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Preface Last Updated: 12/4/2003 8:49 AM

Ottawa is a clean, attractive, modern city similar in many respects to U.S. cities of comparative size. In January 2001, the City of Ottawa and most of its sister suburban communities were amalgamated for a total of 850,000 residents with a total metropolitan area population of about 1 million. It is not, however, a capital district like the District of Columbia, and the Federal Government is merely the area’s largest business. The lack of significant language or cultural barriers permits Embassy personnel of all levels to become more readily integrated into the local community than is possible at most national capitals. The city offers numerous cultural advantages; the climate is healthful and bracing; and the area abounds in opportunities for outdoor activities and family recreation.

Canada’s membership in NATO and NORAD; our long, common border; shared environmental concerns; and the extensive economic, financial, cultural, and commercial ties between the U.S. and Canada assure a challenging and rewarding tour for personnel assigned here. Canadians are similar in outlook to Americans in many respects, but there are differences about which they are proud.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 12/4/2003 8:50 AM

The world’s second largest country in land area (3,851,809 square miles), Canada is bordered on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the northeast by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by the U.S., and on the west by the Pacific Ocean and Alaska.

Much of Canada’s industry is concentrated in the southeast near the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, in an environment similar to adjacent areas of the U.S. To the northeast is the rolling Appalachian country of southern Quebec, the Maritime Provinces, and the Island of Newfoundland.

Canada’s most outstanding physical feature is the Shield, a rugged area of pre-Cambrian rock that surrounds Hudson Bay and covers most of eastern and central Canada — almost half the country. This semi-barren area and the Arctic Archipelago to the north are sparsely populated and, as yet, largely undeveloped.

Another distinctive major region is the Canadian Prairie, an extension of the midcontinent Great Plains. This area lies between the western border of the Shield and the Canadian Rockies. It is the Canadian breadbasket and an area that is also rich in petroleum, gas, and other mineral resources.

Far Western Canada, comprising most of British Columbia, is laced with towering mountain ranges. Most people there live on the temperate southwest coast and Vancouver Island.

The climate varies greatly in the many diversified regions ranging from frigid to mild, but Canada generally may be described as lying in the cool Temperate Zone, with long, cold winters.

Population Last Updated: 12/4/2003 8:51 AM

Roughly 90% of Canada’s nearly 32 million people live within 100 miles of the U.S. border. Canadians and Americans are not “just alike,” however, as many observers often assume. The Canadian character and outlook have been forged from a distinctive historical and social background, which has produced a Canadian way of life that flourishes in a sovereign nation. Modern Canada draws on a rich multicultural heritage. The two largest groups are of British and French background with smaller percentages of practically every other nationality. The last few decades have added large numbers of East Indian and Oriental groups.

Those Canadians who are of neither British nor French origin, now about 50% of the total population, comprise mainly Germans, Ukrainians, Scandinavians, Italians, Dutch, Poles, Chinese, Indians, and Pakistanis. Aboriginals make up about 1% of the population. One out of eight Canadians was not born in Canada. Canada’s more than 6.5 million French-speaking citizens are mainly descendants of colonists who began settling Canada three centuries ago. They are concentrated in the Province of Quebec, although about 20% live in other parts of the country, mainly Ontario and New Brunswick. Manitoba also has a significant French-speaking community.

The English-speaking population has been built up by immigration from the British Isles and, more recently, other European countries. The largest influx from the U.S. occurred during the American Revolution when thousands of “Empire Loyalists” fled to Canada; most settled in “Upper Canada,” composed of southern and southeastern Ontario.

Religion plays an important though diminishing role in the life of Canadians. Over 40% are Roman Catholics. The largest Protestant denomination, about 17% of the population, is the United Church of Canada — a union of Methodists, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians. About 10% are Anglicans, with Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, and Jews next in order.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 12/4/2003 8:53 AM

Canada’s parliamentary system of government reflects both its Old World heritage and its North American experience. The British North America Act of 1867, as amended, and The Canada Act and Constitution Act of 1982 provide a written constitution, but many of the country’s legal and parliamentary practices are based on unwritten custom as in Great Britain.

Queen Elizabeth II is Canada’s Head of State. Her personal representative in Canada is the Governor General, whom she appoints on advice of the Canadian Prime Minister, usually for a 5-year term.

Parliament consists of the Crown, the Senate, and the House of Commons — the latter clearly having the dominant voice in legislation. Its 301 Members are elected for terms that may not exceed 5 years. The Senate’s 105 Members are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister and hold office until mandatory retirement at age 75. In keeping with Westminster practice, both Houses hold daily Question Periods during which Opposition Members challenge Government ministers with often sharply worded queries.

The Executive consists of a Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister, who is the leader of the political party in power. The Cabinet remains in power as long as it retains majority support in the House of Commons on major issues.

Provincial government is patterned much along the lines of the central government. A premier and a single, elected legislative chamber govern each province. A Lieutenant Governor, appointed by the Governor General, represents the Crown.

Criminal law is uniform throughout the nation and is largely based on British law. Civil law is based on English Common Law, except in Quebec; there, civil law derives from the Napoleonic Code. Federal, provincial, and municipal courts administer justice.

Federal politics in Canada was transformed by the election of October 1993. The governing Progressive Conservative Party was overwhelmingly voted out of office following 9 years in power and the Liberals received a substantial majority. The Liberal Party has won three subsequent elections, the latest in 2000. The Alliance Party, with its roots in Western Canada, is the official opposition party in the Commons. The next largest party is the Bloc Quebecois which favors independence for Quebec. The Progressive Conservatives and the New Democratic Party narrowly retained official status as they are represented by fewer than 16 members each.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 12/4/2003 8:56 AM

The development of the arts in Canada reflects not only the country’s culture and geography but also bears the imprint of a rapidly growing country as well. The existence of two dominant cultural traditions — French and English — has led to diversity in the arts. Focal points of artistic activity have grown in several metropolitan centers scattered about the country.

Since World War II, economic growth has given Canadians greater means to practice and enjoy the arts, and the influx of immigrants has increased even further the pool of available talent.

All provincial governments, through various departments, agencies, or educational institutions, provide some assistance for professional and amateur artists within their borders. The federally and privately funded Canada Council administers a similar program on a national level. Well-known artistic groups include, among many others, the Stratford Festival Company, the Montreal and Toronto Symphonies, Toronto’s Canadian Opera Company, and the Winnipeg Ballet. All of these groups tour extensively throughout North America and, occasionally, abroad.

A technologically advanced nation, Canada is committed to the advancement of science. Most major research projects reflect the increasingly interdependent industrial, university, and government laboratories. Likewise, considerable scientific cooperation is undertaken with other nations, especially the U.S. and the U.K. The National Research Council, a Federal Agency, carries out the most diversified program of scientific research. On the other hand, universities conduct most basic medical research.

Education at both the elementary and secondary levels is considered to be roughly equivalent with U.S. schools, although significant differences exist among education in each Canadian province and additionally between schools within the same district or city. Education allowances to varying degrees are authorized for both elementary and secondary levels. Education at both the elementary and secondary levels should be researched carefully before arrival at post, particularly with reference to children with special needs.

Education at the elementary and secondary level is the responsibility of provincial governments; curriculums and teacher qualifications vary widely. In all provinces, public education is free. Ages of mandatory attendance vary from province to province, but are generally from 7 to 15.

In Halifax and Vancouver, free public education is controlled and funded by public school boards, as in the U.S. Private schools also exist at these posts and charge tuition.

At the other Canadian posts, free public education is funded and controlled locally by two types of boards — either “public” or “separate.” Except in Ontario and Quebec, the public boards are nondenominational and reflect a Protestant and English historical development; the separate boards are Roman Catholic. In Quebec, public boards are divided into those for French- and English-speaking children and are nondenominational. Public education is funded from property taxes. In non-French-speaking areas, elementary schools require 40 minutes of French instruction a day. This is mandatory except for kindergarten, which is 20 minutes a day. Many local school districts also offer an optional immersion program, beginning in kindergarten that offers instruction totally in French, until English is gradually phased in, in the third or fourth grade. At posts outside Quebec, French usually becomes optional after grade 9 at the secondary level, and is offered along with other languages, such as German and Spanish.

In English-speaking schools in Quebec, French is a required subject at all levels.

Canada’s 60 universities range from small liberal arts institutions with as few as 1,000 students, to very large universities (made up of colleges, faculties, and research institutions) with enrollments as high as 35,000. Most colleges and universities instruct in English; several institutions in Quebec instruct in French only. There are also numerous community colleges, usually called technical schools.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 12/4/2003 8:57 AM

The Canadian economy is highly developed, giving Canadians one of the highest standards of living in the world. Manufacturing is concentrated in transportation and communications equipment, engineering, steel, and consumer goods. Especially notable is the production of motor vehicles and parts, encouraged by an automobile trade agreement between the U.S. and Canada. Most manufacturing is concentrated in Ontario and Quebec. Alberta is particularly strong in industries related to oil and natural gas. Primary industries built on Canada’s rich natural resources remain an important part of the economy and a major source of exports. Leading resource industries are: forest products; oil, natural gas, and hydroelectric power; grains and other agricultural products; mining of asbestos, potash, and nonferrous metals; and fishing. As in other developed countries, the service sector is growing rapidly. Ottawa is now regarded as the Silicon Valley of Canada, and Canada has one of the highest rates of Internet connectivity in the world. The economy is closely linked by trade and investment with other countries, especially the merchandise trade, roughly 80% of which is with the U.S., representing nearly 60% of the GDP. Considerable two-way direct investment flows between the U.S. and Canada, although the level of U.S. investment in Canada is higher, as is its relative importance in the economy.

Americans will find that most products and services available in the U.S. are also available in Canada. Local prices are often higher than in the U.S. but in some cases this may be offset by a favorable exchange rate for the Canadian dollar.


Automobiles Last Updated: 12/4/2003 9:04 AM

In spite of extensive public transport arrangements, Canada is as much an automobile society as is the U.S., so most American personnel have their own cars. All American automobile manufacturers have plants in Canada, producing standard North American vehicles. These manufacturers share the greater portion of the automobile market in Canada. Most European and Japanese models found in the U.S. are also sold in Canada. Spare parts are available for all U.S.- and Canadian-manufactured vehicles, as well as for major European and Japanese models. Repair facilities in major cities compare with those in the U.S. Service problems may be encountered with some European and Japanese cars outside the major cities where dealerships are established, but most cars can be serviced readily except in some remote areas.

Except in Vancouver, all employees should have their cars protected against the severe winter driving conditions encountered here. Have your car rust proofed (in addition to factory undercoating), especially if purchased new, as cars are subject to severe corrosion from the chemicals and salt used on the streets in winter. A heavy-duty battery, car heater (with a 180-degree thermostat), and a rear window defroster are recommended. Electrical block heaters and battery heaters are also a good investment, especially for vehicles not parked overnight in a heated garage.

U.S. grades of gasoline are widely available. Gasoline is sold in liters. Safety standards for cars are similar in the U.S. and Canada. Left-hand-drive vehicles are standard; traffic moves on the right. International highway symbols are used in Canada, and distances are in metric. Seatbelts and infant/child seat restraints are mandatory and fines are imposed for non-use in all Canadian provinces.

If you plan to purchase a new vehicle and you have duty-free import privileges, you may decide to order a new car directly from the manufacturer. In some cases it is cheaper to accept delivery of a Canadian-produced North American car in the U.S. Your decision may also include exchange rate fluctuations. All official personnel (diplomatic and nondiplomatic) may import one or more duty-free vehicles for their personal use. Diplomatic and nondiplomatic personnel may not sell their motor vehicles in Canada unless they have modified them to conform to Canadian specifications; paid Transport Canada to verify that the modifications were completed properly; and pay customs duties and taxes assessed at the vehicle’s fair market value as of the date of importation — not the date of sale. Ensure that the car meets Canadian specifications as well as U.S. specifications if it is to be returned to the U.S. Generally, automobiles purchased in Canada or the U.S. do not meet each other’s standards and cannot be imported into Canada or reexported to the U.S. without modification. Personnel would be well advised to consider these factors, among others, and should check with the post’s general services officer or admin officer before making a purchase commitment. Employees with older automobiles should write the Embassy general services officer or the Administrative Section at the Consulate General to determine if modifications can be made locally.

Licensing and registration are provincial responsibilities and are carried out as in the U.S. Proof of insurance is required to register vehicles. The Embassy and Consulates General assist in this. Please bring a valid drivers license with you. It makes getting a Canadian one easier.

Automobile insurance covering public liability and property damage is compulsory throughout Canada (USAA is accepted). Some subsidiaries of U.S. and British insurance companies are available in Canada. A few American companies will underwrite directly for U.S. Government personnel stationed in Canada, depending on the province in which one resides. The insuring company must have a registered agent in the province in which the car is to be registered. The required amount of insurance coverage varies from province to province. The post recommends employees obtain $1,000,000 Canadian liability coverage since several recent court settlements have approached that amount. See individual posts for provincial requirements. The Administrative Section of the individual posts can advise employees of the current insurance requirements for that province. Gasoline is nearly twice as expensive in Ontario than at upstate New York stations. Accredited employees may obtain credit cards through the Embassy, valid at a variety of gasoline stations, which allow the company to deduct the provincial fuel taxes from the monthly bill.

Ottawa. All personnel receive provincial drivers’ licenses upon presentation of a valid license, a letter of recognition and an identity card (the last two are issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs), and a vision examination at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Diplomatic, consular corps, and support staff are issued appropriate automobile plates at no charge upon presentation of a letter of recognition and an identity card. Rental cars are available at competitive prices. The public bus system in Ottawa is also quite good.

Calgary. All Consulate General personnel must obtain Alberta drivers licenses which are valid for 5 years. The fee for the license is $30. Post strongly recommends employees obtain $1,000,000 Canadian liability coverage since several recent court settlements have approached that amount. Under recent legislation vehicles must be covered by an Alberta insurer.

Alberta provides all incoming consular personnel with no-fee provincial driver’s licenses and free consular license plates for all personally owned vehicles. Liability insurance is mandatory and must be purchased from an insurance company licensed to do business in Alberta. Some U.S. insurance companies will issue insurance certificates that are valid in Alberta.

Halifax. Newly assigned personnel may use their out-of-province drivers licenses for 90 days, after which a Nova Scotia permit is required. In most cases, holders of a valid U.S. driver’s license will take only the written driver’s test. Drivers’ permits are issued for a 5-year period at a cost of C$49. A driver is permitted only one valid driver’s license — the old license is taken at the time the Nova Scotia driver’s license is issued.

Registration fees vary, based on the weight and class of the vehicle, from C$88 to C$232 for passenger vehicles. The registration is valid for 2 years.

Liability insurance is compulsory in Nova Scotia. Provincial authorities strongly recommend employees obtain a minimum $1,000,000 Canadian liability coverage.

Vehicles must pass an annual safety inspection completed at a provincially sanctioned garage or dealership. The cost of this inspection is C$15.

Quebec. All vehicles operated in Quebec must be inspected for roadworthiness by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) before they are registered. The fee for this inspection is about Canadian $75 (a small discount is available for CAA or AAA members). Under Quebec provincial regulations, auto registration and licensing fees for consular officers are about Canadian $150. The cost of the first year’s registration may vary depending on the application date, as all registrations are renewable in March of each year. Employees are fully responsible for the costs of inspecting and registering their personal vehicles in Quebec.

All personnel must obtain a Quebec driver’s license. Personnel and their adult dependents who have valid U.S. licenses are granted Quebec licenses without tests but must pay the fee of Canadian $50 for a 2-year license. The exact cost of the first license fee will vary depending on the date of application and the license-holder’s birthday.

Part of the driver’s license fee is contributed to the Quebec Insurance Fund. Quebec has “no-fault” insurance.

The program provides state-run coverage for vehicular injuries or death up to $50,000 a year, including compensation for lost income and for medical expenses to accident victims, regardless of fault. All vehicle owners must purchase separately at least $50,000 worth of property damage insurance.

Since “no-fault” coverage applies only in the province of Quebec, Consulate General employees should carry private insurance for driving in other Canadian provinces or in the U.S. Employees planning to maintain an American policy should ensure that the appropriate provisions for other than liability are valid in Quebec. Post strongly recommends that employees obtain Canadian $1,000,000 liability coverage since several court settlements have approached the $1,000,000 amount.

Toronto. All personnel receive provincial drivers’ licenses upon presentation of a valid license and an identity card (the latter is issued by the Department of External Affairs), and a vision examination at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Diplomatic, consular corps, and support staff are issued appropriate automobile plates at no charge upon presentation of an identity card. Local law requires third-party liability insurance in the amount of C$200,000 at the least, although C$1,000,000 is recommended.

Vancouver. Liability insurance is mandatory in British Columbia and must be purchased from the provincial monopoly, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), at prices substantially higher than in the U.S. Although comprehensive coverage is available from ICBC, it may also be purchased from other vendors. Some American employees have chosen to keep their comprehensive coverage with a U.S.-based insurer. Employees should check with present companies to see if medical and collision coverage can be extended to British Columbia. A valid British Columbia driver’s license is generally required, although personnel with consular status may receive a waiver to this requirement and continue to use their U.S. license. All other employees must exchange their U.S. drivers’ licenses for B.C. licenses, a process that requires employees to take both a written test and an eye examination. The fee for a license is $10. Post strongly recommends employees obtain $1,000,000 Canadian liability coverage since several recent court settlements have approached the $1,000,000 amount. While cars purchased in Canada are often cheaper than the same car would be if purchased in the U.S., personnel considering purchasing a car in Canada should be aware that automobiles produced for the Canadian market generally do not meet U.S. safety and/or pollution requirements and cannot be brought back to the U.S. without expensive modifications. Personnel bringing a car to Vancouver will need to have the car inspected prior to licensing it and will generally be required to re-export the auto at the end of his/her tour of duty.


Local Transportation Last Updated: 12/4/2003 9:04 AM

All large cities have a public transit system, generally buses. Montreal and Toronto have subways; Calgary and Toronto have streetcars. By and large, Canadian cities have public transportation arrangements superior to those in U.S. cities of similar size. Provincial and local governments subsidize public transportation.


Regional Transportation Last Updated: 12/4/2003 9:06 AM

Except in remote northern areas, Canada has an advanced transportation system comparable to the U.S. An extensive air network links all major and many minor traffic points with adequate connections to the U.S. and the rest of the world. Domestic airfares per mile are generally higher than in the U.S., and distances between population centers are considerably greater. Likewise, a good highway system (with somewhat less emphasis on interstate roads) exists within 200 miles of the U.S. border and supports extensive truck, bus, and automobile traffic.

Canada’s extensive railway system connects the country from sea to sea. The Canadian National Railway (CN) deals exclusively with cargo, whereas VIA Rail offers passenger service.

When traveling by train, connections can be made with buses, ferries, and some American railway lines. In Canada (and in most American states) toll-free telephone numbers are available for information and reservations. Most reservations can be made this way. Tickets can also be purchased through authorized travel agents, or at VIA’s sales offices at convenient locations in most cities. Agents can supply information regarding special excursion fares, and fares for children and students.

Major credit cards are accepted for purchase of tickets, meals, and other services. Special needs (such as wheelchairs, dietary meals) can usually be met. Most stations require baggage to be checked 45 minutes before train departure to ensure that it arrives at the same time as the passenger. Adults may check up to 100 lbs. before a surcharge is levied, and children may check up to 50 lbs.

Pets can be transported in baggage cars where these cars are available, but must be kept in cages, which are available for purchase at most stations. Seeing-eye or hearing-ear dogs are an exception and are allowed in the passenger cars.

CANRAIL, Youth CANRAIL, and senior passes are available. They allow the holder to travel across Canada for a fixed cost based on a 30-day or less period. Prices vary according to seasonal rates.

Water transportation is important largely from the foreign trade viewpoint. Major ports exist at Vancouver, Montreal, other St. Lawrence River points, Halifax, and Saint John (New Brunswick). The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway and River system is an important domestic and binational transport route, which permits the movement of smaller oceangoing vessels as far west as Duluth, Minnesota, and Thunder Bay, Ontario.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 12/4/2003 9:06 AM

Telephone service, provided by the Bell Telephone Company of Canada in Ontario and Quebec and by provincial companies in other provinces, is excellent. Canada is integrated with the U.S. direct long-distance dialing system (dial 1, area code, and number). Worldwide telegraphic services are available. Internet access, including high speed cable, is available from a variety of providers. Costs run from Can$9.95 to Can$40 a month.


Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 12/4/2003 9:09 AM

Mail service within and from Canada is generally satisfactory but slower than in the U.S. There is no mail service on Saturdays. All first-class mail is air mail within Canada at no extra cost. Letters to the U.S. require only a first-class (CAN$.65) stamp (a domestic first-class stamp is CAN$.48). Services similar to those in the U.S. are available, as are commercial courier and Canada Post Priority mail services, both of which are widely used.

Mail orders may be shipped parcel post direct to your Canadian address, but this involves customs formalities. Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, and Vancouver have post office boxes in the U.S., and official American personnel prefer to use this means for personal letters and packages. A driver picks up the mail regularly and delivers it to the Embassy or Consulate General for distribution. The addresses are:

Ottawa: Full Name U.S. Embassy P.O. Box 5000 Ogdensburg, New York 13669–0430

Montreal: Full Name American Consulate General P.O. Box 847 Champlain, New York 12919–0847

Quebec City: Full Name American Consulate General P O. Box 1547 Champlain, New York 12919–1547

Toronto: Full Name American Consulate General P.O. Box 135 Lewiston, New York 14092

Vancouver: Full Name American Consulate General P.O. Box 5002 Point Roberts, Washington 98281

Personnel are authorized use of State Department airpouch facilities for outgoing personal letter mail. Incoming parcels containing medical supplies and prescription eyeglasses weighing less than 2 pounds may be received via airpouch.

Name Post: Calgary 5490 Calgary Place, Dulles, Virginia 20189–5490

Department of State Washington D.C. 20520 (plus four extra digits: Ottawa—5480; Calgary—5490; Halifax—5500; Montreal—5510; Quebec—5520; Toronto—5530; and Vancouver—5540.

Parcels over 2 pounds, magazines, and other bulk items may be received via surface pouch, but transit time is quite slow. The address for such parcels is the same as above but with ZIP code 20521 plus the same four digits.

Employees assigned to Ottawa can use Canada Post or the Embassy Mailroom for mailing purposes. Regular mail and packages sent via United Parcel Services (UPS) are picked up by an Embassy driver three times a week in Ogdensburg. The address is:

(Full Name) PMB–321 2981 Ford St. Ext. Ogdensburg, New York 13669

Accredited personnel may receive parcels via international mail duty free. Listed below are the international mailing addresses for posts in Canada:

Ottawa U.S. Embassy P.O. Box 866, Station “B” Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1P 5T1

Calgary U.S. Consulate General 10th floor, Room 1050 615 MacLeod Tr, SE Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2G 4T8

Halifax U.S. Consulate General Purdy's Wharf Tower II Suite 904 1969 Upper Water Street Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3R7

Montreal U.S. Consulate General P.O. Box 65, Postal Station Desjardins Montreal, P.Q., Canada H5B 1G1

U.S. Mission-ICAO 999 University Avenue Suite 1410 Montreal, P.Q. H3C 5A7

Quebec U.S. Consulate General P.O. Box 939 Quebec, P.Q., Canada G1R 4T9

Toronto U.S. Consulate General 360 University Avenue Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 154

Vancouver U.S. Consulate General 1075 West Georgia Street Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V6E 4E9

Consulate (APP) Winnipeg 860-201 Portage Avenue Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 3K6

Note: Winnipeg does not have a post office box


Radio and TV Last Updated: 12/4/2003 9:10 AM

Broadcasting is well developed in Canada. Radio and TV stations operate in all post cities and carry extensive U.S. programming. Canada has two national TV networks (CBC and CTV), and independent TV stations also exist in many large cities. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) operates an extensive radio network, with domestic (AM and FM), northern, armed forces, and international shortwave service. It operates dual networks for English and French programming; there are even French outlets in the western cities where the francophone population is limited. The Province of Quebec also has its own French-language broadcasting system. The Province of Ontario operates an impressive educational TV system, which at night features nonacademic programs. Direct reception of nearby U.S. radio and TV stations is possible in many parts of Canada. A shortwave set is not necessary, but if you have one, bring it. In most Canadian cities there is a well-developed cable TV system available to subscribers, which relays most of the U.S. networks (including PBS), some distant Canadian stations for an additional charge, and distant U.S. and Canadian FM radio as well. By a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision, using U.S. satellite decoders is illegal.


Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 12/4/2003 9:10 AM

About 109 daily newspapers are published in Canada — 89% are in English. Most post cities have at least two local papers, usually morning and evening.

Several Canadian newspapers publish a Sunday edition. Most post cities receive major U.S. newspapers within a few days of publication. The New York Times is available daily, including Sundays, in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.

Most American magazines and books are available in the post cities, usually at slightly higher prices than in the U.S. You can get subscriptions to your favorite magazines and journals. Maclean’s, a weekly, is the only national Canadian news magazine. Reader’s Digest publishes a Canadian edition.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 9:11 AM

Competent doctors, dentists, and specialists of all types are available. Many train in the U.S. and most, except in some areas of Quebec, speak English. Canadian medical training is equivalent to that in the U.S. Doctors are heavily booked, sometimes months in advance. If you anticipate the need for dental or eye care, make appointments soon after you arrive at post. Most other specialists accept new patients only on referral by a general practitioner or family doctor. If you have a medical history that requires continued treatment by a specialist, ask your own doctor’s advice and assistance in arranging an appointment here. In addition, the Embassy has an agreement with a local general practitioner for physical examinations and inoculations. As post medical adviser, the practitioner is available for advice and assistance on other medical problems and for referrals to specialists as required.

Laboratories and hospitals maintain high standards and are well equipped. Professional fees and hospital and prescription drug costs are comparable to those in the U.S. Pharmaceutical facilities are excellent. While the U.S. Government will pay for costs associated with inpatient care of 24 hours or more at hospitals, payment for outpatient care, unless it is related to a previous or subsequent period of hospitalization, is the responsibility of the employee. Under most circumstances, the employee can claim partial reimbursement from his or her health insurance plan.

Health and Medicine

Community Health Last Updated: 12/4/2003 9:14 AM

Canada has no special health risks. Standards of community health and sanitation are comparable to those in U.S. cities.

Medicine. The medical situation is somewhat different in Quebec. The quality and availability of competent medical care in Montreal has declined in recent years. Newspapers have reported frequent sharp criticism of the Quebec health system from health care professionals and Government officials, as well as from patients. A root cause of the problem is the tremendous shortage of nurses, generally agreed to be between 1,200 and 1,500, which the Quebec Government may have inadvertently created when it offered a voluntary buyout in 1997. About 4,000 nurses accepted early retirement, which basically dismantled the health-care system. This has been reported to be perhaps the most severe nursing shortage since Quebec’s public healthcare network was established in the early 1970s. With the number of nursing graduates in 2000 the lowest in a decade, the Quebec Order of Nurses predicted the shortage to last until 2005.

There is also general consensus that Canada has suffered a net loss of workers in a variety of key occupations. Statistics Canada reported that during the past decade, Canada lost 19 doctors and 15 nurses to the U.S. for every one gained, putting physicians and nurses in the top two categories of professionals who have left Canada for better working conditions and higher salaries in the U.S. This “brain drain” of professionals has contributed to the deteriorating health care situation in Montreal.

Modern diagnostic equipment is also in short supply. It has been reported recently that in comparison with 15 other OECD countries, Canada ranked 12th in availability of CT-scanners and 11th out of 13 in MRI availability. Elective surgeries such as hip replacements and heart operations have been postponed, often for months. Many cancer patients have chosen to travel to the U.S. for treatment rather than be put on a waiting list in an overcrowded, understaffed Montreal hospital.

Emergency care in particular has suffered. Hospital emergency rooms are overcrowded to such an extent that some have asked the public to stay away. Doctors complain of having to treat patients on stretchers in corridors, creating increased risk of contagion as well as anger and frustration over the lack of privacy. Hospitals have been forced to close beds for the past three summers. The Montreal Regional Health Board reported that during the summer of 2000, more than one-fifth of the beds in Montreal’s 17 hospitals were closed. A recent poll found that 116 of the 670 patients on stretchers in the city’s emergency rooms waited more than 48 hours to be transferred to a hospital bed. At least one major hospital has posted signs warning people against threats and violence in its emergency room. Quebec’s emergency response procedures (ambulance delays, specifically) have also been criticized, prompting a Health Ministry spokesperson to admit that the Health Department recognizes that the system is flawed and is working to fix it.

An English-speaking M/MED approved post medical adviser is generally available to see Consulate General staff and family members for a set fee. If he believes the ailment or condition warrants more specialized treatment, the patient would be referred to an appropriate specialist. Those without French-language capability may encounter some difficulty at certain medical facilities (even major hospitals), as many signs are posted only in French and some staff members have only limited English-language ability. Many doctors’ offices, hospitals, and related medical facilities (such as X-ray labs) require payment in advance for a portion, if not all, of any medical treatment, unless the patient has medical insurance valid in Quebec. As many of these facilities do not accept credit cards or personal checks, it would be wise to carry cash when medical consultation or treatment is necessary. As the Consulate General is located so near the New York border, it is possible, and may be preferable to some, to obtain physician services in Plattsburgh or other nearby cities, at least for routine or non-emergency services.

Health and Medicine

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 12/4/2003 9:15 AM

No diseases are endemic to post areas; however, several possible health problems should be noted. Hay fever sufferers should remember that Toronto has the highest pollen count of any large North American city. Although the hay fever season is short, about 6 weeks, persons with hay fever experience great discomfort unless they take medication or remain in air-conditioned areas. The dryness inside buildings from winter heating sometimes causes skin irritation and rashes and may aggravate nose and throat problems. Although some home furnaces have built-in humidifiers to alleviate dryness, a portable unit for bedrooms is useful. Warm- or cold-air vaporizers are recommended for families with babies or small children.

Most school districts require that children attending school be innoculated against DPT, measles, German measles, mumps, and polio (by oral vaccine or injection).

Parents should have the necessary certificates or records from physicians indicating that children have been protected.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:14 PM

Employment opportunities within the Mission have been on an increase over the past 3 years. The current number of established American PIT and PSC positions is limited; however, FSN positions are open to EFMs which allows for varied and expanded employment opportunities. If all applicants are equally qualified, preference is given to EFMs over resident U.S. citizens and FSNs.

Fixed American contract positions include visa clerk positions, which are available annually during the Consular Peak Season, May 1st to September 30th. These positions are available in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City. Dependents 18 years of age and older may apply. Student dependents, 16–24 years of age, may work under the Dependent Summer Employment Program, which also runs from May 1st to September 30th.

Reciprocal agreements regarding employment of dependents between Canada and the U.S. make it possible for the dependents of any U.S. Government civilian or military employee, accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), to work in any field. The Human Resources Office obtains the necessary permission from DFAIT, which authorizes dependents to accept local employment. The process is routine. Dependents, as defined in the agreement, are spouses, unmarried dependent children under 21 years of age, unmarried dependent children under 25 years of age who are in full-time attendance as students at post-secondary educational institutions, and unmarried children with physical or mental disabilities.

Immunity from civil and administrative jurisdiction with respect to employment is waived for dependents who obtain employment under this agreement. Dependents are subject to local taxes and social insurance contributions on any wages received.

Ample opportunities exist for contributing time, skill, and effort to welfare and charitable activities. The Welfare Council of Ottawa maintains a central registry for volunteers and social service agencies covering hospitals, health organizations, etc. All volunteers are welcome.

American Embassy - Ottawa, Ontario

Post City Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:15 PM

Ottawa (from an Indian word meaning “near the water”) is a growing city at the junction of the Ottawa, Rideau, and Gatineau Rivers about 60 miles north of the border with New York State. City residents total over 850,000 and the total metropolitan population is about 1 million. The climate is healthful and bracing; the area abounds with opportunities for outdoor activities and family living.

Government is the main business in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city. As in Washington, D.C., little industry exists, although the high tech sector has grown in recent years. Living conditions are similar to those in U.S. cities of comparable size, although social life is geared to the demands of diplomatic and government circles.

Small Oriental, Lebanese, Portuguese, and Italian colonies exist in Ottawa, but most residents are of British or French descent. Most francophones (35% of the population) are also fluent in English.

Although about 15,000 Americans live in the Ottawa consular district, they have merged into the population and do not constitute a discernible American colony. No American clubs or associations exist. Approximately 50 U.S. companies have subsidiaries or affiliates in the consular district, but only a few have American citizens on their local staff.

During summer U.S. tourists flow through the city. Though their stays are usually brief, the Embassy has become a point of interest. Throughout the year, the Embassy receives many Washington officials, civilian and military, who visit Ottawa on official business.

The diplomatic community is large and growing. Some 172 nations maintain relations with Canada, though only 121 have resident missions here. Most are small with two or three officers and a Chief of Mission. The only large Missions are those of the U.S., U.K., Russia, France, Germany, and the People's Republic of China.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:18 PM

Prior to the opening of the new Chancery, the Embassy was located at 100 Wellington Street. It was built in 1932 to house 17 people. Located directly opposite Canada’s Parliament Buildings, it was eventually only 1 of 10 U.S. Government facilities in downtown Ottawa.

After lengthy negotiations, the U.S. and Canada agreed to build the new Chancery at its present location. The new 12,819-square meter U.S. Embassy office building began construction in January 1997, and was officially dedicated by President William J. Clinton on October 8, 1999. It consolidates offices for more than 10 Embassy-related offices formerly housed in several different buildings in Ottawa.

Located at 490 Sussex Drive on a site in the Parliament Hill zone, the building needed to respond to complex urban design contexts on each of its four sides: the Byward Market area to the east (the “Town”); the Peacekeeping Monument, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Ceremonial Parade Route to the north; the Parliament Buildings (the “Crown”), Major’s Hill Park and the river view to the west; and finally, the York Steps and the city to the south. Symbolizing a bridge between the Town and the Crown, this building stands for partnership and alliance.

Outside, the Chancery has a strong architectural form with two distinct “fronts” which each respond to these two distinct environments. The east facade features granite and limestone, while the west facade gleams with glass, stainless steel, and terne-coated metal. The tall center tower brings light into the building’s atrium center.

Inside are spectacular open views to Major’s Hill Park, the Byward Market, Parliament Hill, and the Ottawa River. Interior common areas are rich in terrazzo, stone, hardwoods, and stainless steel. The selection of maple as the primary wood finish used throughout the building is natural, considering the maple leaf as a symbol of Canada. Furniture in the offices and workspaces feature case goods of maple veneer. The maple leaf theme is carried into all reception areas throughout the building. A pattern of stars punctuated with an occasional maple leaf is cut into the Niagara blue mohair velvet which covers all seating in these areas. Even the choice of color and type of fabric reflects the shared experience, close relationship and free trade association between the United States and Canada — Niagara blue because of the shared beauty of Niagara Falls; and mohair because of its strength, durability, and the warmth it provides in our shared climates along the northern border of the U.S. and Canada.

The artwork in the Embassy is a diverse selection of American contemporary artists. More than 60 works of art by artists from across the U.S. are included. Among these are several artworks contributed by Friends of Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE), a nonprofit, tax-exempt foundation established in 1986 to augment the representation of American culture in its Embassies. One of FAPE’s contributions is the 40-foot bronze sculpture, “Conjunction” by Joel Shapiro, located on the southern lawn between the Embassy and the York Steps.

The new Chancery was designed by David Childs, senior design partner of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill in New York. In 1981, Mr. Childs received a Presidential appointment as chairman of the National Capital Planning Commission. His projects in Washington, D.C., include the master plan and landscape design for the Great Mall and Constitution Gardens, the National Geographic Society Headquarters, U.S. News and World Report Headquarters, and the Regent Hotel. The telephone number is (613) 238–5335. Marine Guards are on duty 24 hours. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Besides the usual Embassy functions, the post provides overall supervision and guidance for the activities of the seven constituent posts. In addition, several other U.S. Government agencies are represented in Ottawa. These include Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Foreign Commercial Service (FCS), Customs, Department of Defense (DOD), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Secret Service, and Treasury. Personnel from these agencies receive the same privileges as comparable Foreign Service personnel.

The Embassy will not meet personnel arriving by air in Ottawa unless it receives a specific request to do so. If you are not met, you will have little trouble getting to the Embassy or downtown. The airport is located south of Ottawa and has limousine and bus service to the downtown area.

Personnel assigned to Canada must obtain a diplomatic visa prior to entering Canada. Visas may be arranged through the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., or at any Canadian embassy or consulate worldwide.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:18 PM

With advance notification, the Embassy can reserve suitable accommodations for newly assigned personnel at nearby apartment hotels with kitchenette facilities.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:20 PM

Government quarters are provided for the Ambassador and the DCM. Other personnel must find private housing. When seeking accommodations, it is important to remember that no one from any agency may rent (or purchase) a house or an apartment here without the prior approval of the security officer and the general services officer.

The Ambassador’s residence, “Lornado,” is located in Rockcliffe Village and overlooks the Ottawa River. It has been the residence of the U.S. Chief of Mission in Canada since 1935 when it was purchased by the U.S. Government. Built in 1908 by Warren Y. Soper, the 32- room, two-and-a-half story limestone “cottage” was named after Soper’s favorite literary heroine, Lorna Doone. The house is completely furnished.

The DCM’s residence is not far from the Ambassador’s residence. It is also completely furnished.

Personnel generally have little difficulty locating unfurnished houses or apartments, though it may take time and patience to find suitable quarters in the neighborhood that you prefer. Allow at least 4–6 weeks to locate housing. Rents in Centretown, the city’s oldest residential area, are higher than in outlying areas, and rents in all areas are rising. Some personnel prefer to buy homes. Attractive subdivisions in the outlying areas are popular choices. With the east-west throughway (Queensway), commuting time from the suburban areas of Ottawa to the Embassy, except during inclement weather, is seldom more than 30 minutes. Apartment and townhouse rents usually include all utilities except telephone and cable TV. Some housing centers have indoor swimming pools, sauna, gym, plus other recreational and entertainment facilities. Indoor sports facilities with year-round swimming, skating, tennis, squash, and gymnasium facilities are also readily accessible to the suburban housing subdivisions. Rents for detached houses rarely include utilities. Most landlords ask for a first and last month’s rental deposit (the last month’s rent is a de facto security deposit). Arriving personnel should therefore plan for a substantial outlay of cash to cover this requirement.


Furnishings Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:20 PM

Furniture suitable for the central or northern U.S. is suitable for Ottawa. Plan to ship the major portion of your furniture needs to post. Furniture selection, which is immediately available in Ottawa, is limited and prices are significantly higher than in the U.S. You may wish to postpone buying rugs and draperies until you have located quarters. Such items are available here, at higher prices than in the U.S., or can be ordered from U.S. suppliers.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:21 PM

Utilities throughout Ottawa are the same as in any modern U.S. city. Apartments and townhouses are normally rented with stoves, refrigerators, and frequently with washers, dryers, and dishwashers. Houses on the other hand may not have the full range of appliances. Electric rates are generally lower than in the U.S. Houses are generally heated with oil or natural gas. Air-conditioners provide comfort during humid summer weather. Many of the newer homes have central air-conditioning systems. Home humidifiers (for winter use) are helpful (see Health and Medicine).

Electric current is 110v, 60 cycle, three-phase AC. Any equipment used in the U.S. may be used here. Power outages occur from time to time during heavy storms. Personnel, especially in outlying suburban areas, should keep on hand emergency supplies such as battery lanterns and candles.

Food Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:21 PM

Local stores, supermarkets, and open-air markets such as the Byward Market (operating about 6 months of the year) all provide a good selection of foods of all types. Fresh fruits and vegetables are available during the local growing season at reasonable prices.

Clothing Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:21 PM

Heavy woolen clothes are not needed for indoor wear in Ottawa as houses and offices are well heated in winter. Medium-weight clothes are worn instead. A heavy parka, gloves, and boots are essential for the severe winter cold. Warm boots are necessary for everyone.


Men Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:22 PM

All types of men’s clothing are sold here. Tweeds and woolens are often imported from England and tailored in Canada. Formal clothes can be rented for the rare occasions they may be required. Dark suits usually are sufficient for the more formal occasions. Canadian functions tend to be informal, with dress usually specified.


Women Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:22 PM

Fur coats are common and are a good buy in Canada. Local tastes and standards are comparable to those in the U.S. Women need some formal dresses although Canadian functions tend to be relatively informal.


Children Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:22 PM

A full range of children’s clothing is available in Canada. Heavy winter gear for children should be purchased in Ottawa since it is of the appropriate weight for the Ottawa winter.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:23 PM

Basic supplies are readily available. Drugstores, similar to those in the U.S., carry the same range of goods. The employees’ association, Aceway, operates a small commissary facility that sells liquors, wines, and cigarettes at duty-free prices.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:23 PM

Facilities for tailoring, dressmaking, shoe repair, drycleaning, laundering, radio and auto repair, hairdressers, and other such services are better in general than those in the U.S. All types of photographic films, equipment, and development services are available locally as well.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:25 PM

Only the Ambassador and DCM have full-time (ORE) servants. Others occasionally use part-time employees such as housekeepers, maids, bartenders, or catering services. Reliable full-time domestic servants, cooks, and gardeners are very difficult to find in the Ottawa area. Many are recruited from Montreal and Toronto. Salaries and benefits for household servants are comparable to those in the U.S.

Accredited U.S. Government personnel planning to bring a servant into Canada must observe Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) regulations. There are two programs available for employment of domestic personnel: 1) as a Private Servant and 2) Live-in Caregiver Program.

Private Servant. DFAIT administers the program under which a domestic employee may be sponsored as a private servant to work for an accredited U.S. Government employee under a contractual agreement called a Household Domestic Worker Employment Agreement (HDWEA). Application for this type of employment is made before the employee’s arrival in Canada through a Canadian embassy or High Commission. Once the HDWEA is approved and the necessary medical and interview requirements are met, the domestic is issued an entry visa to come to Canada. Upon arrival in Canada, the Office of Human Resources announces the domestic to DFAIT and an Official Acceptance and Identity Card, valid for a 2-year period, is issued in favor of the private servant. The employment and documentation of the private servant may be renewed up to 7 years.

Under the HDWEA, the private servant is to leave Canada with the sponsor unless the private servant’s employment transfers to another employer. DFAIT must approve the transfer of employment. If the private servant’s employment is transferred to another diplomat, a new HDWEA must be completed and approved by DFAIT.

It is the sponsor’s responsibility to ensure that the Office of Human Resources is advised of the intentions regarding his/her domestic employee and to ensure that all requirements of the HDWEA are met well in advance of his/her departure from Canada.

Live-In Caregiver Program. The Live-in Caregiver program falls under the auspices of the Canadian Government Department of Citizenship and Immigration. This program allows a domestic employee to enter Canada under an employment authorization and establishes eligibility for landed immigrant status following completion of a 2-year period of employment. The process for this type of employment must be initiated before arrival in Canada.

As an employer under this program, the U.S. Government employee must be prepared to pay monthly remittances to Canada Customs and Revenue Agency in addition to the salary. These remittances consist of withholdings for Canadian income tax and deductions for employee/ employer contributions to Canada pension plan and employment insurance.

No servant may be hired or brought to Canada without the Embassy’s permission, as sought through the Office of Human Resources. The Office of Human Resources will facilitate the exchange of information between the employee/domestic and DFAIT. This is to ensure that the conditions set by DFAIT are met and that security requirements set by the Department of State have been satisfied.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:26 PM

Ottawa’s religious organizations include Anglican, Baptist, Christian Science, Greek Orthodox, Jewish, Latter-day Saints, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Sikh, Society of Friends, Syrian Orthodox, Unitarian, United Church, Pentecostal (which is equivalent to the U.S. Assemblies of God) and more. Services are conducted at most churches in English, although French is used in Catholic churches in predominantly French neighborhoods.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:30 PM

Ottawa’s public school system offers instruction from kindergarten through grade 12. There are about 119 elementary schools for kindergarten to grade 8, and 27 high schools with English instruction and 5 with French instruction covering grades 9 to 12. Tuition is free for Ottawa residents attending public schools, including dependents of Embassy personnel. Children may enter kindergarten at age 5, or 4 if the child will be 5 before December 31 of that year. Most schools also have a junior kindergarten for children who will be 4 before December 31.

Courses meet the standards established by the Ontario Ministry of Education. Based on actual enrollment as of October 31, 2000, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) average in the aggregate for elementary school classes in the primary division, JK-3 was 22.76. The average size of the Board’s elementary school classes for JK-8 as a whole, in the aggregate, was 24.36.

The average size of the Board’s secondary school classes, in the aggregate, based on total credits (actual semester one plus actual semester two) was 20.95 students.

At the elementary level, parents may place their children in one of two language programs: the immersion program consisting of instruction totally in French in the first few years with a gradual phasing in of English instruction until the program becomes bilingual; or the core program consisting of at least 20 minutes a day of French instruction from kindergarten through grade 8 with optional programs ranging up to 70 minutes a day and some courses taught entirely in French. The core program is not rigid and may vary from school to school. Embassy parents who have enrolled their children in the optional French immersion program generally have found fewer adjustment problems if their children have had extensive French-language experiences before coming to Ottawa, or are entering the program in kindergarten.

Older children with little or no previous French-language experience have had difficulty with the immersion program. Children experience less difficulty in the core programs. Although some students coming from U.S. schools (especially those in the Washington, D.C. area) have found the high schools somewhat less demanding than their former schools, most students and parents report few differences or problems. There tends to be a wide range of opinion among Embassy personnel about the quality of secondary education in Ottawa, and satisfaction with the schools continues to be largely an individual matter. Instruction programs and course offerings can vary from school to school within the particular “Board,” although specific diploma requirements are set by the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Secondary School Reform. The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) is preparing to enter its third year of implementation of Secondary School Reform (SSR) initiatives from the Ministry of Education (MOE). MOE released new curriculum policy documents for grades 1 to 8 in 1998. Implementation in all elementary classrooms in Ontario is underway. New curriculum policy documents for grades 9 and 10 were developed and released by MOE in 1999. Implementation of the new curriculum at the grade 9 level began in September 1999 and continued for grade 10 in September 2000. The grades 11 and 12 documents were released in May 2000. The new curriculum policy documents reflect new information, a heightened emphasis on technology and a realignment of curriculum materials to the end of grade 12 (the same as in the U.S.).

New graduation requirements. To obtain a high school diploma, students must complete: 30 credits (110 hours each) of which 18 are compulsory — the Grade 10 Test of Reading and Writing Skills (which began in October 2000) and Community involvement (40 hours). Please check in the Community Liaison Office for the compulsory courses and additional information with regard to schools. Subjects are offered at different levels of difficulty (general for a student going on to a technical school or directly into the workforce, and advanced and enriched for the university-bound student). Individual programs may be quite flexible, depending on the student's ability and interests. You can visit the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCCSB) on the web at

The Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board (OCCSB) has 12 high schools (each representing a family of schools), 61 elementary schools, 4 intermediate schools, 1 adult high school, 4 adult dayschools offering continuing education, and a specialized school offering programs dedicated to students in care, treatment, and/or corrections. In total, the Board has some 41,000 students who receive quality Catholic education guided by a professional staff of 2,300 teachers, department heads, vice-principals, principals, consultants, and coordinators.

Currently, the French-language delivery model for the whole Board is under review. At the completion of the review, recommendations for possible changes to the FSL model will be made. Community consultation will be part of the review. Implementation of any changes (to be phased in over a 4-year period) began in September 2001.

Children of Catholic parent(s) (ratepayers) may attend OCCSB schools. Ratepayers must prove they are Catholic (baptismal certificate or pastoral letter) to direct their taxes to the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board. Non-Catholic children may also attend (without fees) based on space availability.

Please visit the OCCSB web site at for further information.

As in the Ottawa public and separate school boards, the curriculum in both Boards in Carleton meets all the requirements of the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Embassy families less often live in Quebec Province (across the Ottawa River in the greater Hull area). Children not already reasonably conversant in French could encounter problems, especially at the high school level — even if enrolled in an English-speaking school.

Quebec Province requires all high school students to take French throughout high school and to pass a standard Provincial French-language examination before graduation. Also, Embassy personnel residing in Quebec cannot send their children to schools in Ottawa for free. The Ottawa Board of Education would require such parents to pay nonresident tuition. Both public and separate school systems in Ottawa and the suburban areas offer extracurricular activities similar to those found in the U.S., including athletics, drama, music, student government, etc. The Ottawa school year runs from Labor Day to the last week in June. Students have a 2-week vacation at Christmas and a 1-week break in March. Grades are generally released quarterly.

