Buffalo Shufflin’

26 September 2008


Stayed overnight with our friends and most excellent hosts Steve & Martha Thomas, who gave us their hospitality so that we could get an early start at the Canadian Consulate General in Buffalo, NY. With the request for Katharine’s passport in hand, we arrived shortly after 8:00 AM to find a short line in the lobby. After ten minutes we were all taken upstairs to the consulate, where there were maybe ten others already in the waiting room off to one side.

We handed over the passport and paperwork and were given a card with a number and told to wait. We hadn’t eaten because, based on reports of others who had been through the procedure, we thought we’d be killing five hours in Buffalo while waiting for Katharine’s immigration visa to be processed. After two hungry hours our number was called and within minutes, visa attached to passport, we were eager to finalize Katharine’s immigration at the border. Except that getting the file electronically transferred to ports-of-entry isn’t quite that fast. 

So three hours, brunch, and almost but not quite meeting up with another friend in the area later, we crossed the Peace Bridge back into Canada. No wait at all at the guard booth. Pulled into Customs & Immigration and walked inside. No wait at all at Immigration. The official went clickety-clack at his terminal for a few minutes, had Katharine initial and sign a few places, and told her she was now a permanent resident. (No complimentary pin, flag or flask of maple syrup given as a welcome. What the hell, Canada.) Then across the narrow room to Customs—no wait at all—to provide a list of Katharine’s belongings we hope to move up here… someday. Then to the cashier: no wait there, either, nor fee to be paid, just a stapling together of documents. And we were done.

Except that we figured: let’s face all the bureaucracies in one day! So we went to the Service Canada Centre in Niagara Falls, Ontario for Katharine’s Social Insurance Number (like the Social Security card in the US) and then to to a Ministry of Health location in Toronto to register her for health care, which will become effective on Christmas. No more than a two minute wait at either of these places, either. For once the government was working as it’s supposed to! Everything went smoothly and easily. Still, it was eight hours all told from the consulate to the ministry of health; eight months since we started Katharine’s immigration; close to two years since I immigrated; and going on four years since we decided to attempt the move and change our lives.

Celebration dinner and home. Yes, home: Canada. A long day but a good day. (Except now we have TWO federal elections to angst about…)


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