Minnesota’s Northwest Angle: Time to give it to Canada?

Minnesota, do we really need the Northwest Angle?  In the spirit of the season, can we just give it to Canada?

The Angle, for those of you who’ve not studied maps of Minnesota, is a spit of land in Lake of the Woods County that is north of the line that generally defines the U.S. border and belongs to the United States. It is — other than Alaska — the only U.S. territory north of the 49th parallel — i.e. the border.

You can get to it without crossing the border only by boat on Lake of the Woods.

“To understand the Northwest Angle, you have to understand fish,” former MPR reporter Amy Radil once said.

It is, historically speaking, a freak of bad surveying and good fishing.

Now, there’s an online campaign to give it to Canada. It’s part of the We the People website that requires 100,000 signatures to even get a sniff from the White House.

So far, 32 people have signed it since it was created on Sunday, the CBC reports. It will fail anyway; much of the land is in the trust of the Red Lake band of Ojibwe.

Change comes slowly to The Angle.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)

  • The Resistance
  • MrE85

    What did Canada ever do for us, besides be our faithful ally in war and peace and our single largest trade partner?

    • Brian Simon

      Compomise solution: eliminate the border entirely & annex the whole country.

      • luvtofly

        I like it! It’s the largest undefended border in the world. Those of us in Minnesota have more in common with Canadians than we do with our own East and West coasts. As for the Prairie Provinces in Canada,–if you think we have a dislike for Washington in Minnesota, the Prairie Provinces have an outright hatred by comparison with Ottawa.

        • JDO1947

          I “used” to be of your opinion, until I bought Canadian property near Thunder Bay. Canada, to me, is the closest thing to communism I’ve seen Everyone works for the government, it’s like an inverted pyramid with real workers on the bottom.

          • luvtofly

            I agree–like the U.S. it has its “coastal” big-time liberal cities, with the areas in the rest of the country sending money to support them. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have the wealth of the country, and get little in return. Ontario is “split”–east/west. British Columbia is their California. Fortunately, much of central Canada is so sparsely populated that they can ignore what goes on in Ottawa. There is a growing movement in the Prairie Provinces for secession–legal in Canada as it is a Confederation. Quebec came within half of one percent to do so–the reaction in most of the rest of Canada was “Why didn’t WE get a vote on Quebec secession? (laugh)

          • In many small towns in MN, the biggest employer is the government — the schools. I consider those people real workers.

          • ricstra44

            In that case I would prefer Canadian communism to American fascism if that is where we are headed.
            More chance of us becoming fascist than Canada becoming communist.
            I hope your experience as an owner of Canadian land improves and you grow to like what Canada has to offer in the way of life style.
            Me, I have given up on Canada. They somehow decided to begin giving me the one and a half hour delay crossing the border and insisting that the rest of my fishing party present their documents and stay in the waiting area with me. Bloody communists!

      • ricstra44

        Canada doesn’t want the whole country.

        • Tyler


          • ricstra44

            I see I was confused. I thought Brian Simon was suggesting “eliminate the border entirely and Canada anex the USA. Canada has enough trouble of their own.

  • Gary F

    Keep it. Good fishing.

    I know a guy who grew up there as a kid in the 70’s. He is Ojibwa. They grew up living off the land eating the fish they caught and animals they killed were their main source of protein. They did drive that hour or so to buy their other groceries. The family eventually moved to Warroad.

  • Ickster

    The part of me that’s bothered by nonsensical things like the
    cartographic error that created the Angle would like to see it changed
    to Canadian territory, but the proud Minnesotan in me likes the
    distinctive bump and having the northernmost point in the continental

    • jon

      Compromise solution, give them the mainland but keep the handful of islands.

      We keep our bump and we keep our northernmost point, heck we probably keep a lot of the fishing too.

  • RBHolb

    My profile picture should tell everyone of a certain age that my first thought on reading this story is of Moosylvania.

  • BJ

    It’s over 200 now. But just like america to give away land that isn’t ours but Red Lake band of Ojibwe’s.

