Strange Maps: Beebe Plain, Vermont, no, Quebec, uh …

March 3, 2009

Can you imagine crossing the street into another country just to ask for sugar? That’s what neighbors along a street in Beebe Plain, VT / Quebec can do!  The USA / Canada border literally runs along Canusa Avenue and splits a small village named Beebe Plain in two.

Residents along the south side of Canusa Avenue (get the pun in the name?  HA!) live in the USA, while residents of the north side live in Canada.  Doesn’t look like one needs to go through an International checkpoint just to cross the street, although I wonder if there’s one just south of the village.

According to the Wikipedia entry of the Quebec side, Canusa Avenue lies entirely in Canada, and the border runs through the front lawns of the houses along the south side.  So, these houses are in the USA and most of their driveways are in Canada.

The border even runs through a tool-and-die factory and at least one house.  Imagine cooking a meal in one country, walking down the hall, and serving it in another country!  Let’s hope that family doesn’t need to go through an International checkpoint just to get something from upstairs.

(Thanks to commentator Anman for this gem!)

20 Responses to “Strange Maps: Beebe Plain, Vermont, no, Quebec, uh …”

  1. Sheila Says:

    Wonder how the border crossing business and resident pay taxes? ;- )

  2. Presumably language is an issue too? Though the fact the Canadian side of the border has such English names as “Rue Rock of Ages” suggests that in this part of Quebec maybe English is the predominant language. Anyone know?

  3. Edna Carrico Says:

    this sounds like near where I live with the Ohio/Indiana border.. for a number of years they were on differnt times come summer.. if you wanted to shop later you went to Indiana cause the stores were open another hour.. Really funny when I worked at the doctors office and the patients would ask.. is that the time on my kitchen clock or my living room clock? and I would tell them to come by the one that told the time that they had on the one that said the time I told them to use..they were refurred to as fast and slow time.. Ohio being fast and Indiana being slow time..

  4. Wonderin' Says:

    I suspect that all the medical clinics in the area are on the Canadian side as the US system is too costly for residents.

  5. Manu Says:

    I’ve read a lot of stories about these border towns, so now I’m planning a visit there for next weekend. I grew up in a border town located between 2 European Union Countries. Of course no inspection or report was necessary to cross the street, even on the main highway, we were free to cross anytime (the only requirement was having a valid ID just in case), but I always wondered what was the procedure in the past, before the European Community.

    Living in Canada, my plan for next weekend is to enter Beebe Plain, QC from the North on Route 247 and continue to the South on Rue Principale. Then turn left on Rue Canusa Avenue (sounds like an Ottawa bilingual street name) to go to Rock Island, QC. I think I’ll never leave Canada in doing so since most of the comments I’ve read place the border right south of the street and not in the centre (not center then) or North of it. On official maps, the road is considered as the continuation of Quebec Route 247 and it’s turning left (North) to Canada when the binational residential area ends. So no need to report as long as I don’t visit anyone living South of the road. But if I do so, I think the right procedure for a car or a bike would be to report to US Custom first, then back to the Canadian one before going into Canusa. Technically, a pedestrian shouldn’t have to go back to the Canadian custom before going to a US home, since they can walk on the US grass side of the road without going back to Canada. But pictures show a secure sidewalk on the Canadian side, surely a safer option.

    Once in Rock Island, I just have to be careful not to cross the border by mistake, since at least 3 streets without Custom agent (but full of hidden cameras) are cut by the international line. I’ve read recent stories about possible remote-controlled gates blocking these streets. Not sure if they are already built. Rue Church, where the binational Library stands will stay open for sure, otherwise it will cut access to the library for the Canadians.

    Being used to cross European borders without any control, I hope this trip will be a pleasant experience. I’ll write about it here next week.

  6. proudgeek Says:

    Manu – oh definitely keep us updated! Many thanks!

  7. Todd Hilgert Says:

    I would imagine there is not much of a customs issue in these places. Canada has more of a threat of U.S. citizens coming across to utilize healthcare within Canada. i think it would be cool to leave in a place like that. You’d learn french and english and get good healthcare and still be a u.s. citizen.

