I don't think it matters how you try to enter the country - if you're going through passport control, they will run your name and date of birth against the same database - whether in the airport or driving across the border.
If you're unable to enter Canada due to a criminal record, there are still two legal options left to you:
- You can apply for a "rehabilitation". The process means you'll need to spend the next 5 years without a conviction before they'll let you in - but it's the most likely method to succeed.
- Alternatively, you could apply for a tourist visa and request an exemption. The chances of it being successful are slim, but they may work if you need to travel in emergency situations (family member unwell or passed away).