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#1
Old 11-05-2004, 12:33 PM
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Location: Chicago-ish, IL
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Best route from Chicago to Toronto?

So after far too long, Iím taking an all-too-brief road trip to a country that is (sort of) ľ of my ancestral homeland: Canada. (Itís ridiculous that Iíve been to Siberia, but not CanadaÖbut I digress.) Plus this way, I get to do something Iíve never done, strangely enough Ė crossed an international land border in something other than a train. I should have the experience my clients do, no?

As itís somewhat last-minute, the airfares are insane for the dates Iíd need to travel. However, I have a car, and Mapquest says itís only 8 hours and 20 minutes from my office in Chicago to downtown Toronto, which isnít all that much longer than it would take to fly, if you take into account airport transfers, having to arrive ahead of time for international flights, etc. So, ROAD TRIP!

Whatís the best way to drive, route-wise? Mapquest is telling me I should take I-94 to I-69 North, and cross the U.S./Canada border wherever the hell that route passes over. Yahoo Maps is telling me to take I-94 to I-75 North, to I-96 West, to I-94 East, which would apparently have me crossing the border at Port Huron.

Anyone know the pros and cons of either route, as well as of the respective border crossing points? (They supposedly take about the same amount of time.) Is one more scenic? Does one have a shorter wait or less obnoxious border personnel?
#2
Old 11-05-2004, 01:07 PM
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I've been from Toronto to Chicago and back a couple of times.

I've always gone the I-69 route that I think Mapquest is showing you. It still takes you up to Port Huron/Sarnia, and allows you to bypass Detroit/Windsor. Those are nice cities, but it's much easier and faster, I find, to go through the relatively smaller towns of Port Huron and Sarnia.

I always found customs on both sides to be fairly quick and easy at the Port Huron/Sarnia crossing point, though things may have changed slightly since 9/11.

I can't remember the route leading out of Sarnia to Toronto (402? Well, it's 40-something anyway), but it will hook up with the 401 at around London, Ontario. From there, it's straight eastbound into Toronto.

Have a great trip!
#3
Old 11-05-2004, 04:29 PM
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I'll have to check my map, but I actually think it's shorter to stay on 96 and cross into Windsor. The reason being that the expressway through Ontario goes northeast so it's cuts a little time off.

However, the point of it taking longer to cross there then at Pt Huron might be valid.

I guess, looking at it, you would save the same time going along 69 than coming straight down 94.

The 401 is what goes from Windsor to Toronto. From Sarnia, it's the 402 which meets up with the 401 about midway.
#4
Old 11-05-2004, 05:01 PM
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I say the best way to go is via Thailand or Hawaii or the French Riv, but maybe that's just personal preference.

Toronto? Really? Unless there's family that you need to visit there, may I suggest somewhere else? I mean, after 8 hours of driving, it'll be kinda like you never left Chicago. Sorta. I say fly. Fly to Vancouver or Victoria. Or Calgary. Or Halifax. (But, make sure to go via Thailand. It's a little more expensive, but well worth the layover.)
#5
Old 11-05-2004, 06:01 PM
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I'd say definitely go via Port Huron/Sarnia (via I-69, not I-75). Yeah, it's a few miles further I-94 straight to the 401, but you avoid potential traffic snarls in Detroit/Windsor. I-94 is often rather slow, and Huron Church Road in Windsor is a pain in the ass - stoplights and 60kph (not that anyone drives that slow) on a long trip are not what the doctor ordered. If you do end up going through Detroit, I highly recommend leaving I-94 at Ann Arbor and taking 14 to I-96. When I was living in Ann Arbor and dating a Windsor girl, I found that 14/I-96 was almost invariably significantly faster, mostly because I-96 has five lanes a side instead of I-94's three.

As for crossings, I only ever crossed at Sarnia once, ~25 years ago as a kid in the back seat on vacation, so I can't compare it to Detroit/Windsor. I can't imagine that it would be slower on a regular basis, though. Expect to spend more time waiting in line on the way back. For some reason (at least from 97-01) Canada Customs always seems to have more lanes operating.
#6
Old 11-05-2004, 06:15 PM
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Toronto, eh? What's the occasion?

