I’m typing this in one of my favourite places in the Milky Way Galaxy: The Haskell Free Library and Opera House in Derby Line, Vermont/Stanstead, Quebec.
(I used to say it was my fave place on the planet, but now that I’m back here and reminded how truly wonderful and special it is, I’ve given it a promotion.)
The building stands directly on the Canada/U.S. border. In fact, a thick piece of black tape runs across the maple floor of the 108-year-old library to mark the precise border line.
Not that Canadians and Americans can only stay on one side or the other, that’s the beauty of the place. If you enter on the Quebec side and leave the same way, you’ve never left Canada. Ditto for the Vermont side.
Once you walk through the heavy carved door, you enter a land of books without borders, a country of imagination, of words, of thoughts, ideas and stories, thousands of stories. Passport? You don’t even need a library card. They keep your name and address on file and when you borrow a book, you just sign the date in pencil for them. Very cool.
The U.N. could learn a lot from this little library about cross-border common-sense and practicality. In order to better serve patrons and maintain regular hours over this holiday week, the American staffers came to work on July 1st (Canada Day, a statutory holiday up north), while their Canadian colleagues agreed to work on July 4th.
Oh, and my good deed? I made a small donation to their building fund and left a note in their suggestion box to say “thank you” and “merci bien” for keeping such a special place going.
P.S. Here’s Neil Young singing an Ian Tyson song. Enjoy!