Over The River

Canadians have been celebrating a lot this year. It’s not that we need an excuse to celebrate, but this year is special. “What are we celebrating? “ you might ask. Well, we are celebrating the very fact that we are Canadian!  Some might say we are celebrating that we are not American. Yes, 200 years ago The War of 1812 sorted out who was who. Just this past weekend my home town  had a huge re-enactment

The Battle of Queenston Heights Re-enactment Photo by Robin Biggar Argenta

Every One Participates at The Battle of Queenston Heights Re-enactment
Photo by Robin Biggar Argenta

The Battle of Queenston Heights Re-enactment  Photo by Robin Biggar Argenta

A Colourful Day at The Battle of Queenston Heights Re-enactment
Photo by Robin Biggar Argenta

One of the other things the War of 1812 created was the Canada/United States border – the longest undefended border in the world. In many ways this border bonds us together far more than it separates us.

Canada US Border

Canada/United States Border – It looks a little different than this today.
Credit: National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve crossed this border. I was born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario. There are four bridges that cross over the Niagara River linking our two countries – The Peace Bridge, The Rainbow Bridge, The Whirlpool (Lower) Bridge and the Queenston/Lewiston Bridge. I’m a “border kid”. This means I have spent my entire life crossing the border to the US, back and forth. Border kids have the distinction of being dragged half-naked “over the river” by their mothers since birth, then returning home wearing so many clothes we could play Ralphie’s little brother Randy in A Christmas Story. He was the kid who couldn’t put his arms down or get up when he fell, because his mom had him dressed like the Michelin Man. Yes, we were born and raised smugglers!

randy_card-christmas-story

Do not fall down when dressed like this!

By the time I was in high school I was a pro. No, NOT a professional smuggler! But, by then it was second nature to cross over to the US on my own. I didn’t drive. I walked. In fact, it was a favourite activity for kids my age to skip school and take off over the river. They had really cool stores and the chances of getting caught by our parents were pretty much slim to none. We were always polite and never lied to the border guards, (Our parents were another story.) After all, the border guards had no sense of humour and carried guns. On one particular excursion we walked across the bridge, arm and arm and singing, “We’re off to see the wizard …” We were asked to stop singing but they let us continue into the US.

THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD for Canadica

Me (2nd from the left) and my buddies headed “Over the River”

On our way back to Canada, when they asked if we had anything to declare, I held my bag up and said, “just this pot”. We were immediately surrounded and I was relieved of my purchase. It was a little ceramic pot I had bought for 50¢ at a thrift store and still have to this day. I’m not sure who was more embarrassed, the Border Patrol or me.

My Wee Pot

My wee pot – 40 years later.

As a young adult, going over the river was a must. In the 70’s, the drinking age was 21 in Ontario and the bars closed at midnight or 1:00 am. Over the river, the drinking age was 18 and the bars were open until 2:00 am in one county and 4:00 am in another just minutes away. At some point the rules changed. Now, the drinking age in Ontario is 19 and the drinking age over the river is 21 – so the drinking crossovers have changed direction.

Rainbow Bridge

Yes, it is that close.

There was also a time when I had a business In Niagara Falls, New York and crossed back and forth over the border every day. In the summer the lineups on the bridge could be brutal and it was difficult to keep to a schedule. So, I hooked a crate to the back of my bicycle, loaded it with my briefcase, purse and heels, and rode to and from work every day. One day, one of the Customs Officials shared a story with me (one I am sure is an urban legend).

There was this fellow who crossed the bridge each day on a bicycle. He made the trip every day for many, many years. All the Customs Officials were sure he was smuggling something but never found anything on him. The man grew old and it came time for him to retire. He told the Customs Officials it was his last day, said good-bye and wished them well. One of the officials asked, “Please tell us before you go? “You’re free and clear now. “We’ve always suspected that you were smuggling something. “What was it?”

The man smiled and simply stated, “the bicycles.”

THE BORDER

Almost there.

We shared a piece of history that brought us together for a while. For 79 days during the 444 days of the Iran Hostage Crisis, former Canadian Ambassador, Ken Taylor and other Canadian Embassy staff, hid, protected and arranged for the escape of five Americans who had escaped from their Embassy when it was overrun. (President Reagan’s account of what happened.)
When it was finally made known to the public that the Americans were safely out of the country and that the Canadians were responsible, there appeared on the front page of our local paper a picture looking out across the Niagara Gorge to the escarpment on the other side. There was a giant banner hanging on the American side that was big enough you could read it while standing in Canada. It simply said, “THANK YOU CANADA”. I will never forget that sight. It could be because it appeared over night, or just knowing the manpower it would have taken to do such a thing. Or, could it be that it was the last time I remember an American saying “thank you”?