Ottawa has several schools that accept children from age 3. In addition, there are “play schools” for children 18 months to age 4. These are usually 2 or 3 half-days a week and require some type of parent participation.

There are many private, preparatory schools in the Ottawa area that Mission personnel use. The Community Liaison Office in the Embassy keeps brochures from all schools attended by dependents of Mission personnel. An International Baccalaureate Program is offered through the following schools: Ashbury College, Elmwood School, and Colonel By High School.

The Ottawa Montessori School has a full elementary program for children from age 3 to 12. The Lycee Claudel offers a traditional French education for children in junior kindergarten through high school, including the International Baccalaureate Program.

Parents may contact the Andrew Fleck Child Care Services, 700 Industrial Avenue, Ottawa, (613) 736–5355 and speak with the Intake and Referral Coordinator. Andrew Fleck is a government-funded, nonprofit organization that provides information on child care services for all children aged 6 weeks to 12 years. They should be contacted for anything having to do with child care, including daycare facilities throughout the area, licensed home care, and support services for special needs children. Although parents are still responsible for locating daycare or the appropriate educational facility for their special needs child, Andrew Fleck can provide necessary support staff and/or equipment and training in order to have the special needs child fully integrated into the facility. Note: The Community Liaison Office has additional updated information (2001) that is available to all Mission personnel.


Special Needs Education Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:31 PM

Limited programs exist in local school boards for students with special needs, be they gifted and talented, physically challenged, or learning disabled. However, identifying special needs and locating a program best suited for the individual student is a lengthy process. Some parents with special needs children are very frustrated by the existing system and future because budget cuts threaten to cut back on even the currently limited programs.

Parents of special needs students should contact the special needs department in the appropriate school Board before bidding on positions at Ottawa. New arrivals should provide as much information as possible to reduce the amount of time required locating the program best suited for the needs of the student.

Four schools are available for trainable, mentally handicapped children: Ecole Jeanne-Lajoie, the McHugh School (affiliated with the Royal Ottawa Psychiatric Center), the Clifford Bowey School, and the Crystal Bay School (Carleton Board of Education). One school (Centennial) is for the physically handicapped. In addition, the Ottawa Crippled Children’s Treatment Center has teaching facilities for the physically handicapped as well as for autistic children. The four local Boards of Education guarantee that every child will be able to attend a school that meets his/her needs. If the Board for the area in which one is residing cannot offer the appropriate program, that Board will then purchase space and provide transportation to another part of the metropolitan area where a proper program is available.

Students with special needs are accommodated, whenever possible, in the regular classroom. Those with special physical needs may be transported to a school better suited to their needs.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:32 PM

Two universities, a technical institute, a teachers college, and a variety of business and professional schools provide ample opportunity for special education on a full- or part-time basis. Carleton University (English language) and the University of Ottawa (bilingual) offer many courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels leading to degrees in the liberal arts, sciences, engineering, theology, business administration, education, medicine, nursing, law, and the applied sciences. Both universities have extensive evening courses for part-time students in degree and nondegree programs.

Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology, a community college with four campuses, offers a wide range of day and evening courses, 1-year certificate programs, and 2- and 3-year diploma programs.

In general, tuition and fees for colleges and universities in Ottawa are less than those of state colleges and universities in the U.S. Personnel assigned to the Embassy and their dependents pay regular tuition. Foreign student tuition and fees are somewhat higher than regular fees.

Other educational opportunities include tutoring or group study in languages, music, dance, art, and related activities. These are available for all ages at reasonable costs, usually through the various school systems, Algonquin College, the universities, and the YMCA. Often, however, waiting lists are encountered for those wishing to obtain the most competent instruction available. This is particularly true of French-language courses.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:35 PM

Extensive opportunities for participation in recreational sports activities exist in and around Ottawa.

In winter, cross-country and downhill skiing are popular. Trails and slopes abound within a 100-mile radius of Ottawa, ranging from those for the beginner skier to expert slopes for the advanced enthusiast. Main roads are kept open and passable in winter providing access to ski trails and lifts in developed ski complexes. Bus service is available. One ski area (Carlington Park) is within the Ottawa city limits. Within an hour’s drive are the ski complexes of Camp Fortune, Vorlage, Edelweiss Valley, and Mount Pakenham. Camp Fortune, located in Quebec Province in Gatineau Park, is one of the country’s largest ski complexes, offering downhill and cross-country skiing at all levels of difficulty, day and night skiing, instruction, and rentals. It is a 20-minute drive from the Embassy. Farther afield, the slopes at Mt. St. Marie (Quebec) and Calabogie (Ontario) are 60 miles or 1½ hours away by car. All have a variety of slopes and trails and offer instruction and rentals. Season lift passes are offered at most ski facilities. The elaborate winter sports resort of Mt. Tremblant, Quebec, is about 3 hours from Ottawa.

Ottawa has what is billed as the world’s largest outdoor skating rink. During the winter, a 5-mile stretch of the Rideau Canal between Dow’s Lake and the National Arts Center is cleared and partially lit for ice skating. Warming huts and snackbars are located at convenient intervals along the canal.

Ample facilities for all types of sports, year round, have been developed in and around Ottawa, including ice skating and curling rinks, bowling alleys, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and tennis and squash courts.

The Nepean Sportsplex in the west end and the Orleans Sportsplex in the east are two of the largest in the area. They each contain an ice rink, hockey arena, curling rink, gymnasium, squash courts, indoor swimming pool, auditorium, sauna, snackbar, pub, and restaurant. They offer instruction for all age groups in sports activities as well as physical fitness classes, ski fitness clinics, arts and crafts, ballroom dancing, and ballet and tap dancing.

Members of the Embassy staff and families are eligible for associate membership in the Ottawa Civil Service Recreation Association. The association offers facilities for many sports and leisure activities such as gymnastics, squash, hockey, curling, fencing, shooting, etc., and includes many groups such as stamp, duplicate bridge, and photography clubs.

Most other sports facilities offer instruction for all ages as well. Instruction is also offered through churches, YW–YMCA, and neighborhood community centers. Regardless of your sports preference, you will find an organization that will welcome you.

Summer affords ample opportunities for all types of water sports on the Ottawa, Rideau, and Gatineau Rivers and at nearby lakes. Several yacht clubs have extensive sailing programs. Beaches within Ottawa are limited to one or two spots along the Rideau River and Britannia Beach on the Ottawa River. Facilities at these places are often crowded. Some of the lakes in the area, both in Ontario and Quebec, have developed access roads, beaches, and docks for canoes and boats, while other lakes are more isolated and primitive. Private clubs maintain pools, and many of the newer apartment buildings provide pools for residents and guests.

There are numerous public, private, and semiprivate golf facilities in the Ottawa area. Courses are available for all skill levels. Embassy employees may find membership in one of the several clubs advantageous.

Tennis and squash facilities are available at several private clubs, such as the Ottawa Athletic Club. Municipal tennis courts are scattered about the area. They offer season memberships at reasonable cost or are free on a space-available basis. Instruction is provided at the private and public tennis facilities.

Bicycling and jogging are popular during summer for all age groups. Numerous cycling and jogging trails are available in Ottawa and across the Ottawa River in Gatineau Park. Some roads are closed to auto traffic on Sundays for the exclusive use of hikers, joggers, and cyclists.

For the winter spectator, ice hockey is virtually a mania among children and adults. Ottawa is represented in the Ontario Hockey League by the Ottawa 67’s and in the National Hockey League by the Ottawa Senators.

Canadians are avid baseball fans and root for the American teams as well as the Toronto Blue Jays and Montreal Expos. Tickets for Expos games are sold in Ottawa, and buses are chartered from downtown Ottawa to the baseball stadium in Montreal for selected games. The Ottawa Lynx, the Expos’ Triple-A farm team, plays at the Jetform Stadium and is very popular.

Stock car racing is held in Stittsville, about 20 miles from Ottawa, and there are horseracing tracks just south of Ottawa and across the river in Quebec.

Numerous parks, playgrounds, and outdoor skating rinks amply provide for children’s needs. Family life is important in Ottawa, and children are evident everywhere.

A wide range of choice and price in sports equipment is available in Ottawa. Prices generally are higher than in the U.S. but stores have sales often. Furthermore, some sports stores maintain a sizable stock of used equipment (ice skates, for example) at reduced prices. Some personnel prefer to bring their sports equipment to post or to order it from the U.S. after they arrive.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:38 PM

Tours of the Parliament buildings are conducted daily year round. During summer there are sightseeing tours and moonlight cruises on the Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River. Tours of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters, the Queen’s Printer, the Royal Canadian Mint, and other government agencies can be arranged upon request. Within an easy drive of Ottawa are the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Thousand Islands area, and the restored pioneer settlement of Upper Canada Village.

Ottawa has several museums of interest: the National Gallery of Art; the Museum of Science and Technology, with unique viewer participation exhibits especially recommended for school-age children; the Museum of Civilization in Hull (housing the only convertible IMAX/OMNIMAX theater in the world); the Bytown Museum (natural history); and Laurier House (former residence of Canadian Prime Ministers).

In the greater Ottawa area various municipal, provincial, and federal authorities operate numerous parks. Much of the land adjacent to the Ottawa River on the Ontario side is part of the National Capital Commission and is maintained as parkland, with hiking and bicycle trails which serve as cross-country skiing trails in winter. In nearby Quebec is the largest of the area parks, Gatineau Park, 75,000 acres maintained by the National Capital Commission, which offers opportunities to artists, hikers, photographers, naturalists, skiers, and picnickers. The nearest of the Gatineau Hills is only 20 minutes away by car. The valley of the Gatineau River is served by 100 miles of hard-surfaced road and from this several other clay and gravel roads branch off into the back country to isolated picnic spots, fishing lakes, hunting grounds, and picturesque scenery.

Ottawa citizens often form private fishing and hunting clubs that acquire and stock private lakes within driving distance. Embassy officers can sometimes join such clubs. Public or Crown lands, other than in the protected areas of Gatineau Park, are generally open to hunters and fishermen. The Province of Ontario will issue hunting licenses for a nominal fee to anyone holding a valid license from the U.S. who successfully completes a written test and a practical demonstration of hunting knowledge. Anyone not holding a valid license must complete a course before taking the exam. At present, all Embassy personnel who wish to obtain Quebec Province hunting licenses must purchase them for a nominal fee. Complimentary fishing licenses for Ontario and Quebec are offered to all accredited members of the staff.

Within a 60-mile radius of Ottawa are many recreation areas that provide a variety of outdoor activities. In summer, many Ottawans leave town for cottages on Canadian lakes and rivers. It is possible to arrange weekend or weekly rental of cottages outside of Ottawa.

Summer camps are not used as extensively in Ottawa as in the U.S. However, Ottawa has many day camps, one of the most popular being Timberlea which runs for various time periods in July and August. Overnight camps are run by the Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, and the YMCA. For details, interested parents may obtain brochures from the Embassy CLO.

Toronto and Montreal, Canada’s two largest urban centers, are both close to Ottawa — Toronto is 275 miles to the west and Montreal is 120 miles to the east. Toronto, 5 hours away by road and rail and 55 minutes away by air, is the business center of Canada. Visitors will find a wide variety of reasonable hotel accommodations, extensive shopping facilities, museums, restaurants, and a lively theater district. Montreal is only 2 hours from Ottawa by road and rail, or 35 minutes by air, and offers a definite French-Canadian atmosphere, which can be enjoyed in a day’s visit or longer. Attractive shopping areas, numerous restaurants, nightclubs, museums, and theaters are available. Most Embassy personnel visit Montreal several times during their tour. (See Toronto and Montreal for additional details.)

The nearest town in the U.S. is Ogdensburg, N.Y., about 60 miles south of Ottawa. Watertown, N.Y., another 60 miles beyond Ogdensburg, is a larger center also within easy driving distance. Farther afield, but still within 300 miles of Ottawa, are the scenic attractions of the Adirondacks in New York, such as Lake Placid, and the resort areas of Vermont and New Hampshire with their numerous skiing, camping, and historical attractions.

The Canadian tourist industry is quite developed and offers attractive package trips to warmer climates during winter, such as to Barbados, the Bahamas, and Jamaica, as well as bargain charters to Europe. Package tours and reduced airfares within Canada are not as attractive. The principal Canadian air carrier, Air Canada, offers frequent and reasonably reliable service between Ottawa and other major Canadian cities. Ottawa’s airport is not a major one, however, and travelers wishing to take direct, widebody jets on cross-country or transatlantic trips must make connections in Toronto or Montreal.

Nonstop flights to Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., are available. Air travelers to other major U.S. cities must generally make connections in either Montreal or Toronto. Washington, D.C., is about 600 miles by road from Ottawa, via excellent interstate highways. New York City can be reached in 1 day by car and is about 455 miles from Ottawa, also via interstate highway.

All types of photographic films, equipment, and development services are available locally. Some personnel rely on mailers to U.S. laboratories for photo development.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:39 PM

The National Arts Center is a cultural center where national and international stars, orchestras, and ballet and theatrical troupes perform regularly. Popular soloists and musical groups also perform regularly at Ottawa and Carleton universities in programs that are open to the public. The Ottawa Little Theater, with a cast of amateur players, offers a full season of plays.

Ottawa has several movie complexes and an active National Film Theater whose showings of classic and foreign films attract movie buffs to the auditorium in the Public Archives every weekday evening.

The National Gallery of Canada owns a small but excellent collection of European and Canadian paintings and a small group of contemporary American art. Special exhibits are scheduled throughout the year. The gallery also sponsors film shows and lectures about art.

Ottawa has a great many very good restaurants, many of which specialize in ethnic cuisine. Dancing is provided nightly in several nightclubs, hotels, and restaurants in town. Across the Ottawa River in Hull there is a new casino and many excellent restaurants as well.

Annual events of interest are: the Winterlude Festival in February; the Tulip Festival in the latter half of May; and the Central Canada Exhibition, a week-long country fair held each August.

Many people take advantage of a long summer weekend to attend one or more performances of the Shakespeare Festival at Stratford, Ontario and the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake, both of which are near Toronto.

A monthly free publication available in hotels and restaurants, What’s On In Ottawa, lists all local performances, professional and amateur, and lectures, films, club meetings, hobby groups, etc., for that month. The National Arts Center and each museum publish monthly advance listings of events in their buildings. The weekend edition of the Ottawa Citizen is also a source of information on entertainment and dining out.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:40 PM

Because of the absence of a language barrier and the openness of Canadian society, Americans blend easily into the local scene.

Entertainment by Embassy personnel is generally informal. Embassy officers with extensive contacts in the diplomatic and government communities, whether they regard entertainment as an obligation or a pleasure, can expect an active social life in Ottawa.

Informal contact with Canadians outside official circles can be as extensive or as limited as Embassy personnel desire. School, community, and church activities; neighborhood organizations; and recreational facilities are places where many Embassy personnel and their families can meet and get to know Canadians on a personal basis.

Most entertaining is done in the home, in town in the winter, and at nearby summer cottages when weather permits. Since household help is in as short supply as it is in Washington, D.C., less emphasis is put on dinners, and most functions are cocktail parties or informal buffets.

Ottawa has a number of social clubs, which provides opportunities for contact with Canadians. Their activities vary from monthly luncheons to operating dining rooms, residential facilities, and extensive social schedules. Membership at most clubs is by invitation but is often extended to Embassy personnel and their families. Ottawa has an active international women’s club and University Women’s Club. Boy Scouts and Girl Guides activities are usually organized through the schools or churches.

Local civic-minded groups such as Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions, and Optimists are well organized and quite active.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:40 PM

The diplomatic corps in Ottawa has many official functions to which Embassy officers are invited, with National Day receptions topping the list. Depending on the level of involvement with the diplomatic and government communities, an official could be invited to events for visiting foreign dignitaries or farewell receptions/dinners for departing diplomats and receptions to introduce officers just posted to a particular Mission. Embassy officials might attend working luncheons/dinners with host country officials, and receptions for visiting trade delegations. Involvement in this type of entertainment would depend on rank or personal interest. In the past, most official entertaining was done in the home of the host. Since the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in October 1999, several events have been held on site. The main auditorium and adjoining room can comfortably house 250 reception guests. Embassy personnel and their spouses can expect to receive an occasional invitation to dinners or receptions at the Ambassador’s residence and the DCM’s home.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:41 PM

Social usage is much less formal in Ottawa than in older capitals. Calling cards are not used. Most officers use the standard business card. There are standard computer programs that allow employees to create their own cards. This Mission customarily uses the term “Embassy of the United States” rather than “American Embassy.”

Spouses of Embassy personnel may have an active social calendar if they wish. Participation in such functions is based on personal interest and is voluntary. This applies to participating in informal activities or functions to welcome employees and their families to post.

Special Information Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:42 PM

Post Orientation Program

An extensive orientation program is unnecessary here. New arrivals are provided with Welcome Kits containing city maps and pamphlets. Also included are several documents covering various aspects of personal and professional living in Ottawa. In addition the Embassy has a Community Liaison Office (CLO) which assists new arrivals with housing, education, medical, and other concerns. It is located in the Chancery and welcomes visits from dependents as well as employees.

There is a formal “check-in” procedure, which takes a new employee to various offices within the Embassy for briefings on housing, security, pay, allowances, protocol, and other topics of interest to newcomers. Each new arrival will be assisted with settling in by the CLO and by his or her receiving office in setting up initial meetings with the Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission.

The Embassy operates a very modest French-language program with priority given to officers on language probation and employees assigned to language-designated positions. Classes for other employees may be established depending on availability of funds. Representatives of other agencies whose headquarters have agreed to reimburse the State Department for such training may be accepted in Embassy classes.

Consulate General - Calgary, Alberta

Post City Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:58 PM

Calgary is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, 3,440 feet above sea level. It is notable for being the largest city on the prairies, the center of Canada’s oil and gas industry, and the heart of an extensive ranching and agricultural area. The jagged peaks of the Rockies rise to a height of 12,000 feet only 65 miles to the west of the city, and they can be seen from the offices of the Consulate General.

Calgary, founded in 1875 when the Royal Northwest Mounted Police established a fort at the junction of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, had a population of 951,395 in 2001, up 16% since 1996. A U.S. Consular Agency was established at Lethbridge on June 1, 1891, soon after railway connections were opened between Great Falls, Montana, and what was then known as the Northwest Territories. In 1905 Alberta became a province, and in July 1906 the United States established a Consulate in Calgary. By 1912 almost half a million Americans had migrated to Alberta. In 1914 gas and oil were discovered at Bow Island and Turner Valley, and important agricultural marketing and processing facilities were established in Calgary. Rapid growth started in 1947 with the discovery of oil in Leduc and the establishment of Calgary as the administrative center of the oil development and exploration industry in Canada. As the area grew, there was a need for expanded consular services. A Consular Agency was opened in Edmonton in March 1914; it closed some 30 years later. On August 21, 1963, the Calgary Consulate’s status was elevated to that of Consulate General, and when the American Consulate General in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was closed on July 31, 1986, after 113 years of operation, Calgary’s consular district again expanded. It now includes the Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, as well as the Northwest Territories, and is one of the largest land mass consular districts. It serves a population of 5,270,900 (2001 estimate). Consulate General Calgary is the northernmost post in North America.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:59 PM

Calgary functions primarily as a consular post, but political, economic, energy, agricultural reporting, public diplomacy, and commercial work are increasingly important.

The Consulate General is staffed by 4 Americans — the principal officer, a consul (and deputy principal officer), a vice consul, and a Foreign Commercial Service officer — and 17 permanent locally hired Canadian FSN and American staff. In addition, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. Customs have about 45 officers at Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg International Airports. The Consulate General is located in an office building (Rocky Mountain Plaza) directly across the street from City Hall and the Performing Arts Centre. The address is 10th Floor, 615 Macleod Tr, SE, Calgary, Alberta, T2G 4T8 and the office public phone number is (403) 266–8962. Office hours are 8 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/4/2003 1:59 PM

Calgary has several good hotels that generally offer special government rates. They include the Hyatt and Palliser Hotels and the International and Executive Suites Hotels where facilities for families wishing temporary housing, including kitchens, are available. Employees should contact the post in advance about temporary housing needs so appropriate arrangements can be made. Hotel space is almost impossible to find during the annual Calgary Stampede in July, and may be limited at other times of the year.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:07 PM

The official residence of the consul general is the only Government-provided housing. It is a 20-minute drive from the Consulate General and is located in the Mount Royal area, a well-established neighborhood dating back many years in Calgary's history and once known as “American Hill.” The house, purchased in 1984 and completely renovated in 1986, has four bedrooms and a guest suite, but it badly lacks storage space. Access to the residence is gained by long flights of stairs that are very difficult for those with physical handicaps or leg problems. It is fully furnished except for television, stereo, pictures, and books. China, silverware, flatware, and some linen and kitchenware are supplied for representational purposes, but in limited quantities.

Other personnel look to the private housing market to either rent or purchase accommodations on their own without assistance from post. Single-family homes and apartments are available for rent. Suitable apartments can be found. The availability of furnished houses or suites for rent is limited. Furnished houses are sometimes available but usually not for more than 3–4 months during the winter while the owners are vacationing in warmer climates. No special housing problems such as “key money” or unfavorable lease conditions exist. Standard leases are required by the landlord who usually pays all taxes and assessments. A diplomatic clause is acceptable.

Purchase prices on homes are somewhat less than in the Washington, D.C., area, but because of the uncertain real estate market, potential buyers should exercise caution. The commercial or residential vacancy rate in Calgary for the last decade has remained under 1%.


Furnishings Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:00 PM

No Government-owned furniture or furnishing is available for privately leased quarters. All apartments have stoves and refrigerators whether rented furnished or unfurnished; draperies are sometimes provided. Except for a few older buildings, most apartments have wall-to-wall carpeting. Unfurnished houses do not always have stoves, refrigerators, laundry appliances, draperies, or wall-to-wall carpeting. Most types of furniture and furnishings are available. New furniture and furnishings and electrical appliances and equipment, including radios, stereos, and TV sets, can often be purchased more cheaply in the U.S. The climate is very dry and, even if humidifying units are used, furniture may warp or crack.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:01 PM

Utilities and equipment are the same as in the U.S. Electrical power is 120–240v, 60-cycle, single-phase current. Cooking is done by gas or electricity. Both are popular and cost about the same. All homes are supplied with gas and electricity, but not all have kitchen outlets for both services. Renting employees may have to pay for new wiring or gas piping. U.S.-manufactured major electrical appliances do not always meet Canadian safety specifications. Local regulations prohibit their use unless they are modified to conform to local standards. All apartments and houses are centrally heated, usually by gas. Heat and water are generally included in apartment rents. The tenant sometimes pays for gas and/or electricity. Total utility costs generally are cheaper than in the Washington area.

Food Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:01 PM

The availability and variety of food, (canned, frozen, fresh, ethnic, and infant) is the same as in most U.S. cities. Fresh fruit and vegetables are imported from the U.S. or British Columbia during most of the year at prices higher than in the U.S. No commissary or group purchasing arrangements or discounts are available for food or liquor.

Clothing Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:08 PM

Standard American tastes and styles are completely in style. The climate means that down jackets, boots, hats and gloves are a necessity during the winter when the temperatures can be extremely cold. The Stampede and other events throughout the year require a selection of Western wear (Western boots, hats, etc.) especially for the principal officer. Occasions for formal dress (black tie/evening dress) arise frequently for the principal officer, but attendance is generally optional. Calgary can be a very formal town at times and very informal at others. See also Clothing — Ottawa.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:08 PM

Toiletries, cosmetics, feminine personal supplies, home medicines, drugs, common household supplies, entertainment supplies, and accessories are readily available, but prices may be high. Cigarettes and tobacco are more expensive than in the U.S. They can be locally ordered from U.S. firms or bonded stores in the east. See also Basic Services — Ottawa.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:09 PM

The domestic help situation is much the same as in the U.S. with few domestics available for housework. The consul general has one full-time live-in housekeeper. Other officers may employ day cleaning help. Wages for house cleaners are about C$5–8 per hour plus bus fare and lunch. Live-in housekeepers are scarce.

