Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Northwest Angle couple denied entry into Manitoba trying to get back home to Minnesota

The snag the McKeevers encountered Easter Sunday results from a Canada rule that took effect Monday, Feb. 15, requiring that everyone entering the country by land test negative for COVID-19 within three days before entering Canada. The Northwest Angle couple had been traveling since late January.

The Warroad, Minn., port of entry photographed Oct. 5, 2020. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

As a lifelong resident of the Northwest Angle – he was born on Flag Island – Rick McKeever likely has crossed the Canadian border hundreds of times traveling to and from his home on the Northwest Angle, that oddity of U.S. geography surrounded on three sides by Canada and cut off from the rest of Minnesota by some 40 miles of Lake of the Woods.

So it was with some surprise on Easter Sunday that McKeever and his wife, Pat, were turned away at the Canadian border north of Warroad, Minn., while trying to get to their home on the Northwest Angle mainland to spend Easter with their family after a few weeks of traveling around the southern U.S.

Getting to the Northwest Angle by road requires traveling about 40 miles of remote Manitoba highway.

Northwest Angle map.jpg
Forum News Service



“We’d been gone since the 25th of January riding around the States, and I guess the rules have changed since we left,” McKeever, 71, said Monday. “I wasn’t sure that it was for everyone, but anyway, it was for us.”
The snag the McKeevers encountered Easter Sunday results from a Canada rule that took effect Monday, Feb. 15, requiring that everyone entering the country by land test negative for COVID-19 within three days before entering Canada. As outlined on the Government of Canada website, a rapid antigen test isn’t sufficient, although a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is among the acceptable molecular tests that Canada will accept, the website states.

Getting test results back can take 24 to 48 hours.

“As of (Feb. 15), when you return to Canada through a land border, you’ll need to show a 72-hour PCR test, just like air travel,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Canadian Broadcast Corp. in a story published Feb. 9. “ … People who show up at a Canadian land border on nonessential travel … like returning snowbirds, will be expected to show a negative PCR test from the previous 72 hours.”

An officer from the Canada Border Services Agency in Sprague, Man., on Monday referred queries about the travel policy for Northwest Angle residents to the agency’s media relations office, which was closed for the Easter holiday.

The Canada Consulate office in Minneapolis didn’t respond to email queries about the Northwest Angle situation but provided links to Canada’s pandemic border-crossing policies on the government website. Throughout the pandemic, permanent residents of the Northwest Angle have been able to enter Canada en route to U.S. destinations such as Roseau and Warroad, Minn., for groceries, health care or other services deemed essential, but those generally are short trips.

The McKeevers’ encounter is yet another example of the frustration Northwest Angle residents have felt since the U.S.-Canada border closed to nonessential travel in March 2020 at the outset of the pandemic. U.S. Reps. Michelle Fischbach and Pete Stauber, both R-Minn., hosted a public meeting on the border situation Tuesday, April 6, in International Falls, Minn.


Details of the meeting weren’t available at press time, although Forum News Service planned coverage of the event. Canadian Member of Parliament Marcus Powlowski, a Liberal Party member who represents the Thunder Bay-Rainy River constituency in the House of Commons, was scheduled to attend virtually.

McKeever, who owns Young’s Bay Resort at the Angle, said he and his wife both have been vaccinated for COVID-19, but negative test results remain a requirement for entering Canada, according to the Government of Canada website.

“We were going to try and get home for Easter dinner with my son. Of course, Grandma hasn’t seen four grandchildren for two months,” McKeever said. “She’s pretty upset about the whole deal, but anyway, we survived. We’re just kind of waiting on something to change.”

For the time being, McKeever says he and his wife will probably just stay in Warroad. They have some dental and medical appointments coming up, McKeever said, and he leaves with his son and grandson for a turkey hunting trip to Nebraska on April 15.

“We’re going to survive this,” he said. “We're just going to hang out here until I get back from turkey hunting.”

Despite the thwarted Easter plans, McKeever is taking a pragmatic view of the situation. He said he doesn’t fault the local Canada Border Services Agency officers for a policy that comes from Ottawa and is out of their control.

“Their hands are tied,” he said. “But it seems so silly that one day we can drive all the way through because we have our Angle Inlet address on our driver’s licenses, and now, we can’t, even though we’ve had our shots,” McKeever said. “The 40-minute ride through rural Manitoba, we probably wouldn’t meet one single vehicle.

“It’s silly, but here we are.”

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
What To Read Next
Get Local