Thank You Canada

It was like this only really, really, really big.

There was a Canadian movie made in 1981 about this called Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper starring our very own Gordon Pinsent.
You won’t remember it. I’m sure it never even played in the US.  You may, however, be aware of a little film called Argo that’s making the rounds right now. This version of the story, directed by Ben Affleck, stars Affleck and is a dramatization of the joint CIA-Canadian secret operation. Of course the emphasis is on the CIA’s part in it. I suppose we should be grateful that Canadians were even acknowledged.

Argo Movie

The big attraction for people visiting Niagara Falls is, of course, the Falls. There are actually two sets of falls. The Canadian falls are called the Horseshoe Falls and are conveniently located in all their splendor to be enjoyed by anyone who comes to Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Canadian Horseshoe Falls

Canadian Horseshoe Falls

The American falls are called the American Falls (clever). Right beside it is a smaller waterfall called the Bridal Veil Falls. Both of these are also conveniently located in all their glory to be enjoyed by anyone who comes to Niagara Falls, Ontario. That’s right! You have to leave Niagara Falls, New York and cross over to Niagara Falls, Ontario to see the American Falls. I think this is where someone says “location, location, location”.

American Falls

American Falls & Bridal Veil Falls
(Maybe I should have stopped my car to take this one.)

I still head over the river on a regular basis, even though these days I live much further away. No, there is no smuggling involved. You can’t live that close to the border and not have someone in the family marry the opposition. Now my sister lives there, my niece lives there and my grandniece lives there. That little girl is worth a trip over the river .

Ellee

My Grandniece, Ellee.

-30-

This post was written by Michelle Gillies from Silk Purse Productions.  Michelle would like you to know that she loves our American neighbours very much, especially her American friends and family. Yes, that even means her brother-in-law, Bruce, who is a great source of amusement for her and helped her remember the drinking bits.  As Sweet Mother says,everything written here is done so in jest.  If you can’t take a poke, I suggest heading over to Japanica where they slap you if you don’t like the content.  We, at Canadica, would never do that.”

Silk Purse Productions separation bar

134 thoughts on “Over The River

    • Thank you Carolyn. The border is often blurry for border kids. We spend a lot of time in each others countries. When I was in England they told me I had an American accent. When I was in Hawaii they told me I had a Canadian accent. Of course I don’t think I have any accent. 😉

    • It was fun a fun movie. John Candy was a funny guy. All the locals had fun as they shot around town. People remember that movie because it was American made. We Canadians have a reputation for making really bad movies that never get past the border.Unless you count James Cameron and Paul Haggis movies. Of course they are Canadian freaks of nature.

  1. Reblogged this on Silkpurseproductions's Blog and commented:
    It may look like I haven’t written a new post but I have. It’s living over at www. Canadica. wordpress.com. You see, this amazing women I have come to know and love, Sweet Mother, came up with this really fun idea. Let’s have a War of 1812 re-enactment. No, that wasn’t it. Let’s have a War of 2012! Yep, that’s it. She put together a group of bloggers from Canada and the United States and have had us squaring off against each other on a weekly basis. This week I’m representing Canada. We’ve been enjoying poking fun at each other and you can too if you head over to Canadica. I recommend not drinking anything liquid while reading these posts.

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  3. Michelle,
    I so enjoyed this post. When I was in highschool, my family took a road trip from Georgia to Niagra Falls. My dad was never one to stop much so I think we did the whole trip in a week. I remember being so relieved to get to the Canadian side, see the falls for 15 minutes and then head back south! He was probably undiagnosed ADHD. Anyway, I remember going over a bridge and through customs – it was all very exciting for a kid from the south – my first time out of the U.S.! Your story of growing on the border was fun and interesting. Thank you!
    Cathy

    • Thank you Cathy. It is funny to see things through others eyes. It was second nature to us to be in both countries so we didn’t think much of it then. On every bridge there is an actual line that marks the division so you can stand with one leg in Canada and one leg in the US. We did that a lot. 😉

  4. I dated a guy who lived in South Dakota. He said they were always getting Canadian money and nobody cared. They just used it like it was American. Now that’s a friendly border when no one even cares whose money is whose. Then again, that might be part of the reason we’re having such financial crisis in America. 😀

  5. Michelle, I’ve stood at the wall overlooking the Falls that you’ve written about here. And that pot story — priceless! Loved the pics (and the bell-bottoms) and saw the movie, Argo, btw. It’s great. This was a great post — loved it. Thank you. There’s another one — a thank you from an American to a Canadian. Hail Canadica!

