"The Man Who Went to War With Canada" Discussion Thread

Welcome to the discussion thread for the story, The Man Who Went to War With Canada! Share your comments and thoughts about the story in the conversation below.

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The Canadian claim to the island came from the British in 1621 per what the article said. The American Claim came in the year 1789. I had wondered if maybe, the French Revolution had made any agreement of Canadian land to England null and mute ?

I don’t think the French Revolution changed anything. I used to live up that way and could hear the Machias Seal Island foghorn from my house. That’s as close as I got. Great story and an area of Maine and Canada worth visiting.


The unfortunate thing (or fortunate, depending on your point of view) is that within a generation many Canadians might be too stoned to care about such a beautiful story…
One thing is for sure, trumpie boy definitely has bigger things on his mind at this time.
P.S. I’m Canadian :slight_smile:

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why not have USA & Canada make this a mutually owned/ governed territory?

I almost fell off of my chair when I saw this headline. I knew exactly who it was about. I took a trip to Jonesport in July 2001 to see the puffins, and took Barna’s boat trip. I remember him distinctly- a seemingly typical downeast Mainer- reserved, matter-of-fact, until we landed at the island and he began to circle it in his boat and shouting at the Canadian lighthouse keepers that they stole his land.
He had a sign aboard his boat that listed what to do in case of a fire. I took a picture of the sign as it made me laugh at the time- one of the things listed was “Fight the fire like a madman”. The mate explained that the water was freezing, so cold, he said, that many captains in Maine didn’t even know how to swim. If you were to fall in you would be dead in minutes. “Why bother to provide us with life jackets?” I asked. He replied, “To make it easier to fish out the tourists.”
It was the day after a full moon just around the summer solstice and the tidal differential there is the biggest in the world. When the time came to leave it was too dangerous to navigate the rocks. We ended up getting stuck on that island all day. The lighthouse keepers were kind enough to let us sit near their lighthouse and drink their coffee until the tides turned and we were able to scramble back into the dingies to take us back to the Chief. One of my favorite adventures, and one I’ll never forget.


I am made so sad by a comment of the writer of this article: " As an American in 2019, I’ve gotten accustomed to feeling the opposite of proud of my country. " I wish I could talk with her.

I am an American (who lived for 6 years in Canada) of an age old enough to have grown up proud of my country. Such a shame!

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These things were/are common. Look up Pig War.

Indeed they are! https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/pig-war-british-american-border-dispute-san-juan-island

Lucky you, that guy sounds awesome, he had a niche and worked all the angles for the best. I hope someone in the family has the spirit to take up his role someday. What are we if not for people like this who keep everyone else on their toes.

This article was a fun read. What struck me as most important is that everyone seems to get along - despite the dispute. Ultimately, it is the birds who actually live on the island and as Coast Guard Doug says, “the birds don’t care.” I really enjoy reading the Atlas Obscura articles. Keep them coming!

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Note that is the Canadians (then as a British Colony) who first put up a lighthouse, and maintained it for 200 years, to protect shipping and fishing. It was Canada that designated it a bird sanctuary and it is the Canadian Wildlife Service that continues to protect the wildlife. Canada fulfills a duty of care for the island, for the wildlife, for navigation, and for resource management. That is ownership. The Americans just exploit the island for tourism, and the territorial waters for lobster. That is not ownership.


It’s always interesting to be reminded that insular ol’ New England (and insular ol’ Maine in particular) shares a massive land border with a foreign country that speaks a foreign language (sometimes). As a former Mass resident, I always thought of traveling North as traveling into the hinterlands, but there are other metropolitan areas at the terminus- just ones outside the country.

Anyway, good to know that we are still fighting the Aroostook War. Of course, according to some (Joel Garreau, for example), the Canadian Atlantic and Maritime provinces are all part of New England anyway.

I am sorry to see the author of this article so dismayed with her country. While I disagree with many things our government does, I refuse to abandon, in word or deed, the last best hope for mankind.
The United States has been the inspiration for many nations and millions of people who seek a better system and a better life. Unlike the former Iron Curtain countries, we don’t try to keep our people here by force; instead we debate how to deal with the large number of people who yearn to come here to breathe free.
Imagine a world without the United States. Start by envisioning a swastica or a rising sun flag at the top of a local flag pole. Imagine entire peoples eliminated from the face of the earth. Imagine living in a world run by a dictator with no limits on his power. That is the world without the United States.
So, disagree with the government, push for change, fight like hell to make us a more perfect union. But please don’t abandon the framework in which you work; a framework for which so many have fought and died, so that you and I can challenge our government, can criticize our elected officials, and can continue to attempt to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.