Grand Forks – Growing up on the Minnesota-Manitoba border, I’ve entered Canada dozens of times over the years – we used to ride our bikes as far as the small Manitoba town of Pine as kids – but I’ve never had a crossing as I did on Monday, August 9th, the first day Canada opened its border to non-essential travel from the US beginning March 21st, 2020.
It turned out to be uneven, as trips into Canada are – crossing the border is always stressful – but it was definitely the most nerve-wracking because I didn’t know what to expect.
Will there be a mile long queue of vehicles to cross the border? Did I prepare all my paperwork correctly? Will a Canada Border Services Agency officer have a bad case of “Monday” and make the experience miserable? Will they deny me entry into Canada and send me back to where I came from?
Fortunately, the answer turned out to be “none of the above”.
I plan on Monday morning to cross the border north of South Junction, Manitoba, Rosso, Minn., and head to Buffalo Point on the Manitoba shore of Lake of the Woods. Buffalo Point is a popular fishing destination, and many people in North Dakota and Northwest Minnesota have campers or cabins.
I arranged to interview a young couple from Rousseau, who will be returning to their cabin for the first time since October 2019, some four months before the COVID-19 pandemic closed the US-Canada border to non-essential travel. Had given. I will write about his cabin homecoming as part of the Grand Forks Herald’s coverage on the reopening of our border in Canada.
From there, I drive about two and a half hours west and north to visit some friends who live northeast of Winnipeg near Lockport, Manitoba. I have not been to Canada or anywhere else since September 2019. Given that I usually visit Canada at least half a dozen times each year, I was eagerly anticipating my return.
For obvious reasons, entering Canada amid the ongoing global pandemic isn’t as simple as when we used to ride our bikes to Pine as kids. First, I had to download the Canadian government’s ArrivCan app on my smartphone, which is now required for all non-residents entering Canada, and to prove that I was fully vaccinated against COVID-19. had to upload a copy of his/her vaccination card on the app.
As per requirement, I also had to provide documents that test negative for COVID-19 more than 72 hours before I could cross the border. I took my test at a free University of North Dakota test program at 8:30 a.m. on August 6th, and my negative results showed up shortly after midnight on Monday.
The South Junction border crossing opened at 8 am, so provided there is no long line at the border, I will meet the 72 hour testing requirement with minutes.
I had two pickups in front of me, both towing boats, when I lined up shortly after 8 a.m. Within minutes, the first vehicle in line had cleared and was on its way to a long-awaited Canadian fishing destination .
The second vehicle was cleaned probably 10 minutes later. I went to the officer and rolled down my window.
“We’ll see how it goes,” I thought to myself.
In the event of being selected for random COVID-19 testing at the border, the ArriveCAN app requires potential visitors to incorporate a quarantine plan before submitting their crossing application electronically. Even if their trip is just a day trip, potential visitors to Canada cannot submit their application through ArrivCan without including a destination for quarantine, if necessary.
I put Buffalo Point as my quarantine destination, and it allowed me to submit my application through ArrivCan before driving to the border.
The CBSA officer greeted me with simple questions, but when I asked for the address of the place where I had planned to quarantine, I was momentarily staggered. I gave him the address of the cabin I had planned to go to, and that was nice.
He handed me a two-page document outlining Canada’s requirements for fully vaccinated visitors, and I was on my way.
Like the crossing experience, the rest of my journey went off without a hitch. I was able to be onsite to record the video when the Roseau couple arrived at their cabin for the first time since October 2019. I spent the rest of my stay visiting friends northeast of Winnipeg, and I returned to the US in Pembina, ND. , across the border on Wednesday morning.
My return to Canada was surreal – for lack of a better word – but it was great to visit again.
Next time, I’ll bring my fishing rod.