Mini Stories: Volume 6

Main Hall of the Michigan Central Train Station, image by Albert Duce (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Point Roberts by Sharif Youssef

Point Roberts is a unique, non-contiguous piece of the U.S. (Washington state to be exact) about 20 miles south of Vancouver. It’s about five square miles and has a population of just 1,314 according to the 2010 US census. However, it can grow to about three to four times that number during summer months when Canadian vacationers come in.

This geographical oddity is the result of a treaty that established the 49th parallel as the border between the US and Canada, separating just the tip of this peninsula from the rest of Canada. There are a few other border anomalies like this one, but Point Roberts is unique in how close it is to a major city. An extensive border survey in the summer of 2012 revealed that 80% of people coming into Point Roberts leave in 15 minutes or less, and only 5% stay more than an hour. What are most people doing? Many are getting discount gasoline or picking up packages or maybe making a quick run to the store or wine shop.

Point Roberts taken from the south, looking north toward Vancouver. Photo by Madereugeneandrew (CC by BY-SA 4.0)

But there is an even more interesting tidbit floating around the internet about Point Roberts. It’s the rumor that this tiny town is actually the home to a few dozen members of the U.S. Witness Protection Program.

Photo by Sharif Youssef

However, this rumor can neither be confirmed nor denied by 99pi. Producer Sharif Youssef actually traveled to Point Roberts himself, and all he found were friendly Canadians, a fellow Oaklander, and gas sold in liters. Plus a restaurant that shared his (nick)name.

Photo by Sharif Youssef

Special thanks to the podcast Stop Podcasting Yourself where Sharif first heard of Point Roberts!

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