A border, not a barrier

A border, not a barrier

With lives that criss-cross the U.S.-Canadian border, two women fulfill their dreams of owning businesses in New York
Published: May 30, 2019 | Updated: May 20th, 2020 at 6:04 pm

The path to fulfilling a dream isn’t always the straightest one.

Michele McCarthy married her Canadian-born husband in 1983 and become a permanent resident who now lives in Burlington, Ontario. For the past two years, McCarthy’s made the nearly hour-long commute almost every morning to Lewiston, New York, where she owns the Chantilly Rose boutique.

Deborah Parker grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, until heading off to college in New York at Niagara University. After earning her nursing degree, Parker started dating an American-born man who later became her husband. In 1978, the couple married and settled in Ransomville, New York, where she now owns the Knead the Dough restaurant.

While love may have sent the two women’s lives in opposite directions across the U.S.-Canada border, they now are on a similar path, with personal goals of being successful American business owners.

Even as a child, McCarthy hoped to one day have her own shop in the Lewiston’s quaint downtown village. With her marriage and life taking her to Canada, it took more than four decades for that to come to fruition in 2017 when she opened Chantilly Rose, a clothing and home decor shop on Center Street.

“It’s nice to finally put that dream into action,” McCarthy said. “It’s a hidden jewel.”

Michele McCarthy, owner of Chantilly Rose boutique in Lewiston, New York

Elaine DeFazio was best friends with McCarthy in high school, and the two would spend afternoons shopping along Center Street. DeFazio credits McCarthy for never giving up on her aspirations.

“She was busy raising the family and she did a lot of volunteer work,” DeFazio said. “She put her dreams aside, she was not selfish.”

Although McCarthy admits the commute and crossing the border can be taxing at times, she has enjoyed reconnecting with her hometown and owning her own shop.

Parker also has found a second career as American business owner. While working as a nurse, Parker and her husband talked about opening their own restaurant in Ransomville about 30 miles north of Buffalo.

Deborah Parker, the owner of Knead the Dough restaurant in Ransomville, N.Y.

Deborah Parker: It’s the sense of the community. I actually had some other people who owned another restaurant that they wanted to open and I was very flattered because they said to me we want you to bring to our area what you brought to Ransomville. So, that makes me feel good. If you want to be part of community you have to be part of the community, so we do that.