Thunder Bay

"Solidarity with our neighbours" as Cook County, Minn. man jokes about annexation to Canada

It was meant as a joke, and maybe even a little support, but a man who lives in northern Minnesota was surprised by the amount of reaction he received when he Tweeted his home county should be annexed by Canada.
Bryan Hansel, a landscape photographer in Grand Marais, MN, said he was surprised at the reaction he received online when he tweeted that Cook County, MN should be annexed by Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Bryan Hansel)

It was meant as a joke, and maybe even a little support, but a man who lives in Cook County, Minn. was surprised by the amount of reaction he received when he Tweeted the rural Minnesota county, should be annexed by Canada.

Cook County, which makes up a large portion of Minnesota's Arrowhead region, is one of the least populated counties in the state, with about 5,000 permanent residents. The population swells in the summer, with many camps and second homes found along the shoreline of Lake Superior.

Landscape photographer Bryan Hansel, who lives in Grand Marais, Minn., the county seat, said he was frustrated with President Donald Trump's stance on blocking shipments of much needed N-95 masks to Canada.

None of the nearly 30 responses to the Hansel's tweet were negative.

"What really made me send it the other day was when Trump said that he was going to cut off shipments of PPE to Canada," said Bryan Hansel, a landscape photographer in Grand Marais, MN, the county seat.

"It seemed like a way to stand in solidarity with our neighbours."

Cook County straddles the Canadian border, and is frequented by many from nearby Thunder Bay, Ont.

Hansel said the COVID-19 pandemic has led to travel advisories in the county, asking people to stay away. There are only a dozen or so beds at the local hospital, he said, which have no intensive care beds or ventilators.

He said it is quiet in the area, with most people from the Twin Cities staying away from their summer homes, yet he knows of some who have ventured into the area.

"I've also heard of people travelling from the Twin Cities coming up the shore for a day trip. So, they drive five hours to the Grand Marais area, hang out on the beach and drive five hours back."

"It certainly seems a little busier than I expected it to be."

Hansel said the state is under a stay at home order, and roads are much quieter than normal. However, state parks and hiking trails remain open, with some beaches along Lake Superior having numerous cars parked nearby, while people walk around.

However, as a landscape photographer, he said while he may go outdoors into the bush, the stay at home order means he will not take his camera with him for work purposes.

Other changes include the local grocery stores in Grand Marais not allowing customers into the store. All orders must be sent in by phone or e-mail, and picked up outside the building.

About the Author

Jeff Walters

Reporter/Editor

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.

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