Ottawa

Snowbirds flock to U.S. land border on first day of opening

After a 19-month shutdown the land border between the United States and Canada finally reopened to non-essential travel Monday and snowbirds did not waste any time flocking to the border. 

Travellers faced long lines at some border crossings Monday

People faced big line ups at the Thousand Islands land border crossing to the U.S. Monday. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

After a 19-month shutdown the land border between the United States and Canada finally reopened to non-essential travel Monday and snowbirds did not waste any time flocking to the border. 

"Six hours…we got on the road at 4 a.m. this morning and this is how far we came," said Karen McIsaac described her wait on her way to Florida as she sat in a line at the Thousand Islands border crossing. 

The United States has kept the land border closed to non-essential travel since March 2020, but Monday those aged 18 and older who are fully vaccinated and younger travellers were permitted to cross. 

That line for the Thousand Islands crossing stretched for kilometres at points in the morning, with hundreds lining up with literally nowhere to go. 

"I need the washroom," said Doris Aubin who was travelling to Mexico to stay for the winter for the first time. She started her day at 3 a.m. 

WATCH | Travellers face long lines on first day of Canada-U.S. border opening

Travellers face long lines on first day of Canada-U.S. border opening

2 months ago
Duration 0:51
Canadian travellers hoping to cross the border into the U.S. on Monday faced long lines and hours-long waits, exacerbated by foggy conditions and a collision on Highway 401. 0:51

Good for business

At one point fog and a collision on the 401 added to the traffic, making some wish they had taken alternate routes to cross. 

"We actually had a helicopter booked for 9:00 a.m. this morning in Niagara that we cancelled thinking that we could easily go across the border," said Craig Fulton another snowbird travelling to Florida.

"I imagine some people are keeping their reservation for the helicopter because they're going to avoid at least, I don't know, it's looking like six to eight hours."

For some the anticipation for the border opening has made big business. 

"We have quite a few coming in because they need a place to stay before they cross the border," said Susan Marcoux, owner of the Thousand Islands/Mallorytown KOA campground

"We're staying open until the 12th by phone reservation only because there is no water at the sites…in the spring we open Friday April 15 and so then we'll be expecting quite a few coming back again."

It wasn't busy everywhere Monday — things were moving well at the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge.

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