We awoke Thursday morning three hours after going to sleep to grab Dan’s girlfriend from the Cleveland Airport and to get a head start on the border crossing that was to take place at the Peace Bridge outside Niagra. Ever since we found out we were traveling into Canada, we had been amassing various band stories about Canadian Immigration ranging anywhere from mild harassment to serious extortion to outright denial of entry. Because bands carry so much equipment and merchandise they are like giant red flags to Canadian Immigration officers. To complicate matters, one of us has a DUI, which technically makes this person inadmissible to Canada. We left Cleveland not knowing if we were even going to able to play the Canadian shows.
Sure enough at our crossing we were asked to pull over for further inspection. Even though I knew we had a legitimate right to be in Canada, the paperwork to prove it, and no illegal substances in the car, my heart raced and my hands shook as I handed the investigating officers our yellow Immigration paper. The Canadian officers searched our car rather half heartedly then sent us inside for questioning. The inquiring officer was actually quite pleasant in a no nonsense sort of way. It was obvious to us from the beginning that we’d been flagged due to the DUI and once that was out in the open we felt a bit better, especially when we were informed that we could enter the country after paying a fee to obtain a temporary residence permit, or TRP. Once the offending party purchased the TRP (which took all of five minutes—take a lesson in efficiency from our friendly neighbors to the north, US government agencies) we were free to go.
Certainly elated, we decided to celebrate our successful border crossing by taking a short detour to check out Niagra Falls. We took Niagra Blvd which hugged the coast line for 27km of some of the most beautiful landscape and houses I’ve ever come across, culminating in a breathtaking view of the massive twin falls. There’s no proper way to express the rush one feels as you witness the mighty power of Niagra Falls. It’s simply incredible.
The Phoenix Theatre in Toronto was large, but kind of a dump. Random pieces of furniture were stacked haphazardly in the merch area, the dressing room we shared with Company of Thieves was the size of a coat closet, and the whole building seemed like a converted Cold War era schoolhouse or office building that could collapse at anytime. The city surrounding it looked awesome but we didn’t get to spend much time exploring it, apart from a quick bite at local mom and pop diner, Chew Chews.
The set went well, there were a ton of people, Tim came out and played on “Ride” as he’d been doing for a couple of shows now; overall a cool show. I was personally just a bit disappointed in the venue. I assumed incorrectly that Toronto would have some bad ass theatre or something. Most likely, we can chalk this feeling up to being spoiled by House of Blues and some of the other pretty cool rooms we’d played.
One last note on Toronto: you have the biggest raccoons I’ve ever seen. One the size of a pit bull scared the shit out of me when it leapt into the dumpster I was standing near while loading our stuff out at the end of our set.