One Year On, Our Beloved Cross-Border Places and Friends Remain So Close, Yet So Far Away

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper, followed by a limerick from a U.S. friend of mine who is also a friend of Canada

Posted March 21st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

The Peace Bridge crossing between Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo, New York, loaded with trucks and cars, in the times before COVID-19

One full year now!

Can you believe it – a whole year has gone by since the federal governments in Canada and the United States closed our border crossings from coast to coast to everyone but “essential” traffic, whatever essential means in the eyes of a Canadian government that doesn’t seem to mind Canadian “snowbirds” hopping on a helicopter or plane to have their cars delivered to them on the other side of the border.

The skyline of Buffalo,New York from Ontario – so close and yet now so far away.

I am in my 60s going on 70 years old and I don’t think I don’t think there has been a time in my life that a whole year has gone by without crossing the border from Niagara, Ontario to the U.S.A.

On recent hikes with friends along the Ontario side of the Niagara River, I now look across the water at places like Buffalo or Lewiston, New York and think – “So near, yet so far away.

I also now think of so many of the places my family and  I liked to visit over there or the events we looked forward to, like the Allentown Art Festival and Garden Walk in Buffalo, as something nostalgic … something from the past.

A peak at Artpark and Lewiston, New York from the Ontario side of the Niagara River. Artpark has been a venue of many fine musical memories for so many of us on the Canadian side of the river. Will there be any more. Photo by Doug Draper

I almost wonder if we will ever get back there to enjoy so much as a walk through Elmwood Village in Buffalo, New York again.

I also wonder if we will ever be able to get together again with dear friends in the United States.

Some of them have relatives on the Canadian side of the border that they have not been able to see for a year now – some of these relatives are elderly and suffering from debilitating disease – and some have homes they cherish here that they have not been able to visit for even a day.

One of the great events of spring in Buffalo, New York, the Allentown Art Festival…. When will we ever get to enjoy anything quite like this, with a street gathering running into the countless tens-of-thousands, again? It seems like just one more distant memorty now.

I leave you with a limerick sent to me by an old American friend, Steve Rowan who, along with his wife Michele, owns a home where they love to spend their winters on Wolfe Island, Ontario. They are good, responsible people who have followed all of the COVID-19 precautions, and they understand why Canadians are so reluctant to just swing the border gates open to all Americans.

They completely understand who a majority of Canadians have looked down at how horrifically the now-former Trump administration handled this killer pandemic, and at the monstrous death toll it led to, and have said – ‘No bloody way do we want the border crossings to open.’

Yet they are frustrated, just the same, and it comes through in Steve’s limerick, which reads as follows –

Steve and Michele Rowan have this wonderful ‘Old Sea Pines Inn’ on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. We now wonder if we will ever get back there again, just as much as they wonder about their winter home on Wolfe Island in Ontario. Photo by Doug Draper

“The exclusion causes me to think of the assumption of rights 

We hope when we invest our time and our might

To contribute our hearts and minds to the Canadian fight,

For liberty, values and holding truth in our sight.

Yet somehow the fear has twisted the thinking 

Leaving the few outside of concern; for their contributions are not worthy of a citizen’s rights…and that’s the mess in which we are sinking.

So Now Canada has learned the tricks of the U.S.  Just another reason to consider flight.

But where can we go when our minds must find a way to balance the right and the wrong

I know that  hoping for rights is not at all an accepted part of our being in Canada.

So we live with the challenges of your county  and, yet, hoping that somehow time will  assuage our simple plight. It seems law doesn’t cover those from outside.. .is it  a normal risk we make when we attempt to reside? 

You can lose your home, your freedom from fear.

Yet have no real claim on the home held so dear.”

  • Steve Rowan, from his American homes in Rome, New York and Cape Cod, Massachusetts

For a related story Niagara At Large posted this March on the cross-border issue, click on – 

NIAGARA AT LARGE Encourages You To Join The Conversation By Sharing Your Views On This Post In The Space Following The Bernie Sanders Quote Below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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