The border between the United States and Canada looks like it’s pretty straight on a map, but up close, there are hundreds of random turns, zig zags and swoops. As such, the fine people over at CGP Grey set about trying to figure out exactly why the straight line is less than straight, and like pretty much everything else in history, it turns out the truth is a bizarre combination of strange bartering and flat out mistakes.

A treaty between the United States and Canada established the official border as the 49th Parallel. Unfortunately, given less than accurate measuring equipment, those hired to deforest twenty feet of land between the two countries wound up plotting out nine hundred points kinda sorta around the 49th Parallel and connecting each with a straight line. Those shaky measurements plus some random language written into the treaty in which certain areas (like Vancouver) were given to one side or the other combined to give us the not-so-straight line we all learned to draw in elementary school.

Most YouTube channels designed to talk about science or history ramble quite frequently. They use the subject matter as a jumping off point and cram in a lot of hot facts. CGP Grey, on the other hand, is really good at identifying a single problem and explaining it in a really simple and easy to understand way. Here’s to hoping the channel never changes.

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