Canada travel guide

CANADA TRAVEL

YOUR TRAVEL GUIDE TO CANADA

OCTOBER 23

Canada Travel Guide

Communidations in Canada



Postal Services

Post office opening hours are Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm, though a few places open on Saturday between 9am and noon. Offices are sometimes found inside larger stores, so look out for Canada Post signs, or Postes Canada in Québec.

Stamps can also be bought from automatic vending machines, the lobbies of larger hotels, airports, train stations, bus terminals and many retail outlets and newsstands. Within Canada, letters and postcards up to 30g cost 46¢, to the US 55¢ for under 30g, and international mail up to 20g is 95¢. If you're posting letters to Canadian addresses, always include the postcode or your mail may never get there.

Letters can be sent poste restante to any Canadian main post office by addressing them c/o General Delivery or c/o Poste Restante in Québec. Make a pick-up date if known, or write "Hold for 15 days", the maximum period mail will usually be held. After that time the post is returned to sender, so it's a good idea to put a return address on any post.

Take some ID when collecting. Letters will also be held by hotels; mark such mail "Guest Mail, Hold for Arrival". If you have an American Express card or travellers' cheques, you can have mail marked "Client Mail Service" sent to Amex offices throughout Canada. Others can pick up mail from Amex for a small fee.

Telephones and Telegrams

Kelowna Coin-operated telephones are available in most public places. Whenever you are dialling a number outside the telephone region of the call box you are using, you have to prefix the number with 1; this puts you through to the operator, who will tell you how much money you need to get connected. The operator asks for an amount (about $2.50) to cover the initial time period, which even within a province is fairly brief.

Thereafter you'll be asked to shovel money in at regular intervals, so unless you're making a reverse-charge/collect call you need a stack of coins - usually quarters (25¢). Some connections within a single telephone code area are charged at the long-distance rate, and thus need the "1" prefix; a recorded message will tell you if this is necessary as soon as you dial the number. Local calls cost 25¢ from a public phone and are dialled direct; private subscribers pay nothing for these, so you'll find that shops often don't mind you using their phone for local calls. Emergency (tel 911) and information (tel 411 local, tel 555-1212 long distance) are free from payphones.

Long-distance calls are cheapest from 11pm to 8am daily, and most expensive from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday. From 6pm to 11pm on Monday to Saturday and from 8am to 11pm on Sunday, charges are more economical. Detailed rates are listed at the front of the telephone directory .

Needless to say, using pocketfuls of money is an inconvenient way of making international calls . Payphones taking major credit cards, however, are increasingly common, especially in transport and major tourist centres. In some cities there are Bell offices that enable you to make your call and pay afterwards.

Nearly all the provincial and national phone companies produce local and long-distance calling cards . Cards are sold in various outlets, including petrol stations, pharmacies and post offices, and in various denominations from $5 to $50, with calls being offered at discounted rates. You are given a number to dial and then a PIN number before you dial your destination. AT&T and other companies also produce affinity cards whereby the cost of your call is debited directly from your credit- or debit-card account.

Fax and Email

Coin-operated telephones are available in most public places. Whenever you are dialling a number outside the telephone region of the call box you are using, you have to prefix the number with 1; this puts you through to the operator, who will tell you how much money you need to get connected. The operator asks for an amount (about $2.50) to cover the initial time period, which even within a province is fairly brief.

Fax machines are found at hotels, city post offices and at photocopy shops, Internet cafés and similar establishments in main city centres. Charges are generally $1 a page.

Most major cities and small towns now have cybercafés, where you can email . They tend to charge around $2-5 an hour for use of their computers, and you can generally sup on cappuccinos and snack on sandwiches. You can also access email at most large, corporate hotels, public libraries and potentially a host of other establishments. If you don't already have an account you can access while abroad, just sign on for one of the many free options, like www.hotmail.com , www.juno.com , and so on; a quick Internet search will reveal many others.

The Media

Canada has no truly national newspaper . The closest thing is the daily Globe and Mail , a Toronto broadsheet also published in a western edition and available more or less throughout the country. Most cities have a quality paper, like the Toronto Star, Calgary Herald, Ottawa Citizen or Vancouver Sun , which is also available throughout their province. In Quebec, the French-language La Presse is the most widely read in the province and there's also the separatist Le Devoir . The conservative Maclean's and Time Canada are the most popular weekly news magazines. The monthly Canadian Geographic covers the great outdoors through articles and fantastic photographs.

To low-budget travellers, watching cable television in a motel room may well be the commonest form of entertainment. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) with national and regional broadcasts has the largest volume of Canadian programmes. The main commercial station is the Canadian Television Corporation (CTV), a mix of Canadian, American and national output. There are other public-broadcasting channels and private broadcast companies whose output makes Canada's TV very similar to mainstream American TV. Most US stations can also be picked up.

The majority of Canadian radio stations, too, stick to a bland commercial format. Most are on the AM band and display little originality - though they can be good sources of local nightlife and entertainment news, and road and weather reports. On FM, on the other hand, the nationally funded CBC channels provide diverse, listenable and well-informed programmes - for example This Morning (Mon-Fri 9am-noon), a phone-in programme that gives a good grasp of Canadian opinions and happenings. Although some of the large cities boast good specialist music stations, for most of the time you'll probably have to resort to skipping up and down the frequencies. Driving through rural areas can be frustrating, as for hundreds of kilometres you might only be able to receive one or two very dull stations. With this in mind, it's worth asking your car-rental agency if their cars are fitted with cassette players.




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