Required for the epidemic, the border between Canada and the United States has been almost closed since March 2020. Quebec Paul-Maurice Padenat is an exception: his house actually covers both countries. For a year, the parcel depot beyond its small limit has not been empty.
“I’m in Quebec and New York State, look how beautiful it is! “This 82-year-old retiree laughs, one foot on either side of the black line that marks the boundary of the ground floor of the twenty-year-old building where he lived for 70 years.
In its “drop-off” store, dozens of packages await their owners on open shelves.
The three-story building, which held a bar until 1991, has two addresses, so there are two entrances: one in the south, in New York State, where packages provided by FedEx or UPS arrive. The other is in the north, in the Quebec city of Dundee, where 421 souls, Canadian customers come to collect their goods.
“Like me, between two habits, I believe this is unique,” Mr. Patenad says those places are owned by the AFP.
Thanks to an agreement between the two neighbors, in 1842 his house became one of the few to be cut in two by the border in Canada. According to him, such an act is only today.
The policy is simple: packages are delivered through the US portal, Mr. Badenot just makes them “cross the border”. Canadian customers take them to the Quebec side and take the diversion route through Canada Customs, next to home, to pay taxes.
By never crossing the Black Line, they escape within fifteen days of being charged to tourists from the United States since the land border closed in March 2020 for “essential” travel.
They avoid shipping costs to Canada, which are sometimes more expensive than packages. “Then some products are not delivered to Canada, you need a US address,” Octogenarian notes.
His small business, which was formed about ten years ago on the advice of a friend, had a thousand customers before the epidemic broke out.
“Last year, I still had 1,800 customers, and we almost tripled that,” said Mr. Dundee’s former mayor. Badenot mentions.
The depot, which is registered as Halfway House Freight Sharing in the United States, is run by his three children, he says: two live in the United States, the third in Quebec. The father lives on the upper floors and helps out five days a week.
The question of life or death
Most customers are from Quebec and the neighboring province of Ontario.
Richard Lachans arrives an hour’s drive west of Montreal. He comes to collect American football boots ordered for his son and his friends.
“I have a post office box in Plattsburgh (upstate New York), but with Covid, you can’t cross borders,” he explains.
By going through “halfway home,” he estimates he has saved about $ 200.
Mr. Badenot, he pays for his services at a low fee: on average two to 10 Canadian dollars per package. It varies according to size, weight “and especially my mood”, he says with a big smile.
But the recent arrival of new customers has “confused” him, except to make him happy, and he has “almost stopped everything”.
Before the mind changes.
“For some it’s a matter of life and death, I’m sick, I need drugs, there are things that can not be in Canada,” he says. “This service is satisfying to thousands of people, so I told myself: maybe we should continue a little bit.”
Above all, see the border reopen quickly, find the most sober pace, and go fishing often with his son.
“If you think it should be shut down to increase my clients, never, ever!” This is the lowest of my desires, ”he swears.