When it comes to setting an example of being neighbourly, the relationship between Canada and the United States certainly comes to mind. In fact, the border between the two countries is the longest international–not to mention, undefended– border in the world at a staggering 8,890 kilometres. 

There are 119 border crossings, many of which are within towns and cities that embody this true neighbourly spirit. Some of these places and their landmarks are more talked about than others—Niagara Falls, Windsor, and Sault Ste. Marie, for example—but there are tons of other border towns worth spending time in. 

Fuel your wanderlust with a look at the following five towns between Canada and the United States, what makes them special, and what they have to offer. 

Did you know around 400,000 people cross between Canada and the United States every day? 

Tommy the Turtle at Boissevain, Manitoba
Image via Bobak Ha’EriCC-By-SA-3.0

1. Boissevain, Manitoba 

About 75 kilometres south of Brandon, Manitoba, and 25 kilometres from Dunseith, North Dakota, is the small unincorporated community of Boissevain. The urban community is linked to the United States by the International Peace Garden Border Crossing⁠—named after the iconic Peace Gardens that symbolize the friendship shared by the two countries. 

Boissevain, which is named after Dutch financier Adolph Boissevain, was originally called Cherry Creek, and was home to the Anishinabewaki, Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Assiniboine, Michif Piyii, Cree, and Anishininiimowin Indigenous Communities until settlers began to arrive in the late 1870s. 

The arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway, along with the area’s proximity to the border, helped turn Boissevain into a booming commercial and agricultural town. Today, the community has a population of 1,577 people and still serves as an important hub for many Canadians and Americans alike, as about 15,000 people cross the border every month.

Turtle Mountain Provincial Park at Boissevain, Manitoba
Ken Lund via Flickr

Boissevain’s Turtle Mountains is where Dr. Henry Moore created the Peace Garden in 1932, near the geographic centre of North America. The 9.5 kilometre square lush garden boasts about 150,000 species of plants, trees, and flowers. The International Peace Garden features camping facilities, the Peace Chapel, interpretive centre, 9/11 memorial site and historical lodge, but you’ll need your passport or government-issued ID with a copy of birth certificate to visit since you exit through customs.

Visitors can also see other attractions and provincial parks near Boissevain, including Turtle Mountain Provincial Park, Tommy the Giant Turtle statue (the mascot of the Canadian Turtle Derby), Irvin Goodon International Wildlife Museum, Beckoning Hills Museum, Moncur Gallery of Prehistory, Anchorage Gardens, and Boissevain Artspark.

 Stanstead College in Quebec
Rmurray2, CCg BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

2. Stanstead, Quebec

Dubbed as the Granite Capital of Canada, Stanstead, Quebec, shares its border with Derby Line, Vermont. Back in the 1700s, the area gained prominence as the final Canadian stop of the Quebec–Boston stagecoach route.​​ The remnants of Stanstead’s past as a settlement village for United Empire Loyalists are still visible in the architecture. It wasn’t until 1995 that the three villages of Quebec’s Eastern Township—Stanstead Plain, Rock Island and Beebe Plain—came together to form the municipality as it’s known today. 

The Stanstead-Derby Line border line winds through the two communities and splits a number of landmarks and houses down the middle. This split has led to some interesting infrastructure setups. For instance, CanUsa Avenue has an appropriate name since it runs through both countries.

Stanstead’s Haskell Free Library and Opera House might be most famous for this reason: The entrance is on the American side, but the books are located in Canada. It gets even more muddled once you’re in the opera space on the second floor. It’s the only theatre in the world that has a stage in one country (Canada) and seats in another (United States). The fascinating building was even featured on Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Stanstead, Quebec Towns for Architecture Lovers
Eshko Timiou, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Despite its small size, there’s a lot to take in and do in Stanstead. Its history makes the town a great site for an architectural tour. You can walk down the “open-air museum” that is Dufferin Street for a plethora of historic buildings, including the Customs House, the old Stanstead Plain Post Office, the Golden Rule Lodge (one of the oldest Masonic lodges in Quebec), and Sacré-Coeur church.

For even more history, visitors can check out the Colby-Curtis Museum for a look back at an original granite villa house with its original furnishings still intact. 

Stanstead is also home to a unique set of granite structures resembling the famous Stonehenge. The Stanstead Stone Circle, made entirely of local granite, was designed in honour of the equinox and the 45th parallel. The stones are open to visitors all year and it’s a place for reflection, inspiration, and community.

 Fort Frances, Ontario
Image via Frog Island Photography

3. Fort Frances, Ontario

Situated in the Rainy River District of Northwest Ontario, Fort Frances sits across from International Falls, Minnesota. Originally home to the Saulteaux or Anishinaabeg people, Fort Frances was a traditional meeting place for Grand Council meetings during the 19th century. What’s now known as Fort Frances was founded by Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye in 1731 and became the first European settlement on the west side of Lake Superior. The area gained popularity in the early 1800s when the Hudson’s Bay Company built a fort there and set up a fur trading post. Fort Frances also served as a hub for mining, paper milling, agriculture and fishing. These activities eventually earned it the nickname of the Industrial Capital of Northwest Ontario. 

