Stanstead is an incorporated municipality that comprises the three villages of Beebe Plain, Rock Island and Stanstead in the Eastern Townships of Quebec in Canada. The villages are notable primarily for being divided by the international boundary with the U.S. (part of Beebe is in Derby Line, Vermont, and part in Stanstead, Québec). The border splits a street ( CanUsa Street), a former tool-and-die factory (Butterfield's, Rock Island), a famous library and opera house (Haskell's) and a number of old houses right down the centre or center.
- For Stansted Airport, see London Stansted Airport.
While the Canadian portion of these villages is majority francophone, this was historically United Empire Loyalist country and many of the original settlers therefore were English-speaking. It is common to hear both languages in use on the Canadian side. The same is not true in the US, even while in the same town.
The proximity of this region to the border (which divides the villages) meant that, before the tightened restrictions imposed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, it was not uncommon for Canadian residents to make many small grocery or department store purchases in Newport (Vermont) as the closest town. While in a foreign country, Newport is geographically closer than Magog or Sherbrooke.
It is possible to make a local international telephone call between Beebe Plain (Rock Island, +1-819-876-) in Canada and Beebe Plain (Derby Line, +1-802-873-) in the US. Anything further into foreign territory is long distance.
- Centre Infotouriste de Stanstead, Halte routière, autoroute 55 N (Access via Interstate 91 in Vermont), ☏ , toll-free: . 20 May-20 Jun: daily 09:00-17:00; 21 Jun-31 Aug: daily 09:00-19:00; 1 Sep-11 Oct: daily 09:00-17:00.
For Americans wanting to get into Canada quickly, the Derby Line/Stanstead crossing is ideal. The wait at the border is much less than that at the major border station down by the highway. But don't be fooled by the absence of physical barriers running through the border. In fact, one street has some houses on the American side (Derby Line, Vermont) and the rest on the Canadian side (Stanstead). Don't cross Canusa street to visit your friend who lives right across you; you need to report to border agents (with valid passports and visas) before having a meal with them. Crossing the street without proper inspection into either side can put you in serious trouble with the authorities of the country you are trying to enter.
The lone exception is visiting the bi-national Haskell Free Library and opera house (purposely built to straddle the border). You must enter through the door on the American side (the back door is locked anyway). Once you exit the building, you must immediately return to the country you entered from.
As these are small villages, there is no public transit on either side. A car (une auto) would therefore be the most obvious option; there is also a cycling trail on what had been an international rail line before the railway tracks were removed in the 1990s.
- Colby-Curtis Museum (Stanstead Historical Society), 535 Dufferin, Stanstead, ☏ , fax: . Summer: daily 10:00-17:00; winter: M-F 13:00-17:00. Carrollcroft, Charles Carroll Colby's 1859 classic revival style granite villa house, houses original furnishings and historical artefacts of the era. $5/person.
- Granit Central, 14, boul. Notre-Dame Ouest, Rock Island, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Museum devoted to the 160-year history of Stanstead Grey Granite, including the architecturally-notable buildings which used the stone. A second museum on-site claims the largest HO-scale Lionel miniature model train museum collection in Canada. $6/person (one museum) $10 for both.
- 1 Haskell Free Library and Opera House, 1 Church Street, Rock Island (93 Caswell Avenue, Derby Line, Vermont), ☏ , . Library: Tu-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-2PM. International library established by American sawmill owner Carlos Haskell and his Canadian wife Martha Stewart Haskell. The library has an English and French collection of more than 20,000 books; a black line across the library floor denotes the international border. The opera has most of its audience seats on the American side, and the stage is on the Canadian side. The building is registered as a historical site in both countries. There is no charge to borrow materials, no membership fees, but payment may be required to watch opera performances.
- Tomifobia Nature Trail, Route 141 Ayer’s Cliff to Route 247 Beebe. Bicycle and pedestrian trail on a 19-km (12-mile) segment of a former rail line (abandoned 1993) which once led to Newport (Vermont). No horses or motorised vehicles. Bicycles may be rented at Vélo Ayer’s Cliff (1191 Main, Ayer’s Cliff, +1 819-838-5240). Another segment of this line (a former spur from Beebe Junction east to Stanstead village) is open as the Piste Cyclable de Stanstead. A portion of the former line between Beebe's rue Principale (Québec Route 247) and North Derby Road (US) is no longer open, forcing cyclists onto Beebe's main street. In the US, 10 miles (16 km) from Beebe to Waterfront Park (Main St, US 5) Newport are open as the Newport Bike Path.
- Club de golf Dufferin Heights, 4113 route #143, ☏ , toll-free: . Semi-private 18-hole golf course, clubhouse open seasonally.
- Stanstead Local Market, on Stanstead College campus. summer Sundays 10:00-12:30. Farmer-style market with foods, baked goods and handicrafts.
- Domaine Félibre, 740 chemin Bean, Barnston-Ouest (13 km ENE of Stanstead village), ☏ , fax: . Country winery; spirits and cider manufactured on-site.
- Domaine les Boisés Lee Farm, 20, rue Notre Dame Ouest, Rock Island, ☏ , fax: . Bed and breakfast inn with seasonal restaurant on three hectares near Tomifobia River in Rock Island village, outdoor pool and spa. $90-120/night.
- Sherbrooke is the largest city in the region
- Magog is winery and downhill ski country. This is a good area for horseback riding or viewing the fall colours.
- Derby Line and Newport are small-town but local. (They are, however, foreign. Bring your passport.)
|Routes through Stanstead|
|Sherbrooke ← Magog ←||N S||→ Newport → Saint Johnsbury|