    • Brigitte, Thank you for all the praise. I’m glad you liked it. If those bell bottoms could talk … 😉 I’m hoping to see Argo soon, I know it will be great (did I mention Ben Affleck?).
      By the way, You’re Welcome!

      • Michelle, congrats!!!!! Your first post on Canadica and it’s FP’d!!! That is wonderful and so deserving. Those WP peeps are pretty smart folks when it comes to picking ’em.

  6. Nostalgic! The Slo-Man spent 2 glorious years living in Niagara Falls ON and working across the river, pre-9/11. He remembers driving through inspection every morning and being treated with suspicion by the same US border guards day after day because he held an Indian passport and being greeted by a polite “welcome back” from the Canadians. A study in contrasts.

    And NF Ontario easily has the better parks, er, scratch that, only the Canadian side has beautiful parks.

    • I can not deny, The NIagara Parks Commission does it up right. I’m glad I reminded you of my wonderful home town. Things have changed a lot since 9/11 on both sides. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  7. you realize this post is absolutely brilliant, right? i think that YOU have hit the nail on the head as far as the spirit of canadica BETTER than just about any of us before you. and being from new york, i have been to niagara falls many times and crossed over. it’s a site to behold isn’t it. i also saw ARGO this past weekend. not only is it a fantastic movie, but you can’t see it without crying about the good hearted bravery of the canadian ambassador in such a dire situation. seriously, those yanks were turned down by new zealand and a ton of other nations it’s important to remember, as well. anyway, this post has so much to offer, i’m going to dedicate an entire post on sweet mother to it. it’s spectacular. and the pictures, oh, those pictures. okay, i’m rambling, but last thing i’m going to say…THE DRINKING AGE IN CANADA WAS ONCE 21??!!!! americans were always running over to canada if they lived around the border because you can drink at an earlier age. i can not believe it was once in the reverse! anyway, mg, you have outdone yourself. this post is OUTSTANDING. xoxo, sm

    • This is me blushing SM. They don’t call you Sweet for nothing. I guess I really aged myself with the whole drinking thing, of course so did the bell bottoms 😉 . My American brother-in-law and I had quite the chuckle trying to remember when the ages changed where. Mostly we just remembered drinking.
      Thank you Sweet Mother for all your wonderful comments.

      • please, michelle, this is so deserved. and a wonderful read. rest your fingers… you’re going to need it once this hits the wp page. looooooool.

    • Heheheheh…I may have to keep a tab on the “Thank You” tally. You are all becoming so polite we may have to make you honourary Canadians.
      Thank you.

    • Niagara Falls will always be magical to me. In 50+ years of I have never had the view not take my breath away. It has always been a tourist town which means it has always had its tacky bits. Now the tacky bits are just casinos.

      • Clifton Hill was probably the most tacky. It had all the museums and gift shops where you could by the souvenirs that were made off shore. Just your typical touristy trap stuff. Lundy’s Lane had its share as well.

    • I think any Canadian who is married to an American is probably amused on a regular basis. I know my brother-in-law can make me spit coffee through my nose every time I talk to him. 😉

  8. Great post, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I live in Detroit, so I too was a border kid. We had cousins in Ontario, so we were always making the trip across the bridge into Canada. Now that I’ve had the experience of going through customs into other countries, I can’t believe how simple it was to just drive on over. (The Canadian guards were always nicer!) I laughed at your drinking age story…by the time I was a teen, the age was 19 in Canada and many a trip was made across our river into Windsor!

    • Yes, you would totally “get” everything I am talking about. We had aunts and cousins in Niagara Falls, NY and in Buffalo that we visited all the time when we were kids.
      We all have drinking stories. There were times we would go over and drink in Buffalo or Lewiston ’til 4 in the morning and then hit HoJo’s for breakfast. Sometimes our ride would have bailed early and we would take a taxi back to Canada with the sun coming up behind us.

      • My favorite thing was trying to make up legitimate reasons why my friends and I would need to go to Canada to tell my parents 🙂 There were a lot of “concerts” that we went to!!

