Playing hoops to get into Canada | Mann Overboard

Bill Mann
Posted 10/6/21

Want to jump through more hoops than a circus tiger? 

We did. Try visiting Canada right now. I know some of you would like to. But be prepared for quite an obstacle course. 

And …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Playing hoops to get into Canada | Mann Overboard


Want to jump through more hoops than a circus tiger? 

We did. Try visiting Canada right now. I know some of you would like to. But be prepared for quite an obstacle course. 

And Canadians can’t visit the U.S. — except if they fly in. Why not? It’s a bit of a mystery. 

We hadn’t seen our son or our grandkids up in Vancouver in 2 1/2 years. Much too long. COVID restrictions. 

So when Canada, which is so close you can see it from North Beach, opened its border to us Yanks in early August, we started making plans — and jumping through those hoops. 

Hoop number one: getting fully vaccinated. Done and done. That one was easy. 

Next: Getting a required PCR molecular test, which is the gold standard — not the quicker, less accurate antigen test. And it has to be done no more than 72 hours before entering Canada. And doctors won’t prescribe a PCR test for travel. 

So you have to go to a private lab. There’s one in PT, and the test ain’t cheap; $180 a pop. 

The tests are sent to a lab in Bellingham, and results aren’t known for two to three days. That’s a problem if you’ve made ferry and Vancouver hotel reservations (two more hoops) three days away. Anxiety time. But our labs came back OK in only two days. The PT lab, however, couldn’t send me mine because of an e-mail glitch. A long wait at the lab here while they finally figured it out. More hoop dreams answered. 

Now we were approaching the final hoop, loading all our info into the ArriveCan app, which you must present completed at the border.

Again, everything went fine with my wife, but my app stopped loading about three-quarters of the way through. Oy. 

I spent an entire stressful day on the phone with Canadian tech support, who were helpful, but they couldn’t figure it out. And my French isn’t great after years of disuse. 

So we decided to roll the dice, take our chances and head up to the border crossing at Peace Arch, near Blaine. 

The Canadian customs guy read my good lab report, and then handed us two boxes containing more nasal swab tests, which we completed nearby in about a half hour. They said they’d call if we tested positive, which they didn’t. If we developed symptoms in Canada, we needed a quarantine plan (another hoop) in place. That was easier for us than most. We could stay at our son’s condo on the University of British Columbia campus.(Canada allows private residences on campuses.) 

We’d finally cleared the last hoop. So we changed our odometer from miles to kilometers and were on our way to lovely Vancouver. Finally. 

It was eerie coming  back. South of Vancouver, at the U.S. border, it’s usually packed with Canadians coming to the U.S. to shop, but we were the only car at the border. Crossing back to the U.S. was a lot easier than leaving. 

But there were times while up in Canada when we missed living there. It was a pleasure spending time in a pleasant, civilized place again. (The Canada customs guy had asked us the usual, welcome first question: “Do you have any firearms?”) 

Other rewards for all the hassles: Bringing back great Montreal bagels and also, Cobb’s Bakery cape seed bread. Best toast ever. Alas, my favorite Montreal smoked-meat deli in Vancouver, Dunn’s, just recently closed.

— Taking the waters: The PT pool, it appears, will finally reopen any day. To some of us, this is a big deal. Thanks to a homeowner friend there, I’ve been lap swimming at Kala Point’s pleasant pool. Kala residents, whose pool closes next week, are happy about the PT-pool reopening news.

More good news: The Port Angeles-Victoria MV Coho ferry just got a $500,000 grant from the PA city council to keep it in business. When Canadians are finally allowed to travel south, it’ll set sail again. 

The great Al Franken is doing stand-up comedy again. One of his best lines: “The main cause of death in this country is Tucker Carlson.” 

Middle Age Riot, on Twitter: “In the number of COVID-19 deaths, Florida is up to 80 Benghazis per day.” 

(PT humorist Bill Mann is always looking for items. Where to send? 


1 comment on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • KingEd1

    Bill's column lifted my spirits!

    I was disheartened to learn about all the hoops Bill and his wife had to jump through, in order to visit their son in Canada.

    The all-day screw-up in filing the required paperwork with Canada seems especially vexing.

    However, it cheered me in an odd way to know that other nations'' bureaucracies are as screwed up as our own.

    Apparently, we are not alone in the thicket of computerized incompetence and malfeasance.

    Bill, next time try sneaking into Canada and setting up a camp beneath a highway overpass. Good luck!

    Sunday, October 10 Report this