Ambassador Bridge Plaque

For years, and years, I’ve wanted to get a photo of the great bronze plaques on the Ambassador Bridge, but I’ve never had the chance.

Well, this weekend, I spent 1 1/2 hours crossing in the bridge. The only highlight was the chance to grab a few shots of the bronzes.

A large monongram of “JMS” is visible. Nothing I had turned up any information, so I checked in with my good friend Einar, who is a walking encyclopedia of archtectural sculpture. He came up with the sculptor Jonathan M. Swanson. From what I gather, this was one of his largest works. A little more on Swanson can be found here:

The visible expression of friendship in the hearts of two peoples with like ideas and ideals – 1930.

We sure have come a long way in the last 77 years. I’m not sure how similar we our to our American neighbours anymore, and it’s a shame.

23 Comments on Ambassador Bridge Plaque

  1. I thought that looked like buck shot….

    The near godlike positivity of the plaque is such a contrast to the experience of going through US customs today. I’ve been to the US twice in the last year as there is little desire to go through it, and have insisted flights to Europe never go through a US airport. It is the most unpleasant border crossing I’ve experienced. A shame. Living in Toronto it’s easier to avoid — Windsor is so connected to Detroit that the border crap is a real quality of life issue.

    Anyway, I had always wondered about the plaques too — nice work.

  2. Nice photos. It’s too bad the border has become the new Checkpoint Charlie.

    It is kinda ironic though, that the eagle is looking over sternly at the beaver with its head bowed. A bit of foreshadowing perhaps?

  3. Shawn, how right you are. There is nowhere in the world that is akin to passing though US Customs and entering Fortress America. There was a letter to the editor today in the Windsor Star to that effect as well, by a UK Citizen:


    Courtesy lacking at customs
    Published: Thursday, September 06, 2007
    As someone who lives in London and who has experienced terrorist bombings first-hand, I more than appreciate the need for tight security measures at airports and border crossings.

    I recently visited friends in Windsor and crossed the border to Detroit several times. I also had occasion to pass through security and passport control at airports in Las Vegas and Houston. I take long-haul flights to various parts of the globe several times a year and have undergone security and passport checks in a number of countries. Without question or exception, American passport and security control officers both at the border stations giving access to Detroit and at the airports I have mentioned were the most discourteous and inefficient officials I have had the misfortune to encounter during my travels.

    At the Detroit border I was shouted at, told to remove my spectacles, to produce my airline ticket and to “prove” I was going to visit the Rockies. Another traveller I met was asked to “prove” he was going to a funeral. Canadians I spoke to seemed to imply that such behaviour was “normal” and that they dreaded crossing the border because the behaviour of security staff was unpredictable and rude.

    At Houston Airport I was asked to fill out a second green waiver form, although I pointed out that I had already had such a form stapled to my passport at Detroit airport. In Houston, I was pulled up very loudly and rudely by a security woman and asked why I had two green waiver forms. The same woman went on to tell me “You’re not in London now,” when I queried why I’d been issued a second green form when I didn’t need one.

    Fortunately, I have American friends who are both courteous and intelligent.

    Were this not so, the impression I would have gained of Americans, whether crossing borders into the U.S. or entering the country by air, would have been that Americans are as lacking good manners as they are intelligence. The mission statement at airports and border crossings speaks of a courteous, efficient service being provided by staff. I certainly did not experience this.

    Wendy Stock

    London, United Kingdom


    On a related note, I caught this news the other week too, international filghts are starting to avoid passing through the US:

    “Air New Zealand Offers Round-the-World Routing Avoiding the U.S.” That was a recent headline from U.K.-based Business Traveler magazine. For the past several years, fliers bound from Australia and New Zealand to Europe by way of U.S. stopovers have been raising a ruckus about security policies that require all passengers, even those merely in transit to other countries, to clear U.S. immigration formalities — a process that includes fingerprinting, photographing and baggage rechecking. Air New Zealand has responded with the launch of a service from Auckland to Europe with a hassle-free transfer at Vancouver, British Columbia, eliminating its long-standing Auckland-Los Angeles-London route. Air Canada is following suit with a nonstop Vancouver-Sydney flight, bypassing its traditional layover in Hawaii, which, in the words of the magazine, “will enable global travelers to avoid the United States.”

  4. There have also been articles I’ve seen that have pointed to increased flights at Pearson for people wanting to avoid the US.

    The only hope is that the market corrects this — and Americans tend to pay attention to the market.

  5. I’ve only ever taken one international flight out of Detroit, so I can’t speak regarding a typical experience at the airport, but I can’t say I’ve ever had a bad experience getting through U.S. customs at the vehicle crossing. Nothing like that Letter to the Editor mentions, which I can’t help but wonder how much of that the letter writer brought on herself. It sounds like everywhere she went, she had conflicts with customs officials. There are two sides to every story and one can be guaranteed there’s more to her woes and sorrows than we heard in the letter.

