How border restrictions kept U.S. communities in trouble and surrounded by Canada


An idyllic community with towering pine trees and seaside views feels like a unique nature reserve on the West Coast, with a small number of people living in it, who regularly cross the Canada-US border in search of love, livelihoods and daily life.

Now their migration model has been disrupted. After 16 months of restrictions on travel between Canada and the United States, residents of Cape Roberts, Washington, seem to have had enough.

This place is an ideal place to measure the emotions of the people living in the crisscross of the international border, thanks to the unusual geographical environment, which makes these people unusually concentrated here.

Imagine a severed appendage in the United States, glued to Canada’s buttocks-this is the place. If there were no international borders, this would be the tip of the peninsula on the outskirts of Vancouver; on the contrary, it would be a quiet American resort.

The residents of this verdant sea resort wait month after month for the end of the border restrictions that keep them imprisoned in paradise.

The international border divides the peninsula in two, turning what was once a suburb of metropolitan Vancouver into a secluded Washington State resort separate from the continental United States. (Alison Cake/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

There is no pharmacy in this place. The nearest one is across from Roosevelt Road in British Columbia. Residents habitually cross the border to get medicines; to see a doctor; even in some cases to see their spouses, because some couples separate their houses for work or citizenship reasons.

This is a close-knit community of the two countries. Residents did something very unusual on July 4th: dozens of people went to the border to protest, crossed the border to shake hands with Canadian friends, and joined O Canada on Independence Day.

On July 4, people protested at the border, shaking hands with friends on the Canadian side, waving American and Canadian flags with their left hands, singing O Canada, and hanging protest slogans. (Alexander Panetta/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

The gas station here lists Canadian prices in liters. Businesses rely on Canadians because the local population of 800 people will increase fivefold during the summer weekend, when tourists will come here from Vancouver.

These companies are now being eliminated; some of the companies that have closed their doors and survived said that as their revenues evaporate, they can hardly hold on. The main source of food in the community-the only grocery store-is facing the threat of closure.

The Canadian summer houses were empty; some were covered by vines.

Take care of the empty house

In the absence of Canadians, a pair of retired siblings are taking care of these properties. Jeanette Meursing and her sister take care of 16 empty houses and spend more than 20 hours a week tidying lawns and gardens. In most cases, they do it for friends for free.

“To be honest, I believe these people, if I need them, if I am sick or my husband is sick, I need help, they will help me there,” Mosin said in an interview.

“I think no one will say,’I don’t have time to be with you.'”

Her sister Diane Thomas said she found happiness in the process and shared a dark story to explain her always sunny character.

She was shot in the face when she was a baby. A child found an old, rusty 0.22 caliber rifle on a construction site in her hometown of South Dakota.

Retired American sisters Diane Thomas (left) and Janet Mercing spend 20 hours a week taking care of the yard of a Canadian friend who cannot go to their vacation home in Cape Roberts, Washington. (Alexander Panetta/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

It doesn’t seem to work. Eventually, when it exploded unexpectedly, she was in a ballistic trajectory, and the bullet passed through the back of her head from her mouth.

Since then, there has been an unstable bullet near her brainstem, and she said she reminded herself every day that her life was a miraculous gift.

So she is here now, 72 years old, raking the ground in a yard surrounded by towering pine trees, expressing gratitude for being with her sister, being safe, in a community with few COVID-19 cases and high vaccination rates.

“We had a great time,” Thomas said.

How cartography freaks were born

Border restrictions mean that Canadians cannot drive; Americans cannot drive without necessary travel reasons, and the definition of necessary travel depends on the interpretation of border guards.

Without the twice-weekly walking ferry to take them to mainland Washington State, without a car, they would not even be able to enter the rest of their country.

Right: Vancouver suburbs, full of millions of dollars worth of houses. Left: The secluded American resort of Cape Roberts, where house prices are one-fifth of those of its Canadian neighbors. (Ben Nilms/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

This cartographic deviation is caused by the United States and Britain transaction In 1846, when there were no permanent settlements in the area, the boundary was drawn across the 49-degree line.

The conversation with the Canadian Border Guard made some residents angry at the unclear and arbitrary application of the rules.

The locals even gossip about which border defense is the strictest.

Nature began to spread to some vacant houses, and Canadians could not enter their summer houses for more than a year. (Alexander Panetta/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Medical emergency: at the discretion of the guard

Pamela Robertson (Pamela Robertson) tells how the guards dealt with her medical emergency.

When the pandemic hit, she had just completed part of the root canal treatment with a Canadian dentist. For months, this procedure has not been resolved. Then her gums became infected. Her face began to swell up, and one cheek was like a red billiard ball.

She was denied entry into Canada twice and asked a guard what she needed to pass.

“They looked into my eyes and said,’You must die,'” she said in an interview. I said, “I think I’m dying.” …

“They still won’t let me pass.”

