Alexandria Bay, NY State

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In 2005, when I had to leave Canada to validate my “landed immigrant” status, I discovered the U.S. border was only a 45-minute drive from Ottawa. Since then, going Alexandria Bay, one of the closest American towns, has become an annual tradition. I now have a Canadian passport and traveling to the U.S has never been easier. We are expert in border-crossing and have an answer to all the tricky immigration questions: “where are you from?” (Ottawa), “how do you know each other?” (long story but we are married), “are you carrying firearms?” (no, should we?) etc.

We usually cross the border at Prescott/Ogdensburg. Then we stop at the mall just off the International Bridge. A lot of basic items are slightly cheaper in the U.S. than in Canada—make-up, chocolate, cleaning products, health and beauty products… we fill a small bag and marvel at the tiny differences between the two sides of the Saint Lawrence River—wow, they have fudge cookies!

We monitor America’s economic recovery through Alexandria Bay. The last couple of years we went there, the town had seemed empty and lots of businesses went bankrupt in the main street. This time, we were happy to see a few new small businesses had opened, including a cute little coffee shop, and the place looks busier than before.

You can see the complete set of pictures taken in the U.S on Flickr.

Pirate T-shirts

The Star-Spangled Banner

By The Pub

Gift Shop

Main Lobster

So Green!

Growing By The House

Florida Coast Guard License Plate

US Coat of Arms

No Swimming Past This Point

Air Conditioning

Alexandria Bay Water Tower


Perry’s Ice Cream

One Way Church


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Hi Zhu,

    I don’t know why I found the border crossing comical( I guess you did too, if you are writing about it).

    You know that if only took a piddly road border and stupid questions, we would cross it often. Yes, and stock up on cheaper stuff, and I would do everything that my heart desires. But, I need a plane and to cross that big ocean out there.

    That flag is winking back and saying “time to come back” 🙂
    Your photographs bring back a lot of this down home feeling …


    • I wish continents were closer too, I could just jump in France, buy a few things and then go back to Canada where I enjoy living! Damn Atlantic Ocean! 😆

  2. I’ve noticed where I live that stores seem to be opening up and people seem to have money to spend. The morning drive seems slightly more crowded. Maybe we (US and Canada) are slowly coming back.

    • The way I “monitor” the economy recovery is certainly not scientific but I’m pretty positive that A. Bay looked more “alive” than the last time we were there.

  3. Ah, awesome pictures of small town America! When I see these photos, it makes me think that Buffalo is huge! And I love the Perry’s Ice Cream photo, apparently, ice cream is made with a stove!

    • The “ice cream shop” made me laugh. The stove, the tiny place… 😆 They had the actual store besides though, this is just a case of photographer being silly 😉

  4. The florida plates are probably snowbirds. They live down in Florida to escape the state taxes and enjoy the sun in winter, and come up north in the summer when it’s too hot down south to cheap northern properties. One of the benefits of living in a depressed area is that old people of (sometimes) limited means like to vacation where you live!
    It’s a really depressed area so it’s really cheap to live there.

    The Kentucky and Alaska plates are GIs from Fort Drum, I can almost guarantee that. Southerners don’t go to upstate NY unless it’s a church trip. They are most certainly soldiers who were recently tranferred. A lot of young GIs keep their cars on their parents insurance (it’s cheaper), even though they’re supposed to get registered in NY.

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