Derby Line, Vermont: Stand in Two Countries At the Same Time

The scenic Northeast Kingdom of Vermont is full of backroads surprises, like the Haskell Free Library and Opera House in Derby Line. It straddles the U.S./Canada border, so you can actually stand in two countries at the same time!

Nowadays, all buildings in Derby Line must be at least 20 feet from the border. But when this Victorian structure (above right) was constructed in 1901 by Martha Stewart Haskell, building on the border was not only legal, but profitable.

You see, Martha operated a general store in the building, and customers could avoid paying duty on their purchases in either country.

A black line marking the border runs through the building; I took a photo of my husband standing in both countries. We were told that 40% of the building is in Derby Line and 60% is in Stanstead, Quebec.

A tour of the library and opera house is a real treat. The library includes more than 20,000 books in English and French and is decorated with carved fireplaces, stained glass windows and beautiful woodwork. The opera house, which hosts concerts, plays and other performances, seats 400.

Derby Line is along I-91 and Stanstead is on Canadian Autoroute 55. The library is open year-round Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The opera house season generally runs from May to mid-October; call ahead for a schedule of performances.

Guided tours of the building are available from mid-June through August. A donation of $2 per person is suggested.

For more details call the library at 1-802-873-3022 or the opera house at 1-819-876-2020.

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