Apart from English and French, the most commonly spoken languages in Ontario homes are Chinese, Italian, and German. English, however, remains Ontario’s only official language and is spoken by virtually all Ontario residents. French is most frequently spoken in the bilingual National Capital region and the rest of eastern Ontario.
The Canadian dollar (C $) is Ontario’s official currency, but many businesses, especially in cities close to the American border, also accept American dollars (US $). Exchange rates between Canadian and American dollars have fluctuated far less dramatically since the two dollars became virtually at par with each other. Nonetheless, foreign visitors should nonetheless convert their currencies to Canadian funds before arriving in Ontario just to be on the safe side.
Although most of Ontario is in the same Eastern Time Zone as is the eastern United States, five hours behind GMT (GMT -5), the part of the province west of Thunder Bay falls within the Central Time Zone, an hour behind Eastern Standard Time (EST -1).
Like the rest of Canada, Ontario’s electrical outlets operate at 110-120V with Type B plug sockets. Plug adaptors and transformers are necessary for electrical appliances using different voltages and plug types, but US electrical appliances can usually be used without either.
Canada’s dialing code is +1, but there are a total of 11 different area codes throughout Ontario. Telus Mobility, Rogers Wireless, and Bell Mobility are Ontario’s main cell phone companies, but reception may be hard to find in parts of the province’s isolated north. Most major Ontario cities contain internet cafés.
Toronto Pearson International Airport and Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport both contain large duty-free shops, as do most Ontario cities on the United States border. Passengers headed for the United States can buy up to a liter of alcohol, 200 cigarettes, and up to US$400 worth of gifts duty free. Customs allowances for citizens flying to other countries vary.
Official Government of Ontario visitors’ information site: +1-800-668-2746 or http://www.ontariotravel.net
Embassies in Ontario
United States Embassy, Ottawa: +1-613-238-5335 British High Commission, Ottawa: +1-613-237-1530 Australian High Commission, Ottawa: +1-613-236-0841 New Zealand High Commission, Ottawa: +1-613-238-6097 French Embassy, Ottawa: +1-613-789-1795 German Embassy, Ottawa: +1-613-232-1101
Emergency services: 911