Though Kjersti Vick works a short drive from the Canadian border, the
sight of friendly Canucks coming through for a bit of skiing or a
lake-view lunch is no longer as familiar as it was 18 months ago
before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Which is why Vick, who is based in Grand Marais, Minn., says she can
hardly wait for the U.S. border to reopen to ground traffic sometime
early next month — even though there isn’t an exact date yet.
“I think we’re going to see a lot of Canadians,” Vick, a tourism
marketing director for Minnesota’s Cook County, predicted Thursday.
Vick didn’t have exact numbers,. but said that pre-COVID, Canadians
have normally accounted for a “signficant” portion of Cook County’s
It’s a similar story at the Grand Portage Lodge & Casino, which is
less than hour’s drive from Thunder Bay.
Grand Portage marketing director Todd Ford said business suffered
without the usual Canadian gamblers, although some of the edge was
taken off by Americans driving up from southern Minnestoa.
The casino, which includes a 95-room renovated lodge, was closed for
three months starting in March 2020 due to the pandemic.
Asked about possible bargains, Ford wouldn’t go into details, but
said the business is planning a “warm welcome” when Canadian
customers are able to return next month.
Unlike Ontario casinos, Grand Portage customers aren’t required to
wear masks, but doing so “is highly recommended,” said Ford.
Canadians travelling to the U.S. by vehilce will have to provide
documents proving they’ve been double-vaccianted against COVID-19.
They won’t be asked for that proof upon entering through Grand
Vick said the uptake for vaccinations in her area has been pretty
decent — about 3,400 people are fully-vaxxed out of 5,000, she said.
Canadians should bring masks when they travel, Vick said, since some
Cook County businesses require them as part of their individual
Meanwhile, Canadian-bound parcels and packages have been piling up a
stone’s throw from the border at Minnesota’s familiar Ryden’s Border
Store manager Jamie Spry said “we do have more than usual, but we’re
well-equipped to hold a lot of packages.”
For “a small fee,” the store holds packages for Canadian customers
who order products from companies that don’t ship to Canada.
In Fort Frances, a border town, chamber of commerce executive-
director Heather Johnson said ground travel to the U.S. once the
border reopens may not be expotential because of the requirement for
Canadians to get tested before returning to Canada to prove their
“I can’t see a lot of people wanting to do that just to buy a tank of
gas,” said Johnson.
She said Canadians making extended visits to see relatives in the
U.S. may be willing to suffer through the test.
“I don’t see a lot of movement through the border this winter,”
Johnson said. “I think there is still a level of caution out there,
but we’ll see.”