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Northwestern Point of the Lake of the Woods (wikipedia.org)
119 points by Thevet on Sept 9, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 23 comments

Reminds of software development estimation. You start out with a rough "ballpark" idea of the task and say it will take about 10 days.

Then you actually start the task and realize how screwed you are.

And then your manager thinks you're an idiot because you said 10 days and it's 150 years later and required a treaty with Canada to resolve.

There is a great story on Quora related to this:


> Reminds of software development estimation. You start out with a rough "ballpark" idea of the task and say it will take about 10 days. Then you actually start the task and realize how screwed you are.

Every time I wrap up my quarterly planning, I'm always reminded of this and how futile it is to make ballpark suggestions when the only thing you have is a one or two sentence idea.

This is great. The treaty referred to the “northwestern most point” when everyone thought the lake was more or less round but in practice there is no single unambiguous resolution. When I return to work, I want to put a print of the annotated 1912 survey map (showing all of the various compromises and treaty amendments) on my office wall as a reminder that all contract language is, at some level, an imprecise abstraction.

> all contract language is, at some level, an imprecise abstraction

Great insight. And more generally, all language is an imprecise abstraction.

Funny to see this on hn, I worked at a canoeing camp in Lake of the woods, and as such have spent a good amount of time in the northwest angle. I've even sung a rendition of proud Mary in the northern most bar of the contiguous US.

Can't speak for those Muskeg-walking Manitobans, but we still like Creedence here in Ontario

Another consequence of incomplete geography and unclear surveying was the Toledo War between Ohio and the Michigan Territory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toledo_War

In the end, the loser was Wisconsin: Ohio got Toledo and Michigan got the UP.

There's a number of irregularities between the US and Canadian border.

Johnny Harris, who used to (still is? seems unclear) film the Vox series "Borders", did a video on it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vvvicd07zCs

Basically, the border is largely the 49th parallel and some seemingly arbitrary lines on the East Coast and Alaska. But since they were done in the 18th/19th century without regard for existing settlements, it leads to some crazy enclaves and border towns:

-Point Roberts, WA [1]

-Piney Pinecreek Border Airport (K48Y) [2]

-Hyder, AK [3]

-Estcourt Station, ME [4]

-Derby Line, VT [5]

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Roberts,_Washington

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piney_Pinecreek_Border_Airport

[3]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyder,_Alaska

[4]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estcourt_Station,_Maine

[5]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derby_Line,_Vermont

I live in Montreal, which is 6 hours' drive due north of NYC. It is actually farther south than Portland, OR. In fact, by far the majority of Canada's population is south of the 49th parallel. The border is weird to the east.

There's also Detroit, MI and Windsor, ON, which is the only land border crossing where you go south into Canada and north into the US.

There is a great youtube video on this and similar can-US border irregularities. Search for "Canada-US no touching zone". There is another exclave near vancouver.


I grew up in Tsawwassen in the late 70's & early 80's and Pt. Roberts was nothing like today; you could buy property for next to nothing, but why would anyone want a swamp shack in the middle of nowhere? I remember a neighbour who used to ride his bike to the border, walk across the "no touch" zone and buy cheap pipe tobacco - try that today and see what happens!

My favorite border dispute is Hans Island-


Peace Arch Park is the place you mentioned on the border crossing between Bellingham, WA and Vancouver, BC.

A good friend and his wife, who is Canadian, are really grateful for that loophole. They were able to meet their newborn niece recently because of that park, despite the border being closed.

sandworm101 was referring to Point Roberts about 10 miles west of Peace Arch Park: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Roberts,_Washington

Actually re-watched the video and realized that not ten minutes ago.

It is nice that places like Peace Arch Park exist though.

Thanks for sharing. Through "link-hopping", researching one of the named figures I stumbled upon quite some interesting theories and learned quite a lot today.

So this gem of trivia provided quite a great procrastination.

Baarle-Nassau - The town is the site of a complicated borderline between Belgium and Netherlands, with numerous small exclaves of Belgium, of which some contain counter-exclaves of the Netherlands.


As someone whose line of work is land titles and surveying, this is particularly interesting! Good find.

Would love an AMA from you. Property law is surely some of the oldest law, and how we define and understand boundaries and ownership must come with so may interesting dives into old laws, deeds, titles, etc.

I'd be happy to, except that I'm Australian... I might not have relevant enough insight for most HN'ers!

see the wedge [1] for a similar situation inside the US.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_(border)

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