Recollections of the Blain Invasion, May 1970 by  Usor O'Toole
    Being the first Canadian invasion of the United States since 1814 when
Tecumseh¹s warriors allied with Canadian Quebecois and United Empire
Loyalist troops, with the help of the British navy, burned Washington DC to
the ground. This was in retaliation for the Americans having burned and
looted Toronto on the same day in 1813, inspiring some to suggest it should
be declared a holiday on both sides of the border. (July 6th, I believe)

    In 1970, at the height of the hippy-yippie revival, some hippy
draft-dodger with a yen to see a demo at the Peace Arch on the day Canadians
and Americans celebrated their 4000-mile undefended border, picked up a
couple of Vancouver yippies hitching down Hastings Street in Vancouver BC.
They invited him to a meeting at an old house in the East End. Several
long-haired activists were sitting in a circle, discussing how to end war.
The Viet Nam one, in particular.
    The hippy drank his tea and suggested his idea. Invade the fuckers on
Canada-US lovey-dovy day. Someone else asked when that would occur. He said
it had just happened a couple months before. The activists looked at each
other rather briefly, then one went to a phone and dialed the Seattle
Liberation Front HQ, a similar house outside Seattle. Whoever got on the
line agreed that another 10 months is too long to wait. They'd spread the
word for the invasion to go the next week-end.
    Word traveled quickly through the activist peace community. Nixon had
just expanded the Viet Nam war into Cambodia to take the Ho Chi Minh trail
that was supplying the Viet Cong. He knew he had to get his troops out,
because the Democrats of that day had gained control of the US Congress, and
had refused him funds to continue. And they didn't ask him for a timetable
to end the war. They gave him a timetable. (At the risk of offending
Hillary, that Congress had balls).
    The invading force that descended on the Peace Arch included at least
300 anarchists, yippies, war veterans, draft dodgers, religious activists,
Canadian and American patriots, pacifists, Quakers, communists and
socialists of every description and some of the most beautiful liberated
women in the known universe. On marching into the town of Blain, they
spotted a flag flying in front of the post office, climbed the pole and cut
it down. This caused some American patriots to take note, especially a bunch
of US Navy personnel on leave hanging out at the local pool hall.
    After the capture of the flag, some of the invaders declared the
invasion a victory and recommended the group head back to Canada. A bunch of
guys from Portland and points south who were facing the US draft showed up,
and also suggested a strategic retreat, which they joined. Quite a few
American visitors decided to cross into Canada that day. Some are still
    People streamed back across the border, with a Blain city policeman and
a bunch of sailors and assorted town toughguys coming along behind the
stragglers who, on looking back, began to hop to it.
    Someone got the idea to close the gate at the peace arch. (It has little
metal gates on the inside that are wired open). Some other people thought
that would send a negative message. There was some argument between
longhairs, as the more active disassembled the wires holding the gates  to
the walls of the arch. The Yank poolhall patriots saw the commotion and
decided to intervene against both factions. One husky Canadian truck-driver
with a guitar saw a fist coming in the direction of one of his friends, spun
the guitar into the oncoming fist so hard the back popped right out with a
crash like heavy-metal punk-rock. In the ensuing melee he managed to
distribute several pieces of it among the yankees. But mostly it was raw
knuckles against noses and eye-brows.
    And someone did indeed say, "I didn't know hippies could fight."
    The Blain cop waded into the melee when he saw some of his guys in
trouble. And a crowd of maybe 200 longhairs was suddenly surrounding him. He
got scared and pulled his club as he unsnapped the holster of his 357
    A yippie standing next to the cop threw his arms in the air and backed
away into the crowd, which dutifully made a path for his mop of curly hair,
leaving a straight corridor between himself and the cop of perhaps 6 or 8
metres. He yelled "Baseball!", wound up and threw an imaginary ball at the
cop. The cop smiled an evil grin and swatted the air with his billyclub.
    The yippie reached in his hip pocket and yanked out a paper, (you
wouldn't want to do that today), waved it in the air and announced he¹d just
got a message from the Mayor of Blain, USA, thanking us for coming and
inviting us to visit again ³for a shit and a shower.² I think he was
embellishing a tourist brochure he¹d grabbed at the Blain post office. The
cop looked uncertain. The mayor was his boss.
    The hippy pulled another paper from his pocket, announced, "I just got
this telegram direct from the White House, from Richard Nixon in Washington
DC. It says "Oink, oink, oink, oink, oink..."
    About which time the highway patrol cruised onto the hill, using the
incoming lane to park their cars in a row beside the US border station.
About 20 strong, they formed a skirmish line, white helmets gleaming,
thumping their big night-sticks into their gloves. They watched for a few
minutes as the city cop rounded up his hooligans and suggested they might
want to go home and leave it to the big guys.
    As some ten or twenty guys on both sides settled down to nursing their
bruises the patrolmen suddenly marched toward us about ten steps. They were
still a good 40 metres away, but it was definitely time for another
strategic retreat. As the yankee¹s limped off the field back toward Blain,
the invaders began to spread out across the Canadian side of the park. And
the tight group of patrolmen suddenly didn¹t have a target, as they had when
we¹d been bunched up by the arch.
    As they pondered their next move, a train came around the curve on the
ocean side of the park. The first cars were flat-decks with auto-carrier
transport trailers on them, and a load of maybe 60 or 80 of Detroit's finest
cars, fresh off the assembly line. Economic imperialism and gas-hog
commercialism all tied in with the war-profits industry.
    Somebody yelled "Get the cars." But there were already people picking up
the nice smooth beach rocks lining the rail bed and hurling them. One guy
with a heavy-duty sling shot was firing fist-sized rocks at the rate of one
every five or ten seconds from so close to the tracks that ricochet's from
some of the other rockers were whistling past his head.
    The train proceeded around the bend into Canada at a leisurely pace. And
we prepared to retreat again. We were safe on the Canadian side of the park,
and the Highway Patrol had apparently decided not to invade Canada. Now we
were a problem for the Mounties, who were represented by two officers parked
on a hillside above the flower garden, filming us with a long-lensed video
camera. I often wonder where that film is today.
    Then suddenly and inexplicably, the train lurched to a halt. Perhaps
some American had got on a radio to the engineer and told him a band of
anarchists were destroying his load. Better get back to the safety of the
USA. He dutifully brought the whole load back through for a second round of
rocks. And there were rockers on both sides of the track now.
    I suspect the physical damage was some bigger than $50,000, even in 1969
dollars. But the damage to the American war effort in Viet Nam was severe.
As we¹ve learned from 9/11, Americans take actions against their home ground
very seriously. The vast majority of Americans wouldn¹t be allowed inside
either the World Trade Centre or the Pentagon, yet they get all bent out of
shape when either is attacked.
    Fortunately, the government there has been given over to incompetent
religious and greedy reactionaries who have managed to bungle even the
actions of their very professional military. It doesn¹t take long for a
system based on exploitation to begin eating itself.
    Experience from China, India, Persia, Egypt, Rome, Aztlan, Peru, among
others, indicate the barbarians from the north always fulfill their
historical duty to clean up the rotten decadent civilizations people create
and become dependent upon. The Blain invasion will stand as an early
important skirmish in that historical process.

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