|Preface Last Updated: 12/4/2003
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Quebec U.S. Consulate General P.O. Box 939 Quebec, P.Q., Canada
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 www.ocdsb.edu.on.ca.
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
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 www.occdsb.on.ca for further
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
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
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
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
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 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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 www.sait.ab.ca. 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 www.mtroyal.ab.ca.
The Calgary Board of Education, www.cbe.ab.ca, 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 www.athabascau.ca.
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
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.
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.
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: www.gov.calgary.ab.ca www.discovercalgary.com
www.calgaryherald.com www.calgaryconsularcorps.org www.ucalgary.ca
www.sait.ab.ca www.mtroyal.ab.ca www.cbe.ab.ca www.athabascau.ca
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.
AMERICAN PRESENCE POST WINNIPEG
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Recreation and Social Life
Among Americans Last Updated: 12/4/2003 2:32 PM Social activities
include Canadians except for an occasional small dinner or luncheon
Recreation and Social Life
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.
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Recreation and Social Life
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
The post staff includes a principal officer, a deputy, and five
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Recreation and Social Life
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
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
Honorary memberships in various social clubs may be available.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Among Americans Last Updated: 12/8/2003 10:26 AM No American
community as such exists in Vancouver.
Recreation and Social Life
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
Hilliker, John and Donald Barry. Canada’s Department of External
Affairs: Coming of Age, 1946–1968. (McGill-Queen’s University Press,
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.,
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).
http://www.canada.gc.ca — Official Web site of the Canadian
http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/ — Canadian Department of Foreign
Affairs and International Trade.
http://www.canadianembassy.org — Embassy of Canada, Washington,
http://www.usembassycanada.gov — Embassy of the United States,
http://www.netget.ca/index.shtml — Netget: A Canadian Web
http://www.canada.com — 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
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