The convoy is coming. 

By the end of the day on Thursday, January 27 what began as a nationwide truck convoy against mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for truck drivers entering Canada, had become a catch-all cause for those against a variety of public health measures related to the pandemic and others angry with the federal government for various reasons. 

Trucks and other vehicles of supporters were to begin arriving at Herb’s Travel Plaza by the Highway 417 and Highway 34 interchange near Vankleek Hill on Thursday evening. Convoy participants from Québec, the Atlantic provinces, and Eastern Ontario are using the truck stop as a meeting point. On Saturday morning, at 10:30, they are planning to head west on Highway 417 to Ottawa and take their cause to Parliament Hill.

On Thursday afternoon between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., the scene looked like any other weekday at the landmark truck stop, except snow was being cleared in a vacant lot to accommodate additional vehicles. Inside, the only evidence something is happening was a stack of leaflets advertising a Freedom Convoy Menu. Travel plaza owner Herb Vink Jr. declined to comment on the convoy and the use of the truck stop as a meeting place. 

On Thursday afternoon, there were other things going on in local communities, as well as at Herb’s, to prepare for the convoy. Some residents of East Hawkesbury are planning to greet the convoy along Highway 417 when it enters the township and Ontario Friday afternoon. Some Dunvegan area residents are planning to gather on the overpass by Highway 417 near the village on Saturday morning. Signs in support of the convoy appeared beside Highway 34 in Vankleek Hill and Hawkesbury, because that is the route convoy participants from northern Québec are following to the meeting place at Herb’s Travel Plaza. 

The Ontario Provincial Police in Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry have also advised drivers to be prepared for possible traffic disruptions on Saturday due to convoy participants driving north on Highway 138 from Cornwall to Highway 417 toward Ottawa.  

Snow being cleared on Thursday afternoon from a vacant lot beside Herb’s Travel Plaza to accommodate expected convoy vehicles. Photo: James Morgan