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Frequently asked questions about visiting Canada

  • Submitted by: Brian Lucas
  • Submission Date: 11th Feb 2005



This document is no longer maintained or updated.

Last updated May 2000 (very minor editing)





Contents




WELCOME TO CANADA




Contents
Contributors




FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS




Border crossing (especially for US citizens)
Culture, Language, and All That
Driving in Canada
Money Questions
Other Questions




TRAVEL WITHIN CANADA




Airlines
Buses
Trains




TOURIST INFORMATION OFFICES




Contributors




Johann Beda j-beda@uiuc.edu
Tom Box box@strato.meteo.McGill.CA
Mark Brader
Dan 'OTT023::WINDII'@dan.sp-agency.ca
Rustan Finndin, rfinndin@atlantic.cs.unb.ca
Stephanie Moskal Fysh, sfysh@epas.utoronto.ca
John R. Grout grout@csrd.uiuc.edu
Robert L. Kimmel rkimm@ameris.center.il.ameritech.com
Steven Kostur kostur@sfu.ca
Brian Lucas lucas@mbnet.mb.ca
Steve Portigal stevep@snowhite.cis.uoguelph.ca
Rich Wales richw@mks.com






FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS




Disclaimer: this information is provided as a public service and no guarantee is made as to its completeness or correctness. I take no responsibility if you follow this advice and end up getting a traffic ticket or worse.




Border-crossing




WARNING: All countries' rules for permitting foreigners to visit change from time to time and depend on many factors, most important of which are the citizenship of the person crossing and the purpose of the intended visit. Getting the procedures right at border crossings is important because border guards have broad discretion to deny you entry, and they can make things very uncomfortable for you if they have any reason to be suspicious of you. I am not a customs or immigration officer, I cannot be certain that my information is correct or up-to-date, I do not know all the facts which may be applicable to your particular situation, and I cannot be sure that I would interpret the rules in the same way that a real border guard would. I cannot take any responsibility for your smooth crossing, and if a border guard tells you something different from what you read below, saying, 'I read on the Internet that...' isn't going to score you any points.

I encourage you to directly contact (e.g. by telephone) any Canadian border crossing post, consulate, or embassy before you make your trip in order to be sure that you have the correct and up-to-date information.

Q: Do I, a USA citizen, need a passport or visa to visit Canada?
A: No, but you should bring some proof of citizenship.

You should carry proof of your USA citizenship: a passport, naturalization card, certified birth certificate, or some other official certificate stating citizenship. If it doesn't have your photo, you should also carry some form of ID with your photo on it. A driver's license is fine for photo ID but it is not proof of citizenship; it shows that you currently live in the US, but you don't have to be a citizen to get one. If you're using a birth certificate as your proof of citizenship and you use a different name than appears on it (e.g. married woman taking husband's name), bring a copy of change-of-name document, marriage certificate, or appropriate proof.

In practice, Immigration officers at highway border crossings often don't ask to see your proof of citizenship, but if they did and you didn't have any, you could be denied entry. Worse than that, it's possible that you could have difficulty returning home if you do anything to make the USA immigration officer suspicious on your return trip and you don't have adequate proof of citizenship!

Q: Do I need a passport or visa to visit Canada if I am a citizen of ______?
A: Contact a Canadian embassy, consulate, or border-crossing point to find out the rules applicable to your citizenship. In a pinch, your home country's passport office may know the answer to this as well.

Don't accept word-of-mouth advice on this subject. Immigration rules change from time to time without warning and they may depend on various circumstances. It is easy to contact an embassy, consulate, border-crossing point and get the right answer.

Q: I'm travelling with my children; are there any special requirements for them?
A: Children must have identification papers too, and you must be prepared to prove that you are legally permitted to take the children across the border.

This requirement has been enforced strictly in recent years, because we have seen more cases of people, including parents, kidnapping children and trying to leave the country. If you're travelling with a child, you must be prepared to prove that you are the child's legal guardian or that you have permission to travel with the child. If you are one parent travelling, be prepared to explain where the other parent is and have proof. Don't be surprised if the immigration officer questions your child. 'Who is this person with you?' and 'Where is your [other parent]?' are not unusual questions.

