An island community in the Maritimes is feeling more detached from mainland Canada than ever before.

Residents of Campobello have been without a ferry service for more than a year. It means, they're the only East Coast residents who have to travel through the United States to get into their own country.

Pauline Alexander, who has lived on Campobello most of her life, says there's a lifestyle with natural advantages.

“There wasn't a day in August that I didn't sit on this deck and watch whales -- and into September as well,” said Alexander.

The island's fixed link with the mainland is the Roosevelt Bridge, but that connection is not with Canada.

After crossing the bridge, islanders have to drive about an hour through the state of Maine, until they reach the border that links Calais with St. Stephen, N.B.

So a round trip to the rest of Canada and back requires four stops at border crossings. Since the advent of 911, that has become more complicated.

“I never thought about the borders. It was never really an issue. It was just, ‘hey how ya doing, have a good day,’” Alexander said. “Now it's, ‘Do I have my passport, do I have letters for the kids? Am I going to have to go through the temporary bomb machine today? Am I going to get dinged because I have an orange in the car for a snack,’ which has happened.”

Adding to a sense of isolation, a privately operated summer ferry that connected Campobello with the rest of New Brunswick, has not been in service for over a year.

The loss of ferry service last summer, re-ignited an old topic of conservation here on Campobello, one that goes back decades.   And that's whether there should be a permanent year-round ferry service between this island and the rest of Canada. There have also been incremental changes at the border adding fuel to the new debate.

“We know that the men and women at the U.S. border are doing their job and we try to be respectful of that,” said Campobello mayor Stephen Smart.

The island's mayor says many of the 800 residents have come to a new realization.

“As a whole, I think the island has decided that it's a matter of principle or a point of fact, that we should have a connection to the rest of our country,” Smart said.

The mayor says that connection is needed more than ever, as the island's population declines.

“How do we attract new people to move here? How do we attract population growth?” Smart said. “And if there's a perception that it's difficult because of the border, well that's just one more reason to stay in McAdam, or stay in St. Stephen or stay in St. Andrews.”

MLA Greg Thompson says the provincial government is open to the idea of supporting a year-round ferry service, or at least extending the season, as are federal representatives.

"There is a very strong momentum to do something more permanent than what's there right now,” Thompson said.

MP Karen Ludwig says the ferry service will need transport Canada approval.

“You know, the weather can get pretty tricky out there, and there's a lot of work that still needs to be done,” Ludwig said. “Basically, there's a feeling that it's needed now.”

Brent MacPherson formed a committee to fight for a year-round ferry.

He says islanders are getting frustrated with government.

“They're all saying, ‘yes we support a year-round ferry,’ but we need to see the action, we need to see the cheques being signed and the announcement being made that it's going to happen,” MacPherson said.

If it happens, islanders may need to adjust from their previously simple life.

“I love Campobello, but people are afraid of change,” MacPherson said. “And I tell you this, I've heard people say, they're trying to make it a city, they're trying to do this and that. A ferry is not going to make this a city. It's just going to give us access to join our own country.”

As the border tightens, their own country, seems to be getting further away.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.