The Boundary Dispute

Plane table and pack trainExcerpts from the article in the March-April, 2020 issue of Alaskan History Magazine:

When the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867, one of the best real estate deals in history was sealed, but the U.S. government also inherited a few headaches, not the least of which was a contentious disagreement over the geographic boundaries between the southeastern part of the territory of Alaska and the province of British Columbia, which had recently joined the newly formed Canadian Confederation, whose foreign affairs were still under British authority. 

In 1871 the Canadian government requested a survey to determine the exact location of the border, but the United States rejected the idea as too costly because the border area was very remote and sparsely settled, and there was no economic or strategic interest in conducting a survey there. That was challenged with the Cassiar gold rush in 1862 and the Klondike gold strike in 1897 intensified the pressure to survey the border. 

USCGS Survey Ship Patterson 1915

The Canadian and American representatives favored their respective governments’ territorial claims, and the Canadians, outraged by what they considered a betrayal by their colonial government, refused to sign the final decision, but the question had been put to binding arbitration, the decision took effect, and the resolution was issued on October 20, 1903. You can read the entire article, and many others, in the March-April issue.

For more information:

Statement of Facts Regarding the Alaska Boundary Question, Compiled for the Govt. of British Columbia (1902) 

The Alaska Boundary Line T. C. Mendenhall (1900) 

Alaska-Canada Boundary Dispute by Murray Lundberg, at ExploreNorth 

The Alaska Boundary Dispute: A Critical Reappraisal, by Norman Penlington (1972)


March-April 2020 Cover 600Alaskan History Magazine is an independently produced magazine dedicated to portraying the colorful and important past of the Last Frontier as an interesting and exciting journey of exploration. The style is conversational, yet confident and informative, thoroughly researched to bring the true stories of the people, places and events which shaped Alaskan history to a wide readership. Subscribe, order all the back issues, or just order a single issue click this link.

 

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