Q: Is it a hassle to cross the border?
A: No, not normally.

At some highway border crossings, the line-up can be very long (up to several hours) on holiday weekends. Try to cross early in the day or late at night to avoid the peak hours; often the delay is only a few minutes. At airports, the wait is usually quite short, although I have been stuck in line for up to an hour in some airports.

The border is quite open, and the vast majority of people are waved through after being asked the standard questions: 'Where are you from?', 'Where are you going?', 'How long will you be in Canada?', 'What is the purpose of your trip?', and 'Are you bringing anything with you that you intend to leave behind?' They may ask people in a group 'How do you know each other?', i.e. are you related, friends, co-workers, or whatever.

There have been reports of people being hassled apparently for reasons apparently having to do with their appearance or skin color. Low-budget travellers and backpackers advise that for easier border-crossing anywhere in the world, it is a good idea to look neat and clean, and to dress conservatively. Some people who have driven across the border have noted that the newer the car they drive, the fewer the questions that are asked.

Most people agree that Canadian Customs/Immigration people are nicer than their USA counterparts. Some say that staff at airports tend to be friendlier than those at highway border crossings.

Q: Can I bring fruit across the border from the USA?
A: Yes going into Canada, but don't bring any back with you.

You may bring fruit with you (i.e. snacks for the trip) into Canada. However, citrus fruit (e.g. oranges, lemons, grapefruit) may not be brought into the United States, and will be confiscated along with any other fruit in the same bag. Fruit which is marked as having been grown in the USA should be okay (e.g. you buy a bag of Florida oranges in Canada). You should not have any problems bringing non-citrus fruit across.

Q: Can I bring my pet into Canada?
A: Yes, but bring proof of rabies vaccination.

According to the Plants and Animals page of the federal government's Canadian Tourism Commission web site: 'Owners of dogs and cats must bring a certificate issued by a licensed American or Canadian veterinarian clearly identifying the pet and certifying that it has been vaccinated against rabies sometime during the previous 36 months. An exception is made for puppies or kittens that are younger than three months old.' For more information, call one of the following inspection centres:

Montréal: Phone 1-888-246-3889 or (514) 246-3889. Fax (514) 246-2664.
Toronto: Phone 1-800-835-4486 or (905) 612-6282. Fax (905) 612-6280.
Vancouver: Phone 1-888-732-6222 or (604) 541-3370. Fax (604) 541-3373.
Q: Can I bring a gun into Canada?
A: No.

In general, it is prohibited to bring firearms into Canada. Rifles and shotguns used for hunting or competition may be brought in with a permit. Pellet guns may also require a permit. Contact a customs office or consulate before you travel to get the details that may apply to your particular situation -- see this list of Customs district offices on their web site to find the closest office to you. Embassies and consulates should also be able to answer your questions.

Note that certain non-firearm weapons are also prohibited. In general, any weapon which has no legitimate sporting or recreational use is prohibited. This includes such items as Mace, switchblade knives, blowguns, brass knuckles, nunchaka sticks, throwing stars, and tazers. Contact a customs office before you cross, or leave it behind.






Culture, Language, and All That




Q: Do I have to speak French in Quebec?
A: It is not essential in the big cities, but will be useful in rural areas.

Montreal is a very bilingual city. I was amused on my last visit to sit in a restaurant next to two men who had a long conversation in which both of them switched between English and French almost every other sentence, and they were not unusual. In general, anyone whose job requires them to deal with the public will be able to speak both French and English quite well. In other big cities, the use of English decreases, and in some rural areas you will have difficulty finding people who will speak English. In general, the smaller the town, the harder it is to get by without speaking some French.

You may have heard reports of hostility towards English-speakers in Quebec. This does sometimes happen -- manifested as poor service in a store or restaurant, for example -- but when it occurs it is directed at English-speaking residents, not tourists. French-speaking Quebecers don't expect American tourists to speak French, but some are hostile towards English-speaking Quebecers -- people who live permanently in Quebec but do not bother to learn French, and expect and demand to be served in English wherever they go. (It is, however, quite possible to live in Quebec without speaking French, particularly in Montreal where you will find a large population of people whose first language is English, some large English-speaking neighborhoods, McGill University which is English-only and quite prestigious in Canada, and so on.)

Of course, people everywhere in the world respond better to visitors who make an effort to speak the local language, and Quebec is no exception. A few token words will always be welcomed. If you don't speak any French, don't worry about it, but don't be pushy or demanding about getting immediate service in English, and be patient and polite on the few occasions where you encounter communication difficulties. In exclusively French-speaking areas, many people can still understand English quite well, although they do not like to speak it and will resent being pressured to do so.

Q: What about speaking French outside Quebec?
A: Outside of Quebec, few people speak French. In New Brunswick, there are many people who speak French as their first language, but almost everyone speaks English as well.

Q: When should I expect stores and attractions to be closed?
A: Opening hours for things like shops and restaurants tend to be a bit shorter than in the US, but longer than in Europe. You can expect all shops to be open between 10 am and 5 pm Monday to Saturday at least, but there is great variation from one place to another. It is common for stores to remain open until about 9 pm on at least some days of the week, especially larger stores and malls. Again, details vary by place. Sunday opening is rare in some provinces and common in others.

Restaurants are almost always open 7 days a week and usually remain open at times well outside typical mealtimes. Convenience stores (small stores selling mostly food) are generally open 14 hours a day or more, every day. As in most countries, attractions like museums tend to have relatively short opening hours, while things like amusement parks keep long hours.

The following holidays are observed in Canada. All banks will be closed on each of these days, and so will most shops and other businesses that wouldn't be open on a Sunday.

New Year's Day: January 1
Good Friday: Date varies, late March to late April
Easter Monday: the Monday after Good Friday; most shops open
Victoria Day: the Monday in May 18-24
Canada Day: July 1; formerly called Dominion Day
Civic Holiday: the Monday in August 1-7; see note below
Labour Day: the Monday in September 1-7
Thanksgiving: the Monday in October 8-14
Christmas: December 25
Boxing Day: December 26

Note: Civic Holiday may be known by other names in various places. It is not observed in Quebec.

There are observances on Remembrance Day, November 11, but many businesses remain open. Christmas is the major holiday of the year, and businesses and services that operate every other day of the year will close that day and often close early the preceding day. When a fixed-date holiday falls on a day that a business would normally close (e.g. Christmas on a Sunday), then the Friday or Monday of that weekend is taken as a holiday.

Quebec has a few special holidays. St-Jean-Baptiste Day, also called the Fete Nationale, is celebrated on June 24. Most places are closed January 2, though this day off doesn't have a name. Banks are open on Good Friday but closed Easter Monday.






Driving in Canada




Q: Is USA car insurance valid in Canada?
A: Yes.

If you have time, ask your auto insurance company to send you a Canadian inter-provincial insurance card. Your standard car insurance is almost certainly valid in Canada, but it helps to have the card as standard proof of coverage (i.e. something that is easily recognized as valid, as opposed to having to read the fine print in your policy) in Canada. Also, if the car you are driving isn't registered in the name of someone going on the trip, bring written proof that you have the permission of the owner to take the car into Canada. (John R. Grout)

Q: Is my (name) oil company credit card good in Canada?
A: Esso (a branch of Exxon) takes Exxon and BP cards. Shell and Sunoco gas stations exist in Canada. Petro-Canada accepts Mobil and BP cards.

I'm looking for information on other cards/companies. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted.

Q: Is gas expensive in Canada?
A: Compared to USA, yes. Compared to Europe, no.

Americans be warned: gasoline may cost up to one and a half times as much as you are used to paying. When Canadians go across the border, they head south with their gas tanks dry and fill up just before coming home. Our gas is still a good deal cheaper than gas in Europe, though.

Q: Can I use a radar detector in Canada?
A: Not in most provinces or either territory.