Provincial Taxes. Alberta does not have a general provincial sales tax but does tax gasoline, hotel lodging, liquor, cigarettes, and a few other items. Saskatchewan exempts us. Manitoba levies it. Personnel are liable for other provincial taxes outside the consular district.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:10 PM

Calgary’s church community includes representation from nearly every Christian and non-Christian denomination and faith. These include congregations of Anglicans, Baha’i, World Faith, Baptists, Buddhists, Christian Scientists, Evangelicals, Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews — Orthodox, Conservative, and Reformed, Lutherans, Latter-day Saints, Muslims, Roman Catholics, Salvation Army, Seventh-day Adventists, Sikhs, Ukrainian Orthodox, Unitarians, and the United Church of Canada.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:11 PM

Calgary has an adequate public school system, which includes kindergarten, elementary schools (grades 1 to 6), junior high schools (7 to 9), senior high schools (10 to 12), and combined junior and senior high schools. Tuition is free for Calgary residents attending public schools, including dependents of Consulate General personnel. Instruction is in English and, in a few select schools, French. Textbooks are free for grades 1 to 9. Physical education is compulsory in grades 1 to 10, after which it becomes an extra elective. Interschool athletic competitions are an integral part of school life. French is, in general, the only second language offered through grade 12. Music and art instruction is offered in all grades. The Catholic Church maintains a “separate school” system of kindergarten, elementary, junior high, combined elementary and junior high, and high schools. French and Latin are the only second languages offered through grade 12. Textbooks are free until grade 9, and Calgary residents are not charged tuition fees.

There are also several private schools and academies — both religious and secular — operated on a tuition basis. Several private nursery schools and kindergartens are available. Nursery schools generally accept children from age 3.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:12 PM

The University of Calgary offers complete courses in arts, commerce, education, engineering, music, physical education, science, and pre-med. The fulltime staff totals about 1,250 and the student body about 20,000. Tuition fees are low compared to those of the U.S. Further information can be obtained by writing the university at 2500 University Drive; NW., Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, by calling (403) 220–5110, or visiting their Web site

The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology provides 2-year certificates and diplomas in technology, graphic arts, business, trades, correspondence instruction, and adult education. The Institute is operated by the Alberta’s Department of Education and is financed by the Provincial and Federal governments. Fees are reasonable at an average cost of C$600 per year for full-time students (though fees can vary significantly depending upon the course). The average cost of books and equipment is about C$400. Further information can be obtained by writing: Registrar, SAIT, 1301 – 16th Ave., NW., Calgary, Alberta T2M OL4, by calling (403) 284–8841, or by visiting the Net at Its counterpart in Edmonton is the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. Another 4-year school is the Alberta College of Art and Design. .

Mount Royal College is a public junior college. It offers several different types of programs ranging from a degree transfer program to specific types of vocational training. Fees are low and depend upon the type and number of courses taken. For further information contact them at 4825 Richard Rd., SW., Calgary, Alberta T3E 6K6, call (403) 240–6111, or visit them on the Web at

The Calgary Board of Education,, offers a wide range of evening courses and services primarily in high schools. Academic subjects for adults as well as general interest courses are also offered at the University of Calgary and SAIT. In addition, Athabasca University offers numerous correspondence courses which are transferable to other institutions of higher learning. Athabasca University can be contacted by writing: 1040 – 7th Ave., SW, Calgary, Alberta T2P 1A7, by calling (403) 262–4522, or by visiting the Net at

Calgary has programs to aid the mentally and physically challenged, and for children with learning disabilities. Special educational services provide alternative educational programs for children unable to cope with or benefit adequately from the regular school programs. Emphasis is placed at the elementary level, but programs for some students are available through Grade 12. Schooling for the handicapped is also available at the Children's Hospital. Details of the many programs available for children who require special training should be requested directly from the post.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:13 PM

Ice hockey is the most popular professional sport in Calgary. The city is represented by the Calgary Flames in the National Hockey League and the Calgary Hitmen in the Western Hockey League. Football is also popular, with the Calgary Stampeders representing the city in the Western Conference of the Canadian Football League. There is a minor league baseball stadium in town, but the Pacific Coast League Calgary Cannons will leave Calgary at the close of the 2002 season. In 2002, consular staff did not know of any other minor league team that would play in Calgary in 2003.

A spectacular annual event is the Stampede, held in early July. Rodeo and Western enthusiasts are drawn from all over Canada and the U.S. during this time when the city completely surrenders to the spirit of the Old West. Besides the rodeo and chuckwagon races, there are street dances, street fairs, free breakfasts, and marching bands. Consulate General personnel are encouraged to dress in Western style during this period.

Several good international horseshows are staged during the year, and parimutuel horse and harness racing is held year round. Several riding academies and nearby dude ranches offer riding and lessons.

Good public and private golf courses are numerous in and around Calgary; fees are higher than average. Both the Banff Springs Hotel and the Jasper Park Lodge have excellent courses.

The city has several tennis clubs; badminton, bowling, and curling are available. There are about 20 square dance clubs in Calgary, and there are locales for line dancing too. Within the city, many parks and playgrounds have community swimming pools, and there are several large, state-of-the-art recreation centers, each offering a wide range of indoor sports facilities. Site of the 1988 Winter Olympics, Calgary and its vicinity offer abundant opportunities for winter sports enthusiasts. Several excellent downhill ski areas are within an easy drive, and a slope right in town also offers ski jumping, bobsledding, and luge. Ice skating and hockey are popular activities for young and old at over 50 outdoor and indoor rinks, as well as area ponds, during the winter and year-round at the Olympic Oval. Hundreds of miles of cross-country skiing trails in provincial and national parks are easily accessible, as are areas and facilities for curling, tobogganing, dog-sledding, horse-drawn sleigh riding, and snowmobiling.

Other Activities. Calgary has an excellent museum and a zoo, as well as a Western heritage park with a working steam train, an amusement park, and a good science center. The Winter Festival and the Calgary Children’s festival are among the events for children scheduled throughout the year.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:15 PM

More than half a million Americans take advantage of the frequent air service to Calgary International Airport or the excellent highway system to pass through Calgary every year to the Stampede or nearby attractions. The nearest year-round border point is Sweetgrass, Montana, 195 miles to the southeast. Calgary is about 8 hours’ drive to Helena, Montana, 3 hours to Edmonton, Alberta; 16 hours to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and 12 hours’ drive to Vancouver, British Columbia. Only days away are Alaska via the Alaska Highway, and the Yukon.

Within a few hours of Calgary, in the Canadian Rockies, are some of the most scenic areas of North America: Banff, Lake Louise, the Columbia Icefields and Jasper National Park. Banff is about a 1½ hour drive to the northwest, a further half-hour brings you to Lake Louise. The Drumheller Badlands with an excellent dinosaur museum, the Royal Tyrell Museum, are situated right in the excavations. The Cypress Hills spanning the Alberta-Saskatchewan border parallel to the Montana border are the highest elevation between the Canadian Rockies and the East Coast. The Glacier-Waterton National Parks bridge the Montana-Alberta border and are famed for their bears.

Edmonton, Alberta’s capital, 180 miles due north of Calgary and 66 miles south of Alberta’s geographic center, is Canada’s “Gateway to the North.” It boasts a population of some 937,845. Major airlines service Edmonton International Airport.

Big game ranging from grizzlies, to antelope, caribou, deer, elk, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, and moose are seen with frequency and often in the same day in the environs of Calgary. Alberta is a major flyway for migratory birds and a delight for birders seeking geese, pheasant, grouse, partridge, and ptarmigan. Varieties of trout, pike, perch, and pickerel are in Alberta’s lakes. The Bow River, which flows through Calgary, is one of North America’s finest rainbow trout streams for fly-fishing.

Camping, bicycling, and hiking are popular in Alberta, and campsites are available in the three national parks and 37 provincial parks here. Annual permits are required for a reasonable fee.

Photo equipment and developing services are slightly more expensive than in the U.S.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:16 PM

The Calgary Center for the Performing Arts has three theaters and features the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Calgary has a chamber music society, various choral groups, an amateur theatre, an opera association, dinner theatres, jazz locales and a large number of cinemas. Calgary is a regular stop for visiting orchestras, ballets, and musicals. A number of annual festivals on ethnic themes bring people out to the parks for entertainment and food.

Calgary has an extensive public library system, and books may be researched and reserved online by members. Bookstores and newsstands provide a wide array of periodical literature.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Social contacts among members of the American community are informal. Social gatherings generally include both Canadians and Americans. Many opportunities exist for contributing voluntary time, skill, and effort to Canadian charitable and other activities. There is an inactive American Women's Club, composed of longtime residents of Calgary. Several social clubs are available downtown ranging from the Calgary Petroleum Club and the Ranchman's Club to the Bow Valley Club. (The Calgary Chamber of Commerce offers honorary membership to the consul general and commercial officer.) Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, and other civic organizations are open to officers for membership.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:16 PM

Except for consular corps activities, most official functions concern only the principal officer and spouse. The Calgary consular corps www.calgaryconsularcorps. org, whose members except for the Americans and Chinese, are honorary officials, hold periodic lunches and functions. The consul general is invited to events of the provincial governments in the consular district.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:17 PM

Social usage is informal. Business cards are required, but calling cards for officers and spouses as well as “Mr. and Mrs.” cards and “informals” are rarely used. Cards can be obtained in Calgary at costs somewhat higher than in the U.S. The Province of Alberta can provide a protocol listing.

Useful Web sites:

Special Information Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:17 PM

Post Orientation Program

Because the post is small and the only other U.S. agencies represented are the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS), the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and Customs, the post has no formal orientation program. An introductory nonprofessional videotape and handbooks on the office and the official residence are available for personnel transferring to Calgary.



For 113 years, until July 1986, the U.S. Government maintained an official presence in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Consulate General Calgary has covered U.S. interests in Manitoba since 1986. On December 4, 2001, Winnipeg was officially reopened as an American Presence Post (APP). The APP is staffed by one American officer and two locally hired Foreign Service nationals. Like any APP, Winnipeg’s primary task is advocacy of U.S. interests. It focuses on transportation, agriculture, environmental and watershed issues. It also advocates on behalf of existing and new U.S. businesses in Manitoba and provide emergency service to Americans in distress. To better explain and promote U.S. perspectives on policies and events, APP Winnipeg maintains close contact with local government officials, media, opinion leaders, American and Canadian businesses, and the resident American community. It is estimated that 15,000 Americans reside in Manitoba.

Consulate General - Halifax, Nova Scotia

Post City Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:20 PM

Founded in 1749 by Edward Cornwallis, Halifax is the capital of the Province of Nova Scotia and the largest, most important city in the Atlantic Region. Located on the south coast of the Nova Scotia Peninsula, Halifax is itself a tiny peninsula with one of the finest natural, ice-free harbors in the world.

Beginning life as a fort, its situation was so ideal for trade that during the early 19th century Halifax was the wealthiest part of Canada. Today, Halifax is an interesting mix of old and new. Province House, where the Nova Scotia Legislature meets, is a fine example of Georgian architecture. The residence of the Lieutenant Governor is also a beautiful building with lovely period furniture. The Old Town Clock on Citadel Hill, ordered by the Duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria, during his tenure as Commander of the Halifax Garrison, has been the symbol of Halifax for many years, but is now challenged by the towers of encroaching high-rise office and apartment buildings.

Although Halifax spent the first half of the 20th century tearing down its old buildings, it spent the latter half restoring those that remained. A fine example of this change of heart is the Historic Properties waterfront development. These three square blocks are made up of timberframe and stone warehouses dating to the late 1700s and early 1800s, and now house specialty boutiques, pubs, and restaurants. A boardwalk connects Historic Properties to a museum dedicated to immigrants to Canada at Pier 21; the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, housing memorabilia from the Titanic and photos and exhibits from the Halifax Explosion of 1917 among its 20,000 artifacts; restaurants and small shops; and the ferry terminal for the Halifax- Dartmouth passenger ferry, the oldest saltwater ferry system in North America.

In 1996 the Cities of Halifax and Dartmouth, the Towns of Bedford and Sackville, and numerous other smaller communities, amalgamated to become the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). The HRM has a population of some 345,000. The workforce is concentrated in public administration, commerce, and personal services. Despite recent cutbacks, government and military remain the largest employers. Important industries are food processing, printing and publishing, spin-offs from offshore energy exploration and development, petroleum refining, ship repair, and tourism. In addition, electronic equipment, plastic goods, clothing, cordage, and furniture are manufactured in the area. The Halterm and Ceres Container Piers, Halifax Shipyards Ltd., and HMC Dockyard (the largest naval base in Canada) are the most important waterfront industries.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, economic growth came primarily from investment in business parks located in the suburbs. Since then, plans for growth have been focused more and more on the port of Halifax and on making it capable of handling ever-larger ocean-going container ships. To this end, port administration was put under the control of the Halifax Port Corporation in 1984, which is responsible for all Halifax port facilities and is constantly enlarging and upgrading them. In addition to shipping, electronics technology and ocean-based research are also gaining importance in the economy of the region. The Halifax area is served by nearby Halifax International Airport and is the Atlantic terminus of the Canadian National Railways.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:22 PM

The post was originally established in 1827 as the first consular office in British North America. Now, in addition to Nova Scotia, the consular district includes the Provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. Each of these has its own provincial capital, located respectively at Fredericton, Charlottetown, and St. John’s. The four provinces are collectively known as the Atlantic Provinces. The French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon are also part of the Halifax consular district.

The Consulate General occupies new offices in a suite at Purdy’s Wharf Tower II, 1969 Upper Water Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3R7. Purdy’s Wharf is a complex of modern office towers located on the waterfront of Halifax Harbor. The Consul General’s office commands a spectacular view of the harbor. The Purdy’s Wharf complex is connected via a series of pedways and tunnels to Barrington Place Shops, the Delta Barrington Hotel, the Casino Hotel (formerly the Sheraton), the Halifax Casino, the Canadian Imperial Bank Building, the Toronto Dominion Bank Building, the Scotia Square shopping mall and office towers, the Delta Halifax Hotel, the World Trade and Convention Centre, the Metro Centre, and the Prince George Hotel. The office telephone number is: (902) 429–2480.

The present staff consists of two American officers and eight permanent Canadian employees. The Department of Commerce employs two of these fulltime Canadian employees. There are no other American Government agencies represented in Halifax, although there are usually several U.S. Navy personnel stationed here on exchange programs with the Maritime Forces.

The Consulate General performs a range of services: American citizens services, nonimmigrant visas, economic and political reporting, commercial activities, etc.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:23 PM

Hotel rooms are at a premium in Halifax. Hotel rates are continuing to climb, and may jump dramatically for limited periods of time during special events, such as the Tall Ships visit in July 2000. An apartment hotel, the Cambridge Suites, 1583 Brunswick Street, contains 200 one-bedroom and minisuites and is located about a 15-minute walk from the Consulate General. First-class accommodations are available at several of downtown hotels including the Delta Halifax, Delta Barrington, Sheraton Hotel, and Prince George Hotel to name those most frequently used by official travelers to post.

Halifax is a nautical and convention center. Hotels book rapidly for conventions and public events, and all travelers are requested to notify post as soon as possible if they wish to have overnight accommodations near the Consulate General and/or downtown core.

Newly assigned officers should alert the Consulate General to their personal requirements as soon as practical to ensure post has an opportunity to obtain suitable accommodations while they look for permanent housing. The Consulate General has been fortunate to obtain furnished apartments at reasonable rates for incoming transferees and WAE/TDYers. The locations and costs of the TQSA housing vary, depending on the officer’s requirements and availability of apartments.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:24 PM

The consul general’s residence, the post’s only permanent housing, is a lovely 1920s-era house in a tree-lined residential neighborhood located about 10 minutes from the Consulate office in downtown Halifax. The house features hardwood floors, a polished wood staircase, and a large outdoor deck suitable for representational entertaining. Most of the furniture, carpets, and draperies were replaced in 2002. The first floor consists of living room, dining room, kitchen, family room, den, and powder room. On the second floor are four bedrooms, dressing room and two full baths. Two bedrooms, den and bath make up the third floor. The basement houses the laundry room, furnace room, wine room and space for storage. There is a two-car garage, one side of which will accommodate a compact or subcompact car. The principal officer has primary use of the official vehicle.

Apartment buildings usually contain coin-operated laundry facilities provided by the landlord and the majority do not permit the installation of personal washers and dryers. Privately leased homes may or may not include a refrigerator and stove supplied and maintained by the landlord; they usually include an area to hook up a washer and dryer which are supplied and maintained by the tenant.

Other Americans at post must rent or buy on the local market. Houses are extremely expensive and usually available only in the suburbs. Suitable apartments are also scarce in the inner city and command high rents. Waiting lists are common. Some new and on-going construction of apartments and townhouses in the suburbs has eased the situation. One-year leases are usual, and it is difficult to have a diplomatic clause included. Housing can normally be found at a rental agency within or close to the quarters’ allowance. Finding appropriate housing within the size limitations may prove challenging, especially in the inner city/peninsular portion of Halifax.

The principal officer’s residence contains furniture and appliances in very good condition. It is suitably provided with china, flatware, linens, and cooking utensils. The principal officer need only bring dishes for everyday use and art and other items usually included in the authorized limited shipment. Since there is no additional furniture available at the post, other personnel assigned to Halifax should send a full shipment.

Furniture can be purchased locally but at higher prices than in the U.S. Modern apartments usually have wall-to-wall carpeting and include appliances such as a refrigerator, stove, and possibly a dishwasher. Draperies are not commonly provided.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:25 PM

Utilities and equipment are similar to those in the U.S. Electric power is 110v, 60-cycle, single-phase AC, and 220–230 AC is available for stoves and similar equipment. Electricity and fuel oil rates are among the highest in Canada. Most homes are oil heated; electricity is generally used for cooking, although propane gas is also available. Natural gas is not yet available. Electric appliances of all types can be purchased locally, and prices are on a par with those in the U.S. Halifax has no discount stores.

Food Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:25 PM

A good selection of food items is available locally, and tend to be roughly on a par with those in the U.S.

Clothing Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:25 PM

Clothing is comparable to that worn in the northern U.S. The Halifax winter, however, is not as cold as in most of Canada. Sharp temperature changes are the rule, and snow is often preceded or followed by rain. Both warm clothing and rainwear are essential. Summer is brief, but has some hot days, so lightweight garments are needed. Post recommends travelers bring a jacket or coat which will break the wind and is water repellant or water retardant; beneath this outerwear one can wear layers of clothing to keep them comfortable during the sudden temperature and weather changes.

The principal officer and spouse may need formal wear, which may be rented locally. Business attire is the standard of dress for most official functions.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:26 PM

Toiletries, cosmetics, home medicines, and household supplies are readily available at prices higher than in the U.S. Not all U.S. brands are available. Liquor is sold in bond to officers at post. All liquor must be bought in caselots through the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission to qualify for the bonded privilege.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:26 PM

Hairdressing salons and facilities for tailoring, dressmaking, drycleaning, auto and appliance repair, etc. compare favorably with those in the U.S.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:26 PM

Domestic help normally is hired by the day for general cleaning. The principal officer employs a full-time housekeeper, but in general such permanent help is scarce. It is usual to hire servers and bartenders by the hour for parties. Catering services are also available. Local maintenance services are available for snow removal and lawn mowing, but these are expensive.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:27 PM

All major denominations found in the U.S. are represented in Halifax including Roman Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, United, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baha’i, Salvation Army, Jewish, and others. There are over 160 churches in Halifax.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:28 PM

The language of instruction for most of Nova Scotia is English. School attendance is compulsory for all children aged 6 to 16. Tuition and textbooks are free in public schools. Depending on the area, there may or may not be school bus transportation. Halifax public schools are divided into elementary, junior high, and senior high. French instruction is available at all levels and some schools in the area offer French immersion.

Halifax has three private schools. The Sacred Heart School of Halifax is operated by a Board of Trustees offering classes for girls in grades 1 to 12 and boys in grades 1 to 5. Grades 1 and 2 are bilingual. The Armbrae Academy and the Halifax Grammar School are coeducational and offer classes for grades 1 to 12.

The Halifax schoolyear runs from the beginning of September to the end of June. Students have about 2 weeks off at Christmas and a 1-week break in March. Grades are generally released quarterly.

Extracurricular activities offered by the local school system are similar to those found in the U.S., including music, sports, etc. Parents' groups are active within the schools


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:28 PM

There are six degree-granting institutions in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM): Dalhousie University, St. Mary’s University, Mount Saint Vincent University, Atlantic School of Theology, King’s College, and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Many courses in adult education are offered in the metropolitan area, both day and night. Halifax has facilities for the education of the mentally handicapped (grades 1 to 9), the physically handicapped (grades 1 to 12), and the mentally disturbed and those with behavioral difficulties (grades 1 to 9). Transportation is provided if necessary and, in very special cases, teaching in the home. A school for the blind (grades 1 to 11) is also located in Halifax. An effort is made to keep visually handicapped children within the regular school system, particularly at the high school level.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 8/31/2002 6:00 PM

Membership in the Waegwoltic Club located on the Northwest Arm in Halifax, is useful for Foreign Service personnel with children. Members may swim, row and play tennis, and children receive instruction in various sports. The Saraguay, a more prestigious club, has a swimming pool open in summer to its members. Both clubs normally have waiting lists.

Many have supervised swimming during the peak hours of the day. As well, there are several saltwater beaches within a 2-hour drive of Halifax, but the temperature of the ocean water rarely gets above 65§F. Dalhousie University facilities, known locally as Dalplex, provides economical access to an Olympic-size pool; indoor track; weight and cybex rooms; cardiovascular equipment room; racketball, squash, badminton, volleyball and basketball courts; a driving range; and a putting room. The rates at Dalplex and other facilities in the city vary based on family, individual, annual, monthly or occasional usage of the facilities. In addition to Dalplex there are also several public pools and facilities located at the YMCA, YWCA, the Centennial Pool, the Dartmouth Sports Plex, and Cole Harbour Place, etc. The Dalplex, Dartmouth Sportsplex, and Cole Harbour Place also offer skating, swimming, gym facilities and exercise classes. Skating and curling clubs are popular. Outdoor skating on the various lakes is limited because of the changeable climate. When weather permits, Wentworth, about 90 miles north of Halifax, and Mount Martoc near Windsor, provide opportunities for skiing.

There are two yacht clubs, the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron and the Armdale Yacht Club. It is not necessary to own a boat to join either of these. There are a number of golf clubs in the area, such as the Ashburn Golf and Country Club in Halifax, the Brightwood Golf Club in Dartmouth, the Oakfield Golf and Country Club, and the Granite Springs Gold Club, the Glen Arbour Golf Course and the Grandview Golf and Country Club. Tennis may be played at any of several outdoor public courts located throughout Halifax and Dartmouth or at one of the private social clubs. Indoor tennis may be played at privately owned and operated facilities at the Atlantic Tennis and Fitness Centre and the Northcliffe Indoor Tennis Club Inc.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:31 PM

Halifax is well situated for excursions within the Atlantic Provinces. Its coastal scenery is beautiful, and the Atlantic Provinces contain many places of interest, with sailing, swimming, hiking, hunting and fishing as the chief attractions. Although bus transportation may be used, the usual and best way to travel is by car. For touring purposes Nova Scotia has been divided by its Tourist Bureau into so-called Trails. Famous among these is the Cabot Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands. The Cape Breton Highlands are often compared to its namesake, the Highlands of Scotland. This Trail with its breathtaking scenery, begins at Baddeck, where Alexander Graham Bell lies buried. He has been commemorated there by a museum which contains memorabilia and many scientific exhibits, including a hydrofoil designed, built and used by Mr. Bell and his associates, on the Bras d’Or Lakes at Baddeck. The remainder of Cape Breton Island may best be seen by following the Marconi Trail, the Fleur-de-lis Trail, where the restored Fortress of Louisbourg is located, and the Ceilidh Trail. On mainland Nova Scotia, the Evangeline Trail covers the country first colonized by the French. The oldest permanent settlement in North America was at Port Royal, and the French Habitation built there in 1605 has been reconstructed. This Trail leads through the beautiful Annapolis Valley, famous for its apple blossoms in spring. From Halifax and following along the south coast, is the Lighthouse Route. On this coast, about 20 miles from Halifax, is the well-publicized Peggy’s Cove, a fishing village made famous by numerous artists. Peggy’s Cove is also the site of a memorial to the victims of the 1998 crash of Swiss Air Flight 111. The remaining Trails are the Gloosecap Trail, along the Minus Basin, and Sunrise Trail along the Northumberland Strait. The Strait separates Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

In New Brunswick, Fundy National Park features camping, hiking, boating and horseback riding. Not far away is the former summer home of President Franklin D. Roosevelt at Campobello Island, now maintained jointly by the U.S. and Canada. In winter, New Brunswick features some of the best snowmobiling to be had in the Atlantic Provinces.

