Graphic Chemical & Ink Company is a world leader in the fine art field of printmaking. We manufacture our own time-tested inks for etching, litho and relief printing, as well as sell screen print inks, papers, tools, chemistry, plates and supplies for all of a printmaker's needs

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Location: Villa Park, Illinois, United States

I have worked for Graphic Chemical & Ink Company since 1968 - with a brief hiatus(almost 4 years) to travel the World courtesy of my uncle. Sadly it turns out it was my Uncle Sam, and I wasn't too thrilled about the places that he chose to send me. My wife and I have run Graphic Chemical for many years, and have enjoyed the travel that comes with the position. We get to meet our customers (and the occasional vendor) from all over the World

Friday, August 13, 2010


The title might just say it all. I preface my remarks by saying I bear no ill will to any country mentioned in the following paragraphs, or to the people of said country.

My sad tale begins last Sunday morning, when I agreed to travel with my wife to a collage workshop in the Chicago suburbs. She had a two hour dog and pony show from 10:00am-12:00pm. There were about 20 people in attendance and they had some great questions about printmaking in general and paper specifically. It was the highlight of the day. Of course, if you read further you'll probably see that a root canal could have been the highlight of that particular day, had it not been for such a great event. Susan and Pete did a great job presenting on the papers we brought with us.

Canadian Flag

Fast forward to 10:30 pm after a long drive from Chicago to the threshold of Canada - Windsor, Ontario and the world famous Ambassador Bridge. We approached the bridge assuming that at that hour the crossing would be uneventful - well, not so much as it turns out. There were hundreds of cars, but we seemingly chose the right lane and in just a few minutes (well, maybe 20 minutes) we were at the check point. A few routine questions followed - what was the purpose of our visit? How long would we stay? D
id we have any goods for sale? etc. We were, in fact, on our way to a workshop put on by the Japanese Paper Place in Toronto. We were staying for two days, and we had nothing that we would be selling. Seems pretty straight forward to me.

We were selected for a "random" inspection at the check point, which caused us to be separated from the herd and sent inside to Canadian Immigration where our car was inspected by a nice young man. After an uneventful inspection, we were given a yellow sheet of paper and instructed to go inside and have it stamped.

Up to this point, a grand total of about 15 minutes had elapsed from the check point to the completion of the inspection. We foolishly believed that we'd be on our way to Toronto in just a few minutes. Oh to be that naive again!

We were greeted eventually by 13089 (that's not her real number, we've changed it to protect the - I was going to say innocent but instead I'll go with grumpy). She started out mad before we could even say hello, and it got a lot worse. 13089 wanted to see our invitation to Canada! Surprisingly, we did not have one, thinking that a trip to visit an art workshop and visit with friends would be a fairly simple thing.

Here, however, is the cautionary part of our tale. Several days after the fact we researched Canadian Immigration standards, and in fact, an invitation can be required and 24 hour contact information for the host can be required! Don't venture across that border without documenting the daylights out of why you are going.

Two hours later, without exaggeration, we were able to find someone who could fax a printout from a web page about the workshop. Our stalwart Immigration Officer was apparently done tormenting us, and allowed that we should have told her that at the beginning...which of course we had tried to, but she didn't want to listen, she wanted to talk.

All in all, it was a particularly unpleasant first impression of Canada. We've been to Canada fairly frequently over the years - usually for some semblance of business (trade shows, workshops and sales calls) and never had even a slight problem in this regard. Could it be a backlash at the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup? Whatever it was I will from this day forward, only visit our neighbors to the North for pleasure.


Anonymous Jan said...

Hi Dean,
Sorry to hear of your recent border experience, if it's any consolation, they can be just as capricious with Canadians, and your guys are just the same. Equal opportunities torment. It seems to be part of the job description ;-(
I hope the workshop made up for it.

6:39 AM  
Anonymous Barbara Mason said...

I am so sorry you had such a horrible border crossing. There is no hope for dealing with a person who has decided to make you an example...she was just a pain in all sense of the word. In the 40 years of my marriage to a Canadian, I an tell you that traveling from Portland to Canada we have had every conceivable border event, many of them so funny you would be rolling on the floor laughing. Sorry that yours was not one of them.
One time they were sure my son was being abducted by my husband and stolen away.....not so of course.

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Nancy O said...

Dean, in the past 20 or so years, our (I'm Canadian) border people were often quite unpleasant, even rude. But now they are for the most part more amiable..except obviously for a few. Too bad they aren't that tough on those who come to our country who want to cause real problems! Sorry you had this did you enjoy the Paper Place?

8:56 AM  
Blogger Dean Clark said...

I did feel the need for a blog follow up, but I didn't take it personally. I have been a government "employee" for too many years not to understand what was happening. My Navy experience, my school board experience and the funding board were all government gigs, and if you want bureaucracy, those are all serious players.

It was funny after the fact, and it's already becoming the story that I'm boring friends with.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Jeff Dean said...

That's sort of funny. We never have any problem going TO Canada, but coming home is a nightmare. An invitation? I've never heard of that one before.

6:42 AM  
Blogger said...

Too bad you had such a lousy experience at the border. Our family lives in Canada, but we mostly get hassled coming back to Seattle. Oh well. If the trip is otherwise worthwhile, chalk the border up to experience.

Really enjoy your work and your blog. Thanks.

5:59 PM  

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