The sad story at the border
Ordinarily, this would be a busy time at Harald Lohn’s KaBeeLo Lodge
in northwest Ontario.
Float planes would be transporting fishermen to the lodge’s 13 outposts, boats would be coming and going, and the fish would be biting.
Not this year. With the Canadian border closed for second consecutive year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lodge sits eerily quiet.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 39 years in the business,” Lohn said. “I don’t see a lot of optimism.
“We’re 100 percent reliant on our American guests. We’re a long way from any population center in Canada, and Canadians aren’t going to travel here when they have so many other lakes close to them.
“So we’re stuck until the government opens the border.”
Lohn is committed to keeping the lodge open once the restrictions lift. But other resorts aren’t so fortunate.
With the loss of the entire season last year and at least the first part of this year, many smaller operations won’t reopen in 2022, Lohn said.
“I was on a conference call with 300 operators about a month ago,” Lohn said. “At that time, 50 percent of them said they will not be able to survive if the border doesn’t reopen soon.”
The Ontario government is basing its policy for opening the border on vaccination rates. Until recently, Canada was lagging short of the United States in that regard.
The vaccination rate in Canada is climbing, but the easing of restrictions is based on phases that often last several weeks.
Even if those phases were met and the border was reopened, it would be well into July before lodges such as KaBeeLo could reopen, Lohn said.
“Everyone is disappointed, but we just have to wait it out,” Lohn said.