Prince Edward Island beaches are favorite vacation spots. The Charlottetown Festival offers varied entertainment during the summer season, including the perennial musical based on the Lucy Maude Montgomery novel, Anne of Green Gables. The original Green Gables can be seen at Cavendish. Prince Edward Island may be reached by ferry from Pictou, Nova Scotia, to Wood Island, Prince Edward Island, and via the Confederation Bridge between Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick, and Borden, Prince Edward Island. Charlottetown is, approximately, 35 miles southeast of Woods Island and 35 miles west of Borden.

Newfoundland offers many opportunities for camping and hunting, and has been a mecca for fishermen for many years. There is year-round ferry service between Port-aux-Basques on NewFoundland’s southwest coast, and North Sydney, Cape Breton. In summer a ferry also operates from North Sydney to Argentia, 84 miles from the capital city of St. John’s.

There are regularly scheduled flights from Halifax to the other Atlantic Provinces, as well as to major cities in other Canadian Provinces; Boston, Massachusetts; Newark, New Jersey; Washington, D.C., Iceland and Europe. In addition there are many charters traveling to tourist destinations in the U.S. and Europe.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:32 PM

Halifax has a professional repertory theatre, the Neptune. Its performances, dramatic and musical, are high quality. Subscription tickets are offered.

Symphony Nova Scotia is a professional orchestra. The orchestra performs chamber music as well as symphonic programs. The Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, located at Dalhousie University, is the locale for various kinds of entertainment, including concerts by such well-known Canadians as Andre Gagnon and Liona Boyd.

The Halifax Metro Centre attracts many large and well-known acts, as well as playing host to hockey games and the Nova Scotia International Tattoo.

Movie theatres in Halifax and Dartmouth show current American, British, and Canadian films. Halifax has an IMAX theatre which shows current 3-D movies, and others, created to be shown on the huge screen.

Three Canadian TV stations have studios in Halifax, and there are several radio stations, both AM and FM. Halifax and Dartmouth have cable service which picks up the Public Broadcasting Network in Detroit, as well as CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Boston Television. French broadcasts are carried on radio and television.

Art exhibits are held at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, various universities and private galleries.

Some excellent French and seafood restaurants are located in Halifax.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:32 PM Social activities include Canadians except for an occasional small dinner or luncheon for Americans.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

International Contacts Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:32 PM Consular officers and their families are considered part of the community, as are other Americans, and are welcomed everywhere. Halifax has many clubs for persons with special interests, such as art, photography, chess, and bridge.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:33 PM

The principal officer is expected to maintain cordial relations with the Lieutenant Governors, the Premiers of the Atlantic Provinces, and other Government and military officials. As the representative of the U.S. Government, the principal officer is invited to many official functions such as the opening of the Nova Scotia Legislature. Halifax has frequent visits by U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and merchant vessels. Consular corps activities are minimal since the U.S. is the only country represented in Halifax by career officers. The French Consulate General having jurisdiction over the Atlantic Provinces is located in Moncton, New Brunswick. Various honorary consuls are located in Halifax representing the interests of other countries. Consular officers at the post are expected to participate in representational activities. Many of these activities are black-tie affairs, to which the principal officer and spouse are invited.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:33 PM

Consular officers and their spouses will have frequent opportunities to participate in social activities such as receptions, dinners, buffet suppers, and cocktail parties.

Business cards and/or calling cards, available in Halifax, are mandatory for certain official calls.

Consulate General - Montreal, Quebec

Post City Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:36 PM

Montreal, Canada’s second largest city and the second largest French-speaking city in the world, lies at the center of a metropolitan area with a population of approximately 3.4 million people. Located 120 miles east of Ottawa in the southern part of the Province of Quebec, Montreal is only 45 miles from the New York state border, 300 miles from Boston, 360 miles from New York City, and 600 miles from Washington, D.C. The city is on an island 30 miles long and ranging from 7 to 10 miles wide. The island marks the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers.

Many features that contributed to Montreal’s historic prominence now account for its charm and beauty. Mount Royal, from which the city takes its name, dominates the skyline. By law, no building in the city may rise higher than the mountain, which rises some 750 feet above the rest of the city. A large part of the mountain consists of a beautifully landscaped cemetery where more than 100 species of birds can be seen among century-old trees; adjacent is Mount Royal Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same landscape architect who designed Central Park in New York City. The park offers trails for walking and cycling, as well as areas for picnics in summer and skating and cross-country skiing in winter.

The Port of Montreal is both a busy working harbor and an international tourist attraction. As the entry point of the St. Lawrence Seaway, a canal system bypassing the nearby Lachine Rapids, the port is deep enough to provide ocean vessels access to the Great Lakes. It is served by over 30 regular shipping lines and receives oceangoing cruiseliners and visiting warships. Operable year-round, the port supports about 18,000 jobs and is both profitable and expanding. Its containership handling operations are the largest on this side of the North Atlantic, with nearly one million containers processed annually.

The piers in Montreal’s Old Port area are used for both berthing ships and as tourist attractions in their own right, housing an IMAX cinema, an interactive science center, and a sculpture garden. The port facilities are adjacent to world-renowned architecture ranging from colonial-era stone buildings to ultramodern housing and festival structures, including an amusement park and several large islands, one of them manmade. The cobblestone streets of the Old Port are lined with museums, art galleries, cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and small hotels. Dinner cruises, jetboats, amphibious buses, and private yachts ply the waters as well, providing ample opportunities to see the heart of the city from one of its most attractive vantage points.

One aspect of Montreal that is particularly appealing to residents and tourists alike is the “underground city,” a vast network of shops, restaurants, department stores, movie theatres, and fastfood courts extending some 30 kilometers throughout the downtown area. Inaugurated in the 1960s with plans for additional expansion, this indoor connection of pedestrian tunnels links nine downtown subway stations with 60 commercial complexes, providing access to nearly 2,000 stores, several hotels, and scores of apartment and office buildings. This attractive subterranean city is a unique neighborhood of its own, where half a million people daily shop, eat, and browse amidst a setting of sculptures, murals, fountains, and artwork of all kinds. The underground city is especially busy during the harsh winters, when the city’s inhabitants take advantage of the extensive indoor shopping and protection from the weather.

Montreal is a metropolis of singular charm and variety. The newcomer soon discovers that the city has everything needed for pleasant living — an absorbing history, a rich and varied culture, outstanding cultural and recreational facilities, an efficient public transportation network, and comfortable and attractive housing. In addition to the delicious French cuisine which justifies Montreal’s title as “the Paris of North America,” Montreal has many other excellent restaurants serving a broad range of ethnic specialties.

The general standard of living compares to that of Washington and other large cities of the northeastern U.S. The population of Montreal includes a wide variety of ethnic groups which, in the Canadian tradition, proudly maintain their discrete individuality. Two-thirds of the population speaks French at home. Twenty percent are native English speakers but fully two-thirds of the population speak and understand English. Of an estimated 65,000 U.S. citizen population, about 35,000 are registered at the Consulate General. Additionally, thousands of Americans visit Montreal each year.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:38 PM

While the post is actively involved in many important areas, the largest activity is providing consular services. Some 23,000 nonimmigrant visa applications are processed annually to citizens of more than 170 nationalities. Immigrant visa processing for all of Canada has been handled in Montreal since 1997. The American Citizen Services unit has a steady high-volume workload, handling the consular needs of the U.S. citizens registered with us as well as the thousands more who visit Montreal for tourism.

The public affairs officer, who provides support throughout Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces, manages the outreach program as well as the more traditional programs such as international visitors. Responsible also for economic and political reporting, the Public Diplomacy Section reports on issues ranging from agricultural affairs to sovereignty polls. Overall reporting activity for the Province of Quebec is shared with the Consulate General in Quebec City, which has primary responsibility for political matters since the provincial capital and legislature are located in that city.

In addition to consular and public diplomacy work, our resources are devoted to matters relating to export promotion, business facilitation programs, regional stability, regional coordination/ cooperation with nearby states, and international crime and law enforcement.

State Department American staff at Consulate General Montreal include the principal officer and associated foreign service office management specialist, a public affairs officer with collateral responsibility for political/economic reporting, a regional security officer, an administrative officer, an information programs officer, and seven consular officers. There are 40 Foreign Service National employees. One Foreign Commercial Service officer and seven Canadian assistants (five in Montreal; two in Halifax) promote increased U.S.- Canadian trade in goods and services throughout the Province of Quebec and the Maritimes.

The Consulate General in Montreal occupies two upper floors of the Place Felix-Martin building, at 455 Boulevard Rene-Levesque West. The building’s primary tenant is SNC Lavalin, a multinational civil engineering and construction firm. In accordance with local law and practice, the Consulate General adheres to the building’s no-smoking policy. The Consular Section and Foreign Commercial Service occupy space on the 19th floor. Consular clients and visitors to the Consulate General use a dedicated public-access entry at the side of Place Felix- Martin, at 1155 Rue St. Alexandre, and a dedicated elevator. All other functions of the Consulate General are located on the 20th floor.

The Consulate General’s office hours are from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The duty officer, who is contacted after office hours through an answering service, handles emergencies involving American citizens outside of regular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. The telephone number at the Consulate General is (514) 398–9695; the fax number in the Administrative Section is (514) 398–0973.

The U.S. has a Permanent Mission to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a U.N. specialized agency with Headquarters in Montreal. The Mission is headed by an ambassadorial-ranked U.S. Representative to the ICAO Council and its principal standing committees. The Deputy U.S. Representative, usually a Federal Aviation Administration official, serves as a member of ICAO’s Air Navigation Commission. A Foreign Service officer serves as Alternate Representative on the ICAO Council and Committees, with special responsibility for ICAO budget, personnel, and administrative issues. S/he also acts as executive officer for internal Mission administration. U.S. ICAO staff include a Foreign Service office management specialist and a locally hired assistant. The ICAO Secretariat, the U.S. Mission to ICAO, and some 50 other resident delegations have offices in the International Aviation Building at 999 University Avenue, Montreal, Quebec H3C 5A7. The U.S. Mission telephone number is (514) 954–8304, fax is (514) 954–8021.

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, the U.S. Customs Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service have officers based at Montreal’s Dorval Airport whose duties are to provide predeparture inspection of passengers and baggage traveling by air to the U.S. The Department of Agriculture Federal Grain Inspection Service has a resident inspector in Montreal who also covers several smaller port cities along the St. Lawrence River. The National Air and Space Administration (NASA) has one technical representative co-located with the Canadian Space Agency in St. Hubert, a Montreal suburb.

Newly assigned personnel should inform the post as soon as possible of travel plans, shipment of effects, and whether reservations for temporary lodging are needed. This should be done early to ensure convenient accommodations. New arrivals coming by air should plan to take a taxi (about Canadian $30 plus tip) from the airport to their hotel. Personnel arriving by car may phone or e-mail the Consulate General for information and directions before departing from the U.S. If post has sufficient notice, maps and directions may be sent by mail. Montreal City maps are available locally from the Quebec Tourist Office, which also has Information Centers on major highways leading toward the city.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:39 PM

The Consulate General usually makes reservations for new personnel at the Marriott Residence Inn, at 2045 Peel Street, (514) 982–6064. It has modern accommodations with full kitchen facilities, a small swimming pool, exercise and laundry rooms, and limited parking. The hotel is located about 8 blocks from the Consulate General, about a 10-minute walk. The hotel accepts small pets, both dogs and cats. A special deposit is required for pets, which would be at the employee’s personal expense. The Marriott Residence Inn, as well as similar, though less comfortable or convenient apartment hotels, is within the temporary housing allowance.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:41 PM

The consul general occupies a Government-owned residence 1.5 miles from the office. This handsome 1928-vintage graystone house was redecorated in 2000. The color scheme emphasizes blue, white, and red with black accents. The house is situated on a steep slope on the south side of Mount Royal. The main entrance, public rooms, and the small single car garage are located on the third of five floors. A butler’s pantry adjacent to the main dining room has been equipped as a small family kitchen and is connected to the main kitchen by a manually operated dumbwaiter. The main kitchen is located one floor below and was completely renovated in 2000. There is no elevator. The six bedrooms are on the fourth and fifth floors and there are servants’ quarters (three rooms, one full bath) on the second floor adjacent to the main kitchen. The house is fully furnished except for pictures, books, bric-a-brac, etc.

All other employees reside in privately leased or owned quarters. State Department space standards still apply to Living Quarters Allowance (LQA) housing. It generally takes employees 1–2 months to find permanent quarters, depending on arrival time. The greatest selection of housing is advertised between April and July. Most employees find comfortable, secure housing either downtown, in Old Montreal, or in the close-in suburbs of Westmount, Cöte des Neiges, or the Town of Mount Royal. There are many modern apartment buildings in most sections of Montreal. Many have swimming pools, communal sundecks or terraces, enclosed garages, saunas, and supervised recreation centers for children. Some employees prefer townhouses or duplexes. Except in the suburban areas 15 miles or more from the Consulate General, it is very difficult to find a detached house for rent within the housing allowance.

Most modern apartments and duplexes have heated garages, but garage spaces usually cost an extra Canadian $75–$90 a month per car. Whether garage space, snow removal, and other services are included in the rent or charged extra is subject to negotiation between the landlord and the tenant. Rents compare to those in large U.S. cities. Rents are increasing, but every effort is being made to keep allowances in line.

Leases should include the standard “diplomatic clause” (wording available from the Administrative Section), and must be approved by the administrative officer before signing. In the increasingly more costly and restrictive housing market, longer term leases are becoming more difficult to obtain as owners want to remain flexible and able to sell their properties. Most leases terminate on June 30 or September 30, regardless of the beginning date of the lease. Employees approaching the end of their tour of duty should not allow their lease to automatically extend for a full year, but should seek renewal on a month-to-month basis or for a term to coincide with their estimated date of departure.

Some employees have chosen to purchase rather than rent houses, but those considering this avenue must be aware of IRS tax regulations covering the use of living quarters allowance for application against a mortgage and tax deductions granted for personally owned quarters. Housing prices rose sharply between 1999 and 2000, but have recently begun to level off.


Furnishings Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:42 PM

Furnished quarters for long-term lease are very difficult to find in Montreal. No Government-owned furniture is available for rented quarters. Under current Living Quarters Allowance regulations, up to 25% of the LQA allowance may be used to rent furniture. Because of the favorable U.S.-Canadian dollar exchange rate (approximately US$1 = C$1.56 (August 2002), furniture and furnishings, as well as most other items, are generally cheaper in Canada than in the U.S. Some U.S. brands not available in Quebec are easily obtained in Plattsburgh, New York (a 1-hour drive), or in Burlington, Vermont (a 2-hour drive). Diplomatic and consular officers have duty-free privileges in Canada at all times.

Some unfurnished apartments, duplexes, and suburban houses have gas or electric ranges and refrigerators. Many have wall ovens and other common kitchen features such as dishwashers and microwaves. A few duplexes and suburban houses are equipped with washers and dryers. Most apartment houses have communal coin-operated automatic washers and dryers. Most of the best known U.S. manufacturers of electrical equipment and appliances have factories or assembly plants here. Some new apartments have wall-to-wall carpeting, curtains, and draperies, but hardwood floors and blinds are the general rule. Window styles and sizes are rarely standard and not usually the same as those in the U.S. Whenever possible, it is best to wait until you have located and leased your permanent quarters before identifying which items of furniture and furnishings you wish to bring to Montreal from long-term storage. Storage space, especially in apartments, is often scarce.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:42 PM

Apartments, duplexes, and houses are centrally heated with either electric, gas or fuel oil furnaces or with steam radiators. Heat, water, gas, and electricity may be included in the rent. Electric current is 110v, 60-cycle, AC as in the U.S. In houses, as well as some apartments and duplexes, the tenant may have to pay a water tax plus the cost of all other utilities, depending upon the terms of the lease. Homes are usually not air-conditioned, and some people install window units in summer.

Some house and apartment dwellers buy humidifiers for use in winter to counter the dryness of central heat and dehumidifiers for use in the summer to counter the dampness. Many families in private homes/duplexes hire snow removal companies at their own expense for driveways and sidewalks. Snow removal is mandated in Montreal, but not reimbursable under LQA guidelines; therefore, it is to the renter’s advantage to negotiate snow removal into the terms of the lease.

Food Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:43 PM

Shopping for groceries compares with U.S. cities in the northeast. As in the U.S., larger grocery stores and chains will stock a wider variety of items than smaller, neighborhood grocery stores. The major American food firms, including baby food companies, have plants in Canada, but many processed food items are higher in cost than in the U.S. Montreal’s cosmopolitan community means that a much broader variety of international foods are available than is normally found in the U.S. Any American product not found locally can usually be purchased nearby in New York or Vermont.

Clothing Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:44 PM

Many Montreal residents are extremely fashionable, and Americans will find that taste and standards in clothing are similar to those in U.S. cities. Most designer and specialty boutiques that are popular with American fashion buffs can be found on Montreal’s main shopping streets and in malls. The largest collection of boutiques, department stores, and specialty shops are located on Saint Catherine Street, downtown’s vibrant commercial avenue, which runs 15 kilometers across the city and also offers easy access to the “underground city” below.

Montreal is a garment industry town, which ensures that ready-made clothes of all kinds are available at all price levels. More than half of Quebec’s clothing factories are located on the island of Montreal and generate more than 60% of Canadian production. Several fashion schools are based here, boosting Montreal’s reputation as a fashion capital. Reasonably priced clothes, especially children’s clothes, shoes and leather goods, can be found in the major department stores, although items of similar quality may be cheaper in the U.S. Montreal’s long, harsh winter climate makes it essential to have coats, gloves, hats, snow boots, and hiking boots made for Canadian winters. Formal dress functions are rare for all except the consul general.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:45 PM

Toiletries, cosmetics, over-the-counter medicines, and other household supplies are readily available at prices comparable to those in the U.S. WalMart, Costco, Home Depot, and big specialty stores similar to those in the U.S. sell wide varieties of hardware items, office/school supplies, and music/video products at comparable U.S. prices, though not all U.S. brand names are available. Some prescription drugs are cheaper here than in the U.S.; others are more expensive. Cigarettes are more expensive here (even though you may apply for a refund of the taxes paid), and certain brands are not found locally. Smokers may purchase cigarettes at the Embassy store in Ottawa when visiting there; those with diplomatic status may also purchase cigarettes at duty-free shops at the border.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:45 PM

Service standards are generally not identical to what you might expect in the U.S., and it is not uncommon to experience frustrations when trying to arrange for basic services, such as telephone or cable TV installations or obtaining an appointment for house repair work, particularly if you are not fluent in French. Drycleaning and alteration work is generally excellent and less expensive than U.S. prices. Hairdressers, barbers, and auto repair work costs are comparable to what you pay in the U.S.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:46 PM

The domestic help situation compares with Washington or New York. Competent live-in domestics are hard to find. The consul general is authorized two ORE staff positions, currently a housekeeper and a chef. Some personnel hire part-time help, but most do without. Salaries average a minimum of $50–$80 per day. It is possible to contract with commercial firms to clean your house on a regular or as-needed basis.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:46 PM

Montreal abounds with cathedrals, mosques, and synagogues. Among the most renowned are the magnificent Basilica of Notre Dame, Saint Patrick’s Basilica (designated a national historic site in 1996), St. George’s Anglican Church (with neo-gothic architecture and superb woodwork), St. James United Church (the largest Protestant church in Montreal), Union United Church of Canada (the oldest Afro-centric Protestant Church in Montreal), and Mary Queen of the World Cathedral (a scaled-down replica of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome). The Roman Catholic Church is divided into French-speaking and English-speaking parishes. Every neighborhood has one or more Catholic churches. Protestant services are usually in English. Among Protestant churches, the most numerous are Anglican and United Church of Canada (Union of Congregationalists, Methodists, and some Presbyterians). Other faiths include Baptist, Christian Science, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Unitarian, Latter-day Saints and others common in the U.S.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:50 PM

The current provincial language law severely restricts access to English-language education, although exceptions are granted to children expecting to live in Quebec Province for temporary periods. Children of Consulate General personnel and other U.S. Government employees assigned to Quebec may attend English-language schools, either public or private.

The school system in Montreal consists of kindergarten (full days) and grades 1 to 11 (elementary, 1 to 6 and secondary, 7 to 11). Greater Montreal’s public schools, which are free, are run by separate language school boards. Basic instruction can be in French or English. Moreover, English schools also provide French immersion or French intensive programs in which students must take a portion of their subjects in French. Unfortunately, students entering after the 2nd or 3rd grade may not qualify for this program unless they have already studied French.

Fundamentals of English, French, mathematics, and social studies form the major part of the curriculum at all elementary schools. Physical education, art, drama, music, science, and computer science are generally included in most schools, although in some public schools specialist teachers are not always available on a full-time basis. Some schools stress extra-curricular activities in those areas that are not readily available in the core programs. Students entering at the secondary level, however, may encounter problems as a result of French-language requirements and the lack of a 12th grade.

Provincial regulations require that any student who has been in Quebec for more than 2 years must pass a French equivalency test to receive a high school leaving certificate (the equivalent of a high school diploma). Most students entering the 8th or 9th grade may, therefore, require extra tutoring to attain the required proficiency level in French. This is required for students who are considering continuing their post-secondary education in Quebec.

Grading procedures in Quebec differ from those in the U.S. For the upper grades, class marks, as stated in transcripts, are based primarily on standardized provincial examinations which are given at the end of the school year to all students. The absence of a 12th grade presents special problems. For the Quebec student, the normal sequence is to graduate from high school at the end of the 11th year, enter the Colleges d’enseignement general et professionnel (CEGEP) program (similar to a U.S. junior college offering both 2-year university-oriented programs and 3-year vocational technical programs), and subsequently go on to a university for a 3- or 4-year program. Education authorities will not authorize entry to the CEGEP system for any American student who has not graduated from a Canadian or American high school. A newly arrived student who would normally enter the 12th grade would find entry into the school system extremely difficult.

Only one private school offers 12th grade. American students finishing the 11th grade in Quebec could elect to enter the CEGEP system or apply directly to an American college. Some Quebec students enter U.S. colleges after the 11th grade, although secondary school headmasters inform us that successful 11th grade entrants to university are extremely rare.

The school year starts the last week of August and ends in mid-June. Opening and closing dates may differ but total school days will always be a minimum of 180. All schools operate on a 5-day week. Holidays include 2 weeks at Christmas and a 1-2 week break in March. Private and public school holidays do not necessarily overlap exactly, which may be problematic for families with children in different schools.

Advance registration for new pupils for the public school system is held each February. Parents who miss this period may report to the school of their choice when it opens in the fall. Days and times are announced in major daily newspapers during the month of August. Late entry to the school, however, may prove difficult, and secondary school courses still available in September will be extremely limited. Thus, parents should seek registration at the earliest possible date. To be eligible for kindergarten, a pupil must be 5 years old as of September 30. For entry to grade one, a child must have reached his 6th birthday on or before September 30. Provincial authorities will normally grant exceptions of 2 or 3 months to match the criteria of school systems in the U.S. Further details can be obtained from the various school boards.

Private Schools. Montreal has a number of excellent private schools for which the post’s school education allowance is available (kindergarten through grade 12). Most dependent children at post currently (2000) attend private academies. A list of the private schools in Montreal can be obtained upon request from the Consulate General or the State Department’s Family Liaison Office or the Office of Overseas Schools. The Consulate General role is limited to providing information on private schools; there is no designated American school, nor does the Consulate General enjoy any special relationship with a particular academy. Merely being a dependent of a U.S. Consulate General employee in no way guarantees admission to a private school. Parents are on their own when it comes to selecting and enrolling their children in a private school.

Largely because of public concerns regarding the French/English-language issue, private schools have seen a significant increase in applications since 1997. Most schools require entrance exams, personal interviews, and references, even in primary grades. All private schools have long waiting lists for all but kindergarten. Once making the commitment to a private school, few families relinquish their spots. Should a vacancy occur, private schools have the luxury of choosing from a large pool of qualified applicants on waiting lists. Some schools follow a first-come first-served policy on waiting lists. Others, select the best qualified applicant from the waiting lists. Some schools have 150 students on the waiting list and only 30–40 spots to fill in any given year.

Parents wishing to take advantage of the educational allowance are advised to make multiple applications as early as possible after notification of assignment to Montreal. Gaining admission to a private elementary or secondary school in Montreal can be as difficult as gaining admission to the most selective U.S. private academies. Those coming to post with children who hope to attend a private school should begin this process without delay.

Exams for the next school year generally are given in October and November. Few private academies are co-educational. Uniforms are generally required. American families also can send their children to boarding schools in the U.S., using the away-from-post allowance for grades 7 to 12.

