This article describes the competing meanings that U.S. and Canadian historians have assigned to their common borders and respective Wests. It compares how frontier,region, and a common border have shaped U.S. and Canadian histories and identities,as well as the complicity of historiography in telling the differences. Assuming that neither the nation state nor national identity is fixed or absolute, it argues that similarities and differences in how each country incorporated its West led to specific understandings of national origins, colonial relationships, and distinct notions of frontier and region. These distinctions shaped the ways each nation legitimized its claim to the continent and are reflected in historical narratives that have functioned as respective national creation stories. The ways that Canadians and Americans have understood their pasts and common border also illuminate the meanings of national identity in our present age.

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