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June 01, 2006

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Have Gun, Will Travel in Canada, Eh?

Last week I went on a black bear hunt in northern British Columbia, and was once again exposed to the quaint customs of Air Canada when it comes to flying with firearms. The trip involved flying from La Guardia in New York, to Toronto, to Vancouver, and then to Prince George, BC. On the way back it was the same, except I went to Montreal instead of Toronto.

First, no one at Air Canada is quite sure to do when they are confronted with a firearm. It usually requires a short conference, and the results are always different. Everyone is pleasant and eager to help, but slightly addled when it comes to this subject. Smile and go with the program.

Of the six flights, four were right on time, and two arrived a half-hour early. This was a nice change from the U.S. However, what was not pleasant by a damn sight was Trudeau Airport (named for one of Canada’s dumber prime ministers) in Montreal. I got there a half hour early, and it took me an hour and a half to pick up my duffel bag and gun case, go through immigration, customs, and security, and make my flight to La Guardia with 2 minutes to spare. Another hunter on my trip, who returned home 2 days ahead of me because his wife went into labor prematurely, had the exact same experience.

If you can imagine an airport run by FEMA, with a French accent, this is it. And to top off the experience an American customs officer told me that the standard Form 4457 which you use to register personal belongings before leaving the U.S., was no longer valid for firearms. She was very stern, and she was as full of it as a Christmas goose. When I got back I checked with Customs, and was told that the 4457 is the correct form for personal firearms. What the Montreal dimwit was probably thinking of was the ATF Form Six, which is for import/export.

By all means hunt in Canada, but stay the hell out of Montreal airport, eh?


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From time memorial there's never been enough French in North America to be or do much of anything, but an obstruction and an aggravation.


One more reason that English is claimed as the international language of aviation.....must not apply to ground services. I don't believe that Air Canada or Customs are long on education of staff. Prince Geoprge, BC has been claimed as the "Nairobi of North America." One more reason I live here.


Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose!


Hey Dave,

Forgot to tell you, in Prince George, the Canadian-equivalent of a TSA Rep told me I had to have a trigger lock on my gun. I responded that wasn't the case just a few days before. She insisted, so I told her I would zip-tie the lever closed on the BLR, which she agreed would make the firearm harmless.
Don't forget to tell your friends, the United ticket counter agent in the My I'm High City (Denver) told me they would be charging $50 per gun case to check firearms starting today (June 1).


Greg Russell

Speaking of the French-I hear there`s a sale on old French war rifles. Never fired, dropped once.


Dave, most important did you get a Bear?

don easley

The phrase "So Round,So Firm,So Fully Packed came from a Bugs Bunny cartoon

Dave Petzal

to Double-D: You are correct; Air Canada will begin charging $50 extra for guns on either June 1 or June 5. No one was quite sure, eh?

to El-Wazir: C'est vrai.

to Tom: Yes, about 6 1/2 feet square, nice coat.

to Don Easly: Bugs Bunny? I've lived too long.

Richard A. Smith

You say to go ahead and hunt in Canada. I plan to hunt the 50 states first, but I'll never consider a hunt to the Great White North unless they ease up on their irrational fear of and obsessive-compulsive over-regulation of firearms. I'm not interested in dealing with dumb-as-a-post bureaucrats and power-hungry socialists who feel the need to confiscate my property. Thanks for the great blog, though.


I've been to Alberta to experience some of the finest duck and goose hunting the world has to offer. Edmonton airport was not a problem with shotguns and was easy and convenient and the staff helpful. I had more of a problem with the airline deciding to leave our coolers (packed with waders) behind because they didn't have enough room. They had no problem bringing them back into the US though; loaded with about 50 various waterfowl. Anyway, remember that the folks in BC and Alberta are irritated with the obstinate obnoxious French-speaking Canadiennes as much as we are here in the US.
I think you'd find that a trip to either BC or Alberta to be very worthwhile, and the people there extremely pleasant and welcoming...

Bryan Jaeck

There are many Canadians who are frustrated with the current set of laws. Alberta is probably the best provence to deal with. It is not the French Canadians who are full of rules but the people of Ontario who drive most of the legisalation. It sort of like giving BATF to the city of San Francisco.


mike shickele

as a canadian
there was nothing in that blog that I didn't agree with.

our gun laws suck.

the french are nuts.

and mr. T was a moron.



If you are taking any firearms from the states into canada go through a western airport. IN toronto they seem to be afraid of anything at all. Many times they have no idea what is going on or what they are supposed to do. Coming home to Ontario with a gun usally means about at least two extra hours even if you have all the paper work and you are a canadian citizen. You are 100% right about Trudeau he was an idiot. All the french are nuts anyways.

Dan Smith

Glad to hear your hunt was successful..more important I hope you had fun on the hunt and enjoyed our countryside. A few comments:
- On time and early on 6 Air Canada fights means you are the most charmed traveller our country has EVER hosted
- Trudeau was sinister, socialistic, rude, and in western Canada we hated him....still do. He was, however, far from dumb.
- in Canada the west is rural and the east is urban, and I suspect we experience more firearms "ignorance" in urban areas in most countries.
- No question that our firearms registration laws are insane. I've railed so long and hard againt them that I'm damned near out of steam, but our new gov't has committed to nix the law so there's new hope.
- For those Americans that are scared we're socialist and gun haters, lighten up a bit and take a hunting trip to westen Canada..we might surprise you. I read that Americans are ignorant and rude, but when I muster the spirit to venture south for pheasant season I my neighbours to be just fine.

Thanks for the great articles Dave!


Hey Guys,

I just want to drive my motorhome through Canada on my way to Alaska with my bear gun in the rig. The gun is an old side by side carridge shotgun. So what's the deal?

Dr. Ralph

Go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200...

Dr. Ralph

Just kidding. Register your firearms with US Customs before embarking on a road trip to Alaska and supposedly all will be well... declare ALL your weapons at the border and tell them you're just passing through. Can I hitch a ride?

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