      • Heheheheh. It is a fact we are well known for our “concerts”. Yeah, that’s it. 😉

    • Thank you. I’m very fortunate that I do have some really great memories growing up. Not all of them can be published but, I have them. 😉
      We’re all pretty excited here at Canadica about the FP, thank you.

    • Thank you Kat. I’m hearing a lot from other border kids that have stories to tell. It has reminded me that not all the border points are like the ones I grew up with. Once I was working in a town in BC (Creston I think) and I ended up in Idaho. When I went through the border they asked why I was going there and I had to say I wasn’t. I explained to them that I had no intentions of leaving the country but that where I was from there was a river and a bridge to give me a hint that I was leaving Canada. They thought that was hysterical.

  9. Love this! I grew up in Toronto but moved to NY in 1989. I come back north often and just crossed the border most recently about 3 weeks ago driving back from Port Hope. I love that moment when I hand over the Canadian passport to the US border official. Then he looks at all the crap in my car and wonders if I live anywhere…Oe of my favorite/odd moments is when I come by train and I am suspended briefly on the bridge between two nations and my two identities, with the river and Falls beneath.

    • Thank you so much! Funny, I was in Port Hope 3 weeks ago as well. I go to Port Hope and Cobourg about once a month.
      I have never thought of doing a train trip across. That sounds so kool! I will have to look into that.
      We often cross over to Buffalo to fly out of that airport (the Toronto airport sucks), but the train just never occurred to me.

  10. I grew up in a border town, too (Fort Frances, ON / International Falls, MN). I don’t think I ever helped smuggle anything, but I *did* get busted for shoplifting candy at the Piggly Wiggly. By my mother. Horrifying, even at age seven.

    • Poor Jeni! At least she didn’t have you deported. We didn’t have a Piggly Wiggly in any of the towns over the river. I didn’t see my first Piggly Wiggly until I went to Florida. It always seemed like the most fun name in the world to me. I just love saying it. Piggly Wiggly. Piggly Wiggly. 😉

      • Definitely adds to the story of my early (and only) run-ins with the law. No way would I still be telling this story if it had been Safeway.

  11. As an American I have to say that I have loved every trip I’ve made to Canada. Driving through Ontario is gorgeous (because I love wide open spaces of green), and I enjoyed meeting new people. I think, however, I met the one and only rude person in Canada at a gas station. I’m not going to let this stop me from visiting again because 2 Ontarians (is this real?) have stolen the hearts of 2 of my beloved family members. I guess Ohio and Ontario are both for lovers.

    • Cross border marriages have been making life interesting for a long time. We will have to see if we can get that rude Canadian deported. Did you get a name?
      Believe me we have our share of rude people, just like you do, it is funny though that they always seem to be in some kind of service industry which means being polite is supposed to be part of their job. I’m glad you didn’t let them turn you off of visiting.

      • She was in a gas station in a pretty rural area. So you can rest assured that she isn’t turning too many people away from Canada. Your maple syrup more than makes up for her.

  12. I never been to Canada but i heard the place is very relaxing at the very least. I heard its beautiful, people are less irritated and more genuine. I live in the States, and everyone here is either pissed to see you, hate their work if they even have work, and broke.

    • I have to agree with everything you said.
      Truth be told, it Canada is a truly beautiful country, as is the US. People are another story and we have our share of those pissed off, hate their work and broke people too.
      You should try and visit Canada sometime.

      • I think the job market is pretty much the same everywhere these days. Difficult at best. The good news is you can web design and blog from pretty much anywhere for just about anywhere. You should be able to live where you want and do that.

  13. I absolutely loved this post! Thanks for sharing your childhood with us. I loved the pot and crossing the river. Your grandniece is precious. I would love to go to Canada because I’ve never been. Americans are lucky to have such a great neighbor. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Well deserved.

    • Thank you Amy, for all your kind comments. I couldn’t agree with you more about Ellee being precious. She has us all wrapped around her tiny little fingers.
      You should make a point of getting to Canada, there are some wonderful places to see with Niagara Falls at the top of the list, of course.
      Thank you so much for following me at Silk Purse Productions. I stopped by your blog briefly and will be back. You have been Freshly Pressed, isn’t it fun?