Fun fact: International Falls, Minnesota, served as the inspiration for Frostbite Falls from the cartoon series The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. 

Fort Frances, which has a population slightly less than 8,000 people, is also known for its great outdoors that draw in adventure enthusiasts from all over.  During the warmer months, hiking, swimming, camping, watersports, and fishing are popular. The Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championships take place here every July, as well. 

In winter, people can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and ice fishing. Winter in Fort Frances is also an optimal opportunity to see the magical northern lights. The town’s proximity to Lake Superior makes it an ideal place to see the dancing nighttime display between midnight and 3 a.m. starting as early as September. 

The Fort Frances Museum and Cultural Centre provides information and artifacts related to the area’s First Nations communities and early pioneer life. You can walk along La Vérendye Parkway for scenic waterfront views, then visit the Sorting Gap Marina for spectacular views of the town. Make sure to check out the Hallet, a 60-foot lodging boat that was once the largest on Rainy Lake. 

If shopping and dining is more your thing, you can head downtown and stroll through Scott Street for stores with specialty products and hand-crafted goodies. 

You also don’t want to miss the Mermaid Copenhagen Statue, Point Park (a beach, campground and event site) and the Big Chair (a larger than life red chair located in the middle of Point Park).

Campobello Island, New Brunswick
Ron Cogswell via FlickrCC BY 2.0

4. Campobello Island, New Brunswick

Campobello is a parish island in southwestern New Brunswick near the province’s border with Maine. Part of the Fundy Isles, Campobello was granted to Captain William Owen of the Royal Navy in 1767. He drew inspiration for the name from Lord Willam Campbell and the island’s appearance (“campobello is Spanish-Italian for “fair field”). 

The island is just less than 40 square kilometres in size and has a population of more than 1,000 people. It’s only connected to the mainland by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Bridge on the Lubec, Maine side. From Canada, visitors will need to take a free government-operated ferry from mainland L’Etete, New Brunswick, and a second ferry from Deer Island for a small fee. 

Although the island is under Canadian administration, Campobello holds significance for Americans.The popular vacation destination is where President Roosevelt grew up, spending summers on Campobello at his family’s summer home. Even after his presidential nomination, he and his wife Eleanor continued to vacation on the island throughout the 1930s. The house is now a memorial museum shared by the two countries—part of the 2,721-acre Roosevelt Campobello International Park that opened in 1964. 

Head Harbour Lighthouse at Campobello Island
Carol Boldt, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Campobello is known for its iconic Head Harbour (also known as East Quoddy) Lighthouse. In fact, it’s one of the most recognizable and photographed lighthouses in the world! It sits on a small rugged islet on the northern end of the island and is one of the oldest surviving lighthouses in Canada. 

Herring Cove Provincial Park, on the eastern part of the island, is another popular site. It features a kilometre-and-a-half pebble and sand beach, a golf course, hiking trails, and more. The park is also the site of Fog Fest, an annual music and arts festival. The free five-day event started in 2013 and brings awareness to Campobello’s history and natural beauty.

Attractions in Stewart, BC
Ian via Flickr

5. Stewart, British Columbia

Stewart, British Columbia, is an off-the-beaten-path town located on the Alaskan-British Columbia border, next to the town of Hyder, Alaska. The two towns are a little more than three kilometres apart. The municipality was formed in 1905, but was originally home to the Tsetsaut people and later the Nisga’a and Haida. Stewart is named after a pair of brothers who were early mining prospectors in the area.

Today, the remote town has a population of about 571 people. Visitors are attracted to the area because of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and nature destinations like the American Misty Fjords National Park Mountains. 

Stewart also has a number of natural wonders. Bear Glacier, located 27 kilometres south of the town, can be spotted from Glacier Highway. During the warmer seasons, the snowpack melts to form waterfalls along the highway. On the north is Salmon Glacier, which is the largest road-accessible glacier in the world. 

Attractions in Stewart, BC
Murray Foubister via Flickr

Hiking, camping and wildlife viewing are also popular in Stewart. Between mid-July and mid-September, bears can be spotted walking around the town. You can get up the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation platform to view grizzlies and black bears in their natural habitat. Walk along the 85-metre estuary boardwalk for some bird spotting and majestic mountain views. The boardwalk is near Portland Canal and the town centre, where you can find the Stewart Museum, neat shops, and restaurants. 

Stewart is the host of the annual Bear Arts Festival in August, which features musical performances, games, contests, nature hikes, and more. 

Just keep in mind, while there’s no United States customs check-in at the Stewart-Hyder border, you’ll have to stop at the Canadian customs post when you cross into Canada. The Visitor Centre, located at the head of the Portland Canal, is a great place to start your adventure around Canada’s “most northerly ice-free port.”

There you have it! Next time you plan on taking a road trip between Canada and the United States, make some time to tour one of these border towns. Not only do they make for perfect rest stops, but they also have plenty of history, nature, and eclectic experiences to offer. 

Courtesy: realtor.ca

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