If you spent time in prison that would tend to indicate that you were convicted of a felony. One cannot legally enter Canada with a felony conviction. Even some misdemeanor convictions in the US equate to a felony conviction in Canada, e.g., DUI, and you will not be allowed across the border.
In short, have your friend visit you here in the US.
I agree with the assessments of my colleague, and add that if you still want to try to visit, get a copy of the disposition sheets for each case, and a copy of your Criminal History from the State Police, and contact the Canadian authorities directly. Good luck.
I do not practice law in your State. This answer is provided solely for informational purposes only. This answer does not constitute legal advice, create an attorney-client relationship, or constitute attorney advertising.
You should consult with an attorney well versed in these matters but here are some guidelines.
To seek entry if 5 years have not transpired since your conviction, you may apply for a so-called Minister’s Permit. After five years have transpired from the date of your last court appearance to the date you intend to enter Canada, application can be made to the Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for “approval of rehabilitation.”
The application form for both of these certificates can be obtained from any Canadian Customs and Immigration Office or consulate, or by phoning 1-416-973-4444 (Form IMM-5312E which consists of an information guide, application form, and instructions), or from the worldwide web at:
Forms can be obtained from the Internet at: