U.S./Canada border crossing discussion

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Here's a slightly unrelated question, but, in modern times, has the border crossing to Canada ever been speedy (even in the 80's I remember it being somewhat slow) in either direction or has it always been sticky?
 
Here's a slightly unrelated question, but, in modern times, has the border crossing to Canada ever been speedy (even in the 80's I remember it being somewhat slow) in either direction or has it always been sticky?
On a train or in a car? For example, I'm in Buffalo, NY, and Wednesday's drive crossing took all of 30 seconds. "Where are you going?" with glance at passport, then "Have a nice day." Returning to Canada is much more thorough (for a Canadian).
 
Here's a slightly unrelated question, but, in modern times, has the border crossing to Canada ever been speedy (even in the 80's I remember it being somewhat slow) in either direction or has it always been sticky?
It depends on how you define modern times. I've written before about how laid back crossing the BC-Washington border was prior to the 1970's. For example, in 1965 the Canadian officer boarded our Northern Pacific excursion train with 250 passengers at Sedro-Wooley and waved us across with one question: was everyone on this train a U.S. citizen? I don't even remember the U.S. check coming back the next day.
 
It depends on how you define modern times. I've written before about how laid back crossing the BC-Washington border was prior to the 1970's. For example, in 1965 the Canadian officer boarded our Northern Pacific excursion train with 250 passengers at Sedro-Wooley and waved us across with one question: was everyone on this train a U.S. citizen? I don't even remember the U.S. check coming back the next day.
In September 1991 my wife and I went to a Red Sox game in Detroit but she demanded we stay in Windsor.

Windsor Transit had a Tigers Express and they didn't expect 2 US citizens to be on it :)

A few years earlier I crossed the Peace Bridge into Buffalo and thought US Customs was the toll booth...............that was awkward.



;
 
My family and I once got held for almost an hour by CBSA at Coburn Gore, ME/Woburn QC (the place where Benedict Arnold crossed when he attempted to invade Quebec in 1775.) They finally took me inside and asked me if I had ever been arrested. When I said no, they let us go.

Oh, and I've never had to deal with any lines at that border crossing. :)
 
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On Amtrak in the '70s they talked to everyone on board but we didn't have to get off, going both ways to and from Vancouver BS. Niagara Falls on foot is still easy peazy if you have a valid passport.
Actually, there was a phase in which passengers had to alight from the Pacific International at Blaine and carry their luggage to an inspection point that had a computer terminal.
 
I never knew about this bus between Detroit and Windsor. I don’t anyone I know in Detroit has ever heard of it either.
It only recently resumed a full schedule following the pandemic after a slow restart for special events and sporting events. (A lot of Ontarians in the area are Tigers, Red Wings and Lions fans.) The current iteration of the tunnel bus started in 1982 and is primarily funded by the city of Windsor - the source of most traffic. Some attempts to augment support have been made over the years with casinos on both sides and Detroit sports teams involved. The actual route has changed several times, with 3 or 4 stops in Detroit. It is particularly useful for attending the annual Detroit Auto Show and for a short period VIA ran a morning through train from Oshawa, ON, (GM Canadian HQ at the time) to Windsor, with the Tunnel Bus extended to the station only during the show. Normally the bus runs from the Windsor downtown depot and used to be an hourly service with extras for events and sports. Passengers disembark at either end for formalities.
 
This summer I took a cruise from Alaska to Vancouver, entering Canada was as simple as handing my declaration card to the agent, they didn't even want to look at my passport. I then took VIA Rail from Vancouver to Edmonton and flew out of Edmonton. My bag was "randomly" selected for inspection, but that was a pretty quick process and then the agent said "how long were you here? why were you here?" and that was that.
 
The oddest question that I have been asked by a CBP Agent at Rouses Point leafing through my US Passport, was what interesting place I visited in the recent past. I said I dunno, most of my visits are for work and involves multiple visits. Then he asked me how about Israel. Yup yet another regular place I visit for work, and told him where in Israel ( a little suburb of Tel Aviv by Ben Gurion Airport 5 miles from the border with West Bank) which apparently he had never heard of. I shrugged my shoulder and he returned my Passport and went on his way. Pretty strange. I suppose he wanted to hear Tel Aviv or Haifa, something he had heard of. Sigh.

In my experience CBSA is worse than CBP, at least when it comes to my visits to Canada and return, since they are uniquely ignorant about VIA Rail and cast doubts and aspersions on anyone who suggests that they are going to Canada to ride the Canadian.

One time I drove to Niagara Falls ON for a technical conference in my brand new Toyota Prius. On the way back the CBP guy at the Rainbow Bridge decided that my car was probably not mine, so he took the trouble to call up DMV in NJ to verify that my car was actually registered in my name, a phenomenal waste of time, since anyone would be an idiot to try to smuggle something as quaint as a Prius across the border at Niagara Falls of all places. But I guess he wanted to feel useful that day. :D
 
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As a now senior, I have crossed the US-Canada border literally hundreds of times by air, car, rail and bus, on business and for pleasure. One's treatment in either direction can be influenced by everything from current events to the officer's mood on a given day. Citizenship and purpose of visit are also factors. In my experience, Canadians are generally well-treated by US CBP and although I've had some terse conversations with American officers I've never had one be disrespectful or impolite. I suspect the reverse is true for Americans heading north, since CBSA officers tend to be very confrontational towards their own citizens. Depending on the leaning of the Canadian Federal Government the focus changes from drugs, to vaccinations and the current obsession - guns, leading to the strangest question I've been asked when returning from Florida last March: how much ammunition I had bought and was bringing into the country. I do not own a gun and have never had a need for ammunition, so was completely dumbfounded by the randomness of the question. "You were in Florida, weren't you?" has been a joke ever since.
 
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Where we live in Lubec ME, we are the gateway to Campobello Island NB which especially in summer is a tourist destination, particularly the cottage that was the summer home of FDR and his family. We go across there periodically mostly in summer because there is a waterside restaurant we like to go to where you can sit on the deck and see seals and shore birds and if you are lucky see a whale. The island pretty much rolls up the sidewalks after Canadian Thanksgiving (which we know of as Columbus Day).

Most of the time we breeze through the border crossing with just a few usual questions about why are you going, did you bring anything over, etc. Probably the strangest time was once my wife was going over to go to church at the little church on Campobello because their mass was an hour earlier due to it being Atlantic time there, and on return the CBP agent said "why are you going to church there when there is a perfectly good one in Lubec?" A bit unusual to say the least.
 
The last time I crossed the Canadian border was a few years ago in Niagara Falls by foot. I was staying on the US side and decided to walk across to see the "better" side and have a Canadian beer. I was asked a few questions and why and for how long I was going to Canada. After my response that the Falls are prettier on the Canadian side, I was let through with no more questions. I was asked only a couple of questions coming back to the US, but there was a "toll" that had to be paid. I enjoyed walking over the Rainbow Bridge.
 
Driving across i've found most of the smaller crossings to be quite friendly and quick still, both ways.
Yes. I liked the Port of Del Bonita. MT, especially for access to the Cut Bank Amtrak station. On the other hand, as I've written here before, at Sweet Grass, MT I was questioned by US officials as to why I was leaving the U.S. As a Berlin veteran I'm touchy about questions like that.
 
Yes. I liked the Port of Del Bonita. MT, especially for access to the Cut Bank Amtrak station. On the other hand, as I've written here before, at Sweet Grass, MT I was questioned by US officials as to why I was leaving the U.S. As a Berlin veteran I'm touchy about questions like that.
I've crossed at both of those and several others in MT, we were with my wife's uncle when he had his car tossed going to Lethbridge, I think it was at Del Bonita. But you never know what you're going to get. Of course, neither do they and they have to deal with the likes of us all darned day.
 
