Sunday, February 27, 2022

US-Canadian Borders: My Connection

This morning paper surprised me as I was familiar with all the names and locations in the article. It read as follows:

It was about the Canadian borders with the U.S (truckers freedom convoy) in Canada.

The three border crossings are:

  1. Coutts, Alberta, to Sweet Grass, Montana
  2. Emerson, Manitoba, to Pembina, North Dakota
  3. The Ambassador Bridge at Detroit and Windsor, Ontario

First, about the Coutts border. In August 2008, my son-in-law Raymond Warner III (the 3rd) and I attended the Calgary Toastmasters International Convention. On the way to Calgary, I was scheduled to do a presentation at the Japanese Canadian Museum in Burnaby, neighboring Vancouver City, British Columbia, about my Japanese translation of Joanne Oppenheim’s “Dear Miss Breed”. In fact, I was to deliver a dozen translated books to the museum signed by me for the readers gathering there. I thought I had enough time to travel in a rented car, from Vancouver Airport to Burnaby, but an unusual delay at the Canadian customs clearance made my arrival at the museum half an hour late.

I apologized to my audience of 30 people waiting for my arrival. Thankfully, the event went off well.

Raymond and I then drove to Banff (probably my 3rd visit) to the Calgary Toastmasters Convention where TM Kiminari Azuma was representing Japan as a D76 speaker and I wanted to cheer him on.

Raymond's Google direction in 2008 read as follows:

From Calgary, drive down 180 miles south, about 3 miles, take Blackfoot & Deerfoot Trails SE, take Crowsnest Hwy E, Hwy-2 S, Hwy-3E/Red Coat Trail E toward Lethbridge, Card-stone/Fort Macleod, turn right at Hwy 2, now entering US-89.

Coutts is 60 miles southwest of Lethbridge. I was close to Coutts but Raymond and I didn't go through I-15. Raymond wanted to take me on a tour of Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton-Mormon Row, Jackson, Idaho Falls, Craters of the Moon, (almost all are National Parks) before returning the rental car in Boise, Idaho.

I read that Coutts was a town of 250 mostly senior citizens, expanded further at Milk River, previously the site of an RCMP checkpoint. Now Coutts is the busiest port of entry for Alberta and Montana, seeing 800-1200 trucks pass through daily, and is critical to Alberta’s beef and meatpacking industry. The 'truckers freedom convoy' otherwise known as the anti-vaccine mandate protest has prevented hundreds of truckers from transporting their cargo across the Canadian-US border.

Next, about Emerson, Alberta. I visited my Toastmaster friend Rob Duncan in Winnipeg, Manitoba after attending the Toastmaster Chicago Convention in 2000. Rob was stationed in Iizuka City hospital, Fukuoka for a few years (near Kitakyushu). While in Iizuka, he installed Iizuka Toastmasters ahead of Kitakyushu. I wanted to listen to his motivation as well as background.

While in Winnipeg, I extended my trip to Regina to visit Verna Mitura, a Canadian friend I met at the Hino English Club. She represented the Canadian Government in agriculture, a career woman. First, I drove from Winnipeg to Regina straight and just saw nothing but wheat fields. So, when returning to Winnipeg, I took the border routes. I recognized Emerson on my return route. There was a huge International Peace Garden, located on the Canadian/American border near Boissevain, Manitoba/Dunseith, N, Dakota, where I spent a lovely afternoon. I traced border routes through Turtle Mountain, etc. and at Emerson/Pembina, drove straight up north back to Winnipeg.

Lastly, about the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit. I didn't see the Ambassador Bridge, but the name sounded familiar. It was Spring 1957. I was a lucky greenhorn fresh from college to accompany two 'big bosses' as their interpreter traveling almost all major US cities. Detroit then was a must-visit city for businessmen and that's where my Fulbright Professor McCormick taught - Wayne U! The doctor marked my English essay 99! When I telephoned, he was so glad to hear from me and invited me to his home for dinner. He told me that Detroit is the only city south of Canada at that crossing.

The article brought forth fond memories of my travels in the US and Canada and the border crossings, particularly with Raymond in particular. I kept Montana travel routings and diaries printed and bound in a booklet formatted by Raymond in my bookshelf.

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