By Rick Smith
Many years ago when I was a lad living on the northern shore of Sugar Island, some of my friends and relatives would often accompany me when I crossed the river, and consequently the U.S./Canadian border, to see other friends and relatives in Garden River, Ont.
Of course, crossing the border without benefit of going through governmental checkpoints was highly illegal, but no one seemed to mind and we weren’t doing any harm, so we didn’t think much of crossing the border as we pleased. Still, we kept an eye out for any form of law enforcement that might spot us as crossed in rowboats.
One evening, as the sun was setting, a cousin and I were returning to Sugar Island from Garden River and had just reached shore when a bright yellow airplane on pontoons set down in the middle of the river just east of us. With the aid of a bullhorn, the men in the airplane identified themselves as Canadian border agents and asked us to row back out to them. We knew this wasn’t good for us. We also knew we had a couple of thing in our favor — one, Canadian law enforcement doesn’t have any jurisdiction in U.S. territory; and, two, the current travels east along the northern shore of the island at about seven miles per hour, leaving the airplane in a tricky situation.
We politely declined their invitation and, as we walked inland from the dock, we heard the airplane’s engine accelerate and we turned our heads around just in time to watch it take itself back into the air.
It was a long time before we crossed over into Garden River again, just as a precaution.