Local Information and Services
The Capital of Canada, Ottawa is situated in Ontario on the border between the province of Ontario and Quebec. Its location 352 km (219 miles) northeast of Toronto, 192 km (120 miles) west of Montreal, and just a short 1 ½ hour flight from New York or Boston makes the Capital region easily accessible.
Based on the 2006 Census, the population of the City of Ottawa is estimated at 860,928 people, and the Ottawa-Gatineau region is estimated at 1,130,761 people.
English and French are commonly spoken, as well as some Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Vietnamese.
Ottawa is located in the Eastern Standard Time (GMT – 5 hours) time zone. Daylight Savings Time begins at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday in March as clocks are switched forward one hour. It ends at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday in November, when clocks are switched back to Standard Time.
Free outdoor Capital Wi-Fi in downtown Ottawa-Gatineau lets you access information with your smartphone, tablet or laptop as tour Canada’s Capital Region.
Banking hours differ by bank and branch, but are generally the same as common working hours (9am to 5pm). Some banks are open later or on weekends or Thursday evenings. Most businesses accept debit cards as a form of payment. Most major credit cards are accepted in Ottawa.
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are located in banks and in various other locations throughout the city. They are usually available during and outside of regular banking hours, although often with an additional service fee.
Currency can be exchanged at banks or at currency exchange stations. Some hotels and other merchants accept foreign currency, but it is recommended that visitors exchange currency before they arrive.
For good service at a restaurant, a tip of 15% of the pre-tax bill is customary. Some restaurants add a service charge to the bill, especially in large groups, in which case further tipping is not expected. Tipping is also customary in bars, salons/spas, and taxis.
For up-to-date tax information, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website at www.cra.gc.ca/visitors.
ONTARIO: Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) outlets are sales agents for wines and spirits in Ontario. Wine, liquor and a selection of foreign and Canadian beers are available. Wine is also available at several stores run by individual wineries. Beer may be purchased in Ontario at The Beer Store. Both LCBO outlets and Beer Stores are open daily, including some holidays. Drinking hours in bars and restaurants are from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. The legal drinking age is 19 years.
QUÉBEC: In Québec, wines and liquors may be purchased at Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) outlets. Beer and some wines are available at grocery and convenience stores. The legal drinking age is 18 years.
There are stiff penalties for drinking and driving in both Ontario and Quebec.
In Ontario and Quebec, smoking is prohibited in: all enclosed public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars; all outdoor areas on municipal properties including parks, playgrounds, beaches, sports fields, and outdoor areas around City facilities; ByWard and Parkdale Market stands; and outdoor restaurant, bar, and food premise patios.
Outlets and voltage (110 volts) are the same as in the United States. Small appliances such as hair dryers, irons, and razors can be used in Canada. For those from other countries, adapters are required for electrical appliances. The frequency of electrical current in Canada is 60 Hz.
Canada adheres to the metric system. Units such as the litre, metre, and kilogram are used for measurement. Celsius is used to measure temperature.
The area code for Ottawa and the surrounding area is 613. Before dialing locally, use 613 and then the 7-digit phone number. The area code for Gatineau is 819.