  8. realfrombeebeplain Says:

    well, I’m interested in hearing about everyone’s trip to Canusa Avenue or Beebe Plain or Beebe Quebec. I can’t say that anything I have read and found during my research has been 100% accurate and it will continue to tell an untrue story because it is the only international landport in the world without a documented border.

  9. serge fournier Says:

    It use to be so easy to cross the border, and by the way cutoms peoples used to be courteous…now it is a different story and it is no fun anymore to go in Vt so needless to say I’m restricting my crossing in the USA when I leave for Florida during the cold months.Remember the time when a special permit at the customs house(US)would enable a Canadian citizen to go in Newport on the lake without have to stop.

  10. Dr Frankenstein Says:

    From what I know, the town’s local library and opera house is split in two by the border. Only a handful of this town’s streets aren’t blocked, and it IS causing problems, as both border agencies want them blocked, potentially forcing residents to take a looooong detour just to travel around in their own town. I’ve also heard about border patrol agents bullying residents (as far as seizing cars) as they drive across the town to see friends, but I can’t confirm that.

    I agree with commenter Serge Fournier… It has become a serious hassle to cross a border that is otherwise less than a hundred kilometres from my home; at least compared to what it was just twelve years ago. I now need a passport to go see some of my friends.

  11. Jay Says:

    I lived in Stanstead as a child and still have family there. Canusa is one fascinating oddity of an otherwise dull town. Another interesting thing about this area is that granite is everywhere. Stanstead is a bigtime granite mining area and the town embraces it. Granite buildings, walkways, steps, and even public benches. I had to go back there for my grandmother’s funeral a few years back and took my family. They wanted to drive down Canusa and sure enough, I hadn’t been there in years and accidentally ended up in the US. It’s funny because waving flags on your house is common around there so all of the sudden, I noticed US flags and green license plates all over. Ooops. Being afraid of a hidden camera catching my crossing, I had to double back and go through customs explaining what had happened. No harm no foul and the customs office was good about it, but an amusing tale none the less.

  12. Ellen Says:

    I grew up in Beebe, Quebec and lived at 1 Canusa, right next door to the Canadian Customs. Back then (I haven’t lived there since 1963) we kids used to run across the border all the time to play with friends. My best friend lived in Vermont two houses away from the US Customs. I used to go to the Haskell Free Library regularly, which is placed right on the border. My great-aunt lived in the house situated on the border in Beebe, but her apartment was in Canada. We all grew up thinking this was so normal – and now, jsut the thought of crossing the border is frightening. It was a very different way of living there back then – I have only been back once since my mother died in 1988 and only for a few hours, so I can’t really say what it is like now. ALso, someone mentioned the language – there it’s probably about 50/50 English and French. The granite industry there imported a lot of Scottish granite workers from Aberdeenshire long ago and in any case, the Eastern Townships does have a large number of English-speaking people.

  13. A. Kaleem Qureshi Says:

    A recent video clip of a drive through Rue Canusa (25 June 2011) or search for Rue Canusa in You Tube. I may post a couple more videos soon. The border is a fascinating aspect of these towns (Derby Line, Rock Island, Beebe Plain). You get conflicting descriptions of exactly where the border is located – whether in the middle of Rue Canusa or through the driveways of the houses on the south side, which are unquestionably located in the U.S. Driving through in either direction does not require reporting to either Customs post – we did on 24 and 25 June 2011. Only Church Street by the Haskell Library is open – it is in fact used by Canada bound traffic from Caswell Avenue. The other two cross-border streets now have gates on them and are no longer open to vehicular or pedestrian traffic. We saw US border patrol vehicles at all times stationed on Church by the library.

