A border in our backyard

The world’s longest international border is less than 100 miles from Syracuse. Explore the many ways that border influences the economy, culture and history of the region through this exclusive NewsHouse reporting project.


The First

Long before Europeans came to North America, the Mohawks lived and thrived on the land that now forms the border between northern New York and Canada. That border now splits the Mohawk Nation territory of Akwesasne in two.

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Border Crossing

While the Southern border has made headlines, the border to the north is nearly as active, with millions of crossings a year, smuggling, trade disputes and asylum seekers heading both north into Canada and south into the United States in search of a better life.

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Drawn Lines

The international border with Canada caps all of New York state, stretching 445 miles from Lake Erie to Lake Champlain. Borderlines based teams of reporters in Niagara Falls, New York, and Cornwall, Ontario. Project reporters then fanned out and returned with stories from places like Buffalo in New York, Toronto in Ontario, Gatineau in Quebec, the Mohawk Indian territory of Akwesasne, and a dozen other border communities.

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Working Life

Canada and the United States seem similar at first glance, so is life in the two countries really that much different? For dairy farmers, maple syrup producers and marijuana entrepreneurs, the answer is most certainly “yes.”

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Living Past

Border residents reflect on how the past continues to shape their hometowns, from the urban renewal that seeks to revive tourism in the Niagara Falls region to the “river rats” who smuggled alcohol across the Saint Lawrence during prohibition.

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Miles Apart

Borders can be surprisingly fluid and can exist within a country as they do in Canada at the intersection of English speaking Ontario and French Quebec. These stories explore how that fluidity can create both tension and opportunity.

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About this Project

Dozens of Newhouse School students ventured to and across New York’s border with Canada in a quest to capture stories about the people who live there and the economies, cultures, landscapes and histories that shape life along the border.

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Visual Credits: Ferry video by Colin Davy; The First photo by Lauren Miller; Border Crossing photo by Graham Dickie; Working Life photo by Molly Bolan; Living Past and Miles Apart photos by Elizabeth Billman; About the Project video by Doug Steinman.