Ontario’s legal drinking age is 19. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (lcbo.com) is the exclusive agent for spirits. The Beer Store (thebeerstore.ca) is another designated retailer. Boutiques – often near or in the larger grocery chains – sell Ontario wines.
Ottawa’s national banks are The Bank of Montreal (BMO), CIBC, TD Canada Trust, National Bank of Canada, Scotiabank, and RBC Royal Bank. Credit unions include Alterna, and Quebecbased Caisse Populaire and Desjardins. Most have extended hours Thursday and Friday; some have Saturday hours.
The average workday is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Some government offi ces close at 4 p.m. Smaller stores are usually open Monday to Saturday to 6 p.m. Some chains and LCBOs keep Sunday hours. The Loeb chain and Shopper’s Drug Mart have outlets open 24 hours.
The electrical standard is 110 volts/60 cycles AC. Dual-voltage appliances require an adaptor to convert the plug into one with two fl at, parallel prongs.
On any telephone you can dial 911 for police, fire or ambulance service.
Immigrants should go to the Government of Canada Services for Non-Canadians website, canadainternational.gc.ca. To get a Social Insurance Number, which you need to work in Canada, visit a Human Resource Centre of Canada offi ce. Go to hrsdc.gc.ca or call 1-800-206-7218. Ottawa’s Employment and Financial Assistance Centres administer income and employment assistance programs. Visit ottawa.ca/residents/efa/employment/help/centres_en.html or the central office at 370 Catherine Street, Suite 100; or call the main information line at (613) 560-6000. For online job banks go to allstarjobs.ca/Canada_Job_Banks/index.htm.
Larger chains include Loblaws, Loeb, Food Basics, Price Chopper and Sobeys. A local chain, Farm Boy, specializes in fresh produce. Specialty shops – bakeries, butchers, and delicatessens – can be found in the Westboro, Glebe, and ByWard Market areas.
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Newcomers can go to the Province of Ontario site settlement.org for information about permanent resident cards, citizenship and immigration and employment. Or go to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website (cic.gc.ca) or The Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (ociso.org; (613) 725-5671) for help.
English and French are the languages spoken most often in Ottawa, although other languages are also spoken here. The YMCA/YWCA has a Language Assessment Resource Centre with instruction; call (613) 238-5462 or go to ymcaywca.ca/Larc2/. To learn French, contact Alliance Francaise: (613) 234-9470; af.ca/ottawa/.
Ottawa has two major English-language dailies, the Ottawa Citizen and the Ottawa Sun. Le Droit is the Frenchlanguage daily. National newspapers The Globe and Mail and the National Post are available. Free local tabloids cover everything from business and neighbourhood news to entertainment and lifestyle.
You can pay at the meter. Alternatively, use the electronic City of Ottawa parking cards. They are available from city offices or the Bank of Nova Scotia and Royal Bank, and can buy you $25 or $50 worth of pre-paid parking.
Enjoy Asian food along Somerset Street, Italian on Preston Street, and an eclectic international variety in the ByWard Market, on Bank Street in the Glebe, and along Wellington Street in Westboro. Check listings in the Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa City magazine, or CheapEats Ottawa.
There is a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of fi ve per cent on all but basic groceries and some prescription drugs. The provincial sales tax (PST) is eight per cent.
The area code for Ottawa is 613. In Gatineau, the area code is 819. Residents must now dial all 10 digits for local calls. For long distance, dial 1 plus the 10-digit telephone number. 1-800, 1-888, and 1-866 numbers are toll-free. For operator assistance, dial 0. For local and North American directory assistance, dial 411; there is a charge of 75 cents.
Ottawa typically has long, cold winters and, increasingly, hot and humid summers. A bonus: there is an average 2,059 hours of sunshine annually. The amount of precipitation is variable, with enough snow to make cross-country skiing a common pastime and enough rain to keep the many greenbelts lush. MTO