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Driving from Montreal to Calgary

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Vancouver, Canada
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Driving from Montreal to Calgary

Hi,

I'm moving from Montreal to Calgary and getting there by car. I'm planning on making it there in 4 days. Does anyone have a path they have used or use that they would suggest?

I was thinking of following this path (but the other way around):

Montreal -> Sarnia ON = 10 hrs driving

Sarnia ON -> Eau Claire WI = 10 hours + 1 hr time change + border xing delays

Eau Claire WI -> Brandon = 11 hrs driving + border xing delays

Brandon-> Calgary = 13 hrs driving + 1 hr time zone change

The other path would be through Northern Ontario (Sault-Saint Marie and Thunder Bay) and the transcanadian highway. But that would seem to require longer driving days. Any thoughts?

Thank you

Toronto, Canada
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1. Re: Driving from Montreal to Calgary

I'd be more hesitant to drive through the US with personal effects....US customs may give you a hard time crossing because you will have all you need to settle there....not that you can't do it, just be prepared for a possible delay. .

Banff, Canada
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2. Re: Driving from Montreal to Calgary

While the drive through the US is shorter with cheaper gas, as td points out avoiding border crossings when moving is a good idea. I wouldn't want customs to have to search a loaded car everytime I hit the border... if you're taking next to nothing than your route is fine.

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Driving from Montreal to Calgary

Yeah, I posted this in different locations in this thread and everyone is pretty much saying the same thing. I'm going to have all my clothes, my computer, and other random personal belongings. The only issue problem is that driving through Canada leads to longer days of driving (although I guess that border crossings might make it equivalent).

Calgary, Canada
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4. Re: Driving from Montreal to Calgary

I agree - you don't want the hassle at the border.

When I moved from Ontario to Alberta, I went via Sault San Marie, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg and Saskatoon. No more than 8 hours of driving per day, and less than that from Saskatoon to Edmonton. If you are doing this trip alone, I would not plan on doing more than 9-10hrs of driving a day at the absolute max - it's not safe, especially since you will be passing through some relatively sparsely populated areas. The section of the TCH from Sault San Marie to Thunder Bay is the trickiest driving, but going across the prairies can be the riskiest driving, simply because it's a lot of straight, fairly monotonous driving, so easy to get lulled into dozing off or not paying full attention to the road.

Make sure to have a cellphone and car charger, and I would recommend having a friend or family you check in with each evening so that you have someone who can raise the alarm if, in the very off chance, something should happen.

Calgary
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5. Re: Driving from Montreal to Calgary

The fastest route is definitely through SS Marie, then into the USA, the Northern Michigan Pan handle through to North Dakota crossing the border near Estevan.

See Google map here: http://goo.gl/maps/g7RRO

However, you never know what will happen at the border these days. I was delayed crossing into Montana last year for two hours for no apparent reason. They were checking every car.

BC
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6. Re: Driving from Montreal to Calgary

While it is true that you never know what can happen at a border crossing, it is unlikely that you will have more of a problem because you are moving.

I have crossed into the USA for driving when I was moving Ontario to BC--the car was absolutely packed. It was after 9/11, no problem at all. My husband also drove back and forth while moving several times and didn't have any problem.

If they are interested in you in particular, they would probably use a dog to sniff your stuff first. So don't have any drug residue anywhere!!

Your route is unclear to me--from Sarnia which way are you planning to Eau Claire? My preference is not to go south, you can do the upper peninsula of Michigan---that is a nice drive, I've done it many, many times--through Duluth, Bemidji, Minot and then to Estevan in Saskatchewan. That saves you some miles.

BUT....why are you going to Sarnia anyway? From Montreal it would be much better to go to Ottawa, North Bay, Sudbury, SSMarie and cross into the USA there. Yes, that road can be slower with traffic during the summer (Sudbury to SSMarie portion).

I'm currently planning a car trip from BC to NY State, so have been looking at all the possible routes, too. Good luck.

Calgary, Canada
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7. Re: Driving from Montreal to Calgary

When you have a lot of stuff in your car, you raise the chances of getting a full inspection. And because the proper paperwork has never really been sorted by either side, it can be a pain dealing with a car full of personal items. All it takes is one border agent in a bad mood. I've had some less than thrilling encounters on both sides of the border. Plus things you might be carrying that are fully legal in Canada can be hassle crossing borders such as food.

Even as US citizen, I avoid crossing into the US on my cross-Canada move to avoid the hassles. And quite frankly, the drive across Northern Ontario is quite beautiful.

BC
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8. Re: Driving from Montreal to Calgary

If you have never driven across northern Ontario, I agree that it is something that maybe you should do. Once. It is beautiful, but realize that even in July it can be very cold along that route. And watch out for big trucks whose brakes might fail on the downward slopes, pretty scary experience for me one time.

There are very limited opportunities for edible food and other services, so be prepared for that. But the main problem with someone wanting to do the drive in 4 days is where to break up the trip. Three days to Winnipeg works fine--SSMarie, TBay, Winnipeg. If you did it that way, you can make it from Winnipeg to Calgary in one very long day. I just had guests at my house two nights ago who did just that, but they were tired. Maybe if you went from Thunder Bay to Brandon that would work better.

Ksneds: do you really think that a full car is going to give you more problems at the border? I would have thought not. But, my son is moving from Canada to the USA soon and the route that works best is Canada, into the USA, back into Canada, and then back into the USA. I didn't think that customs would be any problem at all, but not sure about the Visa entry thing. To stay in Canada he'd have to do the northern Superior route and really, I think that route is so much worse, unless you want to do it once to say so. Plus no where decent to stay, so it would take an extra day of driving.

Calgary, Canada
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9. Re: Driving from Montreal to Calgary

My experience is that the more stuff in your car, the more likely the border guards are to start asking questions. They ask about what they can see. I tended to cross in the winter, an not surprisingly, they were less likely to want to inspect a car when the weather was cold :o)

If you son is moving from Canada to the United States, he's going to have to fill out paperwork to legally bring personal items across the border duty free (I had to list all personal items I was bringing from the US to CAN and have that stamped at the border).

Crossing the border several times could be an issue because he's going to have to officially cross the border with his visa (to stay long term as opposed to being a vistor) and to declare items for customs. That will probably require going inside the border crossing station to have his paperwork inspected, and the official visa issued (often you are given a piece of paper that gives you the OK, but the visa itself goes into your passport when you first cross the border). That would occur when he first crosses into the US on the trip, so he goes back to Canada and back to the US, he could get into tangles especially if you run into some of the less patient or personable members of CMP.

I'm not sure from the US point of view, but going into Canada I had hassle every time I'd cross the border and declare personal items because there was no proper set of paperwork, and each border guard would interpret the requirements differently. They were polite, but I had to keep explaining that I'd followed the guidelines provided by the last border guard. The only really bad experience was for my parents who got a major hassle bringing something up for me.

If it were me, I'd take a route with one border crossing. The more you cross, the more you risk getting a major inspection or a major headache.

BTW, my friends did the TB to Brandon route on their way to Edmonton from Ontario. It made for a long day of travel, and only really works if you have two people trading off the driving. I did an additional night in Saskatoon.

SE Ontario
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10. Re: Driving from Montreal to Calgary

I drive the route to Northern Ontario about once every two years, in summer ... it is not cold, and the trucks are no better or worse on that route than they are through the mountains of BC and Alberta ... which I have also driven many times.

The most isolated area is Thunder Bay to Kenora, but as long as you're prepared and have gassed up it's fine.

The route from SSM to Thunder Bay is one of the most beautiful drives in the country IMO ... and I've done most of them.