Fluid Border Isn’t New
The sleepy town of Emerson, Man. has been much in the news recently as the entry point to Canada for refugees fleeing Donald Trump’s America. But this is not the first time Emerson’s role as a border town has thrust it into the limelight.
In 1876, U.S. soldier Eugene Shinkle decided to cross into Canada at Emerson, where he proceeded to get very drunk and disorderly in a bar. Shinkle no doubt assumed he could blow off some steam beyond the reach of American military law. However, a U.S. army officer who was searching for deserters got wind of the incident and asked a friend of his, a lawyer in Emerson named Thomas Bevans, to seize Shinkle. The U.S. army officer and Bevans entered the bar and Bevans subdued Shinkle, who was bundled into a sleigh and soon found himself back on the U.S. side of the border at Fort Pembina where he would be disciplined. Upon returning to Emerson and finding there was a warrant for his arrest, Bevans himself slipped back across the U.S. border until the heat was off. And it soon was, because the provincial government dropped the charges against Bevans, aware that cross-border abduction of deserters and troublemakers was an accepted practice.
Girard, Philip, "Fluid Border Isn’t New" (2017). News, Editorials, and Commentaries. 149.