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Area Codes -- The telephone area code for Ottawa is 613; for Gatineau and surrounding areas it's 819. The area codes must be used for all local calls, although there is no charge for calls between Ottawa and Gatineau.

Drinking Laws -- You must be 19 years of age or older to consume or purchase alcohol in Ontario. Bars and retail stores are strict about enforcing the law and will ask for proof of age if they consider it necessary. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) sells wine, spirits, and beer.

Across the Ottawa River in Quebec, the drinking age is 18. Quebec has traditionally had more liberal liquor laws than Ontario, and while hard liquor and imported wine is sold through provincially controlled outlets run by the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), beer and less-expensive domestic wines can be purchased at convenience and grocery stores.

Embassies & High Commissions -- As the nation's capital, Ottawa is the home to embassies and high commissions representing almost every country in the world. If your country isn't listed below, call for directory information in Ottawa (tel. 613/555-1212) or check www.ottawakiosk.com/embass.html.

The embassy of the United States is at 490 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, ON K1N 1G8 (tel. 613/238-5335; http://ottawa.usembassy.gov).

The high commission of Australia is at 50 O'Connor St., Ste. 710, Ottawa, ON K1P 6L2 (tel. 613/236-0841; www.canada.embassy.gov.au/otwa/home.html).

The embassy of Ireland is at 130 Albert St., Ste. 1105, Ottawa, ON K1P 5G4 (tel. 613/233-6281; www.embassyofireland.ca).

The high commission of New Zealand is at 99 Bank St., Ste. 727, Ottawa, ON K1P 6G3 (tel. 613/238-5991; www.nzembassy.com/canada).

The high commission of the United Kingdom is at 80 Elgin St., Ottawa, ON K1G 5K7 (tel. 613/237-1530; ukincanada.fco.gov.uk/en/).

Emergencies -- Call tel. 911 emergency services for fire, police, or ambulance. For Poison Control, call tel. 800/267-1373 or 613/737-1100.

Hospitals -- The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) (401 Smyth Rd.; tel. 613/737-7600), is a pediatric teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Ottawa that services a broad geographical area, including Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. The hospital has an emergency department. For adult care, the Ottawa Hospital is a large multi-campus academic health sciences center with emergency departments at two sites: the Civic campus at 1053 Carling Ave. (tel. 613/722-7000) and the General campus at 501 Smyth Rd. (tel. 613/722-7000). Ontario emergency rooms are extremely busy, and wait times for non-urgent cases are typically several hours.

Newspapers & Magazines -- The daily newspapers are the Ottawa Citizen, the Ottawa Sun, and Le Droit, Ottawa's French-language newspaper. Keep an eye out for Capital Parent, a local free publication that advertises family-friendly events. Where Ottawa is a free monthly guide to shopping, dining, entertainment, and other tourist information. You can find it at most hotels and at some restaurants and retail stores. Ottawa Magazine and Ottawa Life are city monthlies. Arts and entertainment newspapers include the English-language Xpress and the French-language Voir. Gays and lesbians should check out Capital Xtra! For a great variety of international publications, visit Mags and Fags, at 254 Elgin St. (tel. 613/233-9651), or Planet News, at 143 Sparks St. (tel. 613/232-5500).

Police -- In a life-threatening emergency, or to report a crime in progress or a traffic accident that involves injuries or a vehicle that cannot be driven, call tel. 911. For other emergencies (a serious crime or a break-and-enter), call tel. 613/230-6211. For all other inquiries, call tel. 613/236-1222.

Smoking -- Ontario has among the most stringent nonsmoking legislation in the world. Smoking is prohibited in any enclosed, public place in Ottawa, and within several meters of most public buildings. There is no smoking in any restaurants or bars, and smoking is permitted only in designated rooms in hotels.

Time -- Ontario and Québec are in the eastern time zone, the same as New York City. Daylight Saving Time is in effect from 1am on the second Sunday in March to 1am on the first Sunday in November.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.