Possession of a radar detector is illegal in Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory, even if not in use. Police may confiscate the detector and fine you, even if it is disconnected and stored in the trunk. Radar detectors are, to the best of my knowledge, legal in British Columbia and Alberta; I'm not sure about Saskatchewan. Rules may change faster than I can update this document, so you may want to check with the RCMP in the area that you plan to visit in order to be certain.

Q: Are the highways good?
A: Not as good as US highways, but the drivers are nicer.


In densely populated areas (southern Ontario and southern Quebec), highways are comparable to what you'd expect in the US. In less-densely populated areas, Canadian highways are small by US standards. We have relatively few roads built to the standards of the Interstate highway system; the Trans-Canada Highway is only two lanes for much of the way. Canadian drivers are more courteous than US drivers; they even pull onto the shoulder on long-distance one lane highways if they see you want to pass them. (Robert Kimmel)

Q: Are there any special traffic signals I should be aware of?
A: Yes.

FLASHING GREEN traffic light: In most provinces (I have confirmations of this from Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick), it means that you (being the person who can see the flashing light) have the right-of-way and all other traffic that could conflict with you, including oncoming traffic, has a red light. You can do anything you normally would at a green light, and left turns can be made safely without worrying about oncoming traffic. If you are turning, watch for pedestrians; they usually have a 'Don't Walk' signal but often ignore it.

In British Columbia, flashing green means something different. It indicates that the light is pedestrian-controlled and will only change when a pedestrian presses a button to request a walk signal. Oncoming traffic also sees a flashing green. Cross traffic sees a stop sign or its equivalent, a flashing red light, so they may enter the intersection although they must yield to you. A flashing green signal is similar to a regular green signal; you can make any maneuvers that you would make at a regular green signal, and you must yield to oncoming traffic if making a left turn.

YIELD signs come in two varieties. The most common are the international red triangle pointing down with a white triangle in the middle, with no words. In some places you may also see a yellow triangle with the word 'Yield'.

ONE-WAY STREET signs show a large white arrow on a black background, the same as one of the two designs used in the USA except that there are no words.

PAVEMENT MARKINGS use the same color coding as in the USA. Yellow lines separate traffic moving in opposite directions, and always remain on your left in normal driving. Yellow lines are used to mark the centreline of a two-way road, the median edges of a divided road, and the left edge of a one-way road. White lines separate lanes of traffic moving in the same direction. Reversible lanes, where traffic moves in different directions at different times of the day, are marked with yellow lines on both sides of the lane.

Some traffic signals use yellow and red arrows as well as green arrows to indicate allowable turning movements; the meaning is pretty clear.

Some traffic signals will display a red signal and a green arrow at the same time, which may be confusing to some visitors. This means you can go in the green arrow direction but if you're headed in any other direction, stop and wait for a plain green or another arrow. In some places, the green arrow may flash; the meaning is the same.

In some areas of Canada, traffic signs are bilingual. They're in French in Quebec, of course, but don't worry if you don't read French. 'Maximum 90 km/h' means the same in English as in French, and a stop sign looks the same, even if it does say 'Arret'.

USA drivers: everything is written in kilometres, not miles, but you're still moving at the same speed. Highway speed limits are normally 90-100 km/h which means 55-60 mph; in the city, speed limits are typically 50-60 km/h, which is 30-35 mph.

Q: Can I make a right turn on red?
A: Yes, except in the province of Quebec.

Right turns on red are prohibited in Quebec but permitted everywhere else in Canada, except where a 'No Right Turn on Red' sign is posted at the intersection. (In some places, such signs show a picture of a red traffic signal and a right-turning arrow with a red circle-and-slash, instead of using words.) You may also make a left turn on red from a one-way street to a one-way street anywhere in Canada except Quebec. Make sure you come to a complete stop, check traffic carefully, and yield to all conflicting traffic and pedestrians before proceeding.

Q: Do car headlights turn on automatically at night?
A: Probably not.

New cars turn on their 'running lights' or 'marker lights' when you start the car. These might not necessarily include the headlights, though, which you might have to turn on separately. Apparently this is different from standard practice in the USA.






