Interestingly enough, there were many little twists and turns to this trip across the border that made it quite the adventure. It all began with a leaky sunroof that I had tried to fix on my own in August. It seemed to all be fine until we had inches upon inches of rain with storm after storm and I had to start throwing a tarp over it in the driveway or else it would quickly become a Ford Escape with its own swimming pool. The rain stopped just long enough before I left for another attempt at solving the dilemma. The forecast called for lots of rain heading up north into Maine and then clear blue skies during the workshop week in Lunenburg. My last minute, 'what-the-heck...why not' idea was duct tape. I covered the sunroof edges with duct tape and I laughed at myself for even thinking this would work. The day I loaded up the car, there was no rain. None. That is, not until I left the driveway. Ten minutes on the road and the skies opened up like a water faucet. I glanced up at the corner of the sun roof where water usually pours in. Nothing.
I had given myself plenty of time to get up to Calais Maine on the Canadian border. It was a nine hour drive and it took me four hours to get to Wells Maine which usually only takes three. I stopped in Wells and called it a day. It was 10 PM. Driving in a pouring rain at night was making my head pound. There was still no leaking from my sunroof and the duct tape was holding surprisingly well. The next day I drove to Calais Maine. It rained on and off throughout the drive but at least it was daylight. I was excited to get to the border and I took a room at a small hotel. There was nothing of note in Calais except I was happy to have a decent room with a nice comfy bed and I caught up on some much needed sleep. The next morning I envisioned driving across the border, then driving an hour or so to St John and taking the car ferry over the Bay of Fundy to Nova Scotia.
At 6:30AM the next morning, I pulled up to the Canadian Border. The conversation with the officer at the booth went something like this.
Border Officer: 'What brings you to Canada?'
Me: I am doing some painting and teaching a workshop.
Border Officer: 'Do you have a Letter of Invitation to come to Canada to teach this workshop?'
Me: 'No. What is that?!'
Border Officer: 'Do you have a Work Permit in order to come to Canada to teach this workshop?'
Me: 'No. What is that?!
Border Officer: 'Did the place where you will be teaching this workshop fill out a Labor Market Survey explaining why you need to come to Canada to teach this workshop instead of another Canadian?'
Me: 'NO AGAIN. What is that??!!! ##%^%$*
This had not gone quite as planned.! An hour and a half later, after spending what seemed like eternity explaining to the Immigration Officers 'WHY' I was trying to enter into Canada, I was signing a document stating that I would leave Canada 'Post Haste' and I was told not to return without the proper documents.
I am telling you this because, you should understand that crossing the border is not as easy as it once was. Before 9/11, I can remember driving into Canada looking for painting spots with George Carpenter and several cars of painters, only to NOT find what it was we were looking for and so back out we went. Then into Canada again at another crossing and back out etc etc. We did this 5 times or so. I doubt it would have been this easy if we were to try this stunt today.
So according to Canada, I was technically entering their country to 'work'. This was the major factor to my problem. The good folks in Lunenburg did not explain this paperwork and proper document information to me because some laws had recently changed and they did not know about them. They've had artists come in to teach for years without this paperwork. Back in my hotel room in Calais I explained all of this to them and they worked at getting what was needed for me to enter. In the end, I did indeed need a Letter of Invitation, but as a workshop or seminar (key word -seminar) instructor, guest lecturer and/or performing artist, I did not need a 'Work Permit' nor did the Art Association need to fill out the 'Labor Market Survey'. They faxed me the info as stated by law about teaching a seminar, lecturer or performing artist and I brought it with me the next morning back to the same border crossing. This time around, I was only there for maybe 15 minutes while the Immigration Officer went through some of his books and stared at my 'Letter of Invitation' for awhile. Finally he stamped my passport and I was welcomed into Canada and told to enjoy my visit. Yay.
Before this week is over, I will post part 2 of this workshop adventure. It was a great group of students and there is much more to tell! I'll post some demo pics too. Here are a couple images of painting spots.