Little Orphan Exclaves

I like to think of borders as happy families, full of love and warm feelings. I’m realizing that sometimes these lines leave someone out in the cold. Literally.

This border exclusivity is evident in a handful of exclaves along the 49th Parallel, the straight line that makes up the western half of the border between Canada and the United States.  According to Wikipedia, an exclave is a territory legally or politically attached to another territory with which it is not physically contiguous.

Meet the orphans of the 49th Parallel:

Little Orphan Point Roberts, WA:  This community is part of the United States but is not physically connected to it. By land, it can only be reached by driving through Canada first. There is only one school in Port Roberts that has kindergarten through third grade. From fourth grade on, students must take a 40-minute bus ride through British Colombia back into the U.S.

Little Orphan Elm Point, MN: This peninsula is separated from the continental United States. Just like Point Roberts, Americans must travel through Canada or by boat to reach this land. This area is basically just forestland. Phew.

Little Orphan Northwest Angle: This township is also part of Minnesota, but it is separated from the rest of the state by the Lake of the Woods. According to the 2000 census, there were 152 people living here. The Northwest Angle is accessible from the rest of MN two ways: 1) crossing the Lake of the Woods by air, boat, or by ice road in the winter, or 2) drive 63 miles through Manitoba to reenter the Angle.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the sound of an ice road.


I would like to dedicate a song to honor these border orphans.

It’s the hard-knock life for us
It’s the hard-knock life for us 
No one cares for you a smidge
When you’re separated from
the US by Canada and water
It’s the hard-knock life!

Okay, so my song doesn’t rhyme. Big deal.

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8 Responses to Little Orphan Exclaves

  1. wesdog311 says:

    love it! nice work, emily.

  2. Sue says:

    Wow! I learned something new about my home state of Minnesota!! Thanks 🙂 And yes… ice roads are scarey… I’ve driven on frozen lakes in MN!!

  3. I think you left out Alaska! I know it’s not on the 49th parallel, but it’s still an orphan!

  4. Woodchuck says:

    You should take a look at alburgh, vt. Attached to Canada and surrounded by lake champlain.

    • emilybucci says:

      I saw that in my research, but since there are bridges that make it easy to get to, I omitted it from my post! Thanks for the info though. I find this all very intriguing.

  5. Kim says:

    Dear Emily Bucci, You are ridiculous. All my love, Kim

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