  14. Having lived here all my life, I have to say that you nailed some of those topics right on the head.
    Having been bundled in my own super snow suit, fallen and couldn’t get up many a time.
    Too hilarious lol.
    Not sure what it is about the states that is so intriguing to me, I think it has to be California or Miami, or any sunny place for that matter (having been there). But then again there is no place like home, it’s just …funnier over here 🙂
    congrats on the FP!….EH!

    • Thanks so much. I am really having fun with the FP and you are my first official “Eh?”. When you think about it we have to have a pretty good sense of humour to like to live where the weather is so cold you have to wear those super snow suits. Those warm places are wonderful to visit for awhile but it is always nice to come home.

  15. Smuggling bicycles! Terrific story. I love Canada and Canadians, and hate to admit it, but I think Canadians are often more polite and kind than Americans.

    When my kids were little our oldest son concocted a story that he told his younger brother that he was adopted from Canada. It has remained an inside family joke, and my son often fantasizes about what his “real Canadian parents are like.”

    When my kids were in college they discovered that they could drive to Canada to drink and gamble. Thanks for that 😦 We used to tell that that when we were in college, boys went to Canada to avoid the draft, and now they were going to Canada to get the draft.

    If you care to stop by my blog and search on “Canada” you might find a couple of entertaining stories about my neighbor to the east. Congratulations for being Freshly Pressed.

    And by the way, I am one of the few Americans that knows all the words to “O Canada.”

    • You know all the words to “O Canada”? I am impressed. That is hysterical about your son fantasizing about his “real Canadian parents”. That’s the kind of thing I would do. I may have to steal your line about the “draft” at some point in the future 😉
      I’ll be sure to check out your blog when I get caught up. Thank you,
      M

  16. Growing up in northeastern Ohio, a Sunday drive to Niagara Falls for lunch was no big deal: gas was cheap and there was lots to see along the way. It’s been many years since then. The last time I was in Niagara Falls, the Horseshoe Falls were still horseshoe shaped! Well done and thanks for the memories!

    • It really does depend on the angle you get on if the Falls looks like a horseshoe, a half circle or a 3/4 circle but you are right the shape has changed.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  17. A great nostalgic read! I grew up in Whitehorse, Yukon which was a little further away from the American border than you were but Alaskan towns like Skagway and Hanes were still considered part of the backyard. We came and went as we pleased and even when the border guards knew that Dad was hiding beer under the blanket I was using to “sleep” under in the back seat, they always let us through. Again, great post. Thanks for the smile!

    • Thanks so much Gordo. Who would have thought that there were “border kids” in Whitehorse? I think things were a lot simpler and that the border guards were a lot more forgiving then. It is a whole different world now.

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  19. Love the comparisons. I also lived a short drive away from a border while growing up. We also left home wearing very little and came back layered up as though it was the middle of winter with new purchases. “Nothing to declare!” There was even a small town about 15 min away from the border where everyone would stop and re-pack their cars (and dress themselves) to prepare for the re-entry into Canadaland.
    iRuniBreathe

    • Thank you, Tania.
      Oh, I can remember those parking lot “dressing rooms” and repacking everything. The most used spots provided lots of spots to dump the bags and price tags.
      Always nice to talk to a fellow “layerer”. 😉

  20. I love this! I grew up near Detroit and crossed into Windsor to drink before I was legally of age at home. I’d also gamble in Windsor casinos because at that time, the US dollar was stronger, and It felt like I could play much longer. (These days, I’m thinking our dollar doesn’t stand a chance…) Though I live in Wisconsin now, I returned home over this last weekend to Michigan and ran the Detroit FreePress International Half Marathon. We were fortunate enough to run over the Ambassador bridge, around Windsor, and back through the tunnel to the US. Our Canadian cousins were such spectacular hosts with hilarious signs like, “worst parade ever!” and “who needs toenails, anyways?”

    And now… I’m actually missing watching NHL hockey. A perfect post for a night when I’ve got Canada on my mind…

    • Oh, thank you, Mindy. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Congratulations on the Half Marathon. I am so impressed with people who can run like that. There was a marathon run last Sunday in Niagara and quite a few of my friends participated. It was a beautiful day and it went along the Parkway. Perfect. Those signs are great, I will have to remember them for next year.
      It’s funny but I prefer the casino on the NY side. It has more of a Vegas feel to it and the comps are definitely better. You don’t get free cocktails in Canada. 😉

    • From one Canadian to another – thank you.
      I have opened the link to your post and will read it when I get caught up here.
      I’m looking forward to it.

