3. Seeking Sanctuary on Both Sides of the Line

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pp. 131-138

Over the past two and a half centuries, many have viewed the borderlands of the United States and Canada as a place of refuge from persecution. For example, at the time of America’s War for Independence, despite “revolutionary” language about freedom of thought and ideas, thousands of loyalists to the Crown suffered persecution by other Americans who...

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8. The Border, the Buffalo, and the Métis of Montana

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pp. 139-154

In the late 1860s and early 1870s, large numbers of Plains Métis began to move into Montana to exploit the last large herds of buffalo in North America. The Métis are those descendants of native women and European men who forged a new identity in the fur trade that was neither Indian nor white. These Métis communities arose in various geographic locations...

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9. Crossing the Line: Race, Nationality, and the Deportation of the “Canadian” Crees in the Canada–U.S. Borderlands, 1890–1900

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pp. 155-171

On June 20, 1896, Montana District Court Judge C. H. Benton was handed a petition sworn by Buffalo Coat, a Cree man from Canada. Buffalo Coat claimed that forty soldiers from the Tenth U.S. Cavalry under the command of Lt. John J. Pershing had unlawfully and illegally detained him and thirty other Cree heads of family in a camp near Great...

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10. Charles Ora Card and Mormon Settlement on the Northwestern Plains Borderlands

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pp. 172-182

On a late September morning in 1886, Charles Ora Card of Logan, Utah, crossed the international boundary into Canada for only the second time in his life. His first visit to Canada fourteen years earlier had been a rather forgettable event—a nighttime trip across southern Ontario on his way from Buffalo to Detroit. But such was not the case this time, and upon...

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Part 4. Farming, Industry, and Labor Interactions in the Borderlands

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pp. 183-188

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries interactions between the AmericanWest and western Canada increased. There was especially an increase in agricultural relations in the borderlands as American farmers migrated into western Canada responding to the ideology of the region being the “Last BestWest.” There have been some excellent studies...

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11. The Twine Line: Mexican Henequen, U.S.–Canadian Relations, and Binder Twine in the Northern Plains and Prairie Provinces, 1890–1950

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pp. 189-202

Farmers, historians, economists, geographers, and other scholars rarely think of Mexico when talking or writing about grain farming in the American and Canadian plains in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Yet a unique Mexican–U.S.–Canadian relationship developed from 1890 to 1950 that centered around the production of henequen...

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12. Hoboes across the Border: Itinerant Cross-Border Laborers between Montana and Western Canada

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pp. 203-221

Between 1870 and 1920 a vast army of floating workers roamed the American and Canadian Wests servicing the natural resource industries of mining, lumbering, and grain and livestock production. They worked in the fisheries, in railroad construction, and on irrigation projects. Such industries provided work for hundreds of thousands of people who, lured...

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13. “Nature’s Garden and a Possible Utopia”: Farming for Fruit and Industrious Men in the Transboundary Pacific Northwest, 1895–1914

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pp. 222-240

Amid historical images of prairie homesteaders, West Coast bushwhackers, and inland hard-rock miners, the dawn of the twentieth century bore witness to a lesser-known but equally dramatic alteration of social and natural landscapes in the North American West. Within numerous arid valleys that dotted the region, diverted streams and harnessed rivers...

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Part 5: Crossing the Medicine Line in the Twentieth Century

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pp. 241-246

The essays in part 3 examined various aspects of how the border, or medicine line, was crossed for purposes of sanctuary in the nineteenth century. The borderlands continued to be a refuge in the twentieth century, but as the three essays and one addendum here show, it was now characterized by more of a United States–Canada flow of people fleeing from policies...

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14. Refugees from Volstead: Cross-Boundary Tourism in the Northwest during Prohibition

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pp. 247-261

C. D. Smith, a columnist for the Victoria Daily Colonist, called them “refugees from Volstead.” He likened the American tourist during Prohibition to the refugees of Belgium during World War I and to the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt. But none of these, he writes, “exceed in sympathetic interest the refugees from Volstead, driven forth by the...

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15. Hoods across the Border: The Ku Klux Klan and the Far Right in the American and Canadian Wests

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pp. 262-269

When Canadian immigration authorities arrested American Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke in Vancouver, British Columbia, in April 1980, Duke explained that he was visiting Canada for “white powder,” not “white power.”1 Canadian officials let him go skiing and then expelled Duke on the grounds that he had been convicted of inciting a riot in the United...

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16. Fugitives from Injustice: Vietnam War Draft Dodgers and Deserters in British Columbia

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pp. 270-289

It was a typically wet January day in Vancouver, British Columbia, when three American deserters set out together to hitchhike to parts of eastern Canada in early 1970. They had heard from the rumor mill that there it was easier to get jobs in order to qualify for permanent residence status. Little did they suspect that they would find themselves that very evening...

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pp. 290-292

While compiling this book in 2002–2004 it was reported that three new patterns of American emigration to Canada for purposes of refuge were developing. One was for medical users of marijuana (Cannabis sativa) who were primarily leaving California for British Columbia. The second involved Americans moving to Canada to escape the conservative Bush...

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Part 6. Natural Resources, Conservation, and Environmental Issues in the Borderlands

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pp. 293-298

As this book began in part 1, discussing bioregions and a sense of place within the borderlands’ natural environments, so it ends by examining other aspects of the region’s natural resources, conservation, and environmental issues. One of the most important natural resources in the borderlands of the Pacific Northwest has always been salmon. In chapter...

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17. Fishing the Line: Political Boundaries and Border Fluidity in the Pacific Northwest Borderlands, 1880–1930s

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pp. 299-308

In the waning summer months of 1895, George Webber, a U.S. customs inspector in Puget Sound, expressed his exasperation in trying to police the water border between Washington and British Columbia. In particular, he was frustrated with Canadian fishing boats illegally crossing the border to help themselves to what Webber deemed an American...

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18. “The Geology Recognizes No Boundaries”: Shifting Borders in Waterton Lakes National Park

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pp. 309-333

This is an essay about the forty-ninth parallel: the physical parallel, a “vista” six meters (eighteen feet) wide that the International Boundary Commission ordered, in 1925, to be regularly cleared. Specifically, it is an essay about that portion of the “border swath” that runs right through the middle of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, neatly dividing...

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19. Whoa! Canada: Environmental Issues and Activism along the Alberta-Montana Border

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pp. 334-344

Off in the foreboding clouds of another storm, the snowy peaks of Glacier National Park rise above the invisible line of the forty-ninth parallel, reminding us how close we are to the United States of America—and yet how far away. It’s early spring, and for the last hour, we’ve been fishtailing on dirt roads hard-packed with black ice, just beyond the northern boundary...

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Afterword: Comparing Western Borderlands and Their Future Study

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pp. 345-364

There are fifty-four border crossings along the forty-ninth parallel between the United States and Canada from Lake of the Woods, Minnesota/ Ontario, to the Strait of Juan de Fuca,Washington/British Columbia. The westernmost crossing, at Blaine,Washington/White Rock, British Columbia, is graced with a sixty-seven-foot-high concrete Peace Arch and...


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pp. 365-370


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pp. 371-386

E-ISBN-13: 9780803256347
E-ISBN-10: 0803256345

Publication Year: 2006