Tourists’ worst words saved for American border

While NWOTA and local tourism-based businesses have been complaining that the tough standards held by Fort Frances Border Services officials are keeping American dollars out of the region, many tourists from south of the border have nothing but praise for Canadian customs officials.
“Always been very nice, very great. Always had a great experience coming this way,” said Dennis Lotz of Joliet, Illinois, who visits the region to fish a couple of times a year.
Lotz said that he had a second hand experience with a border denial by officials, when one of his friends who was along for the trip was flagged last year.
“We had a friend who was denied because he had a DUI… I think he had to pay a little something,” he said. Lotz added it was a fairly recent offense. “He should have known better.”
While the incident was about the only negative he could think of about Canadian Border Services, he felt differently about the American side, as a fellow tourist had just cut ahead of his car in the hours-long line back into Minnesota. “No wonder people hate Americans,” he chuckled.
Mike Petrich of Crete, Illinois, had a somewhat more negative impression over his 17 years of summer fishing in Northwestern Ontario. While he’s never had any experiences with being turned away at the border, he said the experience can seem like an unnecessary hassle.
“It seems kind of arbitrary which ones they’re going to take a look at through the vehicle,” he said, adding that one year he was held up at the border for a two-hour search of his vehicle.
He said it was unclear to him what prompted the thorough search. “That’s what I mean, it was kind of arbitrary.”
Dr. Rich Roach had a similar point of view. The Minocqua, Wisconsin native said he’ll go out of his way to drive through the border crossing near Grand Portage, because he prefers the experience there. “Much more straight forward,” he said.
Curt Horman of La Crosse, Wisconsin, has come up over the summer annually for the past 40 years and had only good things to say about the Fort Frances crossing. “We’ve never had any problems.”
He saved his negative reviews for his experiences coming back to the States. “They know when the peak hours are,” he said, as he waited in a long line late Friday morning. “It discourages tourism.”
Mike Milne, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection insisted that officers are moving “at maximum capacity” and anyone looking to avoid long lineups should try before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. on weekends.