The Incredible Complications of Living Atop the U.S.-Canada Border

Life is weird when you live near an international border. Estcourt Station is a small village that’s technically in the U.S. in north Maine. But the road that takes you there comes from Canada. Any public services that don’t come from Canada are incredibly hard to obtain. In fact, Estcourt Station, Maine, butts up against Pohénégamook, Quebec, and you’d never know the two villages were at all separate if it weren’t for the customs officials.

Looming somewhere past a pizza place is the international border line, where Pohénégamook becomes Estcourt Station. But even after entering the American side through a checkpoint, it can be confusing to know which country you are actually in at any given moment. The border is a generally invisible boundary that indiscriminately hopscotches through gardens (a resident’s potato plants might be in Maine, while their radishes are in Quebec), runs through kitchens and across back porches.

Adding to the confusion in Estcourt Station is the fact that cottages on the U.S. side, along with the local Gulf Gas Station, all have 418 Quebec area codes and receive their electricity from Hydro-Québec. These American homes are the only ones in the country to have Canadian area codes. There aren’t many of them, either: the last U.S. census lists the total population on the Maine side as four people. According to a representative of the U.S. Postal Service, mail is delivered to three addresses there twice a week.  

There are a few homes in which the border runs through the house, and the residents must abide by some bizarre regulations, such as paying property tax in both countries, and knowing which police department to call depending on which room a crime occurred in. The border crossing shuts down on the weekend, so anyone on the U.S. side must make sure they have enough groceries to last until Monday. Read about the complex reality of Estcourt Station at Atlas Obscura. 

(Image credit: Mrgriscom)

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