Dennis Anderson: With the Canadian border open again, anglers look north

Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune on

Published in Outdoors

Few business owners can survive a year with no income, but 60 or so Canadian resort and outfitter operators who suffered that fate and lived to tell the tale are exhibiting this weekend at the Discover Boating Northwest Sportshow, which ends its four-day run Sunday at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

"We did have a few Canadian tourists stay with us in 2020, in a couple of our cabins,'' said Gail Hockett, who with her husband, Steve, owns Witch Bay Camp on the Ontario side of Lake of the Woods. "But except for those, we had no guests and no business.''

Hockett is among Canadian resort and outfitter owners at the Northwest Sportshow who are attempting to regain the American sporting clientele they served before the pandemic's onset in 2020.

Understandably cautious about traveling during COVID-19, Americans who in some cases had journeyed for decades to Ontario and Manitoba to fish for walleyes, lake trout, bass and muskies stayed home in droves during the pandemic.

The Canadian government didn't give them much choice. It shuttered that nation's U.S. border in 2020, before opening it piecemeal with vaccination and other requirements that were finally lifted last fall.

Now, for the first summer since 2019, Americans can cross into Canada without being vaccinated for COVID-19, without registering their travel intentions beforehand on a Canadian government website, and without proving they are virus-free.


So, back to "normal''?

Not for everyone.

Some Canadian outfitters and resort owners didn't survive the pandemic and resulting border mayhem.

"We had over 200 members before the pandemic, and now we have 165,'' said Gerry Cariou, executive director of the Ontario Sunset Country Travel Association, a northwest Ontario tourism marketing organization. "Cash flow going from 100 percent to zero will impact any business.''


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