The only time I ever had a real problem with US Customs was in 2005 at the Blue Water Bridge when the agent asked me how long I was in Canada and I replied about 5 hours as I was driving from Boston to Chicago and driving through Ontario shaves about 100 miles off the trip and she told me to go to the office. ( Let me add I have dual citizenship because my Mom was from Newfoundland and there was a loophole because of when Newfie officially became part of Canada)

What I have noticed since 9/11 is that US officials are not as local to their assignment as they once were.

A few years ago I entered the US at Fort Kent, Maine which is not a busy crossing and and the US agent had a southern drawl.

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I blew a gasket one night on the Lake Shore Limited when the Border Patrol did a sweep in Northeast Indiana when I had splurged on a sleeper from Chicago to Boston.

https://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/30/nyregion/30border.html
I was used to the sweeps around Buffalo but Indiana?????
 
A few years ago I entered the US at Fort Kent, Maine which is not a busy crossing and and the US agent had a southern drawl.
My younger son attended the University of Maine at Fort Kent so on one visit up there we decided to walk across the bridge to Clair NB where there was a pizza place he liked. I think we caught the border officials off guard as they weren't used to walk ins but they let us through without any problem. This was back when they had the old steel truss bridge, now replaced by the usual boring concrete structure.
ftkentgrad13.jpg

He did get questioned one time when he was driving across and he happened to have some old pill bottles rattling around in the back of the car. That raised some eyebrows but they eventually let him through.
 
In my experience CBSA is worse than CBP, at least when it comes to my visits to Canada and return, since they are uniquely ignorant about VIA Rail and cast doubts and aspersions on anyone who suggests that they are going to Canada to ride the Canadian.
My experience has been just the opposite. Twice entering at YVR and when asked why I was coming to Canada, I said riding the Canadian and was told things like "sounds like fun" and "enjoy your trip."
 
My experience has been just the opposite. Twice entering at YVR and when asked why I was coming to Canada, I said riding the Canadian and was told things like "sounds like fun" and "enjoy your trip."
Perhaps the problem is with Niagara Falls and Cantic border station CBSA staff. I have not crossed any of the western borders in decades now, so have no idea what happens there.
 
Growing up in Detroit, I have been to Windsor ( and by the way the tunnel bus has been running for many decades -- I used to take it in the 1960's so I could go to a favorite model train store in Windsor) and Ontario hundreds of times. My most train related border crossing was when I talked my best friend ( who lived in Port Huron), to cross over to Sarnia so we could take the train to London for a day trip. It was early in the morning and the Canadian Border agent initially refused to believe that anyone would come to Sarnia just to take a train( and he was pretty sure the train didn't run in Canada anyway). He finally and grudgingly allowed us in and we arrived at the Sarnia station with about three minutes to spare. A great trip!
 
It depends on how you define modern times. I've written before about how laid back crossing the BC-Washington border was prior to the 1970's. For example, in 1965 the Canadian officer boarded our Northern Pacific excursion train with 250 passengers at Sedro-Wooley and waved us across with one question: was everyone on this train a U.S. citizen? I don't even remember the U.S. check coming back the next day.
As I mentioned in another thread, back in the '70's, I rode the Empire State Express (or was it the Niagara Rainbow by then? Not sure), I boarded in Detroit, and the passenger's going through to Buffalo and beyond were in a "sealed" section of the train, and we were not even inspected, at all. There was a separate car for passenger's getting on or off in Canada, where those passenger's were given a brief inspection.

I had a similar experience riding CP's Atlantic Limited from Montreal to Saint John. Thru passenger's weren't even awoken on the overnight train. There were other trains that crossed the border twice (or even more), for routing convenience, such as Thunder Bay to Winnipeg thru Minnesota around the south side of Lake of the Woods, or the former San Diego and Arizona Eastern thru Mexico. Never rode those, but I would imagine thru passengers were treated similarly.

Different times....
 
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