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Family Ties: Craig Palmer and the Ditch that Inspired a Treaty

IJC admin | 2016/08/16

By Allison Voglesong


Adelbert Cazier never set out to start a water conflict between Canada and the United States, particularly not one that prompted the Boundary Waters Treaty and inspired the creation of the IJC.

At the turn of the 20th century, US farmers in Montana built a canal to bring more water to irrigate their fields. Then, Canadian farmers in Alberta downstream of the canal wanted their water back, and built their own canal to retaliate. Cazier was an enterprising American who was hired to dig the St. Mary Canal and the Milk Canal, nicknamed “Spite Ditch.” The rest is history.

Craig Palmer, Cazier’s great-grandson, recently talked about his family’s role in a border water conflict that led to the creation of the IJC. Palmer was attending the 2016 International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) conference in Ontario.

Allison Voglesong is the Michigan Sea Grant Fellow at the IJC’s Great Lakes Regional Office in Windsor, Ontario.

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