BWCA Quetico permit for Basswood River portage? Boundary Waters Trip Planning Forum
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Magneticnorth
  
06/11/2024 09:55PM  
Question about border lakes and specific border location. Looking at potential trip to include a day or two on the Basswood River / Crooked Lake Between Basswood Falls, Wheelbarrow Falls, Lower Basswood Falls, and Picture Rock. Plan is to stay in BWCA, but in case I was blown over to Canadian side of river/lake, would I need a Quetico Permit? I've read that some of the Canadian Portages are safer (I'm assuming they meant safer to land at in moving water) and easier around some of the falls.

Not wanting to waste a good entry permit, and definitely don't want to make a very long side trip to a ranger station.

Any insight is helpful, Including tips for this kind of a trip.
 
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billconner
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06/12/2024 06:01AM  
if just travelling - no stopping, no fishing - no Q permit necessary.
06/12/2024 07:13AM  
My personal rule would be related to the 'Any port in a storm's mantra. If you can make a reasonable case for a safety concern that would persuade me if I wore a badge. That doesn't help with the legality of your question. But there's been a pretty obvious climate of distress on both sides of the border this spring. Better to be tried by twelve than carried by six.
06/13/2024 06:57AM  
The treaty that defined the US Canadian border allows for use of portages on either side of the border when one is traveling along the border.
Magneticnorth
  
06/15/2024 06:38AM  
Thanks all for the helpful information. Also led to a morning deep dive into US History and reading of several quite old treaties. incredible context here. I’m more excited than ever to go along this route.

“It being understood that all the water-communications, and all the usual portages along the line from Lake Superior to the Lake of the Woods; and also Grand Portage, from the shore of Lake Superior to the Pigeon river, as now actually used, shall be free and open to the use of the citizens and subjects of both countries.”
billconner
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06/16/2024 05:48AM  
Can Canadians use Grand Portage from Superior?
tumblehome
distinguished member(2996)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/16/2024 06:47AM  
Bill, that is an interesting question and I understand why you ask that. I would love to hear a more legal interpretation of it today.
Back when it was written, a person using Lake Superior for travel wanting to continue into the interior would have to use the Grand Portage as it was one of the only routes available.

Maybe I answered my own question. I would think yes, even today the treaty still stands so long as you are traveling along the lake.

Wow that’s crazy.
Tom
billconner
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06/16/2024 06:09PM  
Same conclusion. I've posted that same passage from the treaty here and never thought about it but reading it this time piqued my interest.
06/16/2024 10:17PM  
From the US National Park Service:

“The Grand Portage trail itself was a focal point in developing the international boundary between Canada and the United States, and today remains an international road. Under the terms of the Webster- Ashburton Treaty of 1842, use of the trail remains free and open to citizens of both the United States and Canada. Without the Grand Portage, Canadian and American political history and national boundaries might have been quite different.”

T
06/17/2024 07:19AM  
I often wonder if there's more knowledge of the W/A Treaty on this board than in the training manuals of the average border officer.

Some of these officials are perhaps temporarily assigned to these remote regions from more popular crossings in other parts of their respective countries and it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine they have no knowledge of this unique cross-border entitlement.

If that's the case it wouldn't be a bad idea to store a copy of the treaty in your map case if you're forced to litigate this in the woods.
tumblehome
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06/17/2024 10:29AM  
Argo. I agree.

In one of my advanced hobbies, I have to deal with an alphabet government agency for licensing and inspections. More than one I had to correct the gov’t employee of the rules and code and have pulled out the book showing them the law.

LE is not always knowledgeable in all facets of their career. In this case, a historical treaty may not be in their knowledge-base.

Tom
Magneticnorth
  
06/18/2024 10:22AM  
Not a lawyer here, but the treaty may not be enough. I’m guessing the words free and open can be modified. For example, the city park is free and open to all citizens, yet can be closed for a special private event. Perhaps, technically the portages are free and open, but a person using them must have ID, passport, remote border crossing permit etc.

At any rate, for my case it seems like it is casually understood that portages are open without extra permitting and are frequently used by US and Canadian citizens in this way, so I won’t sweat it. But you know, i feel like there’s always some legal gotcha just in case either nation wants to add some level of regulation without it technically being a restriction.
 
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