This week’s dream
Canoeing the Maine-Canada border
Americans don’t often think about the U.S.-Canada border, but maybe we should, said Porter Fox in The New York Times. Known as the friendliest border in the world, it’s also the longest between any two nations, and for hundreds of miles, “the best way to see it is from the water.” I recently set off by canoe on a 4,000-mile journey along the imaginary line, embarking from Calais, a small town in northeastern Maine not far from where I grew up. When the border was established in 1783, rivers and lakes were North America’s highways, so the line connected them, split them down the middle, and mandated they be shared. Traveling the eastern end of that line was spooky, though, because there were often no roads or houses. “It was the end of America, and the closer I got to it the more primal it became.”
I was glad my canoe had a 5-hp outboard engine. Trappers and loggers once used long cedar shafts to pole their way up the St. Croix River, but my paddle alone wasn’t enough to overcome the winds and current as I started my 75-mile cruise north to the point where the wise men of 1783 first put a ruler to the page and linked two border waterways with a straight line—Maine’s forehead. On my first overnight, at a campsite a few feet from the water, it got so dark, I couldn’t see my canoe just steps away. But then a full moon rose above the treetops on the far bank, and I watched an otter slip between my feet into the river.
On Spednic Lake, I nearly capsized in choppy 50-degree water. But I crossed the border about three dozen times without a person in sight, and I was glad to reach Forest City, where a warm bed was waiting for me at a fishing camp called Wheaton’s Lodge, run by a reincarnation of Paul Bunyan. When I mentioned how I hadn’t seen any border patrol agents in my travels, he guaranteed the agency had never lost sight of me. “Cameras, drones, satellites, sensors, air surveillance,” he said. “One way or another, they’ve got eyes on you.”
At Wheaton’s Lodge (wheatonslodge.com), lakeside cottages cost $163 a person.