The decision by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to open and inspect mail on its way to Campobello Island is ridiculous and offensive.

Campobello is in New Brunswick but has ferry service to Canada’s mainland only in the summer. For the rest of the year they have to drive across the bridge into Lubec on our side of the border and travel through Maine to get back into their country — and to access a supermarket, bank, hospital, or movie theater. And their mail comes through Maine.

Throughout my life I’ve considered Campobello part of Maine. My mom grew up in Lubec and my grandfather was from Campobello. When I was a kid, I’d take a ferry to cross the channel to Campobello, but now there’s a bridge.

 My great grandfather was the keeper at Lubec’s West Quoddy Head lighthouse for 30 years. One of my uncles was born in the lighthouse.

I have spent time there every year of my life, and lately, I’ve been sending lots of people to this fabulous place on vacations.

My wifre Linda and I love Campobello and Lubec. For many years we have stayed at An Island Chalet, which has five nice cabins right on the ocean on Campobello. And we wrote quite a few travel columns about Lubec and Campobello during the seven years that we wrote them for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel.

When I was a kid, Lubec was booming, with a couple dozen sardine packing plants and a  big department store on Main Street. We often visited Franklin Roosevelt’s 34-room estate on Campobello which today includes a 2,000-acre international park with beautiful beaches. And Lubec offers lots of wonderful hiking trails, including one spectacular trail at the lighthouse.

Sadly, Lubec’s high school closed and even their nursing home closed. They’re busy with tourists in July and August but almost nothing is open during the winter. And Campobello has been struggling as well.

Before Lubec’s high school closed, I suggested that they should combine their schools with those on Campobello. An international high school would have been fantastic. Today there are very few kids in Campobello schools as well as Lubec’s elementary school.

Brett Newman, Campobello’s mayor, said, “I wouldn’t trade living in Campobello for any other place in the world, and think Maine makes a terrific neighbor. But it would be nice to know our residents receive their daily mail with the same level of privacy as each and every other Canadian.” I certainly agree and can’t understand why we’re opening and inspecting their mail.

We never had any problems going through customs to access Campobello or return to Lubec, although our son was held up once because they were looking for someone with his name. But they quickly fixed things so for the rest of our visit he had no trouble going back and forth between Lubec and Campobello.

There’s even an international marathon that starts at West Quoddy, crosses the bridge, and goes to the East Quoddy lighthouse on Campobello before returning to the finish line on Lubec’s Main Street. Seems like if we can let all those runners go from Lubec to Campobello and back without stopping at customs, we could let the good folks on Campobello get their mail without having it opened and inspected.

Our favorite Lubec restaurant is Frank’s Dockside and we also enjoy the local brewery. And the South Lubec sand beach is the best place to see migrating shorebirds in Maine. For several years Linda and I rented a house right by the beach in August to see those birds. And we have several favorite hiking trails between South Lubec and Cutler.

In late June this year, our kids and grandkids joined us for a wonderful few days in Lubec and Campobello. We spent most of one day on two favorite beaches in Campobello’s international park and saw only one other couple the entire day. That was amazing.

And of course we always visit the West Quoddy lighthouse which includes a museum with a photo of my grandparents, and another one of my mom when she was maybe 12 years old with her extended family, plus a memorial to my relative David who once worked at the lighthouse.

I encourage you in 2020 to make at least one visit to Lubec and Campobello. And I promise, you will never forget that visit. Just don’t bring your mail.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.


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