Monday, June 1, 2009

Our American Cousins

Today, for the first time -- ever -- Canadians will require a passport before they can enter the United States. Most Canadian cities, including Vancouver, are so close to the border, that we are used to just "popping over" to do some shopping, or take a Sunday drive. We could drive through the border so easily, it was as if Canada and the US were the same country. On my 27th birthday my friends threw a surprise party for me at a fabulous little tavern in Washington State called -- appropriately -- Jo's Place. I will always remember that birthday because, since my birthday is two days after Christmas, it was the only time in my adult life that anyone had ever thrown a birthday party for me, much less a surprise party.

Going to the US was referred to as "going across the line". Sunday shopping was a frequent pastime of all of my friends.

"I love your shoes! Where did you get them?"

"Oh, in a little store across the line."

Now we are two separate countries, and it feels rather strange. The "longest undefended border" in the world has now slammed its doors shut on its Canadian cousins. Well, I don't have a Canadian passport, since mine has long-expired, so I won't be going to the US anytime soon. I will look across the border, but I will have to spend my money here in Canada.


Anonymous said...

Seems as though we closed the wrong border.

The Bug said...

Wow - that was a bright move! You shopping dollars would have helped bolster the economy!

Jo said...

Cat, well... *heh* Yes, I agree.

The Bug, some of the stores across the line in Washington State are already going bankrupt. We were their biggest supporters!

Hilary said...

Ah well it's not exactly a closed door.. just a more heavily guarded one. Passports are costly though, and though I'm close to the New York border, I just won't be able to shop their either unless I fork up the cash for the few years that a passport lasts. It's disappointing, but times do change.

the walking man said...

It's the same for us Jo no expanded drivers license or passport no travel.

greenpanda said...

Awww thats sad. Its awful. But logical, I suppose................

Anna Kauz said...

Yes, frustrating!! As an American, not just Canada, but Mexico (though I think they needed to do this a while ago), and the Caribbean!! I wish they had just let things be the way they were. No more spur of the moment cruises, I gotta save up for that passport now :(.

Starlene said...

I didn't know anything about this.

I'm actually going to a Volkswagen Scirocco annual gathering in Cincinnati this weekend and we usually have several fellow enthusiasts travel from Ontario and B.C. I wonder if they'll have trouble?

Seems rather silly to me. I wonder what asinine politics inspired that move?

scarlethue said...

It's strange isn't it? I'm still not sure why we did it. Land of the free, huh?

TheChicGeek said...

A sad but necessary sign of the times.

Leslie: said...

Canada needs to lower to "price" of applying for a passport and to make them last longer. Right now, they're supposedly good for 5 years, but in actual fact the last 6 months of the passport is no good! Blah!

Cedar said...

Josie for you I will go and cut a hole in the fence.

Josie, I think they did it to prevent a mass exodus over the border TO Canada. I personally been working on being nice and smiling so I can fit in. I need a lot more practice.


As an American, I'm just as saddened as you are, Jo.

My son is married to a young Mexican girl who has the better part of her family living in Mexico, and now they've been 'cut off' as well.

I don't believe it's being done for security reasons as much as it's being done to monitor the American citizen who just might find Canada or Mexico a better 'home' after the screw-ball antics of these past 10 years of government.

The government thought fine to out-source jobs which hurt our economy, and now they want us to stay 'locked up' in a country that has long since lost what ever respect it might have earned from other nations.

I dislike what's going on; see no need to have made this 'move', to insulate us from those we admire as our neighboring countries.

Of course the cost to get that passport is another source of revenue as well as an excellent way of knowing who cares enough to want to 'leave' - to go 'back and forth', as I did so often over my many years.

Maybe if enough people don't buy into the 'passport' thing; they don't get the money they expect from this crazy idea, they'll revise it or ban it completely.

So sad as I see it; so very sad...........

jackc50 said...

a sad sign of the times......canada has always been a good neighbor and i hope they always will...take care, jack

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Politics....go figure. Maybe this is a move to "create" more jobs?

Mean Mama said...

It is sad that people near the boarders of our countries have to suffer the most and the shopkeepers on either side. When I lived in Montana I used to go to a little place over the boarder to have breakfast on Sunday mornings with my son, and take advantage of the shopping. They also had the closest movie theater. I lived five miles from the boarder, and I know it sounds bad, but I liked going to Canada for some friendly atmosphere. Some sort of concession should be made for boarder folks. Maybe, like all things, if the people make noise, there will be change.

Mary Ellen/Nunly said...

My husband had to get a new passport (they won't allow the old design) because he goes fishing and camping in Canada every summer. I thought he had to have that done a year or so already, though. Maybe they are just starting to enforce it now. Isn't it a shame that it has come to this with neighbors.

I'm not sure, I'll have to look into it, but I wonder if we in the US need passports to go to Mexico, too? I haven't been there since I was a young teen, so I'm not sure.

Paula Slade said...

Jo, as an American, all I can say is, I'm sorry. It shouldn't be this way as Canada and America have always been the closest friends and best neighbors. :(

Land of shimp said...

Hi Jo, I stumbled across your blog when it was listed in the Blogs of Note a while back. I stop by to read your posts on a regular basis, but this finally made me get an account so that I could reply.

A year ago I visited Vancouver from Colorado and a passport was required, so I renewed my passport which had expired the year before, and my husband got his first passport.

I'm sorry that this is causing anyone inconvenience, but renewing/applying for a passport is actually a fairly painless process. Find a passport office, pick an off time to go in to file the paperwork -- all necessary forms are available online -- and there you have it. Mine took ten days to be processed. My husband's took only two days longer.

Frankly, it was a lot like going to the DMV here, only the result was mailed to me, and the atmosphere was more pleasant.

Even if you don't plan to travel abroad, having a passport is a wonderful feeling. Even if you never hop a jet to Paris, in the back of your mind, you will know that you can.

I don't work for any tourism board, or in the travel industry, but you seem like a person who likes to imagine things. Having a passport adds possibility to dreams.

Sorry, I realize that some view this as a hassle, and I don't mean to sound as if "Passports, rah! Rah!" but I'm always amazed by how many people don't have one, yet keep their driver's license current without a qualm. A passport is basically a traveler's license.

I read somewhere that only 10% of U.S. Citizens have a passport, and was shocked to learn it. Yes, it's odd to need a passport to go to Mexico and Canada for us, but not having a passport means the doors of the rest of the world are shut to a person.

We live in very interesting times, and maybe having a passport, instead of being about stricter rules, could be about a nearly literal broadening of horizons.

It's unlikely that I'll go tearing off to Germany, or England tomorrow, but I know I could. I'll tell you what, having a passport makes the world just feel a bigger, more personal part of my life.

And Vancouver was stunning, and worth every second (times ten) that it took getting my passport in order to go there.

Thanks for the great blog!

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