Report of the British and United States Commissioners, appointed under the Treaty of August 9, 1842, to trace and mark the Boundary between the British Possessions in North America and the United States (New Brunswick and State of Maine).-Washington, June 28, 1847

The Undersigned, Commissioners appointed under the Treaty of Washington, to trace and mark the boundary, as directed by that Treaty, between the British possessions in North America and The United States, that is to say:--James Bucknall Bucknall Estcourt, Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army, appointed Commissioner by Her Britannic Majesty, and Albert Smith, appointed Commissioner by the President of The United States, having accomplished the duty assigned to them, do now, in accordance with the directions of the said Treaty, submit the following report, and the accompanying maps, jointly signed, to their respective Governments.

In obedience to the terms of the Treaty, they met at Bangor, in the State of Maine, on the 1st day of May, 1943, where they produced and verified the authority under which they each were respectively to act. They then adjourned, because the weather was not sufficiently open to take the field, to the 1st of the following month, June, and agreed to meet again at that time at Houlton.

Accordingly, they did meet at that place, and began their operations.

It may be desirable to state, at the outset that, for the sake of convenience, the whole line of boundary marked by the Undersigned bar, been divided, in the mention made of the different portions, into the following grand divisions, Viz:

North line, from the source of the St. Croix to the intersection of the St. John.

River St. John, from the intersection of the north line to the mouth of the St. Francis.

River St. Francis, from its mouth to the outlet of Lake Pohenagamook.

South-west line, from the outlet of Lake Pohenagamook to the north-west branch of the St. John.

South line, from the north-west branch to the parallel of latitude 46º 25' on the southwest branch.

South-west branch, from the parallel 46º 25' to its source.

Highlands, from the source of the south-west branch of the St. John to the source of Hall's stream.

Hall's stream, from its source to the intersection of the line of Valentine and Collins.

West line, from Hall's stream to the St. Lawrence, near St. Regis along the line of Valentine and Collins.

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To return to the narrative of operations.

The exploring line of Colonel Bouchette and Mr. Johnson, as directed by the Treaty, was traced from the monument at the source of the St. Croix to the intersection of the St. John.

The monument found at the source of the St. Croix, as described in the report of Colonel Bouchette and Mr. Johnson, and the course of their exploring line, was traced by blazes or marks upon the trees.

An old line, cut out by the Assistant surveyors of Colonel Bouchette and Mr. Johnson, was also found, which terminated about half a mile north of the south branch of the Meduxnekeag, where, by records to which the Undersigned referred, they ascertained that it had been abandoned, because of its deviation from the exploring line of Colonel Bouchette and Mr. Johnson.

After the exploration and re-marking of the north line, it was cut out 30 feet wide. The same was afterwards done in all parts where the boundary passed through woodland. After thus opening the north line it was surveyed; and iron posts were erected at intervals to mark it.

The general bearing of the line was rather to the west of the meridian of the monument at the source of the St. Croix. The precise line laid down by the Undersigned was determined by successive courses, of which each was made to be as long as was convenient, provided it did not pass out of the opening of 30 feet.

At each angle of deflection an iron monument was erected, and placed anglewise with the line. Other monuments were erected at the crossing of roads rivers, and at every mile, commencing, from the source of the St. Croix. Those which were not intended to mark angles of deflection were placed square with the line.

At the intersection of the St. John by the north line, the river is deep and broad. The boundary runs tip the middle channel of the river, as indicated by the maps, dividing the islands as follows:



Ryan's Island

United States


King's Island

United States


Des Trois Isles

United States


La Septième Isle

United States



Great Britain


La Grande Isle

United States


Thibideau's Islands

United States


Madawaska Islands

Great Britain


Joseph Michaud's three Islands

United States


Pine Island

Great Britain


Baker's Island

Great Britain

Turtle Island

Great Britain

Dagle's Island

Great Britain

Fourth Island

Great Britain

Fifth Island

Great Britain


Kennedy's Island

Great Britain


Crock's Island

Great Britain

Cranberry Island

Great Britain

Gooseberry Island

Great Britain


Savage's Island

United States


Wheelock's Island

United States


Caton's Island

United States


Honeywell's island

United States


Savage and Johnson's Island

United States


Grew's Island

United States


Kendall's Island

Great Britain

The islands were distributed to Great Britain or to The United States, as they were found to be on right or left of the deep channel. There was but one doubtful case, La Septième Isle, and that was apportioned to The United States, because the majority of the owners were ascertained to reside on The United States' side of the river.