  6. I remember one time I took the tunnel bus to the States to take a historical walking tour in Detroit. I’m white and don’t look middle eastern. This black lady behind the counter asked me what my business in the United States was. I stated that I was going on a historical walking tour of Detroit and gave her a computer printout of it and after I would go back to Windsor. I was barraged with dozens of questions with her questioning every single answer with a sharp voice like a hostile prosecutor. I had to give her two pieces of photo ID including my passport. I was born in Canada. I have a clean record and I have never been denied entry into the US. She said she never heard of this tour and made me wait an hour in the seat before a supervisor let me go back onto the bus to Detroit. I was polite to her and she was rude and discourteous to me. That was just ridiculous. I rarely go to visit Detroit now because I have to deal with this nonsense at the border. This kind of behaviour must be ruining tourism in Detroit.

  7. Mom, I highly doubt the pockmarks were from gunshots. Someone can’t just walk around in front of the University with a gun and not get noticed by Campus Police. My guess is it was probably drunk students with a slingshot using steel bearings at night. I highly doubt they’d be from gunshots.

  8. “I’m white and don’t look middle eastern.” What is this suppose to mean? Customs has the right to ask any questions they want. Just because your white or not middle eastern doesn’t give you a free pass. Obviously she didn’t have to be rude about it. But that’s a pretty rude statement on your part.

  9. Rich, I don’t think it’s a rude statement. There’s a war going on between the US and Al Queda and I think they’re justified in profiling after 911. So, if it’s related to suspected terrorism, I think they’re justified in it. But, I didn’t fit the description. I have never had a criminal record. I was born in Canada. I was never refused entry. And, I have a solid financial background. So, I’m considered low risk. Therefore, there’s no basis for it.

    Oh, and, the last time I looked in the mirror I was white, so what happened to me was just BS. What’s even more BS is people like you thinking profiling is unacceptable with high risk groups. What are they supposed to do, just turn a blind eye to it? They can’t just interrogate everyone; otherwise, traffic would be held up for days. Profiling is a very efficient method and the safest for the masses and I’m not gonna dance around the moral merits of it. She may have done it randomly for quotas so it didn’t look like profiling, but that’s just BS.

    Oooh, I better watch out. Rich is gonna report me to the Ontario Human Rights commission for my opinion. Get a life.

  10. David, please don’t jump down my throat too, but I trust you have heard of guys like Theodore Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh? I’m not trying to be PC or anything, but please consider that the customs officer can’t just look at you and tell whether or you you have some deep seeded idealogical axe to grind. They have to identify threats to national security whether it comes with blue eyes and blond hair or dark skin and a turban. And of course you have other issues like drug/gun running they have to watch for. They are just doing their job.

  11. Apples to oranges John

    First, you need better analogies. Ted Kaczynski was born in Chicago, IL. Timothy McVeigh was born in Pendleton, New York. US Border security guards wouldn’t be running 20 questions on their own citizens. So, it’s irrelevant to the issue of US Border Security catching them.

    Second, in the middle east, saying the phrase “Death to America” is as common as talking about hockey night in Canada. In Iran, they even say that phrase in their prayers. It’s part of the majority culture. They grow up with it as a deep rooted belief and it’s encouraged by their respective governments. If I were a US Customs guard and someone from the middle east was wanting to come in, I’d be concerned with good reason as to where they were going and what their business was and in that instance I think profiling by US border security is acceptable and justified. Last I heard, Britian and Canada were at peace with the US. We don’t encourage that kind of behaviour in Canada and Britian. So, a US Border Security guard treating me that way is BS.

  12. David, as a foriegn national you enter the U.S. by priviledge–no more no less. The same rules apply to non-citizens entering Canada. Simple math (which you’ve pointed out) would show that non-nationals would be subject to a different level of scrutiny than nationals. If you had a bad experience from a service standpoint–I think that’s unfortunate. However, you must remember that the job of the Customs Officers (they aren’t called guards, for the record) is complex, difficult and multi-faceted. The vast majority of staff on either side of the border do their jobs with professionalism and tact–and the safety of our familities and way of life is the reward.

  13. David, you missed the point in my analogy. Where these two guys were born, citizenship, etc. has nothing to do with it. I brought those two guys up because they are examples of “white guys” who you apparently think should should be regarded as innocuous by virtue of their skin colour. But they sure surprised everyone, didn’t they? The point is, when you approach U.S. customs to get in, the fact you are white doesn’t exempt you from having to justify to that officer’s satisfaction that you should be granted entry to the U.S.A. They aren’t in the hospitality industry. JT said it right when he called the job “complex, difficult, multi-faceted”. If bustin’ chops every time they saw someone with a turban was all they had to do, life would be much simpler for them.

