Sidewalking Point Roberts, Washington

The remains of an old wharf on the western side of Point Roberts.

Approximately 50 kilometres away from Victoria is perhaps one of the most interesting geo-political places in western North America, and almost no one ever goes there. 

Point Roberts, Washington is what is known as an exclave. The Oregon Treaty that was signed in 1846 demarcated the 49th parallel as generally the border between the Britain and the United States from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Ocean. In drawing that line, it sliced through this tiny peninsula. While there have been discussions about what to do with Point Roberts over the years, it has remained generally the same, a ten square kilometre piece of the United States attached only to Canada. 



Looking at the map you can see that each time you sail to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal you also pass through US waters.

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The left hand side of the picture is Canada with the
United States on the right. 

While having to cross through two international borders to get to the rest of your country is a major inconvenience for a lot of things that locals need to do on a regular basis, it also has many benefits too. The suburban sprawl that goes right to the border is non-existent and crime is virtually unheard of. 

I get the chance to visit Point Roberts on a regular basis as I have family that lives there. I also grew up just on the Canadian side of the border in Tsawwassen, so I am going to have a particularly biased opinion about the place. It is amazing.
The grocery store and one of two banks.

You do have to cross through a border station to get into Point Roberts, but it generally does not take too long, still despite its size, you will require a passport or enhanced drivers license to visit. Once you are through, however, it is like breathing a sigh of relief. The hectic traffic and general busyness of the Lower Mainland disappears. Forest lines the main road leaving the border only to be replaced a while later by open fields with a few businesses and houses. 


The remains of the cannery at Lily Point Park.
The economy of Point Roberts is built on a few things, those that hop across the border to grab something quick like gas, milk or a package from Amazon; those that have a vacation property or boat on the Point; and the 1300 permanent residents that support the first two things.   

Once you are on the Point, there is pretty much everything you will need, a large grocery store, numerous gas stations, a couple of restaurants, a pub, a cafe and a collection of other businesses. The locals also have a library, a school (just to grade three), a garbage dump and an airport (grass runway). Accommodation is limited to a campground and just a few private rentals, but they can be found.  
One of the many beautiful beaches to explore.

If you do stay down overnight there is a fair bit to do. There are two county parks both of which are great for a walk. Lighthouse Park on the south-west corner has many excellent picnic tables with wind breaks and lots of beach to play on. On the south-east corner of Point Roberts is Lily Point County Park which has beautiful views back across Boundary Bay to the mainland United States. Lily Point was also the location of a massive salmon cannery and there are trails that take you down to where the buildings and docks used to be. There are also public beaches near the border on both sides of the Point. 
The amazingly retro sign at the Reef Tavern.
For the evening, I would highly recommend dinner at South Beach House at the southern end of the Point and for a great place to kick back with a beer in the sun or have some late night fun, there is Kiniski's Reef Tavern on the western side facing the ferry terminal is a true American experience. 

Next you are over on the mainland for a few days take the short detour through Tsawwassen to Point Roberts, it will be an experience that you will not soon forget. 







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