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.

7 thoughts on “Oh, Canada

  1. Wow, things have changed in the past 11 years. I and a group of friends went to Gananoque every year for an extended weekend of fishing on the St. Lawrence. This went on for just about 20 years and we were never, ever detained or searched going into Canada. Coming back into the US was different story! The Canadians were happy as could be for us to come on in and spend our US dollars. And spend them we did…mostly at the beer store!

    1. Same here.

      I figure that there must be a number these guys have to hit on complete vehicle searches. Since they have to carefully avoid making it look like they’re profiling, a certain number of cars like ours will be tossed.

      There must be a pattern emerging; the guy who operates the small ferry to the island took a look at our car and said, “You’re probably going to get searched when you get over there.”

  2. Gollll-ly, they sure know how to spot the bad guys. Maybe being from this township was the tip-off.

    The Leatherman was OK?????
    I was transporting my two grandsons to and from school on a military base for the past month. Haven’t figured out the formula for how they choose what vehicles entering the base to search. But when the vehicle – never me – was searched, it was quite detailed and methodical………Pull to the side, get out, open the hood and hatch. The guard would walk around the vehicle, peek in the openings – never touching/disturbing anything, and ask if I had any weapons. A “no” answer received, “Go ahead. Have a nice day, sir.” I could have had enough firepower, under all the junk I carry in my vehicle, to take over the state of Texas; but they never looked under anything.

    1. Truth be told, I had ANOTHER Leatherman — a full size model — besides the tiny one on my keychain. No, they had no problem with that, nor with the scariest and most dangerous thing in the car, a Henckels 9″chef’s knife. If you were stabbed with that it would go right through you and poke out of your back. But apparently that’s not a weapon.

  3. Holy crow, international incident! I bet that’s the last time you bring knives to Canada, eh?

  4. Ironic that you can leave your really dangerous knives in Canada and swing by the Rez in Hogansburg on your way home and pick up a full-auto H&K MP-5 or Colt M4 for the right amount of cash. The firearms come over the river from… Canada.

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