Q: What’s your favorite (or least favorite) spot to cross over the border?

by Matthew Sylvain

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Being a long-haul trucker in Canada often means spending a lot of time south of the border. After a while, a driver comes to know the ins and outs of Canada-U.S. relations better than most politicians.

So it’s no surprise many of them come to favor certain crossings over others.

Truck News polled transport-truck drivers at the Husky Truck Stop on Dixie Rd., just north of Hwy. 401, in Mississauga, Ont. to learn about the best and the rest.

Owner/operator Butch Griffin is using his 2001 Freightliner to haul trailers full of home furniture to New Jersey for Atlas Van Lines.

Griffin, a driver for 20 years, says he’s been lucky crossing at the Detroit, Mich.-Windsor, Ont. border. As long as you have your paperwork in order, you’ll not be hassled, he says. “I seem to have good luck, so that’s why I go back there,” explains the Ottawa trucker.

Quebecer Timmy Foran was on a layover, having dropped a load off at a Mississauga facility earlier in the day and has arranged to pick another up in the morning. He can’t understand why many of the U.S. border posts are understaffed, which often leads to unnecessary traffic lines.

“But that’s got nothing to do with the border itself,” notes Foran, who has few problems when running back into Canada.

An O/O with two trucks, Foran has racked up 196,000km on his main rig, a 2000 Freightliner.

“I don’t have a favorite crossing, but I will say that the worst crossing I’ve ever crossed at is that one (at) Champlain, N.Y.-Lacolle, Que.,” says Tom Neu.

“That’s a lousy crossing – they don’t have the brokers offices right there or anything else like that. The last time I crossed there I had to wait 45 minutes for the broker just to show up,” says the O/O from Listol, Ont. who drives for Pearce Trucking, out of Leamington, Ont.

A hauler of temperature-sensitive products, Neu can’t afford to just sit at a border – but often he does. He once waited 36-hours for a U.S. meat inspector who was off-duty for U.S. Thanksgiving.

“At times like that, they’ve got you by the short and curlies.”

A driver for 12 years, Neu has 223,000km on his 2000 International.

Rookie driver and retired Mississippi State employee George Warner has only driven his Freightliner north of the border three times in his 11-month career.

He’s crossed over the Ambassador Bridge at Windsor all three times.

A hauler of reefers, Warner makes a point of trying to hit the bridge early in the morning.

He notes bitterly that U.S. Customs charges a fee on returning citizens. “It cost me five bucks to return to my own country.”

Cecil Hoff, who usually crosses at Portal, Sask. since he lives not far away in Estevan, says “usually its good going down, mostly because of bar codes and line releases.”

The PARS system has eased the paperwork, he adds. n

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