You can turn up at the border with your proof of citizenship. You will be admitted.
Your spouse is a different story. In normal times she would need a reason to be coming to Canada, i.e. as a visitor, student, worker. But these are not normal times. So they will have to show they meet the exceptions for foreigners to enter Canada. (In this case, they're your spouse.) And there are will be a quarantine requirement for both of you.
Thanks, Riley. What I was wondering (what I didn't make clear) was that I'd be movung back to Canada, with my husband, who's a U.S. citizen. So could we just turn up and cross the border and then work on his Canadian immigration status from inside the country? I was thinking we could quarantine at my brother's house in West Vancouver, BC. Or should we fix my husband's immigration status while we're still living in the U.S., pay the fees, etc? Could we move to Canada before that lengthy process started? Could we just cross the border with a marriage cert then do the immigrsation work? Not normal times for sure. Thanks for helping. John
In normal times, yes, you could just turn up and he could enter as a visitor and you could sponsor him later. There is something called "dual intent" which is a visitor intending comply with visitor regulations provided he is not successfully sponsored. However, getting sponsored is not a sufficient (or even good) reason to enter the country normally. So it's a delicate tightrope: under normal circumstances your husband would need a reason to travel to Canada with you that isn't getting sponsored - for example you're visiting your brother.
I'm sorry to say I don't have any idea how this is all being enforced right now. As a citizen, you have the right to enter the country. As your spouse, your husband has the right to accompany you as an exception to the travel restrictions (I believe). But if the border guard believes you're trying to immigrate, this could pose a problem. (It would normally but especially now, I suspect.)
And it's important to remember that he cannot lie. Lying is an offense under the immigration act and can result in revoked status for your husband. (Though how often this happens to Americans...)
One other thing to keep in mind: if you want to sponsor him while he's still in the US, it's not good for you to be in the US too. You would then need to prove your intent to settle here (owning property, jobs/job offers, etc.).
Thanks, Riley. Great help. I'm retired myself and so I'd be returning with retirement income and savings. My brother is my only family member left. I need to come home. Tom's still working, a well-paid professional. He's 65. He's a Senior Producer in radio working from with a laptop (all he needs). He wants to continue to work there, at Sirius XM, which has a Canadian affiliate. What we've got now would be more than enough, according to the CIC income tables. We could certainly visit my bother in order to cross. We might visit him first, as you suggest, then see. I know we can't lie at the border--we wouldn't do that. There's the rub. Thanks for helping me twice. John