Petition to give Northwest Angle to Canada lacks support

A summer scene from Minnesota’s geographic oddity, the Northwest Angle. (PHOTO: Jacob Norlund, Flickr CC)

Last week, a petition filed with the Trump Administration got a lot of attention back here in Minnesota. Someone calling themselves “C.C,” and we don’t know who, petitioned to give the Northwest Angle to Canada.

Most people in the United States know the Northwest Angle, even if they’ve never been there or heard the name. It’s the weird little chunk of Northern Minnesota that sticks up into Canada. It’s the squiggle that everyone has to remember to draw when they attempt to doodle the USA.

The Northwest Angle is mostly water, but a chunk of land at the top connects to Canada. In fact, to drive there you must enter Canada first. This is the result of the treaty signed at the end of the Revolutionary War. American and British diplomats used a flawed 1755 map to describe the borders. When officials arrived at Lake of the Woods, they realized they had to sort out an accurate border on the fly. The result was the convoluted lines you now see.

(Interestingly, this same process could have placed much of Northern Minnesota in Canada, following the tip of Lake Superior. This would have put the Iron Range in Ontario. That obviously did not occur).

The 120 people who live in what they call “the Angle” are Americans. And while they have a warm relationship with their Canadian neighbors, a Jan. 3 Star Tribune story shows that few there seem interested in leaving the United States.

Yet somehow this petition exists, with signatures from 3,400 people as of late last week. The language is weird, too. It reads “Make America Great by correcting this critical survey error.” Obviously that’s either an homage to President Trump’s campaign rhetoric or a baldfaced appeal to it.

I’ve never heard of making a country greater by giving away its land. It’s either a weird prank, a weird scheme or perhaps an actual stalking horse for a crazy stupid negotiation tactic in future trade talks with Canada.

In any event, I wouldn’t bet on any soil leaving these United States. If it gets that bad, Canada might be taking on a lot more than just the Northwest Angle.


  1. Lynn olson says

    You are so young Aaron. This is not the first time the issue has been raised. I could be your “old” consultant. I agree with most everything you say. I am the foreign corespondent for the Tower News.

  2. Kevin Kucera says

    No disputes at this point; was a purposeful survey. No Doubt. Let it Ride like any crook on any correction line road…

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