I recently learned that a boundary between two Canadian provinces, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, passes through the town of Flin Flon.

At first I thought that could not happen in the U.S.A. because there is no federal authority to incorporate municipalities; that belongs only to the states.

(There are cases like Kansas City – I think several such cases – where two adjacent municipalities with the same name are separated by a state line. I seem to recall also hearing of such a situation involving the boundary between Virginia and Tennessee.)

Then it occurred to me that there may be complications:

  • In incorporated territories of the United States (among which today there is only Palmyra Island, and maybe D.C. if that is a "territory") there is federal authority to incorporate municipalities. I would guess that comes from the "necessary-and-proper" clause in the Constitution.

  • Could an interstate compact create such a situation? (I'm not sure why that would be done, but maybe it could make a local government more efficient and in particular less costly.)

So I wonder: (1) To what extent, if at all, might this be possible in the U.S., and (2) are there other such cases in Canada, and if so, why? (In Flin Flon, it does seem that efficiency of local government might be the reason.)

  • 1
    Related: the border between Canada and USA along the 49th parallel changes course at its western end so the whole of Vancouver Island and others are either in Canada or USA. But amazingly, not before it chops the tip of Point Roberts leaving 5 sq. miles of US territory isolated from its mainland. What were they thinking of? Sep 30 at 20:10
  • . . . and there's also the odd case of the Northwest Angle, the only part of the U.S. not in Alaska that is north of the 49th parallel. Oct 1 at 2:15

2 Answers 2


are there other such cases in Canada, and if so, why?

Lloydminster is partly in Alberta and partly in Saskatchewan.

It is where people settled prior to the establishment of the provincial boundary at 110°W. The provinces eventually jointly incorporated it as a municipality so that it could be governed by a single administration. See:

The two "Charters" are identical, but created under each province's own authority. Especially interesting are ss. 3-10, which address the issue of bringing uniformity to the municipal law within the city.

For background, s. 92(8) of the Constitution Act, 1867 gives to the provinces the exclusive legislative authority regarding "Municipal Institutions in the Province." The Supreme Court has said (Toronto (City) v. Ontario (Attorney General), 2021 SCC 34, para 80):

the provinces have plenary jurisdiction under this head of power, unrestricted by any constitutional principle

It is within the power of two provinces to incorporate a municipality in this manner, each delegating powers or duties to the municipality to the extent necessary to be functional in each province. No federal intervention or approval was required.

  • It seems as though two US states ought to be able to do the same, though I don't suppose it's ever happened.
    – phoog
    Oct 1 at 7:08
  • @phoog : Compacts between two states are not considered binding unless they are approved by Congress. That's in the constitution. Somewhere in Article IV, I think. Oct 18 at 22:26

There are several such cities in the United States. College Corner between Ohio and Indiana is such a case - I grew up a few miles away from it.

In all the cases that I've seen, there is an entity in each state and they enter into some sort of joint operating agreement with each other (sometimes school districts as well as municipalities have this kind of arrangement).

  • To be clear: You mean this is like Kansas City, not like Flin Flon? I.e. separate incorporated entities. Oct 1 at 18:14
  • @MichaelHardy Mostly, except that, so far as I know, the Kansas CIty on each side of the state line does not have a joint operating agreement so that it functions a lot like a single entity.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 1 at 18:22

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