  21. Thank you Canada! I’m an American living in Maryland. I’ve always thought it odd that we in the U.S. seem think we own the word “American.” People in Canada and Mexico also share the continent of North America. And all the people in South America could consider themselves Americans, too.

    I’ve visited Canada three times, and hope to do it again. Once, I was sight-seeing in front of the Parliament in Ottawa, and a tourist from Great Britain assumed I was Canadian. “Is that your Parliament, or your Church?” he asked. “Oh, that’s our Parliament,” I told him, assuming dual citizenship. I suppose we Americans and Canadians all look the same to Englishmen.

    I’m also at home in French Canada. Although I’m not bilingual, I once had an entire spontaneous conversation in French. It didn’t require many words. I was wandering around in a Quebec City bar, and another patron of the bar assumed correctly that I was looking for the men’s room. “Ici,” he said, pointing. “Merci,” I told him. At least, that’s how I remember it. I wasn’t taking notes. I trust the Frenchman was impressed by my accent. After all, one of my grandfathers was a bilingual French Canadian from Quebec. Like him, I’m a man of few words, when it comes to French.

    • There was a time when I, when I was much younger, that I told everyone I was North American. Some how in my head this was the solution to us being separated. It drove my my Mother nuts! She would continually say, “yes,but, you are Canadian – North American”.
      You have been here three times and have never been to Niagara? That’s just not right, you have to visit again.
      By the way you may just be more bi-lingual than I am 😉

    • I always figure that we get to use the word “American” just because the word is in the name of our country. “United States of.” If you think about it, “United States of America” isn’t really a name per se, more like a description or a resume. If I say I’m from the United States of America, I half expect people to reply, “Yeah, but what are they called?”

      So since our country doesn’t quite have a normal name, I guess we get to call ourselves after the continent we happen to be on. 🙂

      • Most of the people I know on both sides refer to “The United States of America” as “The US” or “The States”. Easier, faster and shorter. 🙂

      • I remember reading “20,000 Leagues under the Sea” and being slightly confused when Verne referred to a Canadian harpooner as an “American,” though — so there’s at least one confirmed usage by someone who was just using it to mean “someone from that continent over there.” 🙂

  22. Awesome post! I grew up in St. Catharines not far from Niagara and as a kid I would go OTR with my mother. The mountains of clothes I had to wear on the way back as we smuggled things in. I remember having to run around a parking lot with my new shoes on just to make them look worn. I miss those days.

    • Oh Jennifer, I forgot about the shoes! How could I forget the shoes? Of course as soon as you got them home you weren’t allowed to get them dirty. “Not a mark on them, do you hear me?”.
      Those were the days. It was all so innocent.
      Thank you for stopping and commenting.

  23. Hi Michelle,

    I must say as a Nigerian (off the coast of west africa), I truly enjoyed this story even though I have never been to either of the countries.

    I was never a border kid, but have crossed a few borders and I am always fascinated. I like the feeling of placing “one leg in one country and the other leg in the other country” ……it is just a crazy awesome feeling for me! 🙂

    Great stories on the bicycle smuggling story. Nice piece. Oh yeah the border picture with the two country border guards is timeless.

    I have always seen the canadians as conservative compared to their american counterparts, I just might need to do more digging up on both culture…

    Nice Story

    • It really is a weird feeling being in two countries at once. I have often thought about this thin line that separates us. How would my life have been different if I was born on that side? Who are the people I would never have met or who I would meet if I was on the other side. What schools, churches etc. would I have attended? I certainly wouldn’t have changed it but, it is fun to think about.
      You will have to share some of your border stories as I am sure they are quite different from ours.
      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

      • Toresajo, thanks for a great message from Nigeria. As an American, I’ve always thought the Canadians were clearly more liberal. Canada has universal health care for all. Many nitwits in America believe universal health care is “socialist.” During the unpleasantness of the Vietnam War, many young American men moved north to escape the draft, and were warmly welcomed in Canada. Many of them settled there. America’s loss and Canada’s gain. I don’t know about all of Canada, but in Quebec there’s growing sentiment that everyone deserves the opportunity of a college education at low cost. California in the U.S. used to have free college tuition, but that’s history. Now middle-class students have to go deep into debt to get a college education throughout America.

        Michelle, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Canada has a much more enlightened attitude toward immigrants than the U.S. By welcoming the talents of motivated people from all over the world, Canada is or soon will be one of the most advanced of the modern economies.