Preschool. Preschool nurseries for children at least 3 years of age are available and cost anywhere from $200–$250 a month for half-days. Day care centers are also available for children as young as 3 months; one such center charges $400 per month for 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. care. U.S. Government dependents between 18 months and 3 years old qualify for a Canadian $5 per day daycare program (Quebec government subsidized). Places are limited and current waiting lists are long. Additionally, some elementary schools have prekindergarten classes as an integral part of their overall program. Private schools, including nursery schools, fill early. If interested, employees should write the Consulate General for information as early as possible.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:51 PM

Montreal has varied facilities for most types of education, from nursery school to the most advanced academic and scientific degrees. Private tutoring in any subject can be obtained, and instruction in everything from music to gardening, hobbies, and sports is available. There is an excellent public Fine Arts School (kindergarten to grade 11) in downtown Montreal which provides, in French and English, a curriculum mixing standard academic subjects with art and music training. Vocational education at the secondary level is limited and not on a par with that found in U.S. junior high and high schools.

Most high schools specialize in one or two major technical/vocational areas (i.e., business education, mechanics and robotics, computer-assisted drafting and design, dental assistance, etc.). It must be noted, however, that some subjects are taught only at French-language high schools. The Montreal school system has facilities at all grade levels for both physical (including deaf and blind) and learning disabilities. However, the type and amount of assistance offered to intellectually, emotionally, and physically disabled children varies. Employees transferring to Montreal should advise the post administrative officer of any special educational requirements well before arrival.

Many American students attend Montreal’s universities. U.S. Government employees and their dependents benefit from Quebec resident rates at local universities. These rates are considerably less than that charged to in-state students by many state colleges in the U.S. In most cases, Quebec universities will accept American students who have completed 12 grades in the U.S., but students graduating from the Quebec secondary system normally spend 2 years in the CEGEP system before entering university. The largest university is the French-language Universite de Montreal. The Universite du Quebec at Montreal is also French speaking. Most popular with Americans is McGill University. The other large English-language institution is Concordia University, formed by the amalgamation of Sir George Williams University and Loyola College. All four universities have extensive evening programs where it is possible to earn degrees in a variety of fields.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:53 PM

Canada’s national sport is hockey. In winter, free public skating and hockey rinks are found in every section of the city. During the season “Les Canadiens,” Montreal’s National Hockey League team, play one or two nights a week at the Molson Centre. Montreal hosts a professional baseball team as well. The U.S. Major League Baseball “Expos” use the 1976 Olympic Stadium, which is now covered, allowing year-round activities in addition to baseball. Montreal also hosts a Canadian Football League team, the “Alouettes,” who play at the McGill College Football Stadium. The Montreal Hippodrome offers harness racing most of the year and is the site for “Le Trot de Montreal,” an international event featuring a prestigious running of world-class trotters from North America and Europe.

In outlying areas, bowling and curling are popular, and a number of clubs and leagues welcome new members. The city has many public tennis courts and a number of tennis clubs, some with indoor courts. Several combined athletic and social clubs have facilities for badminton, squash, and swimming. The Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, for example, offers these sports, a good dining room, cocktail lounge, dances, etc. Its fees, however, are high. Like other such clubs in Montreal, membership is open both to men and women. Junior memberships are available for teenagers. Such clubs are popular and waiting lists for membership are common. The YMCA has more reasonably priced memberships and generally well-equipped facilities, two of which are within walking distance of the Consulate General.

The Montreal area is dotted with golf clubs. The season lasts from 6–8 months, depending on the weather. Several public courses exist, but they are usually crowded. Fees are about the same as in the U.S. Some private clubs waive initiation fees, but not annual dues, for Foreign Service personnel. Annual dues approximate those in the middle-upper range for U.S. private clubs. Many clubs have waiting lists and have no fixed policy about exemptions for diplomats.

Boating also is popular. Several yacht clubs on Lake St. Louis (about a half-hour by car from the city) and on the Lake of Two Mountains offer keen interclub competition and a limited cruising area. Most sailboats on Lake St. Louis are centerboard types due to large shoal areas, but there are many larger boats, and the international dragon class is very active. Two- to three-week cruises to the Thousand Islands, Ottawa, the Rideau Canal, or Lake Champlain are popular with local yachters. There are excellent and extensive jogging paths on Mount Royal. Joggers also enjoy running along the 7-mile Lachine Canal. The Montreal International Marathon, run in late September, attracts over 10,000 runners annually. Montrealers are avid bicyclists, and extensive bike paths throughout the city are well maintained between April and November. In winter months, when the snow is deep enough, many of these paths are used for cross-country skiing.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:56 PM

Montreal offers an excellent range of readily accessible year-round recreational opportunities in Quebec Province and in nearby northern New York and New England. The Laurentian Mountain area, which begins about 45 miles from the city and includes Mont Tremblant Park, is one of the most attractive winter and summer resort areas in Canada. Mont Tremblant, 100 miles north of Montreal, and Stowe, Vermont, 120 miles southeast, provide the best skiing in eastern North America. There is good cross-country skiing on Mount Royal and in the Eastern Townships. The nearest good alpine skiing areas are about 50 miles away. Most hotels and lodges operate ski schools for beginners. Churches and other associations regularly organize group skiing trips.

The many lakes in the Laurentians and other nearby areas provide swimming, boating, and water skiing. Good camping facilities, summer camps for children at every price level, and accommodations ranging from luxury hotels to simple lodgings are available in all areas. Good fishing and hunting are available near Montreal. The lakes, rivers and streams of the province provide a variety of fish. Partridge are found in most woods. The flyways over Lake St. Francis and Lake St. Peter, each about 75 miles from Montreal, offer some of the finest duck hunting in North America. About 150 miles down the St. Lawrence is the only place in the world to hunt beautiful snow geese. Deer and bear are found within 100 miles of the city.

First among Montreal’s 362 parks, the top of Mount Royal has been preserved as a 500-acre natural forest area with abundant bridle trails, bicycle paths, and picnic spots. The Chalet, at the peak, and Beaver Lake, at the beginning of the park area, are popular in both winter and summer. The Chalet has a remarkable view of the city. Beaver Lake, an artificial lagoon, is a favorite place for model boat enthusiasts. In addition to cross-country skiing and tobogganing in winter, Beaver Lake is used for ice skating during winter months.

Another delightful park is located on Ile Sainte-Helene and Notre Dame Islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence between the Harbor and the Seaway. It has an amusement park (the site of Expo 67), swimming pools, picnic areas, playgrounds, and other attractions. Its Helene-de-Champlain restaurant, housed in a castle-like chalet, provides a picturesque setting and good food. The Garden of Wonders, better known as the Children’s Zoo, is a delightful feature of Lafontaine Park. Paddleboats are for rent during spring and summer for use on the park’s two lagoons. The park features a city-operated refreshment area, picnic spots, and other attractions.

Many other parks throughout the city have special play apparatus and other facilities. During summer the city provides supervision and teaching of arts and crafts, swimming, and fishing at these parks; in winter, ice skating, hockey, and other winter sports. Outdoor skating rinks are built every winter in many parks.

Montreal’s botanical garden, with more than 21,000 species of plants from around the world, features extensive greenhouses and is open year round. The outdoor gardens include a magnificent rose garden, an Alpine garden, and a garden of colorful perennials. The Chinese Garden, the largest of its kind outside of Asia, and the Japanese Garden, with its Zen garden and wonderful collection of bonsai trees, are popular sites. Spectacular exhibitions are on display throughout the year. Located within the garden is an Insectarium, which opened in 1990 and houses several thousand insects from every corner of the earth.

Montreal has many fine museums. The best historical museum is the Chateau de Ramezay, built in 1705 as the residence for the governor of Montreal. It was the headquarters of the American Army of Occupation in 1775–1776. Well-known Americans who stayed there include Benjamin Franklin, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and Benedict Arnold. The MacDonald Stewart Museum (formerly the Military and Maritime Museum) on Ile Sainte-Helene features an outstanding collection of ancient maps. The Redpath Museum has interesting geological and zoological exhibits and Indian relics. McGill University’s McCord Museum (now associated with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts) has a unique collection of Canadian historical, North American, and archeological exhibits. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts houses impressive paintings, decorative arts, sculpture, ancient glass and textile collections and has a regular schedule of visiting special exhibits, as well as an excellent gift shop. The Museum of Contemporary Art was opened prior to the 1967 World’s Fair in Montreal. A planetarium and an aquarium were established at the same time. The War Museum has more than 200 life-sized figures depicting scenes from Canada’s earliest history to modern times. The Pointe-a-Calliere Museum in Old Montreal presents a thorough picture of Montreal’s early history, including foundations from some of its original buildings. Finally, Bell Canada operates an industrial science museum with original equipment, replicas, and pictures of communication systems ranging from ancient sight and sound signals to satellites.

Many of these are working exhibits. Several Catholic churches have museums with collections of paintings and religious and other exhibits. The Museum of Notre Dame de Bonsecours Church, also known as the Sailor’s Church, has model ships presented by sailors and an excellent collection of fine dolls. St. Joseph’s Oratory has a collection of hundreds of nativity scenes from around the world. The Erskine and American Church, which is Protestant, has an impressive collection of original Tiffany windows.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:04 PM

Nowhere is Montreal’s cosmopolitan nature better reflected than in its entertainment. The Montreal Ballet Company, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, performs regularly. The modern Place des Arts is the city’s center for symphonies, ballet, stage productions, and visiting national and international performers. The Place des Arts houses three theaters, the largest of which seats about 3,000 people. The Centaur Theater, located in the old stock exchange building, offers a season of English-language plays. Plays may be seen throughout the year in both English and French, with occasional productions in other languages. The Montreal Parks Department operates a summer theater for children. There are numerous movie houses throughout the city. New American films are shown here at the same time as in the U.S. Films are in English and French. A few theaters show films in their original languages with English or French subtitles.

Throughout the year many recitals, vocal and instrumental, are given. Several amateur musical groups welcome qualified new members. The International Music Competition held in May or June of each year is one of the most important Montreal artistic events. The summer-long international fireworks competition is a family favorite, during which certain bridges are closed to traffic during evening hours to allow pedestrian viewing.

During the summer months the city hosts numerous internationally renowned festivals. One of the highlights is the Montreal International Jazz Festival (usually held in late June to early July), where one can hear acoustical to contemporary jazz performed by established musicians and newcomers alike. During the 2000 Jazz Fest, more than 300 of the 500 concerts presented were free of charge. Another is the Montreal World Film Festival, which attracts thousands of film buffs and offers a great opportunity for previewing new productions. The films are shown in a variety of theaters all located within walking distance of the Consulate General. There are also films shown outdoors during the festival which are free to the public. Other events include dance, comedy, food, and hot-air balloon festivals, as well as the FrancoFolies and Octoberfest. Auto buffs can look forward to the annual Formula One Grand Prix held on Ile St-Louis next to the Montreal Casino.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:04 PM Almost every social group includes a number of Americans. The American Women’s Club meets regularly for lunch and has annual bazaars, fashion shows, dances, and bridge tournaments for the benefit of Canadian charities.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

International Contacts Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:05 PM Canadians, in general, are friendly and hospitable, and this is particularly true of Montrealers, thousands of whom have close ties with the U.S.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:05 PM

Except for consular corps activities, official functions normally involve only the principal officer or his/her representative. The Montreal consular corps sponsors monthly luncheons, an annual formal dinner-dance, and other activities. A new officer usually attends the first luncheon after arrival and is formally introduced to the corps. The U.S. representative to ICAO, his or her alternate, and other U.S. agency personnel are involved in official functions pertaining to the nature of their work.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:06 PM

All post personnel, when attending official functions hosted by the consul general or other senior officers, assist in receiving guests. Officers also normally attend any official functions to which they may be personally invited or delegated to attend by the principal officer. Most officers attend some consular corps luncheons during the year and accept and reciprocate personal invitations from Canadian officials, representatives of third countries, and other contacts. The nature of official and semi-official functions in Montreal is the same as in the U.S.— receptions, cocktail and dinner parties, luncheons, etc. Frequency of events ranges from several times a week for the principal officer to only occasionally for others. Form of dress is the same as in the U.S.

Calling cards (bilingual if desired) are easily obtained in Montreal. Except in the case of the principal officer, formal courtesy calls are not exchanged with Canadian officials or representatives of other countries. All other officers have frequent contacts with business, government, and other official personnel and have found business cards extremely useful. Business cards are usually printed in English only.

Special Information Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:06 PM

Recreation Association

The American Recreation Association (ARA), Montreal’s employee association, operates a small commissary for single bottle purchases and arranges duty-free caselot orders of wines and spirits. The ARA organizes occasional outings, cocktail hours, staff picnics, and Christmas parties for adults and children.

Post Orientation Program

Newcomers receive a Welcome Kit containing general information about the post, maps of the city, etc. The consul general briefs each employee about the political situation, U.S. objectives, and the intricate relationship between French-Canada and Anglo-Canada. A sponsor helps new arrivals get established. The Government of Quebec offers a free French-language program for employees of diplomatic missions and their adult dependents. Classes are formed based on language level and demand (a minimum of 15 students is required), and normally meet twice a week in the evenings for 2.5 hours.

Employment Opportunities

Eligible family members will find employment opportunities in Montreal extremely limited for those who are not fully fluent in French and English, with the possible exception of highly specialized technical fields. Limited temporary summer employment opportunities (one or two positions) are usually available in the Consular Section from May to September. See Employment for Spouses and Dependents-The Host Country, for more information.

Consulate General - Quebec, Quebec

Post City Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:08 PM

Located at a narrows in the St. Lawrence River, Quebec is the provincial capital and the center of French Canada. The name “Quebec” is a native word meaning “where the river narrows.” Quebec’s residents, though North American, bear the clear imprint of their French ancestry and culture.

Greater Quebec is a metropolitan area of 13 municipalities of approximately 700,000. Nearly 168,000 people live within the city limits. Quebec, the largest of these, is divided into two distinct areas. These are Lower Town (which winds around the base of the promontory along the banks of the St. Lawrence into the St. Charles River Valley) and Upper Town (on heights 200–300 feet above the St. Lawrence). When viewed from the sister city of Levis (across the river from the city and part of Greater Quebec), Upper Town has a distinctly Old World appearance. Stone walls encircle part of the business and residential section of Upper Town and reach to the ramparts of the Citadelle. The area within the old city walls is recognized as a historic monument. Building restrictions and the tasteful restoration of old houses preserve the area's Old World flavor.

The city’s population is about 95% French-speaking. The rest are Anglophone, with a tiny minority of other national and racial origins. In the surrounding countryside, the population is almost totally French-speaking and is descended from French colonists led by Samuel de Champlain, who established a settlement in Quebec in 1608. Although they are undeniably French in origin, there is also a strong Irish mix from immigration in the 1800s. Quebecers’ attitudes and viewpoints reflect the fact that development of their distinctive society has occurred in North America.

The Port of Quebec is one of the most important in Canada. It has extensive passenger and freight-handling facilities, including large elevators for transshipment of grain. Quebec is a regularly scheduled port of call for steamship lines during the ice-free months from April through November, and starting several years ago has enjoyed an increasing volume of winter freight traffic as well. Quebec has also become a port of origin for cruise ships.

The Port City life has been reinvigorated at the Vieux-Port de Quebec. La Societe du Vieux-Port, commissioned by the Canadian Government, manages this facility which consists of a walkway, outdoor amphitheater, marina, market, and residential units.

In 1977, developers and artists pooled their enthusiasm to rescue North America’s oldest neighborhood from an undeserved fate. Warmed with color and flowers, the Quartier Petit Champlain is once again a community. Its beautifully restored houses shelter more than 50 businesses, outdoor cafes, and restaurants ranging from classic French to European fast-food, art galleries, a theater, and charming boutiques. One can meet artists and craftspeople in their studios, or in the streets, where pedestrians, musicians, clowns, and jugglers mingle. Quebec was named a World Heritage City in 1985.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:09 PM

The U.S. Consulate General at Quebec is the only U.S. Government office in the consular district.

The first consular agent was named in 1834, and by 1858 a Consulate occupied Hunt's Wharf Building, a three-story stone structure in Lower Town. American consuls have been stationed in Quebec since 1861. The office subsequently moved several times. The present building, at 1 Avenue Sainte-Genevieve, a short block from the Chateau Frontenac, was constructed in 1951. A government owned combined office and residence, the four-story building was occupied on February 1952. On June 1, 1964, the post was elevated to a Consulate General.

Currently, 2,000 Americans are registered with the Consulate General and an estimated 7,700 Americans live within the district, many of them of French-Canadian descent and/or dual citizens. Less than half the population of Quebec Province (7 million) is within the consular district.

New staff driving up from the U.S. are encouraged to phone ahead for precise directions to the Consulate General and/or their temporary quarters.

The post staff includes a principal officer, a deputy, and five Canadian employees.

American employees are paid by the Financial Management Center in Charleston, SC, by direct deposit. Canadian employees are paid in Canadian dollars by direct deposit in a Canadian bank.

Office hours are 8:30 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, except on U.S. and Canadian holidays. Office telephone is (418) 692–2106, fax (418) 692–4640.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:10 PM

New arrivals are usually lodged in a small hotel or motel near the Consulate General. Rooms with kitchenettes are usually available. Farther from the center of the city are a number of modern motels with restaurants. Some have kitchenettes and, if you bring a car, are well located for house hunting. During the off-season (spring and fall months) it may be possible to obtain lower rates if rooms are rented by the week or month. When possible, notify the Consulate General well in advance concerning desired accommodations.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:10 PM

Government quarters for the principal officer are located in the Consulate General building above the offices. The site commands a magnificent view, framed by the spectacular Chateau Frontenac and the St. Lawrence to the mountains beyond.

Previous American employees filling the other FSO positions have lived in privately leased housing, some in modern high-rise developments, others in renovated older buildings. The high-rise apartments are often too small for large-scale entertaining, but many provide good views of the St. Lawrence River or the Laurentide Mountains. Furnished apartments are hard to find. Leases are prescribed by the provincial government and are similar to those found in the U.S. Include in your lease a diplomatic clause or privilege to sublet with the lessor’s approval. Rent usually includes heat and hot water but not electricity. Apartments often do not furnish major appliances such as stove, refrigerator, washer, dryer, etc. These can be rented locally if desired. When renting a house, snow removal is an additional cost to consider.


Furnishings Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:11 PM

The principal officer’s apartment is well furnished. The kitchen is adequately stocked. The supply of silver includes 18 place settings, trays, candelabra, and a coffee/tea service. Laundry facilities are complete.

Furniture used in the northern part of the U.S. is suitable for Quebec. Furniture may be purchased locally at lower cost than in the U.S. Furniture brought here from humid tropical climates is likely to shrink and crack. The size and type of windows are similar to those in New England; in modern apartments the windows are similar to those in U.S. apartments.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:11 PM

Generally, all amenities available in the U.S. are found in Quebec. All types of electrical appliances are available. The current in Quebec is 115/120v, 60-cycle, AC. Electricity is the most widely used source of heat, although fuel oil is also used. Light and power are produced hydroelectrically, and are cheap. Gas appliances should not be brought to Quebec because it is virtually impossible to obtain the gas to run them.

Because heating is necessary from September to May, some persons find humidifiers desirable.

Food Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:11 PM

U.S.-style supermarkets offer a varied selection of food. Also available are epiceries (somewhat like delicatessens) where fresh and imported foods can be bought. Fresh fruit and vegetables prices rise appreciably during winter. The post has no commissary, but special arrangements for food purchases are not needed due to its proximity to the U.S.

Clothing Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:12 PM

Warm clothing and shoes, similar to those worn in the northern U.S., are a necessity and can be bought here, but at higher costs than in the U.S. Adults do not need heavy underclothing, except for outdoor sports, as houses and offices are well heated. Warm hats, heavy overcoats, warm boots, and a supply of warm gloves, scarves, and earmuffs are needed for the whole family. Children spend a lot of time outdoors and will need heavier underclothing than adults; snowsuits, heavy stockings, etc., are also desirable. Everyone wears galoshes and overshoes (essential protection against road salt’s corrosive effects on leather), and they can be purchased locally.

Fine English goods such as tweed jackets, woolen socks, and sweaters are widely carried in local stores.

Shopping. There are several large shopping centers in Quebec City and suburbs similar to those in the U.S. Also “Le Petit Champlain” at Place Royale and Rue St. Jean are well-known shopping areas frequented by tourists and Quebeckers who are interested in handicrafts.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:13 PM

Cosmetics, toilet articles, medical supplies, and other household needs can be purchased locally. Prescription drugs are generally cheaper in Quebec. Cigarettes and tobacco are heavily taxed and cost more than in the U.S. However, Foreign Service officers can import these items under Canadian customs regulations cheaper than they could be bought in the U.S. Hardware and drugstores provide about the same variety of wares as those in the U.S. Officers may order liquor in caselots from abroad or buy through the Quebec Liquor Board at reasonable prices. Reimbursement of taxes must be applied for from the Quebec government.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:13 PM

Tailoring and dressmaking are available. Shoe repair, drycleaning, laundering, beauty parlor services, appliance and auto repair, and other such services are competent, and prices compare to those in the U.S. Good cabinetmakers and carpenters are available.

Bus service, both in the old city and to the outlying suburbs, is good. Taxis are good and reliable and rates are comparable to those in the U.S.

Most employees feel a car is essential in order to have convenient access to major shopping centers and recreational areas. All car makes can be purchased here, with exemption from customs and sales tax for officers. Adequate repair and service facilities exist for standard U.S. and foreign makes. In view of the extremities of winter weather here, a four-wheel (or at least front-wheel) drive vehicle may be desirable.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:14 PM

Full-time domestic help is difficult to obtain. Cleaning women are available to come in once or twice a week. The Canadian employment service is one place to check about domestic help.

The Canadian Government will provide nonimmigrant visas to servants as a courtesy to diplomatic and consular officers who may wish to bring domestics to Canada with them.

Caterers can be hired for cocktail and dinner parties; glasses and dishes as well as all kinds of canapes and other foods are furnished by the caterers.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:15 PM

Roman Catholicism predominates in the province, and most churches are Catholic. English-speaking Catholics attend St. Patrick’s Church, about one mile from the Consulate General or St. Vincent’s in suburban Ste. Foy. The Anglican Cathedral is a few blocks away. The Protestant churches are Presbyterian, Baptist, and United Church of Canada (the latter formed by a union of Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Methodists). A synagogue has a predominantly English-speaking congregation.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:17 PM Quebec’s public and private schools from preschool through 8th grade are generally comparable to American schools. High schools, however, are organized somewhat differently and are in general less demanding than their American counterparts.

The last year of high school in Quebec is the 11th year of studies. Quebec high school graduates normally will enter a CEGEP (College d’Education General et Professionnel), roughly equivalent to junior college in the U.S. The CEGEP program comprises a 2-year study course for those going on to university and a 3-year course, mainly vocational, for those who do not. A graduate of a Quebec high school, consequently, would not necessarily be ready to enter the freshman year of an American college. Quebec provincial regulations, moreover, require that every student have 2 years of high school French and pass both oral and written exams in French before graduation. See also Dependent Education — Montreal.

Dependents of diplomats are exempt from Quebec’s language law and may attend either English- or French-language schools. An education allowance for school at post has been authorized for kindergarten to grade 8. There is also an away-from-post allowance for grades 9 to 12. These allowances have been authorized partly because of the almost exclusive use of French and partly because of differences in educational approach.

Public schools in the province are linguistic, English or French, rather than Catholic or Protestant as in the past. Quebec now generally minimizes the importance of religious study and moral instruction is available as an alternative to religious instruction.

Personnel assigned to the Consulate General will likely reside in the Upper Town or in the adjacent residential suburbs of Sillery and Ste. Foy. Each of these areas has good schools.

At Laval University, many faculties, such as medicine and law, accept students only at the graduate level. Other faculties accept students at what would be considered the undergraduate level. Students wishing to enter Laval should discuss the matter with university authorities.

Depending on proximity, transportation to and from school may be on foot, by bicycle, bus, or auto. Public school buses are free or quite inexpensive; bus service for private schools costs much more. Schools are open from the last week of August through the latter part of June.


Dependent Education

Away From Post Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:18 PM An away-from-post allowance is provided for grades 9 to 12. Excellent boarding schools are found throughout the neighboring New England States and in Montreal.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:19 PM

Numerous specialized schools and organizations in the area support education for physically and mentally handicapped individuals. Children with learning disabilities attend special classes in the regular school system. For those more severely handicapped, special education, including vocational training, is available through grade 9. Interested individuals should contact the post for further information.

