National Geographic : 1990 Feb
THE MOUNTAINS of British Colum biaare the setfor a new U.S. Canadian television show called Bordertown, about a fictional 19th-century settlement on the 49th parallel, half in Canada, half in the United States. Each side has its law officer: The U. S. marshal is a scruffy, laid-back maverick in love with his six-gun; the Canadian is an uptight North West Mounted Policeman dedicated to his spit and polish. Periodically the prop girl tosses dirt on the marshal and dusts off the Mountie. It's a family affair, full of inside jokes. On both sides of the border, viewers smile. History has bred the caricatures. The United States was born of rebellion and the cult of independence. It spread west two hops ahead of the law. Canada was formed by con sensus among public servants. On its way west the law went first. Canadians never had wide spread slavery or suffered a civil war. They never had Indian wars, never had a Wild West. Canada was lumped together in 1867 from the residue of history: descendants of the original French settlers, British colonials, Loyalists who fled the American Revolution. Its union has been a shaky one. So Canada frets and braces itself against the weight of the United States, with its seductive popular culture and sense of righteousness. As former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau told the U. S. Congress, "Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant: No matter how friendly and even-tempered the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt." Now the beast is on the loose. In 1988 the two nations signed the U. S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which over the next decade tears down remaining tariffs and duties on goods and services between them and may eventually integrate the economies. But Canadians are not sure about all this. They are worried that Prime Minister Brian Rolling white ribbon in winter, a 20-foot-wide clear-cut called a vista, maintained by the International Boundary Commission, divides Maine, right, and Quebec. Self-assured Que becois feel no threat from the American colos sus, but English-speaking Canadians worry about losing their culture.