Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border

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9780864926500: Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border

Shortlisted, Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing

Once, a single francophone settlement shared both sides of the Saint John River, until a political trade-off between countries split it down the middle. From that inauspicious start, the Maine-New Brunswick border, the first boundary to be drawn between the two nations, has served as a microcosm for Canada-U.S. relations.

For centuries, friends, lovers, schemers and smugglers have reached across the line. Now, post-9/11, mounting political paranoia has led to a sharp divide, disrupting the lives and welfare of nearby residents. An elderly Canadian couple's driveway touches the border, leading to a Kafkaesque overreaction by Homeland Security. The Tea Party political movement advocates complete border shutdown. Once friendly neighbors have become increasingly isolated from each other.

In this timely exploration, Jacques Poitras travels the length of the border, from Madawaska and Aroostook counties through Passamaquoddy Bay to a tiny island still in dispute to uncover the arbitrarily drawn line that shouldn't be there, almost wasn't there, and can be difficult to find even when it is there. The stakes are high as New Brunswick and Maine re-imagine their relationship for the 21st century and communities strive to stay together despite the best efforts of parochial politicians, protectionists, and overzealous border officials.

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From the Back Cover:

At one time a single settlement shared both sides of the Saint John River, until a political trade-off split it down the middle. From that inauspicious start, the Maine-New Brunswick border, the first boundary to be drawn between Canada and the U.S., has served as a microcosm for relations between the two nations. For centuries, friends, lovers, schemers, and smugglers have reached across the line. Now, post 9/11, political paranoia has led to a sharp divide, disrupting the lives of residents caught in the middle of world events. An elderly Canadian couple's driveway touches the border, leading to a Kafkaesque overreaction by homeland Security. The Tea Party calls for complete border shutdown. Once friendly neighbours have become increasingly isolated from each other.

In this timely exploration, Jacques Poitras travels the length of the border -- from Madawaska and Aroostook counties through Passamaquoddy Bay to a tiny island still in dispute -- to uncover an arbitrary line that shouldn't be there, almost wasn't there, and can be difficult to find even when it is there. The stakes are high as New Brunswick and Maine re-imagine their relationship for the 21st century.

About the Author:

Jacques Poitras has been CBC Radio's provincial affairs reporter in New Brunswick since 2000. He has written numerous award-winning feature documentaries and has appeared on Radio-Canada, National Public Radio, and the BBC. His first book was the critically acclaimed The Right Fight: Bernard Lord and the Conservative Dilemma. He lives near Fredericton.

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Poitras, Jacques
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