National Post | News

Home to sea birds, seals, a lighthouse, two Canadian lighthouse keepers, a couple of out buildings and a collection of summer researchers with a particular interest in puffins, Machias Seal Island is, on most days, a tranquil spot.

But every July 4th, Barna Norton, a crusty old sea captain out of Jonesport, Me., used to crank up his vessel, The Chief, and chug towards the island, a 20-acre lump of rock where the Bay of Fundy meets the Gulf of Maine. He would barge ashore with a large golf umbrella emblazoned with an American flag and plant it in front of a Parks Canada sign identifying the island as a Canadian Coast Guard facility.

“Once again, in front of this sign,’’ he would say, ‘‘I declare that this island belongs to the United States.”

Mr. Norton died eight years ago. But his cause remains. It, and North Rock, another nearby…

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