    • QuietBlue

      True. But it wasn’t originally Ojibwe land, either. They invaded Lakota land and pushed them out.

      • Kat S.

        True, but this isn’t about historical ownership of the land. Red Lake owns it now.

      • RBHolb

        I have never understood what that argument has to do with anything.

        • QuietBlue

          Because, despite the popular narrative, the history of the region didn’t just start in the 1800’s.

          That said, this was never US land to begin with, so it’s not a decision the government should (or even can) make.

          • RBHolb

            Does that mean we should see that the land gets back to the Lakota?

            The Canaanites lived in Israel before the Jewish people did. Should that change our view of the middle East, or should we just stop this digression before Bob tells us to move on?

          • QuietBlue

            I suppose that would be between the respective tribal nations to determine. And I will rest this now before it becomes a digression.

          • JDO1947

            Does anyone know what time it is?

          • Frank

            Canaan for the Canaanites!

            Sponsored by the Committee to Re-unite Cannan.

          • luvtofly

            That’s not true. It has always been U.S. territory–from the time the boundary between the U.S. and Canada (Great Britain) was drawn under the Treaty of Ghent. Like most of the West, the land was available for homesteading–but in 1945, it was deemed “undesirable” for homesteading by the U.S. and given to the Red Lake Band. Today, there are NO permanent Red Lake Band members living there full time.

  • Guest

    More info on WHY Canada wants it, please.

    • The Resistance

      No one said they did.

    • luvtofly

      They don’t. There are only a few outposts and a very small reservation on the Canadian side of the lake. The residents and the few resort owners come and go without Customs hassles to the U.S. side of the Angle for supplies–or to take the cars they leave there into town. Medical care for residents on the Canadian side of the border is difficult–it’s a 50 mile boat ride or snowmobile ride to Kenora–the nearest medical facility.

  • boB from WA

    Out here on the Left Coast we have our own NW Angle, aka Point Roberts WA. Here is more on this spit of land: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Roberts,_Washington

  • Gary F

    We could give it to them if they promised to keep their defecating geese off our sidewalks, park grasses, and golf courses.

  • Brian Simon

    Any word on the Kentucky Bend going to Tennessee? The UP going to WI? Isle Royale to MN?

  • DJB

    You can get there by airplane, snowmobile, skiing, walking, swimming etc w/o crossing the border.

  • Mike Worcester

    I say keep it; allows us to have fun conversations at parties about geographical oddities. Kind of like how Halifax NS is further south than Caribou ME or part of Alaska is in the Eastern Hemisphere.

    • It still blows me away that I live north of Toronto.

      • Frank

        We honeymooned in Toronto. When people asked where we were going, I loved telling them “We’re going down to Toronto.” Everyone would say, “You mean up?”

      • And Paris and London are more north than we are.

    • RBHolb

      Local geographic oddity: part of St. Paul is in Hennepin County. Fort Snelling, and the Bishop Whipple Federal Building, have St. Paul mailing addresses, but are west of the Mississippi, so are in Hennepin County.

      • Frank

        That does not make Fort Snelling part of Saint Paul.

  • Justin Jourdain

    Most of the angle is owned by the red lake band. Wonder how this could even be possible?

    • luvtofly

      The land was deemed “undesirable” to homesteaders in 1945, so the U.S. ceded the unoccupied portions to the Red Lake Band. There are no full-time Indian residents on the Angle.

      • Justin Jourdain

        Actually, I know of a family of band members that live up there

  • Adele Hansen

    You can drive through Canada on a dirt road and arrive at the Angle.

    • luvtofly

      The Canadian section of the access road is paved. It’s the U.S. side that is gravel–built in 1974.

  • Larbear49

    Hell no don’t give it to Canada.

  • JDO1947

    Let ’em go! We won’t have to support them and they can pay canadian HST and other taxes.

  • Aaron Pieper

    Hey, Lets screw over the local economies of the area cause of peoples OCD over straight lines. Leave the mistake alone, I have vacationed there, caught beautiful Walleye and have family that has resided there for decades.

  • critterman

    not no but hell no