  14. J. Richard Wright Says:

    coming out of Labrador, I spent a year in Beebe around 1958/59 to do my Quebec Grade seven Government exams at Our lady of Mercy School grade school in Stanstead. Sister Alice of the Immaculate was my home room teacher – a wonderful lady. My Uncle Benoit Lapierre was the Immigration Officer is Charge in Stanstead. I used to hitch-hike from Beebe to the Haskell Free Library every Saturday and we regularly went to Derby Line and Newport for custard cones and bowling and drive-ins without hassle. However, I went back ten years ago and crossed at Derby Line and was interrogated as to why I was crossing there rather than on the highway. This border stuff had spawned a whole new industry in the USA with a huge budget thanks to 9/11 and I can’t see that budget being let go any time soon. When Janet Neopolitano took over as Home Security Czar seven or eight years after 9/11 she mentioned the 9/11 terrorists coming through Canada as a reason for the strict border measures. It boggles the mind that someone at her level would be so misinformed. I find it hard to believe that she was and therefore believe she stretched the truth to justify her actions. We have always been their best friends and always will be. But they have to justify that budget somehow so we all become potential villains. However, I have to say I live on the border now in Niagara-on-the-Lake and cross five times a week and never met an unfriendly or unreasonable US Border Patrol person. Of course we treat every crossing as a privilege – not a right. And we always are honest and open. I think people run into trouble when they are disrespectful or evasive, and so they should. We love the USA and its people and it probably shows.

    Back to Beebe….Also, though we lived in Beebe, my cousins went to High School at Sacred Heart in Newport. I credit the library with fostering my love of reading and hence writing as I have authored 52 TV and radio dramas. My first novel – Hellspawn – due out likely on Amazon for Kindle will be out, I hope, early next year and contains my heroine as having grown up in Beebe and mentions her friends Sandra Couture, Janie Steward, Anne and Ronnie Langevin (the latter two living on Canusa.) I also remember the Bouchard brothers all good friends. And, yes we used to be waved through at the border. Beebe is the quintessential perfect small town. I hope it is better repair than when I saw it last as when Butterfield’s tool company closed, there were no more area jobs and so many young people left..

  15. Pamela Ruigh Says:

    I’m afraid the “good old days” ceased after 9-11. The US Gov poured millions of bucks into “Operation Stone Garden” to protect the US Canada border. If you cross any street from VT to Canada you can be fined $5000. You must go to the specified border checkpoint and show your passport to enter Canada and vice versa.

  16. Katie Says:

    I spent my summer vacations for 20 years in Beebe…..actually, at Lake Memphremagog. After 9-11, things really changed. Going through customs was harder (it was not always easy before, depending who the agent was at the time of crossing). My mom sold the family cottage, which her grandfather had built in 1940. I would give anything to have that cottage on the Vermont side of the lake. Great childhood memories!

  17. Etienne Says:

    Yes, crossing the border is not funny anymore. I did it near Venise-en-Quebec with some German friends: it reminded them crossing into Czechoslovakia during the Iron Curtain days!

    The rule now for both Canadians and Americans (unless you are dual like my kids) is to remember that it is a priviledge not a right. Never interfer with the border guard’s right to ask silly questions. They have their ways. I was asked once if I liked “faults”! I told the USA dude that I was living in California and working in Japan. If you guys do not see the point of the question, then you are not from Japan/California!

    BTW That region of Quebec was (still is) full of Loyalists: people who escaped the USA to stay loyal to the Crown. So there are a lot of English speaking folks. Most rustic areas of Quebec are 99% white and French.

  18. Olivier Says:

    I was born and raised in the Eastern Townships in Québec. I’ve been on Canusa street a few times and it’s cousin, Chemin de la Frontière near Richford, pre and post 2001. Both are interesting border drives. Chemin the la Frontière is in the middle of farmland but Canusa is right in a village, which makes the scenery unique. It’s probably the easiest way for Canadians to have somewhat a glimpse of a Vermont town without actually crossing the border. However, for people coming from the U.S., you’ll probably need to go through Canadian customs first unless, maybe, you do a u-turn right before Canusa turns north to leave the border (but I wouldn’t take my chances). The Haskell Library is also a noteworthy stop in Rock Island, although crossing the border by foot there just for kicks is no joking material anymore – don’t do it. It used to be really easy to do it by mistake some time ago, but unless you’re blind there’s no valid reason to cross inadvertently nowadays. Up to the late 80s, some backroads in this area weren’t blocked and there were signs asking you to telephone customs at your earliest convenience when you went through the border. Times sure have changed. For those who dislike going through customs, I’d say I’ve never had any problems besides the occasional stiff agent but maybe I’ve been lucky up until now.

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