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International Boundaries

Canada-United States International Boundary Commission – Canadian Section

Since 1996 the Surveyor General has been the Canadian Commissioner to the International Boundary Commission (IBC), a bi-lateral commission with the mandate to maintain the Canada – United States boundary.

The boundary was created in some 20 treaties, agreements and protocols dating from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries, and stretches for 8,891 km from Atlantic to Pacific and from Pacific to Beaufort. Parts of the boundary were surveyed under ad hoc commissions before 1908.

For instance, the southerly boundary of Quebec was surveyed in the 1770’s, the boundary west of the Rocky Mountains was surveyed after 1859, and the boundary east of the Rocky Mountains was surveyed in the 1870’s.

However, the IBC was created by a 1908 treaty between the two countries which gave it the mandate to re-survey much of the boundary. This mandate was extended in a 1925 treaty between the two countries, which empowered the IBC “to maintain at all times an effective boundary line” by inspecting the boundary, repairing and rebuilding monuments, establishing new monuments, and keeping the boundary vistas open.

The IBC has Canadian and United States sections. The Canadian section is also guided by 1960 federal legislation, which directs the Commissioner to maintain the boundary and which grants some regulatory powers with regard to site-lines and access to monuments.

Although the Canadian section is embedded within the Surveyor General Branch to provide access to professional boundary expertise and operational support, the Surveyor General - as Commissioner - reports to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on policy matters.

More information on the International Boundary Commission.

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