Money Questions




Q: Where can I exchange currency?
A: First choice: a bank machine (ATM, robot bank). Second choice: a bank.

The best option for obtaining local currency, no matter where in the world you are travelling, is to use an automatic teller machine. This assumes, of course, that you have a bank account which is accessible by ATM and that your card works in the country you are visiting (see next question). If you withdraw cash from your account using an ATM, you will be given the amount you select in local currency, which will be withdrawn from your bank account using the best possible exchange rate, better than you will get any other way. Your bank may add a service charge, but you will almost always do better on this transaction than by exchanging cash or travelers' cheques.

Any branch of any bank will exchange US cash or travellers' checks. Many will exchange British pounds. For other currencies, you may have to go to a central branch. In some cities, there may be specialized foreign exchange dealers. Note that banks tend to close early -- often at 3 pm Mon-Thu, 5 or 6 pm Fridays, and many are closed all day Saturdays.

Specialized foreign exchange businesses also operate in major cities; rates and fees may vary so shop around if you plan to use their services.

US cash is accepted at most stores but you won't get a very good exchange rate. Remember that they're doing you a favor by accepting it at all.

Q: Will my bank machine (ATM) card work in Canada?
A: It will if your bank is on the Plus or Cirrus networks.

Almost all Canadian financial institutions have automatic teller machines (ATMs), and you'll also find ATMs located in large and small shopping centers, airports, train stations, and even many gas stations and corner stores.

Canadian financial institutions include banks, credit unions, and trust companies. Each institution has a brand name for its ATM service, such as Instabank, Instant Teller, Cashstop, Green Machine, and so on.

You may hear about 'Interac'; this is the Canadian domestic network for interbank electronic funds transfers, which all Canadian banks are a member of. It does not operate internationally and is of no use to visitors from outside the country. Some bank staff are not familiar with international services and will talk only about Interac since it's all they know.

There are two international networks operating in Canada: the Plus Network (allied with the Visa credit card) and Cirrus (allied with MasterCard). All Canadian financial institutions are members of one or the other; the Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank are members of both. Check with your home bank before you leave and find out which network (if any) your card will operate on. Your bank should have a book it can give you which lists banks and bank machine locations worldwide on the network which it is a member of.

PLUS network members in Canada include: Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), Canada Trust, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Laurentian Bank, Royal Bank, Toronto-Dominion (TD) Bank, and caisses populaires (francophone credit unions).

CIRRUS network members in Canada include: Bank of Montreal, Credit Unions, National Bank, National Trust, and Royal Bank.

Most of these institutions are major national organizations with branches across the country. In Quebec the most common financial institutions are the caisses populaires (credit unions).

Other banks, trust companies, and credit unions may or may not be members of these networks.

You can look up ATM locations online: MasterCard and Cirrus ATMs, VISA and Plus ATMs.

Q: Will my credit card be accepted?
A: Do you have one of the following...?

Visa and MasterCard are both accepted almost anywhere. American Express is less commonly used but is accepted at larger stores and gas station chains. Discover is not very common, but is accepted at large stores.

Q: Do I have to pay sales tax?
A: Yes but you may be able to get a refund; keep your receipts.

Sales taxes vary from province to province. In most provinces, most things that you buy have two point-of-sale taxes on them: a 7% federal tax called the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and a provincial sales tax (PST) which varies from province to province. In most of Canada, the PST and GST are calculated separately on the base price of the item; in Quebec and Prince Edward Island, the GST is added to the price of the item, and then the PST is calculated on the total. There is no PST in Alberta, the Yukon, or the Northwest Territories. In Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, you pay a single 15% tax (the Harmonized Sales Tax, HST) instead of the GST and PST. (See the table below)

Province GST PST HST
British Columbia 7% 7% No
Alberta 7% No No
Saskatchewan 7% 8% No
Manitoba 7% 7% No
Ontario 7% 8% No
Quebec 7% 6.5% (on top of GST) No
Prince Edward Island 7% 10% (on top of GST) No
Newfoundland No No 15%
Nova Scotia No No 15%
New Brunswick No No 15%
Yukon Territory 7% No No
Northwest Territories 7% No No



Some items (food at grocery stores, for example) are not taxed. In some stores, the GST is already included in the price tag, but most often it is added at the point of sale. (You'll see square green signs telling you one way or the other.) The PST is almost always added at the cash register.

