Detained at Pigeon River Border

     It started out like a normal day…  The sun rose, the sky was blue and life was good.  What could have been an opportunity to welcome U.S. citizens into Canada quickly turned sour.  This is a typical scenario that replays itself time and time again.  Just what is it about applying for a Remote Area Border Crossing Permit in person at the Pigeon River Canadian Customs and Immigration that makes the workers there so not nice? 

     It isn’t just one person’s experience and it’s as predictable as the sun setting that when you ask to have a Remote Area Border Crossing Permit processed at Pigeon River it’s like asking the sun not to set.  The five or six employees who are visiting, playing computer games or surfing the net do not welcome the intrusion of a US citizen asking for a RABCP.  A person would be better off walking into the building with drugs or a gun because at least then the employees might respond in a more timely fashion.

     The actual processing of the permit should not be a big deal.  A person just needs to enter the data into a computer, wait for the computer to do a quick background check, then fill out a form, print it out and presto, a permit!   Unfortunately this does not happen and the process that has been observed by many people is one that is mind boggling. 

     Like a well practiced magician the immigration’s worker takes the paperwork and disappears.  Just when you think the worker has gone home for the day, usually after two or more hours, they magically reappear.  They saunter over to their workstation, type into the computer, then call you over.  The line they use doesn’t vary too much from time to time and goes something like this.

"You know, you are lucky I’m going to issue this permit.  I wouldn’t have to do this right now and I could make you mail it in.  You should have just mailed it in, I’m doing you a favor."

To which most people think… "Thank you so very much for wasting 5 hours of my day, I really appreciate it."

     According to various reports  words like, "service with a smile" or "customer service" do not ring a bell with immigration employees at Pigeon River.  There is no warm welcome and most people leave wondering why they even want to be able to enter Canada.  Then they remember the Quetico Park.

     An unspoiled wilderness area set aside for canoe camping.  Lakes clean enough to drink, teeming with fish and waiting to be explored.  Campsites on islands, eagles overhead and the call of the loon.  These are some of the reasons why people subject themselves to such odd treatment at the border.

     Is it worth it?  I think I will be mailing my application in the future.  But then again, isn’t that exactly what they want?    Something to think about another day.