A COVID-19 love story for Valentine's Day: cross-border couple went on 'binocular dates'

For months after they got engaged, Brent Kohn and Caroline Brandow would only see each other on a screen. Or through binoculars.  

Couple married during the pandemic lives 17 km apart, but in between is the U.S.-Canada border

Caroline Brandow and Brent Kohn of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., wearing masks on their wedding day on Feb. 27, 2021. (Caroline Brandow)

For months after they got engaged, Brent Kohn and Caroline Brandow would only see each other on a screen. Or through binoculars.

They were one of many cross-border couples kept apart by COVID-19, but could still physically see each other across the St. Mary's River in Sault Ste. Marie.

Most Sundays during the first 10 months of the pandemic, Kohn would bring a coffee down to the river on the Michigan side and Brandow would have her coffee on the Ontario side. 

Kohn said they would get "weird looks" from some passersby, but they also saw other Saulties holding up signs for "whoever they're talking to across the way."

"It definitely did help, because it did feel like things were back to normal," he said. 

"It was hard, because it was so close and so far."

Kohn and Brandow met before the pandemic, got married during it, and are still separated by COVID-19 and the international border at Sault Ste. Marie. (Caroline Brandow)

They met online in 2018, got engaged in November 2019 and after they got the proper paperwork, they got married during tight COVID-19 restrictions in February 2021.

They are still separated by the pandemic and the U.S.-Canada border, but Kohn has applied to immigrate to Canada, so they hope it won't be for much longer.

"We really had to learn to communicate and really learned a lot about each other," said Brandow.

"If we can make it through this we can make it through anything," Kohn said. 

Love in the time of COVID is not for the faint of heart. Caroline Brandow and Brent Kohn know all about that. They both live in Sault Ste. Marie, but Caroline is in Ontario and Brent is in Michigan and the pandemic is still keeping them apart, as they approach their first wedding anniversary.


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to


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