Canadian Strife along 'The Border'

I grew up watching Canadian TV from the CBC station across the St. John River in New Brunswick. Programs like “The Beachcombers”, “The Friendly Giant”, “Mr. Dressup” and “North of 60”, among many others, delighted. In 1995, my wife, daughter and I moved home to Maine for 18 months, and my daughter watched “Big Comfy Couch” before its stateside debut. Many successful American TV shows were produced in Canada, such as “Battlestar Galactica” and “X-Files” and many HGTV programs.

The Canadian shows have a much different tone than their American counterparts that reminds of British TV. Well, they’re both part of the Commonwealth, eh. Yesterday I discovered CBC drama “The Border” on Netflix and have since streamed four episodes. I like it so far.

Like BBC’s “MI-5”, “The Border” portrays American spies as self-interested bullies. It’s America first and foreign sovereignty be damned. Even if that’s only the perception, it’s enough of a problem.

My fascination runs deeper. I grew up 10 miles from the New Brunswick border and we camped in the Allagash wilderness along the Quebec side. One of my dad’s best friends, “Buzz” Barry, was an immigration officer on the US side.

“The Border” captures some of the enforcement changes along the border since 9-11. When I grew up, even when we lived in Maine 17 years ago, people in both countries easily passed from one to the other. That’s all different now, with, for example, Americans required to carry passports—even those living a stone’s throw from New Brunswick or Quebec.

This CBC drama isn’t for everyone. Americans may find the pace awkward feeling and be lost by the three different law agencies and the government ministers overseeing them. “The Border” is contemporary Canada (as seen three or four years ago) that will baffle some American viewers — if for example they don’t know basics like what is RCMP.

I enjoy the CBC drama, but the meaning is more personal to me, and my attitudes are quasi-Canadian anyway—being a border baby.