Pamela Robertson had to pull out two teeth after a severe infection. In 2020, Canadian border agents prevented her from entering the dentist twice. (Alexander Panetta/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Finally, she made a third attempt. But before she went to the dentist, she was ordered to be quarantined for 14 days. She said she had a fever and was dizzy on the last day. In the end, she underwent surgery and had to pull out two teeth.

“I lost two teeth,” she said, “because of… the new crown pneumonia and Canadian stupid regulations.”

Another local man was diagnosed with glaucoma.

Brian Calder, 80, said his Canadian doctor warned that if he does not undergo surgery, his left eye may lose sight in 6 to 12 months.

By March, he was fully vaccinated and, on the day of surgery, he drove to the border with medical records.

“with [the guard] ‘” Calder said. “I said,’Well, what is essential? ‘ [He replies]:’You must die. ‘”

He is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States.

Calder said the guard told him that as a Canadian, he cannot be denied entry into Canada, but if he tries to drive to the doctor, he will be fined $3,000, forced to stay in a hotel, and must pay for two weeks of quarantine.

Brian Calder tells the story of how a Canadian border guard refused to let him pass regular glaucoma surgery that he deemed unnecessary. (Alexander Panetta/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

He finally found a new doctor in the United States and arranged an appointment in the United States. If residents drive directly through Canada without stopping, they can drive there to deal with emergency medical situations.

“It’s inhumane,” Calder said of the situation on the border. “This is discipline. This is bullying.”

Fortunately, emergency services are allowed to pass. The local fire department relies on Canadians, and of its 48 firefighters, Canadians account for two-thirds.

Most local firefighters are from Canada. They include Phil Henning of Vancouver, who was seen here on July 4, 2021. (Alexander Panetta/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

The fire chief is worried about this year’s brutal forest fire season.

He also worries about something more intangible: frayed relationships. He said his community members missed the death and funeral of their loved ones.

Impact on the family

“I believe we have lost part of our humanity [during this pandemic] In the whole world,” Christopher Carlton said.

“Sternness and lack of sympathy for people in certain situations—such as family deaths—should not happen.”

The chief plays a different role in a town without a mayor; in fact, it is not even a real town, but an unincorporated subsidiary in Watercombe County, Washington.

On Tuesday, a Canadian family (right) visits Americans near a border crossing at Roberts Point Memorial Park in Washington State. (Ben Nilms/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Carlton carried out a local COVID vaccination campaign and 85% of residents were vaccinated.

A fully vaccinated person is desperate to see her family in Canada. Brian’s wife Marlene Calder spent a precious year with her 94-year-old mother.

Her mother’s memory is declining. She hopes to be able to go a few days a week to help her mother and relieve the burden of her sisters.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “Not being in contact with them will be exhausting emotionally and mentally. Not going to see them.”

Canada’s initial relaxation of travel rules did not help most people here. But it will help Marlene Calder to visit her mother. (Alexander Panetta/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

She is one of the few who will benefit from the new travel rules that take effect this week.

Canada stated that people who are already eligible for entry can now avoid isolation if they are fully vaccinated and tested; this will allow Calder, a dual citizen, to check her mother regularly.

The company is bleeding

Leisure travel is still banned, which means more pain for businesses that rely on tourism, which means that most of them are in Roberts Point.

A local businessman said that he is using his life savings and spending millions to build a bar, gas station and UPS facility to serve Canadian tourists.

“I can hardly pay for utilities,” said 76-year-old Fred Pakzad. He hopes that government officials can visit this place to see the impact of the long-term closure.

The last two July 4th holidays in Roberts Harbor, Washington, were relatively quiet, with no Canadian summer visitors. But the town still hosts lively fireworks displays for residents throughout the year. (Alexander Panetta/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News)

A restaurateur has a distinguished career, owning a restaurant in New York and a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York France Get closer to your family before you settle here.

Now Tamra Hansen says that the only reason she can survive is that she cooks by herself without getting a salary. Now she lives on credit and her income has dropped by 90%.

Hansen said she feels that the pandemic reveals the lack of empathy for people in the United States and Canada in different ways.

“I think this has brought the worst situation in both countries,” she said.

But she has reason to be happy on the weekend of July 4th: her mother just arrived from Kelowna, British Columbia

Tamra Hansen has a long international career in the restaurant industry. Now, she is working hard to maintain the operations of her Point Roberts coffee shop, and revenue has dropped by 90%. (Ben Nilms/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

A trip that usually takes several hours takes two days. It needs to travel to Vancouver for a COVID-19 test, then travel to a small regional airport, and then fly over the border to Bellingham, Washington—flights are still allowed.

Then she took the ferry to Cape Roberts. Finally, she sat in her daughter’s cafe. Under normal circumstances, it is only an hour’s drive south of Vancouver.



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