Laval University offers evening courses during the academic year in a variety of subjects at the undergraduate level. Instruction in these courses is in French. Laval also offers an intensive summer French-language program which is well-known in the U.S. and attended by several thousand Americans each year. At other times, French-language instruction is offered in the evening at both beginning and advanced levels.

Private French-language instruction is easily arranged but is quite expensive. About 95 % of Quebec City’s population cite French as their mother tongue. All American personnel are expected to arrive here with a good speaking and reading knowledge of French since they will use it officially and socially.

Because the Consulate General’s American staff consists of only two officers, no formal orientation program is given. New arrivals are encouraged to read background literature. The introduction to the city, its people, and the work of the post is done on an informal, personal basis.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:20 PM

Many opportunities exist for winter sports in the city (ice skating and skiing). There are good ski slopes within 30 miles of town. Mt. Ste. Anne, the highest, has a vertical drop of over 2,000 feet and is one of the best ski mountains in eastern North America; Stoneham and Le Relais also offer excellent skiing closer to Quebec City. Cross-country skiing is enjoying a major boom, and cross-country ski trails are maintained in numerous federal and provincial parks within easy driving distance. For those who prefer to break trail on their own, the open rolling countryside near the city offers virtually unlimited opportunities. Several indoor curling clubs admit both men and women to membership.

Sports equipment is available locally and is reasonably priced.

Hockey is of major interest to Quebec sports fans. Several ice arenas in the municipal area provide instruction and organized competition in both hockey and figure skating.

Good hunting and fishing can be found close to Quebec. The provincial government runs good camps in the Laurentides Park and has been cooperative in opening the facilities to consular officers as well as to visiting officials. Some of the best hunting and fishing preserves are owned by private clubs and individuals. Officers who like to hunt and fish may receive invitations to these private preserves. Hunting and fishing licenses for consular officers are free, but family members must pay.

In summer many Quebec families leave the city and go to their summer houses at one of the lakes or down the river.

Summertime can be pleasant in Quebec in spite of the overwhelming numbers of tourists who crowd into the city. Golf, tennis, sailing, and fishing are available near town, as are swimming, hiking, and camping.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:22 PM

Montreal is the closest large city and is comparable to an American city of similar size. It has good hotels, large department stores, and many restaurants and nightclubs; in short, it has a cosmopolitan atmosphere quite distinct from that of Quebec City. Montreal is only 170 miles away and can easily be reached by road, train, or plane.

Quebec City is the gateway to the Laurentides Park, which begins about 30 miles north of the city and is easily accessible. The areas north and east of Quebec City abound in wooded hills and mountains with numerous small lakes perfect for flatwater canoeing and boating, and these areas can be reached in a short time on good roads. Fishing and hunting are excellent. Opportunities abound for day hiking and backpacking in the park, particularly in the valley of the Jacques-Cartier River. The valley also affords supervised rock-climbing as well as whitewater canoeing, kayaking, and rafting.

A popular summer resort is located at La Malbaie (Murray Bay), on the north shore (the Charlevoix Coast) 100 miles down river from Quebec. The principal hotel is the Manoir Richelieu with its casino. It has a fine swimming pool and golf course, that are open to the public, and several other good, small inns are nearby. Another resort, Tadoussac, is 50 miles farther down river at the mouth of the Saguenay River. There, accommodations are usually requested at the venerable Tadoussac Hotel. This resort is primarily popular with older people, but has also become the whale-watching center of Quebec in recent years. The Charlevoix region has many attractive public and private campgrounds.

Baie St-Paul, on the north shore 89 miles down river from Quebec, has an art center and several art galleries. The exceptional beauty of this area has long attracted artists from all over the globe. Many of the paintings created in or near Baie St-Paul are now part of private collections or grace museums across North America and Europe. This artists’ haven is also a favorite among craftspeople.

Chicoutimi, a city of 60,000 located 130 miles north of Quebec City, is a tourist base for exploring the Saguenay area. The Saguenay River itself is a fjord with steep canyon walls which from June to September can be viewed from sightseeing boats. The city is also surrounded by true “wilderness,” offering excellent hunting and fishing as well as numerous other outdoor activities.

The south shore of the St. Lawrence and the Gaspe Peninsula have many small resorts of interest during warmer months, and the trip around the spectacular Gaspe Peninsula by car can be made comfortably in 4 or 5 days. Whale-watching is also possible from the south shore. Quebec is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, primarily because of the migration of numerous species across the province.

Lake St. Joseph and Lake Beauport, about 30 and 15 miles, respectively, from Quebec, are pleasant places to spend a day or weekend during summer.

An attraction about 5 miles from Quebec is the thunderous Montmorency Falls; just beyond that lies the Island of Orleans, accessible by bridge, which retains much of the charm of the early French Canadian countryside. The island has several good restaurants and numerous artisan stores offering handwoven articles and ceramics. In summer, visitors can buy fresh fruit at farmers’ stands or pick their own in the fields. A short distance farther along the north shore of the river is Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Refuge, where virtually the entire east coast population of snow geese congregates in a vast, honking horde twice a year, in spring and fall, on the way to breeding or wintering grounds.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:22 PM

Quebec has several good movie theaters showing American, French, French- Canadian, and occasionally English films. One or two theaters show English-language pictures, but most American films are shown with French soundtracks.

Many visiting companies and artists stop in Quebec. The Quebec Symphony Orchestra has a full season. Several avant-garde stock theater groups of considerable talent perform here. An opera company performs occasionally during the winter season, and gifted local folk singers offer concerts. Americans can also join local choral groups.

The Grand Theatre, dedicated in January 1971, has a large auditorium for music, plays, and opera, and a small auditorium for experimental theater. The Grand Theatre is the home of the Quebec Symphony Orchestra.

Several societies, such as the Institut Canadien, offer interesting series of lectures and concerts.

The Quebec Winter Carnival is a major event here. For 2 weeks in late January and early February little else occupies the minds and time of Quebecers. Among the principal events are balls, peewee hockey played by boys 12 and under, snow sculptures, canoe races over and around the ice floes on the St. Lawrence River, dogsled races and huge parades. A palace is constructed of enormous blocks of ice, and ice and snow sculptures are carved and placed along many city streets.

During July, the city sponsors the 2-week Quebec Summer Festival offering jazz, folk, rock, and classical music in several public parks in the old town and street dancing. The city in general is particularly lively during summer as numerous Quebecers stroll through the historic area and frequent outdoor cafes.

Every year, in the month of August, the Fete de la Nouvelle France takes place attracting participants from Europe and the U.S. The festival is very popular with many Quebec residents who participate enthusiastically by wearing clothing typical of the French colonial period. Colonial music, crafts, and food are highlighted during this heritage event.

Over 27 museums and interpretation centers and a wide network of public libraries offering a variety of services can be found in and around Quebec.

Quebec boasts some excellent restaurants offering French cuisine, among them the Continental, Marie Clarisse, Chez Rabe-lais, and La Fenouil-liere, the Serge Bru-yere; out of town, the Manoir St. Castin at Lac Beauport. Night-clubs and discos are popular and stay open late.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:23 PM Few resident Americans live in Quebec, and they are well integrated into the community. A group called the “American Colony” is a club which meets infrequently, but participates in community activities and organizes an annual Thanksgiving dinner and other social events.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

International Contacts Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:23 PM Contacts with Canadians occur constantly at all levels. Most people in Quebec entertain in their homes. A fair number of cocktail parties and dinners are given. Reciprocal entertaining on the part of all officers is necessary. The principal officer in particular is generally included in a wide range of community-wide and other social activities.

Honorary memberships in various social clubs may be available.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:24 PM

The principal officer (and, to a lesser extent, the other officer) attends few formal but many business and social functions each year. The federal government, the provincial government, Quebec and neighboring cities, business groups, political parties, and cultural entities, may host these. The opening of the provincial legislature is a major event. The Lieutenant Governor entertains members of the consular corps at his/her residence infrequently.

U.S. naval vessels visit Quebec infrequently. Coast Guard cutters make occasional port visits. The rare entertainment during these visits usually consists of receptions on board ship but is sometimes reciprocated by the post.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:24 PM

Quebec officials are hospitable and friendly but also very protocol conscious. Among other Quebecers, there is no rigid observance of, nor particular emphasis on, protocol. Business cards are exchanged frequently; most officers purchase them through FARA although they can also be procured locally. The principal officer can expect to use 1,000 cards.

Special Information Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:24 PM

Employment for Spouses and Dependents

Spouses and dependents age 16 and over are granted work authorization and are able to seek local employment freely. Most applicants find fluent French is an absolute necessity. Certain professionals (e.g., physicians and other medical personnel) face licensing and additional restrictions imposed by local professional societies. Interested family members should contact post well in advance of arrival for specific advice.

Consulate General - Toronto, Ontario

Post City Last Updated: 12/8/2003 8:49 AM

Founded as a British Army garrison town (Fort York) on the shores of Lake Ontario in the 1790s, Toronto is North America’s fourth largest city, with 2.4 million inhabitants in the city proper and 4.6 million in the metropolitan area. Often dubbed as New York City run by the Swiss and often on the shortlist of the best places in the world to live, Toronto is Canada’s most cosmopolitan and bustling city and also the country’s financial, commercial, cultural, and media capital. It is the headquarters of the Canadian book and magazine publishing industry, English-language radio and TV broadcasting, and print media. Canada’s two national newspapers are published here Unique among major cities in the world, over half of its population is foreign born. It’s a beautiful city of parks and trees with a mixture of old and new buildings and homes connected by an excellent network of roads and public transport.

An estimated 250,000 U.S. citizens live in the consular district; many are dual nationals. In addition, hundreds of thousands of Americans visit the city annually, many of them in connection with conventions or while en route to and from the recreation and vacation areas north of the city.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 12/8/2003 8:50 AM

As Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world, its U.S. Consulate General is one of the most diverse diplomatic operations on the globe. In all, there are close to 200 employees: a major Consular Section focused on delivering services to Ontario’s resident American citizens and to non-immigrant visa applicants comprising largely third-country nationals, as well as a pre-clearance staff at Pearson International Airport. Just as the U.S./Canada relationship has the complex textured intimacy of two neighbors who are close friends, so too the Consulate General is working with the Canadians and their Government on issues ranging from commercial promotion to environment to management of the border, including facilitating the movement of goods and people as well as ensuring security. In addition, the Consulate General is dedicated to public outreach, whether through public diplomacy initiatives or through frequent visits to major Ontario cities to meet with the mayors, Chambers of Commerce, and business leaders to facilitate trade.

The Consulate General occupies a three-story building at 360 University Avenue. It is 5 minutes by taxi from Union Station, the main railway terminal, and can be reached from the subway by exiting at the Osgoode or St. Patrick stations. The telephone number for the Administrative Section is (416) 595–1726. Office hours are 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Consulate General American State staff consists of a principal officer and office management specialist, an economic/political officer, a public affairs officer, an administrative officer, a regional security officer, an information management officer, two Customs agents, and a large Consular Section. The U.S. Secret Service intends to open an office in the near future. The post also includes the Foreign Commercial Service and the 150 Americans from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Customs, and the Department of Agriculture who work at Pearson International Airport.

Airplanes land at Pearson International Airport, on the border of Toronto and Mississauga, Ontario. Bus and limousine services are available for the 16-mile trip into the city.

No advance arrangements need to be made at ports of entry. If you arrive when the office is closed and wish to contact the duty officer, call the main number at (416) 595–1700, and a recorded message gives the number of the answering service which will contact the duty officer. The number is also posted on the front door of the office building.

Under special circumstances, new personnel arriving by train or plane may be met if requested. Please notify the post in advance.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/8/2003 8:51 AM

Personnel arriving at post on temporary duty are normally accommodated in a hotel near the office and the downtown area. Employees should note that apartment hotels that accept pets are not generally available in the downtown area, although they would be easily accessible by public transportation.

Newly assigned personnel are temporarily housed at an apartment hotel equipped for temporary living and within walking distance of the subway system and the main downtown shopping areas. Many of the restaurants in the area are expensive, and employees may choose to prepare meals in the apartment. It is recommended that employees supplement the limited equipment in these apartments by bringing or sending in their airfreight such housekeeping amenities as they consider necessary. The apartments have only the most common and necessary pots and pans, china, glasses, and cutlery.

Reimbursement for temporary lodging and meal expenses (TQSA) is usually made within 4 weeks from the time the voucher is submitted by the employee. Most hotels accept major U.S. credit cards; some will bill charges directly to the Consulate General for payment.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/8/2003 8:53 AM

The principal officer’s residence is a three-story, red brick Georgian house, with a separate two-car garage. Purchased in 1961, it is in an excellent residential district about 3 miles (15–20 minutes by car) from the Consulate General. Major renovations were completed in 1984. It is a graceful home for living and entertaining and is well equipped with glassware, china, and kitchen utensils. An adequate number of silverware place settings are supplied. The house has two dishwashers, one gas and one electric range, four refrigerators, a vacuum cleaner, washer, dryer, and deep freeze. The house is heated by a hot water boiler using natural gas.

No other government-owned or -leased quarters are available. Employees receive a Living Quarters Allowance (LQA), and should be prepared to pay the first and last months’ rent upon signing of the lease. Contact the Administrative Office in advance of arrival for an estimate of rental scales. Reimbursement for LQA expenses can be expected to begin about 4 weeks after submission of the request to the Embassy. The advance payment of the last month’s rent is not reimbursed until final departure from leased quarters. Permanent accommodations of all sizes and locations are available for rental, lease, and purchase. Within this range are included modern and old homes, apartments, townhouses, and duplexes. The variety of accommodations is similar to that found in major cities on the East Coast of the U.S. probably most closely resembling New York City. Newcomers may be surprised to find, however, that the lifestyle for those who choose to live close in is considerably more urban in orientation than that of Washington. Rentals are comparable to those in the Washington area and vary within the city itself depending on the location and type of dwelling. Locating the proper dwelling depends on the person and the situation, but no problem should be encountered finding suitable accommodations within the time allotted to find permanent quarters.

Some suburban housing areas are near shopping, recreation areas, and public transportation.

Townhouse developments have recently appeared in Toronto. These groups of rowhouses are set in landscaped areas with children’s play areas, patios, and the like. They normally have living and dining areas on the first floor and bedrooms and baths on the second. Private basements, underground parking, heating, lawn mowing, and snow removal are often included in the rent.

Continued construction of large apartment buildings has made apartments of all sizes available. Modern, unfurnished efficiency and one-bedroom apartments in suitable areas are usually within the housing allowances of junior staff members. Suitable three-bedroom apartments for families with children who prefer to live in the downtown core are also available. Furnished apartments are available but are expensive.

Apartment rents sometimes include all utilities except telephone. All apartments are equipped with electric refrigerators and stoves and have laundry facilities available in the building, if not in the apartment itself. Most people find that leased houses also come with major appliances, including dishwashers.


Furnishings Last Updated: 12/8/2003 8:53 AM

Both new and used furniture, home furnishings, and appliances are readily available in Toronto. No special precautions are necessary because of the climate or insects.

Room sizes within 6 FAM standards may not accommodate large-scale furniture. Those employees coming from large homes or apartments may find they are unable to accommodate all their furniture and furnishings in the type of dwelling they are able to afford. Post does not provide storage facilities.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/8/2003 8:54 AM

Toronto has all of the facilities of any large American city. Oil, natural gas or electricity is generally used for heating. Electricity is mainly used for stoves and refrigerators with hot water provided either electrically or by gas.

Electric current is 110v-120v, 60-cycle, single-phase, AC; 220v current is available for heavy appliances. Major household appliances are supplied by the landlord with most rented quarters.

Food Last Updated: 12/8/2003 8:55 AM

Toronto is a shopper’s paradise whether in the chic boutiques of Yorkville, to mall shopping in the heart of the city at Eaton Center, to fruit and vegetable stalls at St. Lawrence and Kensington Markets. It’s a mix of neighborhoods housing every nationality from the bustle of Chinatown to the Greek stores of The Danforth to the cafes of Little Italy and Little Portugal. And, with thousands of restaurants—whatever cuisine you fancy—it’s here and it's authentic.

Virtually all foods available in the U.S. can be found in Toronto. A special treat is the many specialty food shops such as greengrocers, butchers, and bakeries that flourish in this community-oriented city. The ethnic character of the population—Toronto is 52% foreign born—is evident in the variety of foods available in small shops and supermarkets. The Consulate General does not operate a commissary or a cafeteria.

Clothing Last Updated: 12/8/2003 8:55 AM

Clothing worn in Toronto by various age groups of either sex is much the same style, fashion, color, and weight as that worn by comparable groups in the northern parts of the U.S. Clothing at various price ranges can be purchased in Toronto at prices comparable to those in the U.S.

Sales are as common here as in the U.S. For those wishing to purchase U.S. merchandise, Buffalo, New York is about a 2-hour trip by car.

Except for the principal officer, black-tie is rarely, if ever, needed. Formal clothes can also be rented easily. Female principal officers will seldom need ball gowns, but cocktail dresses, hostess gowns, and long skirts with blouses are in common use.

Supplies and Services Last Updated: 12/8/2003 8:56 AM

Supplies—see Ottawa.

Basic Services—see Ottawa.

Domestic Help—see Ottawa.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/8/2003 8:56 AM

Practically all major denominations found in the U.S. are represented here.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 12/8/2003 8:58 AM

Toronto’s public school system consists of kindergarten (junior and senior), 8 years of elementary school, and 4 years of secondary school. Ontario high schools are either academic in orientation (collegiate schools) or technical. French is required of all students through grade 9, although occasionally schools have allowed diplomatic children to substitute another foreign language. All college entrance examinations are offered in Toronto.

In 1991 educational experts from the Department of State’s Office of Overseas Schools determined that the differences between Ontario public schools and schools in the Washington, D.C., area were sufficient to justify an allowance for other-than-public education. Most employees now send school-age-dependent children to private schools in the Toronto area. These schools are usually not coeducational and uniforms are worn. The Administrative Section has gathered information about several private and public schools used by Consulate personnel. In addition, information on Toronto schools is readily available on the Internet. Employees with school-aged dependents should contact the Consulate General as soon as they learn of their assignment. The admissions process for most private schools is competitive and begins as early as October for the following fall term.

For employees who prefer a public school environment for their children, several residential areas (Lawrence Park, Rosedale, sections of North York) strongly support public education. However, the best public schools are found in areas where housing costs may exceed allowances. It is possible to send children to public schools in an area outside of your neighborhood. To change schools, you need the permission of the local school principal and the school board to go into another school district.

A separate school system is maintained for Roman Catholic children. Catholic schools receive financial support from the property taxes assessed on those homes occupied by Roman Catholic families. Some of the Catholic schools have waiting lists of one year, so it is best to enroll early. Catholic schools will no longer accept elementary-grade children who are not Catholic. However, they continue to accept non-Catholic high school students. Uniforms are required for grades 9 through 12.

Day-care before and after school for younger children who cannot stay at home alone can be arranged with some of the elementary schools. Check with each school as some schools have a waiting list. Certain schools will only take children in the day care program if they are enrolled in the kindergarten program.

English is the language of instruction in virtually all public schools and in the universities. For those families who may be interested, French (immersion) is offered as the language of instruction at certain selected public schools throughout the metropolitan area. French is also taught as a required subject in elementary schools.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 12/8/2003 8:59 AM

Toronto offers extensive educational opportunities, ranging from universities to night school courses, available at the local high schools.

The University of Toronto, York University, and Ryerson University offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses in virtually all fields of endeavor, including the arts, sciences, commerce, medicine, applied sciences, and engineering.

Admission standards at universities are high. It is suggested that anyone wanting to undertake a degree program explore the options with university officials well before arriving at post.

Canadian universities were in the past much less expensive than those in the U.S., but current costs are now in the same range as U.S. public universities. American employees of the Consulate General and their dependents are not entitled to resident tuition rates based on their diplomatic or consular status, and may be charged the higher out-of-province rates.

A number of community colleges offer post-secondary education in primarily technical or vocational areas.

The Toronto area offers limited facilities for the education of the learning disabled. Special full-time programs in the public schools, counseling, special classes, and parent relief activities combine to provide families with disabled children opportunities for development. However, as possibilities may depend on the age of the child and the nature of the disability, advance contact is advised.

Because of the wide variety of educational facilities available in Toronto, the post will attempt to respond as completely as possible to all requests for specific information concerning the various types of schools.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:01 AM

Toronto and nearby areas have much to offer the sports enthusiast both as a spectator and as a participant.

For the spectator, both professional and amateur hockey, football, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, wrestling, boxing, baseball, and horseracing are available.

Ice hockey is the most popular professional sport by far, with the fanatical following that makes it a national craze. The National Hockey League Toronto Maple Leafs play to packed houses from October through April. Other professional sports teams include the NBA Toronto Raptors, AL Toronto Blue Jays, and the CFL Toronto Argonauts.

For the participant, swimming, tennis, roller and ice skating, curling, golf, bowling, skiing, fishing, and hunting are available.

Swimming is a popular summer sport and many public pools are operated by the Toronto Parks Commission. Because these pools are usually overcrowded on weekends and because the waters of Lake Ontario are generally considered too cold for other than wading, many Torontonians head north to the lake regions for swimming.

Tennis can be played on a number of public courts. Artificial ice skating rinks, as well as outdoor rinks, are located throughout the metropolitan area. The Toronto Parks Commission provides these facilities at a nominal charge to the public. Several private clubs are available as well, though these are expensive.

Curling, a new game to most Americans, is another popular winter sport. It is played indoors on ice in arenas built expressly for this purpose. All clubs are either private or semiprivate but fees are moderate.

Numerous golf courses are in the Toronto area or within a 30- or 40-mile drive. They range from crowded public courses to the exclusive, well-maintained and expensive private clubs. The rates vary, of course, with the quality of the club.

Because of Toronto’s proximity to Lake Ontario and the lake regions to the north, boating is also a popular summer pastime, and the city has several good yacht clubs.

Good fishing and hunting can be found by driving about 120 to 150 miles north of the city.

Cross-country skiing is popular in and around Toronto. Downhill skiing enthusiasts must go north 60–100 miles to the Collingwood and Gravenhurst areas. Ice skating is possible year-round in inside rinks.

Sports equipment is available locally at reasonable prices. All major Canadian, American, and Commonwealth sports events are normally broadcast on TV.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:02 AM

Toronto is the hub of southern Ontario. Hamilton, Canada’s ninth largest city, is 42 miles west of Toronto. Niagara Falls is 80 miles from Toronto and a must for every visitor. West of Toronto are some of the finest farmlands in the country. This area is one of the most populous in Canada, and you will find numerous towns and small cities, each with its own interesting historical background and points of interest.

A 2- or 3-hour drive north or northeast of the city brings you to beautiful lake and forest districts. The area is dotted with lodges and summer cottages, which can be rented for the summer, or on a short-term basis.

The Province of Ontario maintains an excellent system of toll-free expressways and paved secondary roads making all but the most remote parts of the province accessible by car. However, traffic is heavy, particularly during summer months. Distances by road (in miles) to the following points are Buffalo, New York, 100; Windsor-Detroit, 235; Ottawa, 286; Montreal, 350; Quebec City, 480; New York City 478; and Washington, D.C., 498.

Toronto’s fine park system offers a variety of activities, winter and summer. The pride of the system is Centre Island Park, located on a large island in Lake Ontario off the harbor area and accessible only by ferry. Ontario Place is also located on a series of manmade islands in Lake Ontario adjacent to the Canadian National Exhibition grounds, the largest annual exhibition in the world.

Children’s playgrounds are located throughout the city, and in summer playground directors supervise children’s activities. During winter the Parks Department operates numerous ice skating and hockey rinks.

Boy Scouts and Girl Guides are well organized in Toronto.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:03 AM

Cultural and entertainment activities abound and Toronto offers everything normally found in a cosmopolitan city of comparable size.

Toronto has a rich tradition of theater, music, and dance. Live theater is very much in evidence in the Toronto area. There are more than 125 professional companies performing on more than 40 stages with dozens of additional venues. The 3,200-seat Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts and the Royal Alexandra Theatre both present full seasons of opera, ballet, and musical and dramatic productions featuring not only the top Canadian companies but the best American and British companies as well. Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall houses the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Recitals are given here by touring internationally known artists. Many first-run and neighborhood movie theaters show American, British and foreign films.

