To enter this place, you need to cross two international borders – if you are driving from Washington in USA, you first need to show your Canadian visa and then once again your US visa as you re-enter USA.
Point Roberts is attached to Canada, but physically separated from the rest of the US. When the US-Canada border was set at the 49th parallel north in 1846, it intersected a Canadian peninsula, leaving a sliver of the United States at its bottom tip, about 25 miles south of Vancouver. Geographers call it a “pene-exclave”, an area of one country that in practical terms can only be reached by passing through another country. Except for the few who arrive by private plane or boat, everyone coming to this American community drives in from Canada.
It is a small piece of land, with a beach, some 1300-odd full-time residents, flashing traffic lights, a few shops and that’s about it. Yes, you can also see hundreds of bald eagles and some killer whales who come to nest there during summer.
For a place, when separated like this by a geographic border, day-to-day routines are so different. Point Roberts does have a primary school but those beyond third grade need to take a bus to classes in Blaine, Washington. This is a roundtrip of more than 50 miles which travels into Canada and then back into the USA, requiring four border crossings in a day.
This is the same routine followed by residents every time they need to go for doctor’s appointments or get their medicines or car license plates.
And because Point Break is guarded by the Homeland security, the security protocols are weird – residents cannot bring in whole tomatoes but only sliced ones. The big fat book of regulations might daunt us but for the residents, it is a way of life.
Rumour has it that Point Break has more than 50 residents who are actually a part of the witness protection program – living with a new identity. And that, apart from the serenity and clam of the place is what makes Point Break so fascinating.