Sunday, February 20, 2005

Angle Inlet: American Outpost In Canada's Outback

When I was a young KidWonk growing-up in central Florida, I used to imagine what it would be like to visit places that had snow, as none ever fell where we lived. For me, snow was an abstract, not concrete, concept. During Florida's hot, humid, and endless summers, I spent quite a bit of time with map books and encyclopedias, dreaming of seeing all that ice in exotic, far-away northern places.

About the time I was in seventh grade, I saw a location on a map that had the curious name of Angle Inlet, Minnesota. The settlement is on the shores of a lake named, romantically, "The Lake of the Woods." I immediately knew that I had to go there some day.

The reason why I knew that I had to visit this place, aside from its name, is the fact that the settlement is situated on a peninsula that is completely surrounded by Canadian territory. To get (via land route) to this little piece of America, one must pass through Canada.

I finally got my chance to visit this faraway place two years ago, during Spring Vacation. We drove all the way. First, we went north (from our home in California's "Imperial" Valley near the border with Mexico) and crossed into Canada near the town of Sweetgrass, Montana. We then traveled east through the Provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, finally arriving at the border of the "American" peninsula that juts into a (mostly) Canadian lake.

There are no border fences, nor is there any border patrol of any kind. The only customs inspection is via video phone. Actually, one clears customs by speaking into a microphone/camera with an American agent in distant (more than 100 miles) International Falls, Minnesota.

After crossing the unfenced border, (from Canada into this disconnected piece of Minnesota) one drives through about 10 miles of uninhabited territory to reach the settlement of Angle Inlet itself. There is a detailed map

The settlement itself is the farthest north in the contiguous United States. There is a post-office, (a small 10x16 Ft building) a store, and a bar. (Which, by the way, reminds one of The Brick in the television series Northern Exposure.) About 150 persons live year around in this tiny American enclave.

While we were there, (for one day) we saw wolves, foxes, eagles, and otters. And we also saw many deer. The WifeWonk, TeenWonk, and myself were simply amazed at the great variety of wild life. The area lives up to its billing as a naturalist's paradise.

The lake was still frozen over, even though it was mid-April.

As I am a classroom teacher, I was very curious to learn what arrangements had been made for the children's education. I thought that they possibly attended local Canadian schools.

Much to my surprise, we soon stumbled upon a one-room school house, which was beautifully situated right on the lake-shore. Unfortunately, it was closed when we were there. It would have been fun to talk "shop" with the teacher.

Today, I discovered that the school has a website (needs to be updated) that you can see here. Check out the site, especially the snapshots of the kids and their teacher. This is Minnesota's last one-room school house. Some of the students actually use snowmobiles to get to school in the wintertime!

An Invitation: Please consider contributing to The Carnival Of Education: Week 3. All contributions should be received by 10:00 PM (Pacific) next Tuesday, February 22nd. They may be sent to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. Get all the details here. To view the First Edition of The Carnival, click here. The Second Edition can be viewed here. The Carnival will open here at the 'Wonks Wednesday morning.

Any help that can be given by our fellow writers in the 'Sphere publicizing this carnival would be deeply appreciated.

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