Gerald R. Ford photo

Exchange With Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau Upon Accepting Canada's Bicentennial Gift to the United States.

June 16, 1976

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU. Mr. President, we have a little gift we want to give you on the occasion of the Bicentennial--it is of our boundaries. People usually think of boundaries as dividing people. Well, I won't repeat the stories about the unprotected frontiers, but in this case we will see in pictures what everyone knows on your side and on our side of the boundary--that these boundaries don't divide us; they bring us together.

By the pictures, we see that Canadians and Americans on both sides of the borders in their institutions, in their way of life, in their physical aspects are very, very close together. And we thought that would be a good way to indicate to you and to your countrymen our friendship on the occasion of this Bicentennial.

One of your famous poets, Robert Frost, talked about good fences making good neighbors. Well, in this case, it is the good neighbors that make good boundaries. And we have got some good photographers here who made these good boundaries into good pictures, and we would like to offer them to you. And I understand they will be offered also.

Thank you Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. May we open it and look at some of the--

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU. Let's look at some of them. I hope we will find somewhere the boundaries are--oh, look. This does not bind you to anything. These are boundaries which were drawn--[laughter]--in case of land boundaries, I think we pretty well agree on them.

THE PRESIDENT. I think we have resolved those boundaries.

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU. The sea boundaries we have been talking about-[laughter]--and by accepting this gift you are not committed to anything-[laughter]--a show of friendship.

THE PRESIDENT. We will blame the photographers.

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU. Well, there we are, and we are living with friendship on both sides, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Prime Minister, let me thank you and the Canadian people on behalf of myself, as well as the American people, for this beautiful Bicentennial gift between friends. You have said, and it is so true, that our boundary of some 5,000 miles is a boundary that means much because it is a boundary of peace. It goes from the St. Lawrence to the Great Lakes to the Rockies to the wilds of the Arctic. It is a boundary that we are proud of. It is a boundary where people can cross with a minimum of effort and where crossings take place on a daily basis in the best of intentions and the best of objectives.

The American people are proud of their relationship with your people, and we are very, very grateful for this very thoughtful gift. And I am looking forward to the opportunity of seeing the pictures of the boundary. It is a boundary of peace; it is a boundary that I hope will set an example for nations throughout the world.

It is a boundary that will be crossed this summer by many people from Canada coming to the United States for our Bicentennial, and it is a boundary that will be crossed by many Americans going to the Montreal Olympics. And I think both occasions are great occasions for the Canadians as well as for the Americans.

I understand that some of the original pictures that were taken by this distinguished group will be at the Field Museum in Chicago. And it is my understanding you and I have sent a message to the

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU. We have, sir. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I just want to verify it.

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU. Written in our own hand.


That is a great museum and it will be, I am sure, warmly received by the people in the Middle West who will look forward to the photographs that have been taken by this distinguished group.

I reemphasize our gratitude for your thoughtfulness on the occasion of our Bicentennial. It has a great depth of feeling and it is, I think, an indication of the Canadian-U.S. friendship for so many years in the best of traditions.

Thank you very, very much.


Note: The exchange began at 5:32 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. Canada's Bicentennial gift was a book of photographs of the U.S.-Canadian boundary, entitled "Between Friends/Entre Amis."

Gerald R. Ford, Exchange With Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau Upon Accepting Canada's Bicentennial Gift to the United States. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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