Oh, Canada

On Canada Day, our neighbors to the north celebrated the birth of their fine country with picnics, parades, and fireworks. This year’s observance was more significant than usual as this marks the the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812. Nobody here cares much about about that, but in Canada? The war of American aggression is still a big deal.

But as Canadians ate hot dogs, drank beer, and lit sparklers, at a remote outpost  in Ontario two young Border Services agents defended their country against another threat from south of the border.

That threat was me.

CBSA checkpoint, Wolfe Island, Ontario

Our car was loaded with the usual vacation clutter as we rolled off the ferry from Cape Vincent, NY to Wolfe Island, Ontario. We’d never spent more than a minute at the tiny customs station near the ferry dock — but something alerted the keen eyed officer that I could be trouble. “We’d like to search your vehicle, so please have a seat on the bench over there.”

We sat in the sun and took it in stride. What could possibly go wrong? “Sir, would you step into the office?”

The officer behind the counter held up a knife. “We found this under your seat.” He had found the folding knife I keep in an emergency kit, a small pouch crammed with gadgets and supplies I’ll probably never use. “We asked if you were bringing any weapons in with you, and this is a weapon.”

The knife is sort of imposing, bigger than something you’d keep in your pocket, but the real problem was its assisted-opening blade which can be deployed with one hand.

“Do you have any other weapons on you?”

Well, as a matter of fact… I took my smaller knife out of my pocket, one of similar design, and put it on the counter. The regarded me skeptically. “I’m a volunteer firefighter, so I don’t go anywhere without a knife. I think of them as tools, not weapons.”

After another half hour they called me back in and told me I was getting off easy. Since it seemed like an innocent mistake they would not arrest me or impound the car or make me pay the $1000 fine ($500 per knife). And no, they would not be returning my “weapons”.

I graciously thanked them, for it’s always best not to be a wise ass when dealing with the authorities, and went on my way. They did their part to protect Canada from knife crazy Americans and I proceeded to enjoyed vacation, armed only with the tiny blade on my Leatherman Micra.

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