Visitors can get refunds on the GST and HST, as well as the Quebec and Manitoba provincial sales taxes, on certain items. In general, you can get taxes refunded on anything you take home or have shipped home, and on accommodations. Tax is not refunded on meals, even if included in your hotel bill. You will have to send in your original receipts and you won't get them back. Credit card charge slips and photocopies of receipts are not accepted.

You can get the complete information and application forms at border-crossing points, most duty-free stores, most tourist information centres, and online at Revenue Canada's web site. You may be able to get your GST back on the spot in cash at a Duty-Free store as you leave the country (but not if you leave at an airport).






Other Questions




Q: I want to buy stamps for a postcard...
A: In Canada a normal-size postcard and a minimum-weight letter cost the same, and are automatically sent by air. Rates were last increased January 1, 1999, to:

Within Canada: 46 cents
To the USA: 55 cents
To anywhere else: 95 cents

These are the values printed on the stamps; when you buy them, you also have to pay the 7% national Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Postal services are most frequently available at 'retail postal outlets', typically located at the back of drug and convenience stores. These are essentially mini post offices. Full post offices are actually fairly few in number. Booklets of stamps are available in many stores, including most convenience stores and grocery stores, even if they don't have a 'retail postal outlet', but you probably won't be able to buy single stamps. You may find the occasional coin-operated stamp vending machine but they offer fixed -- and sometimes very strange -- combinations of stamps.
Q: What time is it in Canada?
A: Canada has 6 time zones. Pacific, Mountain, Central, and Eastern time are at one-hour intervals, exactly as in the US. But the sequence continues with Atlantic Time, one hour ahead of Eastern. The last time zone is an oddball, though: Newfoundland Time is only 30 minutes ahead of Atlantic Time.

(You may have heard of a 7th zone called Yukon time, but this is obsolete. The Yukon Territory keeps Pacific time.)

Daylight Saving Time (summer time) is observed according to the same rules as in the US. Clocks are advanced one hour on the first Sunday in April. The return to Standard Time (winter time) is on the last Sunday in October. There is one exception: most of Saskatchewan does not observe DST, remaining on Central Standard Time all year.

When it's 9 am in Vancouver or Los Angeles, it's 10 am in Edmonton or Denver, 11 am in Winnipeg or Chicago, 12 noon in Toronto or New York, 1 pm in Halifax, 1:30 pm in St. John's, 5 pm(*) in London, and 6 pm(*) in Paris. (*Except for one week in the spring, when Europe observes summer time but Canada is not yet on DST.)

Q: I want to know something about Canadian history, politics, universities...
A: Not my department....

FAQs for soc.culture.Canada: (no longer maintained)

ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.answers/canada-faq/part1

ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.answers/canada-faq/part2

Canadiana by Stewart Clamen

http://www.cs.cmu.edu:8001/afs/cs.cmu.edu/user/clamen/misc/Canadiana/README.html

http://www.cs.cmu.edu:8001/afs/cs.cmu.edu/user/clamen/misc/Canadiana






TRAVEL WITHIN CANADA




Airlines





Airlines





Buses




Greyhound of Canada operates roughly from Toronto westwards. Phone 800-661-8747 in Canada. There is no toll-free number in the USA; call directory assistance for the Greyhound office or bus depot in the nearest Canadian city. Greyhound in the USA and Greyhound Canada are completely separate companies.

In the east, there are bus companies in each province and if you take long trips you'll have to transfer. In the west, Greyhound serves the major centres and provincial bus companies serve smaller towns.

