A Good and Wise Measure

The Search for the Canadian-American Boundary, 1783-1842

By (author) Francis M. Carroll
Categories: Politics and government, Society and Social Sciences
Publisher: University of Toronto Press
Hardcover : 9780802048295, 480 pages, June 2001


In this detailed and fascinating book, Francis Carroll tells the story of the attempts to settle the original boundary between Canada and the United States from the Atlantic coast to the middle of the continent. Established by the Treaty of Paris in 1783, it soon became clear that ambiguities and errors in the treaty brought confusion and rivalry in the boundary borderland from New Brunswick and Maine to the St. Lawrence River, through the Great Lakes and from Lake Superior to Lake of the Woods, in the heart of the continent. This borderland, steadily filling with people of competing interests - Loyalists and Yankees, fur traders and soldiers, Europeans and First Nations peoples - became the focus of the major crisis in Anglo-Canadian-American relations for almost sixty years. Drawing on extensive research and utilizing manuscript materials never brought to bear on the subject before, The Search for Boundary is the first work to thoroughly explain the efforts of the several Boundary Commissions and the failed arbitration of the King of Netherlands - all major international attempts to settle the boundary. The book also provides a fresh interpretation of the relevance the turbulent decade of the 1830s had in contributing to the sense of urgency that finally allowed for negotiation of a reasonable compromise settlement of the boundary in the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 -- "A good and wise measure," as Lord Ashburton called it. Filled with the politics and intrigues of the time, Carroll brings to life a remarkable time in the diplomatic and political history of both Canada and the United States. Winner of the Dafoe Book Prize, awarded by the J. W. Dafoe Foundation


  • Winner, Albert B. Corey Prize, Canadian Historical Association & American Historical Association 2002
  • Short-listed, Dafoe Book Prize, JW Dafoe Foundation 2001