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The Quebec-Vermont Border: Life on the Line

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larger_cover.jpg"From Ottawa or Washington this international community is something that can not possibly exist officially. But it does still exist at the community and personal level. Our fire departments […] stand ready at all times to assist one another. Our churches and service clubs see no border when someone is in need. We all have friends and relatives on both sides of the border and few of us ever think of the other as a Vermonter or a Quebecer. This is as it should be, and how it can be if we can keep the bureaucrats out of our lives."
--Lloyd Bliss, Editor, The Stanstead Journal, 1977.

So begins the preface to chapter 1 of a new book by Arcadia Publishing of New Hampshire. The title of the book is The Vermont-Quebec Border: Life on the Line, Arcadia’s latest release in its popular "Images of America" series. Introduced in 1993, this series spotlights the history of local communities all across the United States. Each book in the series contains over 200 rare early photographs, many of them never before published. These images, and the texts that accompany them, bring to life the places and events described in each volume.

The Vermont-Quebec Border: Life on the Line, by Matthew Farfan, is a visual record of life in the villages, towns, and countryside in a unique and special part of the world – the region that spans the imaginary line separating Quebec from Vermont. Never before has a book in this series been devoted specifically to the international border.

This book is timely. In recent years, issues relating to the border have been thrust to the forefront as never before. This is due not only to growing security concerns but also to an increasing scrutiny in the media of border issues and of how heightened security is impacting life in communities all along the border. The border has played an important role in the history and the everyday lives of people living along its length – in communities in both Vermont and Quebec, and it will undoubtedly continue to shape these communities in the years to come.

The Vermont-Quebec Border: Life on the Line includes images from both northern Vermont and the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Many of the photographs in this book are taken directly on the border, with a view of both sides of the line. The author offers insights on a wide range of issues, including customs and immigration, security, smuggling, dual citizenship, cross-border trade, international friendship and cooperation, and much more.

The book also features excerpts from interviews with longtime border residents and other figures connected with this part of the world. While the focus of the book is on the past, clearly there is a message here: modern security concerns should not be allowed to destroy the unique international community that has evolved along this 145-km (90-mile) stretch of the Canada-U.S. border. Or, as the Derby Line - Stanstead Joint Municipal Committee on Border Issues stated in 2007 (as quoted in the introduction to the book): “We are proud of the spirit that exists here on the border, and we do not accept to be penalized for a simple accident of geography which, for us, is all that the border really is.”

Matthew Farfan is a writer, editor, translator, heritage consultant, and collector of early photographs. He is the author of several books, including The Eastern Townships: In Town and Village (2006) and The Eastern Townships: On Lake and River (2008). He lives – not far from the Vermont border – in Stanstead, Quebec.

The Vermont-Quebec Border: Life on the Line is 128 pages and available in softcover format. It is for sale at bookstores and other retailers all across northern Vermont. In Canada, autographed copies are available directly from the author at: Matthew Farfan, 531 Dufferin, Stanstead, Quebec, J0B 3E0. The book sells for $27.00 Canadian, plus shipping ($11.00 to Quebec or Ontario; $14.00 to Western Canada; and $15.50 to Atlantic Canada).

For more information, call (819) 876-5047, or email: mf@qahn.org.