For generations, Americans who own cottages in Canada have crossed the border, without incident, to enjoy their cottages. Each year they become part of their Canadian summer community, paying property taxes, bolstering our economy by shopping locally, being good neighbours, and friends. They are true
River people, part of our fabric and part of us. And this is equally true of Canadians who own cottages on the U.S. side of the border.
Until Covid-19, that is. These people were denied access to their cottages in 2020 because of the closed border and they are fearful this could be repeated in 2021. Various local groups, such as the Thousand Islands Association, and Save the River have raised this concern with both governments and with the Wilson Center in Washington, DC.
I am writing on behalf of six American families who own cottages at Butternut Bay, a community of thirty-one largely seasonal residences just west of Brockville on the St. Lawrence River. They all have come to Canada for decades, with some families stretching back over one hundred years. They are heartbroken thinking that they may be denied entry again this year, and this same feeling is shared by other cottage owners in the Thousand Islands, and in border regions across the country.
A special category already exists for "so-called" essential workers who cross the border in the hundreds, if not thousands, every day. Amongst others, they are healthcare workers from the Windsor, Ontario area, working in the Detroit area; truck drivers from everywhere delivering supplies; and others essential to trade and government.
Surely a similar temporary category can be established for property owners and their families, until the border is fully reopened. These people are not tourists or casual visitors, they are seasonal residents, who need access in order to maintain their properties, and who will abide by the health and safety rules, while contributing to their local summer communities. This can be done safely – for all concerned – and denying them entry makes no sense.
Please help by contacting your local politicians to ask for their support. Together, we can make a difference.
By Bob Anderson, Butternut Bay
Bob Anderson is a lifelong summer resident of Butternut Bay and a besotted River Rat. His grandparents first arrived at the Bay in 1920. Bob and his wife, Sandra, their 3 children and six grandchildren, constitute the fourth and fifth generations of his family at the Bay. After graduating from Carleton University in Ottawa, Bob worked in the food industry for his entire career in various senior management positions at Dominion Dairies (Sealtest) and Burnbrae Farms, where he retired as President, in 2012. He was also President, of the Butternut Bay Association Inc., for over 30 years.
Be sure to see the book review of "Butternut Bay, A Treasured Summer Community, TI Life, January 2017.
Editor's Note: Since the border closed in 2020, I have often printed up-date notices on our TI Life Facebook page, and each time I received comments such as "keep the border closed.." and some not polite ones as well. However now, April 2021 the tables have turned. Ontario's Covid-19 number have increased exponentially and Canadians have had only one vaccine shot while our neighbours to the south have proof of receiving two injections. Our island is in the Admiralty Group, and I counted over 25 American neighbours who are unable to return to their cottage. Many, like in Butternut Bay, have been here for generations. Please follow Bob Anderson's suggestion and write to your respective politicians so our merchants on both sides of the border may once again have a productive summer.
Posted in: Volume 16, Issue 4, April 2021, Essay
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