I've always gone I-94 to Detroit, then over the big bridge (it's called the peace bridge or the friendship bridge or some hippy name like that), then the good ole' 401, which will take you straight to Toronto. By this route, you're only in the City of Detroit proper for a few minutes. The less time spent in Detroit, the better. After you pass through customs, find the little park in Windsor on the river, and you'll get an amazing view of Detroit. Detroit looks much better from Canada!

Every time I cross the border over the bridge at Detroit, it's a breeze. But, on one of my road adventures my cousins (who live in Detroit) advised that I go a bit north at Port Huron. There, they searched my car and suitcases for an hour, so since then I've done the Detroit/Windsor crossing. Granted, I haven't been to Canada since 9/11, so everything may be different now.

Actually, you'll be surprised at how similar Toronto is to Chicago. It's like a cleaner, safer version of the Windy City.
#7
Old 11-05-2004, 06:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrJones
I've always gone I-94 to Detroit, then over the big bridge (it's called the peace bridge or the friendship bridge or some hippy name like that), then the good ole' 401, which will take you straight to Toronto.
It's the Ambassador Bridge, I can see the half-burnt out sign from my room. I can also see the backlog of trucks coming from Detroit . Avoid Detroit/Windsor and take Port Huron/Sarnia. Trust me, you're not missing much by avoiding Windsor.
#8
Old 11-05-2004, 08:14 PM
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Another vote for the Sarnia route. No snarls as in Windsor: the 402 connects directly to the Bluewater Bridge, and is straight and flat and relatively-lightly-traveled towards London.

After London you're on the 401, and after Kitchener-Waterloo, you start to get into the eternal snarl that is the 401 through Toronto, otherwise known as the Evil Death Highway of Doom.
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#9
Old 11-05-2004, 09:24 PM
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Best Way - Air Canada

If you insist on driving - cross over in Port Huron, Detroit/Windsor is a mess (unless you're stopping off in Windsor for some adult entertainment )
#10
Old 11-06-2004, 12:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrJones
Toronto, eh? What's the occasion?
Got a new job - this is my only chance for a break in between, and it's too short notice apparently to get an airfare under $300, or that doesn't leave at 6 am, or both. I'll tell you the whole story in some other medium.

Toronto is driving distance, and I've never been to Canada, which is just silly. I wish I had time to go further - heck, with planning this time of year you can fly to Europe for not much more than $300, but there's no time for that right now.
#11
Old 11-06-2004, 02:19 AM
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Yahoo! Maps is nuts.

I-94 out of Chicago to I-69, then across to Port Huron/Sarnia. (I-69 can be a little frenetic at rush hour in Lansing as it is only four lanes, but it is nothing compared to wandering into Detroit.)

For variety (if you have the time), go back by way of Niagara Falls (ON/NY) and follow I-90 below Lake Erie and through Northern Indiana.
#12
Old 11-06-2004, 09:56 AM
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I should go drag the atlas out of the car and take a look, but I have an offer to crash for the night in Ann Arbor, which may sway my decision (I'm leaving after work, driving as far as I can that night, and then the rest of the way the following morning).

Niagara Falls probably won't happen this time - I'd love to go, but this trip is slightly insane for 4 days as it is.
#13
Old 11-06-2004, 09:58 AM
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..and are you going to be in Toronto during the time of the next TronnaDope? (11 December)
#14
Old 11-06-2004, 10:11 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Chicago-ish, IL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace
..and are you going to be in Toronto during the time of the next TronnaDope? (11 December)
Nope - sorry. :-) Starting a new job on the 15th, and will be busy as hell for the forseeable future. I actually wanted more time off in between, but my soon-to-be-boss is 8 months pregnant and wants to get me trained before she bursts. From the looks of her, she may not make it to full term (she is tiny - I'm 5'1", and she comes up to my nose - and her husband is something llike 6'2". This is going to be one biiiig baby coming out of one tiny mom, if her first kid is any indication.)

So probably no vacation time for a few months, at least. Oh well.
#15
Old 11-06-2004, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
I have an offer to crash for the night in Ann Arbor, which may sway my decision
Shortest
- Back to I-94, through Detroit, and up to Port Huron
or
- (US-23 North to) M-14 to I-275 North to I-696 East to I-94 North/East
or
Least traffic
- US-23 North to I-69 East to Port Huron

You can check whether there are any road outages at
Michigan Roads and Travel

(Port Huron is preferred over Detroit because of the border crossing. Detroit traffic is no worse than Chicago traffic--I even find it a bit easier to drive.)
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