Dixon Entrance

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The Dixon Entrance as delineated by BCGNIS and the disputed "A-B Line", along with Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. Red dots indicate capes and points, gray text indicates island names. The international boundary between Canada and the United States follows Portland Canal to "Point B", thence to Cape Muzon. The location of the "A-B Line" portion of the boundary is disputed.

The Dixon Entrance is a strait about 80 kilometres (50 mi) long and wide in the Pacific Ocean at the International Boundary between the U.S. state of Alaska and the province of British Columbia in Canada. It was named by Joseph Banks for Captain George Dixon, a Royal Navy officer, fur trader, and explorer, who surveyed the area in 1787.[1] The Dixon Entrance is part of the Inside Passage shipping route. It forms part of the maritime boundary between the U.S. and Canada, although the location of that boundary here is disputed. A name used in the Haida is Seegaay, which means only "ocean".

The Dixon Entrance lies between Clarence Strait in the Alexander Archipelago in Alaska to the north, and Hecate Strait and the islands known as Haida Gwaii[2] (the Queen Charlotte Islands) in British Columbia, to the south. Prince of Wales Island, Alaska, is the largest of the Alaskan islands on the north side of the entrance, and is also home to a branch of the Haida, known as the Kaigani Haida. Members of the Haida nation maintain free access across the Strait.[citation needed]

The so-called "A-B Line" (approximately 54°40'N), which marks the northern boundary of the Dixon Entrance, was delineated by a court of arbitration set up by the 1903 Alaska Boundary Treaty. The meaning of the line remains in dispute between Canada and the United States. Canada claims the line is the international maritime boundary, while the United States holds that its purpose was only to designate which islands belonged to which country, and holds that the maritime boundary is an equidistant line between islands.[3] Territorial fishing disputes between the countries remain today, as the United States does not recognize the A-B Line for purposes of seafloor resources or fishing rights and has never shown the treaty boundary on its own official maps.

Maps of the Dixon Entrance showing the A-B Line of 1903[citation needed] (left) and the boundary currently claimed by the U.S.[citation needed] (right)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Middleton, Lynn (1969). Place Names of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Victoria: Elldee Publishing. p. 65. OCLC 16729415. 
  2. ^ The islands on the south side of the Entrance which are officially named Haida Gwaii by the Province of British Columbia in 2010, at the request of the Haida people. The new name, meaning "land of the people", originated in the 1970s. These islands are still quite widely known by their historical name, the Queen Charlotte Islands.
  3. ^ The Alaska Boundary Dispute, Tony Fogarassy, Clark Wilson LLP

Coordinates: 54°22′N 132°20′W / 54.367°N 132.333°W / 54.367; -132.333