Here are the phone numbers for the provincial companies I know about:

Newfoundland: Terra Transport
Nova Scotia: Acadia Lines
Halifax 902-454-9321
New Brunswick: SMT
Fredericton 506-458-6000
Quebec: Orleans Express
Quebec City 418-525-3000
Montreal 514-842-2281 (Information for all companies serving Montreal)
Ontario: Voyageur
Ottawa 613-238-5900
Toronto 416-393-7911
Manitoba: Grey Goose
Winnipeg 204-786-8891





Trains




National passenger rail service is operated by Via Rail. Despite cutbacks, it is still possible to go all the way from Vancouver to Halifax by train. You have to change trains at Toronto and at Montreal and the schedules are such that you must get off the train and make at least one overnight stop, which will be in Toronto if you're traveling east, or in either Toronto or Montreal if you're headed west. The Toronto-Vancouver train runs three times a week. In southern Ontario and Quebec, trains run several times a day between major centres.

For fares and schedules, consult a travel agent, see VIA Rail's web site, or telephone:

Newfoundland: 800-561-3926
Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick: 800-561-3952
Halifax NS: 902-429-8421
St John NB: 902-642-2916
Moncton NB: 902-857-9830
Quebec: 800-361-5390
Montreal: 514-871-1331
Quebec City: 418-692-3940
Ontario: 800-361-1235
Hamilton: 905-522-7533
Kingston: 613-544-5600
London: 519-672-5722
Ottawa: 613-244-8289
Toronto: 416-366-8411
Windsor: 519-256-5511
The West: 800-561-8630
That's MB, SK, AB, BC, YT, NT, and north-western Ontario (area code 807)
Outside Canada, consult a travel agent, or phone VIA Rail in the nearest major Canadian city.

There are also regional railroads in some parts of the country. Here are a few we know about:

BC Rail -- North Vancouver - Squamish - Whistler - Lillooet - Prince George (and intermediate points; in summer a steam train runs from North Vancouver to Squamish) Phone 604-631-3500.

Rocky Mountaineer Railtours -- Vancouver-Kamloops, Kamloops-Banff-Calgary, Kamloops-Jasper. Not a 'normal' train; runs summer tourist excursion packages only which include hotel in Kamloops, meals, etc. Phone 800-665-7245 or 604-984-3315, email rkymtn@fleethouse.com.

White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad -- summer tourist excursions from Skagway, Alaska into the northwest corner of British Columbia. Follows the route of the old Klondike gold rush train. Phone 800-343-7373 (800-478-7373 in NT, YT, and northern BC) or 907-983-2217; fax 907-983-2734.

Algoma Central -- Sault Ste. Marie (Ont.) - Agawa Canyon - Hearst (and intermediate points, but also nonstop summer tourist trains between Sault Ste. Marie and the canyon). Phone 705-946-7300.

Ontario Northland -- Toronto - North Bay - Cochrane - Moosonee (and intermediate points). Phone 800-268-9281 (in Ontario only) or 416-965-4268 (Toronto) or 705-472-4500 (North Bay).

Quebec North Shore & Labrador -- Sept-Iles - Labrador City - Schefferville. Phone 418-968-7806.






Trains - Canrailpass




Q: Is there a national rail pass like the Eurailpass, Britrailpass, etc.?
A: There is a 'Canrailpass', but remember that Canada's rail system is not as comprehensive or frequent as the European system, so don't have the same expectations of being able to walk into a train station at any time and just hop on a train. Trains are fairly frequent within the Quebec-Windsor corridor but if you're only travelling within the corridor it'll be hard to make the pass pay for itself. You can travel across the country on a Canrailpass, but keep in mind that the western transcontinental train only comes through three times a week, so if you get off, you'll have to wait two days for the next train. Also, the popular long distance trains tend to be full, and only a limited number of Canrailpass users are allowed on a train, so you need to reserve in advance for each trip.

The pass buys you an economy coach seat, not sleeping car accommodation. In the summer, if you want to upgrade to a sleeping car on the popular Toronto-Vancouver route, you may do so at most 2 weeks ahead, giving non-pass riders first chance at the sleepers. The pass is valid only on VIA Rail, not on any regional railways. The pass is sold both inside and outside Canada.

Starting in 1998, there is also a new 'North American Rail Pass' available which is good for both VIA and Amtrak (USA) service.


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