        One other difference, and I guess you can’t label it liberal or conservative, but the streets of Canadian cities are usually cleaner than American cities, at least that was my experience several decades ago.

      • John, you may be right about our attitude toward immigrants.
        We do have a reputation for keeping our cities pretty clean. There have actually been complaints from US film crews shooting in Toronto that they have to plant debris around to make the streets look like US cities and if they break for lunch when they come back it is all cleaned up and they have to do it again. The continuity people are kept on their toes. 😉

    • Thank you Erica. I really appreciate you checking it out and commenting.
      Yes, it’s a funny thing the Canadian/American dynamic. It’s kind of like sibblings. You squabble all the time but you are fiercely protective of each other.

    • Thank you Curmudgeon.
      Those bell bottoms were the best but I can honestly say I never wore one of those jackets. If I had it would have been purple! 😉

  24. I grew up in Burlington and we would go to Niagara Falls and Buffalo to “drink and drown” for 10 bucks and I remember the going to the outlet malls, buying a bunch of clothes and putting them all on in the car in the parking lot. We’d rub up against the car to get them dirty and scuff each others shoes. At the end of the day, every parking space had a pile of abandon Canadian worn clothes. Wish I was old enough then to open a vintage clothing shop in the same mall. Could have made a fortune from those parking lot abandon clothes lol. Congrats on FP.

    • I forgot all about the “drink and drown”. The outlet malls weren’t established yet when I was a kid but, I have seen what you are talking about in the parking lot since then. I always thought it would be a good idea to put some Goodwill or Salvation Army bins in those parking lots for the abandoned clothes.
      Thanks for the congrats and for stopping by and commenting.

  25. I’ve heard that border story, except it was the U.S./Mexico border, and the man was smuggling donkeys. It’s a great story, and very possibly true in both cases. What’s it like trying to cross by foot now? I grew up near Ottawa, so my only border crossing was into Quebec because the drinking age was 18 and you could buy beer at the gas station. Lemme tell you, Hull is no Niagra falls. Great post, and deserving of the FP distinction.

    • Thank you Sara, I appreciate it.
      Funny you should ask about the crossing on foot. I hadn’t done that in years but had to find out a couple of weeks ago. He-Who and I had both driven our cars over the river and met at my sister’s. It was late when we left so I left my car behind and went home with He-Who. The plan was for him to drop me at the bridge on our side and for me to walk across and my sister would pick me up on her side and take me to my car. The only bridge that indicated you could cross on foot was the Rainbow Bridge, so off I went. It was pouring rain and I was soaking wet by the time I got across. They have really changed the immigration/customs area and there were several stages that you had to go through 1 person at a time. The next door would not open until the previous door was fully closed. It was like those decontamination chambers you see on TV. The officer yelled at me at one point because I tried to go through a wrong door. When I finally got through it came out in a different spot than it used to years ago so I was a little confused. Good thing I have a built in sense of direction and finally found my sister waiting for me.
      I think I will stick to my car from now on.

  26. …wait! please dont write any more…im falling behind reading this post…mainly cos im laughing and enjoying it so much!
    but hey…is this a serious attempt at trying to make me move back to Torrono, eh? yes..you guessed right…i used to be an ontarian (!) one time…but that damn stuff called freezing rain made me freak out of there like a bat out of hell….and i moved to BC!
    yes, so your post brings back loadsa memories, man…..im almost smitten again…..;)

    • Heheheheh … sorry to mess up your schedule but, I’m glad you are enjoying it. Don’t you know that everyone who goes out to BC usually ends up back in Ontario. Maybe it’s your turn. 😉

  27. I’ve lived in two Canada/US border towns, though I live in the UK now, I really enjoyed your blog – brought back a lot of memories of going grocery shopping in the US when we lived near the Saint John/Calais border…and I always loved those ‘on par’ nights at Mexican restaurants in Detroit when we were in Windsor, Ontario.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Kelly. You are right there used to be all kinds of “at par” promotions over the river. Not so much anymore.

  28. As US citizens living in Atlantic Canada for fourteen years, we’ve crossed the border dozens of times. In either direction, there’s always something great to look forward to.

    Wonderful post, Michelle. I didn’t know you were Freshly Pressed — congratulations!

    • Thanks Charles, I’m really pleased you took the time to check out this post. It was fun to remember all our cross border shenanigans. Getting freshly pressed was pretty exciting for me. I just have to figure out what I did right so I can have it happen on my own blog 😉

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