Pembina–Emerson Border Crossing

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Pembina–Emerson Border Crossing
Emerson MB border station.jpg
Canada Border Inspection Station at Emerson, MB
CountryUnited States; Canada
Coordinates49°00′02″N 97°14′15″W / 49.000477°N 97.237634°W / 49.000477; -97.237634Coordinates: 49°00′02″N 97°14′15″W / 49.000477°N 97.237634°W / 49.000477; -97.237634
US Phone(701) 825-5800
Canadian Phone(204) 373-2524
HoursOpen 24 Hours

The Pembina–Emerson Border Crossing connects the city of Pembina, North Dakota and community of Emerson, Manitoba. It is connected by Interstate 29 and U.S. Route 81 on the American side, and by Manitoba Highway 75 on the Canadian side. Over one million travelers are processed at this border crossing each year, making it the second busiest along the Canada–United States border west of the Great Lakes, behind only the Pacific Highway Border Crossing.[1][2] Its location along an international trade corridor makes this an important commercial port. Cross-border trade is valued at approximately CA$20 billion each year.[3]


Original Emerson Customs facilities in West Lynne

In 1871, Emerson was established as the first land border Customs station in Canada. It was created to protect and ultimately collect duty for trade with the Hudson's Bay Company trading post that was attacked in a Fenian Raid, and subsequently liberated by the U.S. Cavalry earlier that year.[4] The original customs building in Emerson still stands today.

For many years, there were two roads entering Canada at Emerson. The popular Jefferson Highway (U.S. Route 75) entered at Noyes, Minnesota and the Meridian Highway (U.S. Route 81) entered from Pembina, North Dakota. All Canada-bound traffic was directed to the brick Customs building in downtown Emerson, which has since been converted into the Emerson Health Centre. Then in the mid-1950s, Canada built separate inspection stations at the border on both roads. The crossing across from Pembina was called "West Lynne" (named after the small village that had been absorbed by the Town of Emerson in 1883) and the larger crossing across from Noyes was known as "Emerson East".

The modern Pembina-West Lynne border crossing opened in 1964 with the completion of I-29. The facilities on the former U.S. Route 81 a short distance to the east were closed and subsequently demolished a few years later. Following the reconfiguration of PTH 75 and PTH 29, most U.S.-bound traffic was diverted to the Pembina crossing. The Canadian and American governments closed the Emerson East and Noyes border stations in 2003 and 2006, respectively, and merged rail inspection operations with the ports at West Lynne and Pembina. The West Lynne border station was renamed Emerson following the closure of Emerson East in 2003.

Both countries are currently in the process of extensively upgrading their facilities and road infrastructure at the Pembina-Emerson Crossing, a project that started in 2017 and will take several years to complete. The U.S. border station was previously upgraded in 1996; the Canada border station in 1999.[1]

Also located near this crossing is Fort Dufferin, a former Canadian police post, immigration station, and base of the North American Boundary Commission, which surveyed and marked the international border as defined in the Treaty of 1818.[5]

Illegal immigration[edit]

The number of persons crossing the border illegally into Canada in the Emerson-Pembina area spiked following U.S. President Donald Trump's Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States executive order in January 2017. The majority of recent border jumpers are immigrants from African nations seeking asylum in Canada to avoid potential deportation from the U.S. Although persons claiming refugee status are not permitted to migrate to Canada from the U.S. (or vice versa) under the two countries' Safe Third Country Agreement, asylum seekers who have crossed the border illegally in some cases have been allowed to stay in Canada while their application is processed. This practice of cross the border illegally is not without danger, especially during the cold prairie winter. On December 24, 2016, two Ghanaian men successfully made it across the border by walking several miles along the Red River in sub-zero temperatures; however both suffered severe frostbite that required amputation of their fingers. In May 2017, a 57-year old Ghanaian asylum seeker died of hypothermia while attempting to cross into Canada at Noyes, Minnesota.[6] The increased levels of asylum seekers trying to enter Canada at the Pembina-Emerson and other regions along the international border have garnered international media attention and resulted in the Canadian government renegotiating the Safe Country Agreement with the American government.[7][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Border Infrastructure Investment Plan December 2014" (PDF). US Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  2. ^ "Border Crossing/Entry Data: Query Detailed Statistics". US Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  3. ^ Manitoba Government - Current Transportation Planning Studies
  4. ^ McClelland, James; Lewis, Dan (1975). Emerson 1875-1975 A Centennial History (PDF). Town of Emerson, Manitoba. p. 10. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  5. ^ "When Mounties had to go..." Winnipeg Free Press. 7 December 2008. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Body of woman, 57, found near Manitoba border believed to be asylum seeker, U.S. police say". 30 May 2017.
  7. ^ "New numbers show spike in asylum seekers crossing from U.S. to Manitoba". 9 January 2017.
  8. ^ "Canada, U.S. move to redraft border treaty to cut flow of asylum seekers". The Globe and Mail. 1 April 2019.