More than 20 years after the attacks on Nine Eleven, Sutton and Abercorn residents long for the friendly border that cemented relations during the past two centuries between their communities and those in northern Vermont.
The border today is still under tight surveillance; drones fly over the areas near the line, armed guards patrol; you have to show your passport to cross; and during the COVID 19 pandemic, you also needed proof of vaccination.
With lower taxes on many items on the American side (such as gasoline, liquor and cigarettes), the temptation to stock up in Richford remains strong. According to Denise Potvin, however, people tend to buy more online these days … and have their goods delivered to a Richford address.
“We pick them up at Pinnacle Parcels in Richford. You order something and you pick it up there. It’s a store specially designed to receive and store packages that people from Québec order, and then you bring them back across the border, legally now.”
Border guards’ main concerns at the start of the 21st century are hunting terrorists, arms trafficking and hard drugs.
Because Sutton is far away from major centers, few refugee claimants seek entry at the East Richford, Abercorn or East Pinnacle customs posts.
The times we’re living through have had more than their fare share of turmoil, however, and from time immemorial rich countries considered safe havens have always attracted people fleeing dictatorships and hardship. The border history of Sutton Township reminds us that escaped slaves and conscripts on the run have always found refuge here.
Down through the years Sutton has welcomed people of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Faithful to this tradition of welcoming and intermingling, the Sutton community remains open, ready to share its serenity and magnificent landscapes. We should always be mindful that recent history shows how, for some, the border remains a path to freedom.