In Stratford, Ontario, about 90 miles from Toronto, the Stratford Shakespearean Festival features world famous actors. Niagara-on-the-Lake, about 80 miles from Toronto, is the home of the Shaw Festival. Both have become popular spots for the theater lover during the summer season.

Jazz, folk music, chamber music, and numerous smaller professional and amateur theatrical groups can be found throughout the city. Toronto is purported to be the third most important center for theater in the world (after New York and London).

The Royal Ontario Museum, the Ontario Art Gallery, the McLaughlin Planetarium, and the Ontario Science Centre also provide many hours of interesting viewing.

Toronto has many fine restaurants, cocktail lounges, coffee shops, and nightclubs to suit every taste.

Cable TV service provides home entertainment and carries a full range of programming, including major U.S. networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN).

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:03 AM

Toronto social life is like that in any large U.S. city. The consul general is called on to attend a variety of official and social functions and to entertain in return. Participation of other senior officers in the official social life is modest. The social activities of junior officers and staff personnel are dictated largely by individual tastes and local acquaintances. Informal gatherings are held frequently in private homes and are the most popular form of hospitality.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:04 AM

The consular corps meets monthly, except in summer, which provides an opportunity for meeting colleagues from other countries. The consular corps ball, held every fall, is one of the high points of Toronto social life. The consular corps women’s luncheons are held monthly except during the summer.

Calling cards are used extensively by the consul general and section chiefs. Junior officers will find 100 cards sufficient for their assignment.

Consulate General - Vancouver, British Columbia

Post City Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:06 AM

The city of Vancouver is located on the southwestern corner of the mainland of British Columbia. With a population of nearly 2 million, metropolitan Vancouver ranks as Canada’s third largest city and accounts for approximately one-half of British Colombia’s population. While it serves as the province’s financial and business center, the provincial capital is the city of Victoria, which is located on Vancouver Island and has an urban area population of about 400,000. Travel between Vancouver and Victoria is by auto ferry (approximately 3 hours combined driving and sailing time) or by small float or helicopters which make the journey in about half an hour. U.S. Consular representation to the area began in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln appointed Allen Francis as the first Consul to the British Colony of Victoria. An estimated 235,000 U.S. citizens (including dual nationals) reside in the Vancouver consular district, which includes British Columbia and the Yukon Territory. In relative terms, this area (573,331 sq. miles) is larger than the states of California, Oregon, and Washington combined.

The Vancouver metropolitan area is closely bounded on the west by the Georgia Strait (which separates the mainland from Vancouver Island) and on the north by a range of steep mountains reaching to over 5,000 feet. Hemmed in by these two barriers, the developed area has gradually expanded up the Fraser River Delta to the east and south. In 1986 Vancouver marked its centennial. The city evolved from two small settlements along Burrard Inlet. One settlement was located at the site of a lumber mill (Hastings) while the other was located around a hotel and saloon (Granville) run by a talkative character known as Gassy Jack. Expansion began when the Canadian Pacific Railroad chose the town as the site of its western terminus because of the superbly protected ice-free harbor. The climate is comparable to that of Seattle, with few extremes of heat or cold. The temperature rarely reaches 80°F in summer, and winters have relatively few days when the temperature drops below freezing. The mean temperature is 63°F in summer and 36°F in winter. Rainfall varies substantially throughout the area from 45 inches per year at the airport to over 100 inches in some areas along the mountains. Despite the region’s reputation for cloudy, rainy weather there are substantial periods of bright clear days even in winter, making the area perhaps the most attractive locale in Canada. Living conditions are comparable to those of other large modern cities in North America, with the additional attraction of an unparalleled natural setting and extensive and readily accessible outdoor recreational facilities. Perhaps for these reasons, real estate prices skyrocketed during the 1980’s and 1990’s and today Vancouver ranks as the most expensive housing market in Canada and the third most expensive in North America. Vancouver is sometimes called the first Asian city in North America. Polls have shown that while English is the most common native language among Vancouverites, less than half of all residents speak English at home. Chinese ranks as the second most common language, and is spoken at home by over 30% of the population. Hindi, Punjabi, Japanese, Korean, German, French, and Russian are also widely spoken. The polyglot population provides an attractive mix of ethnic groups with something for nearly everyone.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:08 AM

The Consulate General offices are on the 21st Floor of the Manulife Plaza building at 1095 West Pender Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6E 2M6. The office phone number is (604) 685–4311. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Weekly duty watches are rotated. The Consulate General uses the U.S. Post Office at Point Roberts, Washington (P.O. BOX 5002, Point Roberts, WA 98281–5002.). Mail is picked up twice a week. The State Department American staff includes the principal officer, an office manager, a DPO/economic/administrative officer, four consular officers, and an RSO. Although there is no American public affairs officer (PAO) at post, there are two FSN public affairs staff. The Consulate General is also home to other U.S. Agencies: the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, which is headed by an American officer, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and U.S. Customs. The Consulate General’s staff currently includes 22 direct-hire American employees, 5 Americans hired locally, and 30 Foreign Service National employees, plus a contract security guard force.

The Consulate General also provides support to the 85 U.S. Customs, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, and APHIS officers engaged in preclearance and inspection procedures at Vancouver International Airport. Customs and INS also have facilities in Victoria and Prince Rupert. The Secret Service has a three-person office, including two Special Agents and an American office manager. The ATF office consists of one Special Agent. U.S. Customs and the FBI have both opened offices in the past year, further expanding the “law enforcement hub” at the Consulate General.

Other U.S. Government Agencies in Vancouver are the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Customs Service, which are located at the Vancouver International Airport. Customs and INS also have facilities in Victoria and Prince Rupert.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:08 AM

Hotel room and meal prices are comparable to those in the U.S. Accommodations within per diem or temporary housing allowance can be arranged at one of a number of excellent hotels or short term apartments in the downtown area. Particularly in the summer, arriving personnel should inform the Consulate General well in advance so that reservations can be arranged.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:09 AM

The principal officer’s home is the only government-owned residence at post. The large 12-room residence is a 15-minute drive from the Consulate General. Built in 1912, it has been periodically modernized since then, including major renovations in 1996 and 1999. A Tudor-style house sits on one acre of land and has an attractive landscaped garden. It can be used for large outdoor receptions during spring and summer.

For all other staff, housing is fairly expensive and limited. With the overall vacancy rental rate in Vancouver under one percent, incoming staff should allow several weeks to find permanent accommodations. Unfortunately, the housing allowance has not kept pace with rising prices, forcing most staff to choose between living far from the Consulate General, living in very small quarters, or going out of pocket. Some staff members have found it advantageous to purchase housing. Mortgages are generally for short periods (1 to 5 years), renewable at current interest rates, often requiring a larger down payment than in the U.S. Most unfurnished homes are rented with two to five appliances (i.e., refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, etc.). Two-year leases are available but many landlords prefer to rent for one year at a time. Several officers with families assigned to the Consulate General have lived in the adjacent municipalities of North and West Vancouver. Although rents can be somewhat lower there, the commute into town from North Vancouver involves crossing the notoriously crowded Lions Gate Bridge. INS and Customs Service officers have generally located near the International Airport, which is about 6 miles south of the city center. The “West End,” near the Consulate General, has been popular with officers without families. Apartments generally have one or two bedrooms, combination living-dining area, kitchen, and bath. Most rooms are small, making large bulky furniture unsuitable. Storage is limited. Many new buildings have covered parking space for cars, available at varying rates. Ranges and refrigerators are furnished, and heating costs are sometimes included in the rent. Washers and dryers are normally furnished in the building. Many apartment buildings prohibit pets. The search for affordable housing has led some staff members to live as far away as Delta and Port Moody, resulting in daily commutes of more than an hour each way.


Furnishings Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:09 AM

Incoming personnel, other than the principal officer, will likely need all essential furniture, furnishings, and appliances (except kitchen stoves and refrigerators). It is not necessary to purchase such items prior to arrival, however, as they can be procured either locally or across the border in Washington State.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:10 AM

All suitable homes and apartments are equipped with hot and cold running water, baths, and toilets. As in the U.S., current is 60-cycle, 110v, and 220v AC for heavy appliances. Although 110v plugs are the same as in the U.S., 220v connections are different so that U.S.-purchased appliances will require modification. Homes are heated by electricity, oil, or natural gas. Electric kitchen ranges require a separate fuse for each burner. If you bring your own range, you must have the fuse blocks installed as well as obtain government inspection approval.

Food Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:10 AM

As in the U.S., most residents buy their food in modern supermarkets as well as specialty shops located in all neighborhoods. Prices are generally somewhat higher than in the U.S., and (as of 2001) Vancouver is the only post in Canada to receive a cost-of-living allowance (COLA). As of December 2001, the COLA was 15%. Despite the generally higher prices, some items such as fresh fruit and vegetables in season are priced very attractively. Other staples (meat, milk products) are generally considerably more expensive than in the U.S. The Granville Island Public Market on False Creek features flowers, vegetables, fruits, fresh seafood, and meats. It is located near downtown Vancouver, under the Granville Bridge, and is a very popular spot on weekends. The city has a large variety of restaurants in all price ranges to suit virtually any taste. Due to the favorable exchange rate (as of August 2002, US$1 is worth about C$1.56), most people find restaurants in Vancouver to be cheaper than comparable establishments in the U.S.

Clothing Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:10 AM

Raingear is a necessity for everyone as virtually no activities are curtailed in the event of rain, which is generally light and continuous rather than a downpour. Clothing styles are similar to those in the U.S. Summers are usually cool, especially in the evenings.


Men Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:11 AM

Varying weights of wool suits are generally worn. Men should have at least one dark suit for evening wear year round. Most officers find it convenient to own a tuxedo since they are needed on some occasions. A tuxedo is a requirement for the principal officer. All items of men’s formal attire can be rented, although rental rates are fairly expensive.


Women Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:11 AM

Women often wear cottons in summer but a sweater or light wrap is generally needed in the evening. During the colder seasons of the year, wool dresses and suits are useful. In addition to coats, a shoulder wrap or short jacket is common. A female principal officer or a principal officer’s wife needs a wardrobe suitable for luncheons, cocktail parties, dinners, dances, and other evening functions; other women will find such attire useful. All types of clothing, including shoes, are available locally.

Supplies and Services Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:11 AM

Supplies—See Ottawa.

Basic Services—See Ottawa.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:12 AM

Servants are difficult to find, particularly those willing to live in. Normally, only the principal officer has full-time help. Part-time help and caterers to serve at parties are more readily available. The Canadian Pension Plan and income tax laws cover regularly employed help; contributions to the pension plan are required of both employers and employees, and reports must be submitted to Revenue Canada.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/8/2003 9:50 AM

Practically all major denominations found in the U.S. are represented in Vancouver.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 12/8/2003 10:21 AM

Public and private schools are on a par with those in the U.S. The public school systems of the various municipalities are generally organized into elementary schools and secondary schools on a 10-month calendar. Roman Catholic schools are run by the Archdiocese of Vancouver and charge a monthly tuition. All of the jurisdictions also offer French immersion programs along with other foreign languages. Vancouver has two provincial universities: the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. Entrance requirements for Consulate General dependents are the same as for B.C. residents, and tuition, which is well below the U.S. average, is at resident rates for accredited family members. In addition to credit and non-credit programs and courses offered by technical institutes, vocational training centers, and community colleges, Vancouver and the surrounding municipalities offer adult education day and evening classes. Subjects range from strictly academic ones to instruction in sewing, golf, and ceramics. Fees are moderate. Vancouver has educational programs for persons with mental or physical handicaps from infancy through adult vocational programs. Respite care is also available. Recent provincial budget cuts have put pressure on some services (speech and physical therapy). For additional information or assistance in locating appropriate educational facilities, write directly to the post.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 12/8/2003 10:24 AM

British Columbia is a sporting paradise. As with most of Canada, virtually every neighborhood has a recreation center with inexpensive access to year-round swimming, aerobics, ice rinks, ball courts, gym facilities, etc. There are a number of very good golf courses, both public and private, where one can play most of the year. Hiking and camping are popular summer activities and B.C.’s spectacular scenery draws tourists from around the world. Horseback riding is available but expensive. British Columbia is famous for its fishing and hunting. Freshwater trout and salt-water salmon are the most popular catches of sport fishermen. For big game hunting, including deer, moose, and waterfowl, one must travel some distance from the city. Skiing is available from December through April on nearby mountains (20 minutes from the office). The Whistler-Blackcomb Resort, which is 75 miles to the north, ranks among the world’s elite ski facilities and operates from early September through late July. Cross-country skiing is also popular, with some popular areas located very close by on the North Shore. Power boating and sailing are popular. Numerous small-boat launching sites and mooring facilities are found along the surrounding coastline. Many of the interior lakes also provide boating facilities. A number of yacht clubs are in the Vancouver area. The boating season runs from late October through May. Bowling (both indoor and lawn variety) and curling are popular.

For the spectator sports fan, Vancouver has three professional teams: The Vancouver Canucks play in the National Hockey League; the British Columbia Lions play in the Western Conference of the Canadian Football League; and the Vancouver Canadians are a class A baseball farm team. Major U.S. sporting events are telecast here as well.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 12/8/2003 10:25 AM

Numerous points of scenic interest are within easy driving distance from Vancouver. Costs of transportation, meals, and lodging are comparable to those in the U.S. Vancouver Island, the largest island on the West Coast of North and South America, offers the provincial capital of Victoria, unusual gardens, beaches, and mountain scenery. One of the major scenic attractions of the province, Howe Sound, begins at the western coast of the city of Vancouver. The spectacular Fraser River Canyon is a few hours away from Vancouver via Hope or Cache Creek. The interior of the province features a variety of attractions such as the historic ghost town of Barkerville, a booming gold town a century ago, and many Rocky Mountain resorts. Vancouver is the summer home port for numerous cruise ships that carry 1,000,000 passengers annually on the Alaska run. Metropolitan Vancouver contains many attractive parks, including the world famous Stanley Park, a 1,000-acre forested peninsula adjacent to the downtown area. It is a prime tourist attraction, with a zoo, aquarium, and scenic viewpoints overlooking the entrance to Vancouver harbor. Queen Elizabeth Park, south of the downtown section, is another picturesque area noted for its flowers and view of the city and surrounding area. Just north of Vancouver, large provincial parks such as Cypress, Seymour and Garibaldi offer rugged backcountry venues located just minutes from downtown. Numerous beaches exist in Vancouver proper and North and West Vancouver, though the water is chilly even in the summer. Vancouver also has a growing art gallery, an interesting maritime museum, and a planetarium. The Anthropological Museum at the University of British Columbia is excellent, as are the youth-oriented “Science World” museum and the famous Vancouver Aquarium.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 12/8/2003 10:25 AM

Entertainment to suit all tastes is available during the year. The excellent Vancouver Symphony Orchestra has a regular concert season extending from fall to spring in the recently renovated Orpheum Theatre, which dates from 1927. Visiting orchestras, an opera company, soloists, and first-class theatrical companies, ballets, and choruses from many parts of the world perform at the modern Queen Elizabeth Theater, which has a seating capacity of 2,800. Vancouver has a large pool of professional actors from which resident theater companies draw for stage productions of a high order. The city has many first-run movie theaters and assorted nightclubs. In addition, many cultural events also take place from October to June at the two universities. The Pacific National Exhibition held the last 2 weeks of August draws exhibitors from across Canada and from the U.S. and other countries; and many top entertainers perform there during the exhibition’s run. The “midway” section of the PNE also is open during summer and on weekends during good weather. The “Bard on the Beach” Shakespeare festival is a Vancouver tradition that runs from June through August. The excellent main public library is located downtown in a modern building constructed to resemble the Roman Coliseum. There are branches in neighborhoods around the city.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 12/8/2003 10:26 AM No American community as such exists in Vancouver.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

International Contacts Last Updated: 12/8/2003 10:26 AM Vancouver social life is like that in any large U.S. city. All American members of the Consulate General soon find opportunities to make acquaintances among Canadians. People in Vancouver are hospitable and extend numerous invitations to various social or public affairs. Organized groups include, among many others, the Board of Trade, Rotary, the English Speaking Union, and others. The Vancouver Consular Corps holds monthly meetings attended by numerous members of the professional and honorary corps. There is also a “Consular Circle” open to spouses of members of the consular corps. It holds monthly luncheons during the school year and provides an opportunity to meet other diplomatic (and honorary diplomatic) spouses.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 12/8/2003 10:26 AM

The consul general is called on to attend a variety of official and social functions and to entertain in return. The social activities of other officers and staff are dictated largely by individual interests. The Consulate General also operates an active wine promotion program that links U.S. wineries with local charities. An American staff member must attend each of the nearly 100 events the Consulate General sponsors each year. These events range from informal wine tastings to large black-tie balls and most officers find that they will attend numerous such events.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:39 PM

Canadian posts are well serviced by rail, bus, and air. Since a car is more than a convenience, many people drive to post. However, driving can be a problem in winter, and you should check road conditions ahead of time. It is recommended that all vehicles shipped to post arrive with valid license plates and documentation. This will facilitate licensing the vehicle in Canada.

If you travel by air, regulations require that U.S. flag carriers are used.

Travelers Please Take Note: Employees who hold dual U.S./Canada citizenship are reminded of their obligation to clear their assignment with both DS and CDA before arriving in country. As per the Vienna Conventions, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade must refuse accreditation to holders of valid Canadian citizenship regardless of their U.S. citizenship.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:40 PM

Duty-free entry privileges, including the right to import liquor and tobacco products, are extended to diplomatic officers, consular officers, and members of the Administrative and Technical Staff. In addition these employees may import personal and household effects, including privately owned vehicles, duty free at any time during the first 6 months of the date of installation at post. No special requirements are observed regarding invoicing, marking, or special wrapping of goods for shipment to post, and there are no restrictions on the size of cartons or liftvans.

Automobiles. Personnel driving to post are not likely to experience difficulty when crossing the border. A statement to the customs officer that you are assigned to a Canadian post, supported by your diplomatic or official passport, visa, and travel orders, is sufficient to permit temporary entry of your vehicle and personal possessions. Clearance procedures will be completed when you arrive at post.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Passage Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:40 PM

U.S. Government employees assigned to Canada are required to obtain visas before arrival. American tourists are not required to present visas. There are no requirements for vaccinations or other certificates.

Exemption from examination of baggage and other effects is extended only to officers with diplomatic titles and to consuls general and their families.

No currency controls or limitations are imposed on the import or export of dollar instruments or other currencies.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Pets Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:41 PM

Dogs and cats imported from the U.S. must be accompanied by a veterinarian’s certificate showing that the pet has been vaccinated against rabies during the 3 years preceding shipment. In addition, pets need a Health Certificate not more than 1 week old stating that the animal is in good health and free from disease. From countries recognized by Canada to be free of rabies, a certificate issued by a veterinarian of the National Veterinary Service of the country of origin is required certifying that the animal has been in that country for a continuous 6-month period preceding shipment. From all other countries, a certificate issued by a veterinarian of the National Veterinary Service should certify that the animal was vaccinated against rabies not less than 30 days or more than 1 year preceding shipment. Dogs and cats from countries other than the U.S. arriving without a certificate will be placed in quarantine for a 30-day period and vaccinated for rabies. (Depending on country of origin, the Canadian authorities may allow the quarantine to take place in a designated area of the owner’s home. Contact the post of assignment for details.) Employees should check with their post of assignment regarding import requirements for other pets such as birds, reptiles, rodents, etc.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:41 PM

Pistols. Only employees required to maintain a proficiency with sidearms and employees who are active and participating members of legitimate gun clubs and are bona fide pistol marksmanship competitors will be permitted to import a revolver or automatic weapon. However, the advance approval of the Chief of Mission is required. If permission is granted, the sidearm must be registered on arrival in accordance with Federal and provincial laws of Canada.

Rifles and Shotguns. Under Canadian regulations, rifles (single shot repeating or semiautomatic) and shotguns may be imported for sporting use only.

Ammunition. Most types of ammunition needed for permissible weapons is readily available in Canada.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:42 PM

Canada’s unit of currency is the Canadian dollar, divided into coins of similar denomination, size, and shape as those in the U.S. One and two dollar coins are also in circulation. Canadian and U.S. dollars are fully convertible at banks.

Canada uses the metric system of measurement. However, most containers show contents both in the metric and non-metric measure.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:43 PM


U.S. Government personnel are exempt from paying Canadian income tax. Taxes applicable to leased or rented property are payable by the landlord unless otherwise stated in the lease. Rent is often calculated to cover such taxes. Sales tax varies from province to province. Personnel having questions on tax provisions applicable to their post should write to the principal or administrative officer at that post. Articles other than motor vehicles which have been admitted duty free and which have been used and owned by the importee for a period of at least 1 year may be sold or disposed of in Canada without paying duty or taxes. Automobiles so imported or purchased in Canada cannot be sold without paying duties and taxes until they have been in the country for 2 years.

Refer to Department of State regulations concerning the sale of personal property abroad by Foreign Service personnel.


Exchange and banking facilities are readily available, and all local banks have correspondent banks in the U.S. Money conversion is simple; special financial arrangements before coming to post are unnecessary. One can establish a personal checking account in either Canadian or U.S. dollars at any bank. Travelers checks in U.S. or Canadian funds are readily obtainable. Most personnel find it is also convenient to have a checking account at a U.S. bank. The Embassy does not provide accommodation exchange services. All salary, allowance, and travel voucher payments are normally received from FMC Charleston via electronic funds transfer (EFT).

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:47 PM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Blanchard, James J. Behind the Embassy Door: Canada, Clinton and Quebec. (McClelland & Stewart, 1998)

Bothwell, Robert. Canada & Quebec: One Country, Two Histories. (University of British Columbia Press, 1998)

Canadian Sourcebook: Your Sourcebook of Canadian Facts. (Southam, annual)

Elk, Carl. Canada–U.S. Relations. (U.S. Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, May 17, 1999).

Gillmor, Don and Pierre Turgeon. Canada: A People’s History. (McClelland & Stewart, 2000)

Hilliker, John and Donald Barry. Canada’s Department of External Affairs: The Early Years 1909–1946. (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990)

Hilliker, John and Donald Barry. Canada’s Department of External Affairs: Coming of Age, 1946–1968. (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1995)

Hillmer, Norman and J. L. Granaststein. Empire to Umpire: Canada and the World to the 1990s. (Copp, Clark, Longman, 1994)

Kreinin, Mordechai. Building a Partnership: The Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement. (University of Calgary Press, 2000)

Lipset, Seymour Martin. Continental Divide: The Values and Institutions of the United States and Canada. (Routledge, 1990)

Mackey, Eva. The House of Difference: Cultural Politics and National Identity in Canada. (Routledge, 1999)

Malak, Karsh, Newman. Canada: The Land That Shapes Us. (Key Porter, 1995) (photographs)

Martin, Lawrence. Chretien: The Will to Win. (Key Porter, 1996)

McCall, Christina and Stephen Clarkson. Trudeau and Our Times. (McClelland & Stewart, 1997)

Mollins, Carl, Peter C. Newman and Robert Lewis. Canada’s Century: An Illustrated History of the People and Events That Shaped Our Identity. (Key Porter, 1999)

Netherton, Alex and Michael Howlett. Political Economy of Canada. (Oxford University Press, 1999)

Riendeau, Roger. A Brief History of Canada. (Facts on File, Inc., 2000)

Saul, John Ralston. Reflections of a Siamese Twin: Canada at the End of the Twentieth Century. (Penguin Books of Canada, 1998)

Simpson, Jeffrey. Anxious Years: Politics in the Age of Mulroney and Chretien. (Key Porter, 2000)

Thompson, John and John H. Thompson and Stephen J. Randall. Canada and the United States: Ambivalent Allies. (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000).

Web Sites — Official Web site of the Canadian Government. — Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. — Embassy of Canada, Washington, D.C. — Embassy of the United States, Ottawa, Canada — Netget: A Canadian Web directory — News, travel and much more

Local Holidays Last Updated: 12/4/2003 3:47 PM

The Embassy normally observes the following U.S. and Canadian holidays:

New Year’s Day January 1 Martin Luther King’s Birthday 3rd Monday in January Washington’s Birthday 3rd Monday in February Good Friday Varies Easter Monday Varies Victoria Day 3rd Monday in May Memorial Day last Monday in May Canada Day 1st Monday in July Independence Day July 4 Civic Holiday 1st Monday in August Labor Day 1st Monday in September Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving 2nd Monday in October Veterans Day/ Remembrance Day November 11 Thanksgiving Day last Thursday in November Christmas Day December 25 Boxing Day December 26

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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