Jacques Poitras on Imaginary Line

Award History

2011 Finalist

Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing
for Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border

Jury Citation

“The imaginary line between Maine and New Brunswick that is the subject of Jacques Poitras’ delightful book was vaguely defined by the Royal Proclamation of 1763, argued and nearly warred over through the first half of the 19th century, set in its place in 1842, and hardened by the events of 9/11. Poitras argues this artificial bifurcation helped create the conditions for the flourishing of a bicultural, bilingual community on the British side but set the stage on the other side for Acadian assimilation into the American melting pot. He meets the descendants of those 19th century settlers on both sides as he travels the border from Fort Kent to Campobello Island. As it was in the 19th century, so it is today: decisions made far away from the headwaters of the Saint John River – in Washington, Ghent, London, and Ottawa – have dramatic impacts on those who live on this border. And, as Poitras notes, their challenge now is ‘to take their rightful place at the centre of border affairs.’” – 2011 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing Jury (David Akin, Charlotte Gray, and Janice Gross Stein)

Works recognized by WT

Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border