Thursday, January 27, 2005


Highwaymen At The Border!!

January is a brutal month for weather in Manitoba, so what better of an idea than to head south for a couple of days, even if where you are going is still cold, but not as cold? "Hell of an idea", I thought, when Edward phoned and asked me if I would like to make a road trip. We decided to head south Jan.7 and return on the 8th or 9th. We also dragged our friend Doug along for comic relief.

Edward is a friend I have known for about 20 years and is also the owner of Blue Water Aviation Services Ltd., in Pine Falls, Manitoba, which is the company I am employed with. Doug is a friend I have known for about 10 years and worked alongside. Both Doug and Ed fly also, so we figured our episode down south would be entitled "Dumb Bush Pilots in the City". (Still, not quite as hilarious or dangerous as "Dumb City Boys in the Bush", which we experience with some tourists regularly.)

We hit the road and headed for Minneapolis, Minnesota. We were going to the All-Canada Show where Canadian fishing and hunting lodge operators can showcase their operations to prospective customers. We figured we would meet up with some old friends and customers and say "hello".

We hit the border and cruised through U.S. Customs with ease. We were handled by a very polite female and quickly sent on our way. We hit the Interstate and made Minneapolis in good time, the whole trip taking us roughly 8 hours.

Anyways, we made our appearance at the All-Canada Show and had a good time, even though the beer, Canadian Labatt Blue was $5 US a bottle, which surprisingly did not deter our consumption! We saw a number of friends; Wayne from Thunderbird Lodge and Outposts, Donna and Ernie from Huron Air and Trophy Fish Outposts, John and Shad from Dogskin Lake Lodge and Outposts, Shawn from Jackson's Lodge and Outposts, Robert and Michelle from Munroe Lake Lodge, and Dick and Ryan from Cobham River Lodge. All in all we enjoyed ourselves and drank some whiskys and beers.

We decided to head north on Saturday afternoon. We said our good-byes and headed north on the Interstate. We made a few stops along the way, the last stop being in a small town before the border crossing at Emerson, Manitoba. Being "Bush Pilots" of stout hearts and strong minds, we wandered over to the "liquor commision". We had been in the US for over 24 hours, so the least we expected was to be able to take a bottle of whisky each back to "Friendly Manitoba". I chose a 1.75 liter (66 ouncer) bottle of MacAdams Canadian Rye Whisky, and Edward chose a 1.75 liter bottle of Canadian Club Whisky. I paid $12.50 US for mine, and Edward paid slightly more for his. We thought we were getting away cheap. HA!!! It wasn't until later we found out that you are only allowed to import $50 worth of goods back into Manitoba if absent for less than 48 hours, and alcohol and tobacco are excluded. Oh well, we'll just pay the duty on the bottles, no big deal.

We hit the border and declared our contraband. We were told to bring our receipts into the Customs building. Our vehicle was searched and a mess was made inside the vehicle. The contents of my personal day-pack were strewn all over the vehicle: i.e.- camera, toothbrush, socks, chequebook, etc.. The hood on the vehicle was raised and the engine was searched for who-knows-what. I was starting to get a little pissed. I realize the Border Guards were just doing their jobs, but it was still all very annoying.

Anyhow, to finish the tale, nothing was found in the vehicle (except the whisky) and we went to ante up the extra charge for the bottles we had. My jaw dropped when they told me to pay $37.44 CAN. I wasn't going to argue, so I paid it, grabbed my receipt, and Edward paid the same. We pissed and moaned about the extra charges for a few moments, and then had a good chuckle about our "cheap" whisky.

What gets me about the whole affair is; how can Americans import Canadian-Made whisky into the U.S., pay the duty and taxes, and then sell it to me for $16.03 CAN. when I can't buy it in Canada for that price? Somebody is getting rich. Look at the following document, maximize it to full-screen, and weep. $24.64 Provincial liquor mark-up fee, plus duty, GST, and PST!!! So, the $16 CAN Canadian-Made whisky purchased in the U.S. cost me $53 CAN by the time I got home. I tell you, it still tasted the same, but I still shake my head at the mark-up.

Yes, there are highwaymen at the border, and the government has their hands in your pocket like you wouldn't believe. (Ever wonder what Alberta oil should really cost us??????)

How can a Canadian-made product cost me 3 and 1/3 times as much in Canada as compared to being purchased in the U.S.? I don't understand this tax grab, it is violently excessive to me. By the way, gas was $.55 a liter CAN in the U.S. after the conversion. Go figure..... Posted by Hello

No wonder you paid so much, you didn't go to the duty free. Next time you go down there, here's what you do.

Before you hit the border, pull into Pembina, ND. Go to either the Big White store, or Happy Harry's. Order your booze there, paying regular US prices. They'll call your order up to the bus that sits by the border crossing.

Stop at the appropriate bus before you get to Canada Customs. They'll give you your order, plus a reciept. You can then carry your cheap booze across the border without paying duty. I believe you have to be across for more than 24 hours to do it. Probably best to check the Canada Custom's website first.
Thanks for the tip, Boomer. Next time we will follow your advice!
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