Monuments were erected upon the islands, marking them for Great Britain or The United States as the case may have been.

After leaving the St. John, the boundary enters the St. Francis, dividing the islands it the mouth of that river in the manner shown in the maps. It then runs up the St. Francis, through the middle of the lakes upon it to the outlet of Lake Pohenagamook, the third large lake from the., mouth of the river. At the outlet, a large monument has been erected.

In order to determine the point on the north-west branch to which the Treaty directed that a straight line should be run from the outlet of Lake Pohenagamook, a survey of that stream was made, and also of the main St. John, in the neighbourhood of the mouth of the north-west branch, and a line was cut between the St. John and the point on the northwest branch, ascertained by the survey to be 10 miles In the nearest direction from it, and the distance was afterwards verified by chaining.

It was ascertained also in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty by a triangulation of the country towards the Highlands dividing the waters of the St. Lawrence and of the St. John, that more than 7 miles intervened between the points selected on the northwest branch and the crest of the dividing ridge. A large iron monument was afterwards erected on the point thus selected, and the space around was cleared and sown with grass seed. It is a short distance below the outlet of Lake Ishaganalshegeck.

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The outlet of Lake Pohenagamook and the point on the north-west branch, designated by the Treaty having been thus ascertained and marked, in the spring of 1814, a straight line was run between them. Along that line, which passes entirely through forest, monuments were erected at every mile, at the crossings of the principal streams and rivers, and at the tops of those hills where a transit instrument had been set up to test the straightness of the line.

As soon as the parallel of latitude 46º 25' had been determined on the south-west branch, in the early part of the summer of 1844, a straight line was drawn from the boundary point on the north-west branch to a large monument erected on the left bank of the southwest branch where it is intersected by the parallel of latitude 46º 25'. The line so drawn crosses the south-west branch once before it reaches the parallel of latitude 46º 25', and at about half a mile distance from that parallel. There also, a large monument had been set up on the left bank.

From the intersection of the parallel 46º 25', the boundary ascends the south-west branch, passes through a lake near its head, and so up a small stream which falls into the lake from the west, to the source of that stream, which has been selected as the source of the south-west branch.

On the south-west branch there are two principal forks, at each of which two monuments have been erected, one on each bank of the river, immediately above the forks, and upon the branch established as the boundary. The maps point out their positions. At the mouth of the small stream selected as the source of the south-west branch, a monument has been erected upon a delta formed by two small outlets. Above those outlets 3 other monuments have been placed, at intervals upon the same stream.

Upon the crest of the dividing ridge, very close to the source of the south-west branch a monument has been erected. It is the first point in the Highlands, and from it the boundary runs along the crest, in a southerly direction, passing near the south-eastern shore of the Portage Lake, and so on to a large monument erected on a small eminence on the east side of the Kenebec road. Thence it passes through a dwelling-house, called Tachereau's which was standing there at the time the line was run; so, by a tortuous course, it runs to the top of the Sandy Stream Mountain; thence, inclining to the southwest, it runs over Hog's Back the first, as shown in the map; thence towards Hog's Back the second, which it leaves on the north side. Further on, at the head of Leach Lake, there is a stream which divides its waters and flows both into Canada and into The United States. The boundary has been made to run up that stream a short distance from the fork, where the waters divide to a second fork; thence between the streams which unite to form that fork, and then to ascend again the dividing ridge. A monument has been erected at the fork just mentioned, where the waters divide.

As the boundary approaches the valley of Spider River, it bends to the south-east, and, by a wide circuit over high and steep hills, it turns the head of Spider River; thence it bends to the north-west, until it approaches within about 4 miles of Lake Megantic; thence it turns again south, having the valley of Arnold's River on the right, and of Dead River on the left. It leaves Gasford Mountain in Canada, threads its way over very high ground between the head of Arnold's River and the tributaries of the Magalloway; inclines then to the north, to the west, over very rocky mountainous, and difficult country, leaving Gipp's Peak in The United States, and turns, by a sharp angle at Saddle Back, to the south. After that it again inclines to the west, and then to the south, and again to the west, and passes the head of the Connecticut. About 3 miles and a half east of the head of the Connecticut, there is a division of waters similar to that described near Leach Lake. The boundary runs down a stream from near its source to the fork, where it divides, and then again follows the dividing ridge. The spot is noted on the map.