  14. John,

    I didn’t miss any point. You’re analogy is irrelevant. You can’t use Ted Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh as examples because they’re US Citizens and it’s irrelevant to the cross border issue. To prove your point, you’d have to cite Canadian citizens who went into the US and caused acts of terrorism to that level. Otherwise, you haven’t proven your case. It’s just not in our culture. It’s absolutely ridiculous to cite US citizens committing acts of terrorism against other US citizens to prove that US Border security guards are justified in interrogating Canadians. Can’t think of any “white” Canadians, huh? Well, then, you haven’t come close to proving your case.

    As for trying to argue that all entrants to the US should be treated equally, that’s total BS. Comparing Canada to the middle east is again an apples to oranges argument. Canada’s economy is highly integrated with the US. Most of our exports go to the US. We have the North American Free Trade Agreement for free trade, which they don’t. We share our army bases in Canada with the US. We share our national baseball and hockey teams. Billons of dollars of Canadian made goods are shipped to the US over the Ambassador bridge. Thousands of Canadians in Windsor cross the border every day to work in Detroit. When 9/11 happened, a lot of Canadian firefighters headed down to New York to help out. We have Canadians go to the US and help out with the US Habitat for Humanity efforts when there’s a disaster in the US. Even our personal records are shared–you get a traffic ticket in Michigan, it shows up and affects your insurance policy in Ontario, which is not the case with other countries. We’re like a 52nd state. Not legally, but it’s pretty much perceived from the high level of integration. There’s even groups out there who advocate that Canada should switch to the US dollar. We share cultural roots from the UK. We’re like brothers. We’re family. And, you don’t treat family like that. The middle east doesn’t come anywhere close to that level of integration between Canada and the US. So, no, it’s BS that I as a Canadian citizen would be allowed to be randomly subjected to being interrogated to the same level as someone from, say Iran. It’s unnecessary, arbitrary and unreasonable. When I visit the US, it’s like visiting family.

  15. If you think it’s “BS” that you should be held to the same standards as any other foreigner wishing to gain access to the USA, then that’s your prerogative. I’ll leave it at that.

  16. My 68 year old father recently took my 15 year old daughter to the Dream Cruise in his ’57 Corvette. My daughter was shouted at to remove her glasses as well as to shut off her cell phone (which she was not using it was simply sitting in her lap). The car was also thoroughly inspected. So here is my father supporting an American event and this is the ltreatment they receive. Needless to say my daughter was scared by this. Talk about overkill.

  17. I think you are all missing the point – WHAT A BEAUTIFUL PLAQUE!!
    Thank You for taking a picture of something I have been longing to get out of my car and just touch. It’s a beautiful piece. I’ve been searching for a great picture of it for some time now…Looks like you got the best yet. Do you think I could print it to hang in my house?

  18. The plaque is beautiful. Cell phones, sunglasses and stereos are a no-no at the border. Too often, it seems, people take the process of crossing the international boundary too casually–yes, down here in Windsor it is part of our daily lives, but it is still an important and serious process. Anyone crossing in either direction with a child that is not their own, ought to expect extra scrutiny–and rightly so. Are you aware how often missing and./or abducted children have been intercepted by Customs on both sides of the border? Take the process of crossing seriously–or dont take it all–it’s a priviledge, not a right.

  19. Oddly enough I must have passed this plaque countless times without having paid much attention to it. So yeah, thanks to Andrew for helping us stop and take note. Actually I crossed the border this weekend to go to Ohio and took the time to look at it this time as we drove back over the bridge. Once again, passed through U.S. customs without a hitch. We actually spent more time getting back into Canada as the lines were moving a bit slower, so I actually think we might have lost 10 minutes of our lives coming back, versus 1-2 minutes going into the U.S. No big deal…

  20. It is a priviledge to cross the border both ways and I’m sure Americans generally aren’t treated to the same somewhat abusive behaviour crossing into Canada. Yes – they have a job to do and it’s definitely an important one, there’s just a better way to go about it.

  21. Since WHEN is it a privledge to be treated courteously? Are you saying that US Border officials are required to be rude? Ridiculous. Rudeness is unprofessional, pure and simple. IN most jobs that would get you FIRED. Why would anyone visit a country and spend money there if they knew they were going to be treated rudely for no reason. Seriously, give your head a shake, this kind of behaviour is unjustified no matter what! Period. End of story.

  22. I cross the bridge daily for work for the last year, and I have wondered what the plaque was, but I’ve not been able to see it for more than a split second.

Comments are closed.