Gentlemen and ladies, start your engines – and then put the car in gear and head to the U.S. For the first time in over three decades, the loonie has overpowered its U.S. counterpart on North American markets, closing on Friday at US$100.52. That’s a level unseen since November 1976.

Just about every expert expected it to happen, of course, but not everyone thought it would take place quite so fast. The Canuck buck has been travelling like a rocket the past few months, leaving the earthbound American greenback standing still. For those who love to shop, it’s a reason to go bargain hunting across the border, just like in the good old days.

Nadine Laraya can’t wait to hit the stores in Buffalo. “There’s so much to see in the States, and in previous years we’ve been so limited because the dollar’s been so low,” she notes enthusiastically.

With the U.S. economy in a mild tailspin and Canada’s economic engine roaring at full speed, many are wondering ‘can it last?’ “I think the Canadian dollar is going to remain around these levels,” predicts economist Sherry Cooper. “Certainly there’s no reason to expect that the U.S. dollar is going to be surging anytime soon.”

While consumers are celebrating their reversal of fortune, those who work for exporters or in the automotive sector are feeling a different shade of green. Many are worried what their American masters have planned for plants and workers north of the border. “I think a lot of U.S. companies are going to have to look seriously at their staffing costs for having head offices here and they may  consider pulling out if they can run it cheaper from the U.S.,” worries sales analyst Steve Butterworth.

But while many are making a run for the border, others are content to stay home, realizing the higher dollar increases their buying power here, too – if they can just find Canadian retailers who’ve actually lowered their prices.