After the boundary has passed the head of the Connecticut, it runs to the north-west, descending into very low, swampy ground, between the heads of Indian stream and the tributaries of the St. Francis. Thus it passes on, bending again to the south of west, over a high hill, to the source of Hall's stream.

Iron monuments have been erected at intervals along the Highlands, from the source of the south-west branch of the St. John to the source of Hall's stream; the position of each of which is shown upon the maps.

From the source of Hall's stream the boundary descends that river, dividing the islands, which are, however, merely unimportant alluvial deposits, in the manner indicated by the maps, until it reaches the intersection of that stream by the line formerly run by Valentine and Collins as the 45º of north latitude.

At that point a large monument has been erected on the right and a small one on the left bank of this stream. Monuments have also, been erected along the bank of this stream, as indicated on the maps.

The line of Valentine and Collins was explored and found by the blazes still remaining in the original forest.

Upon cutting into those blazes, it was seen that, deep-seated in the tree, there was a scar, the surface of the original blaze slightly decayed, and upon counting the rings (which indicate each year's growth of the tree) it was found that the blazes dated back to 1772, [Page 25] 1773, and 1774. The line of Valentine and Collins was run in 1771, 1772, 1773, and 1774. The coincidence of the dates of the blazes with those of the above line, confirmed by the testimony of the people of the country. satisfied the Undersigned that the line they had found was that mentioned in the treaty. Along this portion of the boundary which is known as the 45º of Valentine and Collins, and which extends from Hall's stream to St. Regis, there are several interruptions to the blazes, in those parts where clearings have been made, and there the authentic marks of the precise situation of the old line have been lost. In those cases the undersigned have drawn the boundary line straight from the original blazes on the one side of a clearing to the original blazes on the other side of the same clearing.

It cannot be positively stated that the line, as it has been traced through those clearings, precisely coincides with the old line; but the Undersigned believe that it does not differ materially from it; nor have they had the means of determining a nearer or a surer approximation.

Along this line, at every point of deflection, an iron monument has been erected; also at the crossing of rivers, lakes, and roads. Those which mark deflections are placed, as on the " north line," anglewise with the line; all the others are placed square with it. The maps show the position of each.

On the eastern shore of Lake Memphremagog, an astronomical station was established; and, on a large flat rock of granite, which happened to lie between the astronomical station and the boundary, was cut the following inscription:


Capt. Robinson,

Astronomical Station,

422 Feet North.

Meridian Line.


Boundary Line.

595 feet south.

August, 1845.

A mark was cut upon the stone, as indicated by the dot upon the meridian line above, from which these measurements were made.

At Rouse's Point a monument of wrought stone was set up, at the intersection of the boundary by the meridian of the transit instrument used there by Major Graham; and an inscription was cut upon it, stating the latitude and longitude, the name of the observer and his assistant, the names of the Commissioners, and the territories divided.

To mark the position of the instruments used at the following astronomical stations along the west line, two monuments, within a few feet of each other, have been erected at each station, and they have been placed on the boundary line due north or south of the instrument, as the case may have been.

The stations are:--Lake Memphremagog, Richford, John :McCoy's, Trout River.

The boundary along the west line, though very far from being a straight line, is generally about half a mile north of the true parallel of latitude 45º from Hall's Stream to Rouse's Point. At about 28 miles west of Rouse's Point it, however, crosses that parallel to the south, until it reaches Chateauguay River, where it bends northwards and, crossing the parallel again, about 4 miles east of St. Regis, it strikes the St. Lawrence 151 feet north of 45º. At that point, a large monument has been erected, on the bank of the St. Lawrence. Two large monuments have also been erected-one on either side of the River Richelieu, near house's Point.

No marks of the old line were to be found about St. Regis. It was, therefore, agreed to run a line due west from the last blaze which should be found in the woods, on the east side of St. Regis. That blaze occurred about one mile east of the St. Regis River.

The maps, which exhibit the boundary on a scale of 4 inches to one statute mile, consist of 62 consecutive sheets of antiquarian paper, as constructed by the British, and of 61, as constructed by the American Commission. A general map has also been constructed on a scale of 8 miles to one inch, by the British, and of 10 miles to one inch, by the American Commission, upon which the before-mentioned sheets are represented.

The following portions of the boundary have been laid down by the British Commission, on detached maps, on a scale of 12 inches to one mile, which have been signed by both Commissioners.

Grand Falls of the St. John, including the intersection of that river by the north line; Islands of the St. John, the outlet of Lake Pohenagamook, the turning point of the boundary on the north-west branch of the St. John, the intersection of the south-west branch, by the parallel of latitude 46º 25', the source of the south-west branch, the source of Hall's stream, the intersection of Hall's stream by the west line, Rouse's Point, St. Regis, Derby.

But similar maps have not been prepared by the American Commission, because during the interval between the finishing of the maps of the British Commission and those of the American, it was thought that the maps already constructed, upon a scale of 4 inches to one mile, represented the boundary with sufficient clearness and accuracy.

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The astronomical observations were begun at the Grand Falls, early in June, 1843, and were carried up the St. John River to the north-west branch by a chain of stations, which together with the results obtained, are tabulated in the appendix accompanying this report.

From the valley of the St. John, an astronomical connection was made with Quebec, and thence to Montreal and so to Rouse's Point. From Rouse's Point, a connection was obtained with Cambridge University, near Boston.

The astronomical stations on the west line were:

Intersection of Hall's stream by the west line, Lake Memphremagog, Richford, Rouse's Point, John McCoy's, Trout River, St. Regis.

Latitude was also obtained at an astronomical station established for the purpose, at the head of the Connecticut.

Volumes containing the astronomical observations of both Commissions are herewith submitted. From them, it will be observed, that the results for absolute longitude, obtained by the British and American astronomers, do not agree. It being a difference in no way affecting the survey of the boundary line, the Undersigned do not feel called upon to attempt to reconcile it. The data upon which those results are based may be seen in the volumes of observations accompanying this report.

In the appendix will be found, in a tabular form, the following:

An abstract of the survey of the boundary along the north line.

An abstract of the survey of the boundary along the south-west line.

An abstract of the survey of the boundary along the south line.

An abstract of the survey of the boundary along the Highlands.

An abstract of the survey of the boundary along the west line.

The position of the monuments erected on the south-west branch of the St. John, and on Hall's stream.

The distribution of the islands of the St. John, and the monuments on them.

The guide lines and offsets run by each Commission for the survey of the Highlands.

The azimuths of verification for the survey of the Highlands.

The latitudes and longitudes obtained from the astronomical observations.

The comparative longitudes obtained, and the methods used for the purpose.

Upon comparing the maps of the two Commissions, it will be seen that the American Commission numbers two monuments more than the British. Those are to be found, one on the "Fourth Island," in the River St. John, and the other on the Highlands, between the source of the south-west branch of the River St. John and the Kennebec road.

On the maps of the British Commission, representing the "west line," the name of the town of " Derby " has been improperly placed north of the line, instead of south of it. Also, on the same maps, the direction of Salmon River, near the western extremity of the "west line," has been incorrectly laid down from the boundary line northwards. A direction has been given to it north-easterly instead of north-westerly.

The above two corrections the British Commissioner is authorized to make on his maps, after his return to England.

To avoid unnecessary delay in making their joint report, the Undersigned have attached their signatures to the maps, although the lettering of some of the astronomical stations upon the maps of the American Commission, as well as the alterations before mentioned in the maps of the British Commission, are yet to be made. But in the maps of both, the boundary has been laid down accurately and definitively, and the Undersigned engage that it shall not be altered in any respect.

In conclusion the Undersigned have the honour to report, that the line of boundary described in the foregoing statement has been run, marked and surveyed, and the accompanying maps faithfully constructed from that survey.

The Undersigned take leave to add, that the most perfect harmony has subsisted between the two Commissions from first to last, and that no differences have arisen between the Undersigned in the execution of the duties entrusted to them.

Signed and sealed in duplicate, at the City Of Washington, this 28th day of June, in the year of Our Lord, 1847.


Lieutenant Colonel.

Her Britannic Majesty's Commissioner.


United States Commissioner.

Note.--The Astronomical computations of the American Commission not being completed, and it being unnecessary to defer the signing of the report on that account, the American Commissioner engages to transmit them, with any other papers or tables not yet finished, as soon as they shall be so, to the British Commissioner, through the American Minister, resident in London, to whom upon delivery of the documents, the British Commissioner will give a receipt, to be transmitted to the American Commissioner.


Lieutenant Colonel,

Her Britannic Majesty's Commissioner of Boundary.


United States Commissioner.

[Source: British & Foreign State Papers, Vol. 57, p. 823]

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