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Guide to meeting sites in Canada.

Are you in search of a foreign meeting site that offers sophisticated cities, rich cultural history, incredible natural beauty, and loads of recreational activities? Do convenient access, safety, and world-class facilities play an important role in choosing your meeting destination? Then look no further than across our northern border to Canada.

Before You Arrive

To travel in Canada, United States citizens must present a valid passport or birth certificate. Several U.S. airlines, as well as Canadian carriers, fly regularly scheduled routes between the two countries. Working with Canadian Customs to assure the convenience of convention material crossing the border has never been easier. Meeting planners can find step-by-step guidance in Tourism Canada's booklet, Welcome to Canada, Your Handy Guide to Canadian Customs. Call (416) 973-5082.

A goods and services tax (GST), a sales tax of 7 percent on most goods and services, is levied throughout Canada. Visitors to Canada can have most of the tax refunded as long as their organization meets basic requirements. For more detailed information, contact the Revenue Canada Excise/GST office in the city or province where you plan to meet. Ask the local convention and visitors bureau what it can do to assist you.

Most hotels and shops accept United States currency in Canada and give Canadian change. However, only banks, credit card companies, and exchange offices guarantee the official exchange rate. Additional information on travel to Canada is available through the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., (202) 682-1740.


Halifax is a vibrant oceanside capital filled with maritime history, interesting nightlife, pristine streets, and shops featuring Nova Scotia handcrafts. A short ferry ride across the harbor is Halifax's sister city, Dartmouth, known for its parks, lakes, historic sites, and excellent shopping. The Halifax Citadel Fortress, Canada's most-visited national site, dominates the downtown core of the city. Most points of interest are less than 10 minutes away on foot. The city is famous for its seafood--lobster, shrimp, scallops, salmon, and mussels are as bountiful as the many ways they can be prepared. Halifax also boasts the cleanest air in North America.

Meeting Facilities

The World Trade and Convention Centre and the Halifax Metro Centre have more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space, including arena seating for 10,000 people.


Halifax has 2,000 hotel rooms downtown, and an additional 400 rooms are located within two miles of the World Trade and Convention Centre. Major hotels include the Sheraton Halifax (356 rooms), the Chateau Halifax (300 rooms), Delta Barrington (201 rooms), Halifax Hilton (307 rooms), and the Lord Nelson (210 rooms).

Additional Information

Tourism Halifax, P.O. Box 1749, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3J 3A5; (902) 421-7734, fax (902) 421-2842.


The quaint cobblestoned city of Quebec is built on a high bluff overlooking the St. Lawrence River. Vieux-Quebec, the old city, contains Canada's largest collection of 17th- and 18th-century buildings. The stone walls and gates here have stood guard since 1608, protecting the huge Citadel and ancient churches. Outside the fortifications the newer part of town sports skyscrapers as well as the 235-acre Battlefield Park. The Chateau Frontenac, a century-old hotel reminiscent of an ancient castle, reigns over the old town. Quebec is a compact city, and major hotels are within walking distance of the convention center.

Besides a lot of charm and history, Quebec offers meeting attendees a tremendous choice of recreational activities, such as hiking, skiing, golfing, white water rafting, and wolf calling, all only a few minutes from downtown.

Meeting Facilities

The Quebec City Convention Centre has 15 multipurpose rooms, a 25,645-square-foot exhibit hall, a 15,650-square-foot exhibit hall, and 9 meeting rooms. An expansion project scheduled for completion in 1996 will expand the facilities to 200,000 square feet.


Quebec City has 2,500 first-class hotel rooms, and there are 6,000 hotel rooms citywide. Major hotels include the Hilton (565 rooms), Chateau Frontenac (544 rooms), Lowes Le Concorde (422 rooms), and Radisson Gouverneurs (377 rooms).

Additional Information:

Greater Quebec Area Tourism and Convention Bureau, 399 St. Joseph St. East, Quebec, Quebec G1K 8E2; (418) 522-3511, fax (418) 529-3121.


Since its founding three and a half centuries ago, Montreal has become an important destination. Ranked among the top three cities internationally for its quality of life, Montreal is also the second-largest French-speaking hub in the world. Nestled between the St. Lawrence River and Mount Royal, the city has two distinct flavors to offer your meeting attendees: the handsome 17th-century monuments, museums, and buildings of Old Montreal and the ultra-modern architecture of downtown Montreal, including an "underground city" of passages that connects 18 miles of shops, restaurants, and hotels to the subway.

In the fall of 1995, Montreal will open a casino on Ile Notre-Dame in the Palais de la Civilization. The casino will accommodate meetings of up to 5,800 people with banquet facilities for 300. Also included will be a wide range of shops and gourmet restaurants.

Meeting Facilities

The city's major conference site is the convention center, The Palais des Congres, located on the fringe of Old Montreal and connected to the major hotels via underground passages. It features a 102,450-square-foot exhibit hall, a 45,280-square-foot banquet hall, and 31 meeting rooms. One of the most appreciated features of The Palais is the abundant natural light throughout the meeting spaces.


Montreal offers a total of 11,000 first-class hotel rooms within easy walking distance of the convention center. Major properties include Queen Elizabeth (1,047 rooms), Le Centre Sheraton (824 rooms), Hotel Radisson Gouverneurs (715 rooms), Le Chateau Champlain (616 rooms), Le Meridien (600 rooms), Bonaventure Hilton (393 rooms) and Hotel Inter-Continental (359 rooms).

Additional Information

Greater Montreal Convention and Tourism Bureau, 1555 Peel St., Suite 600, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1XG; (514) 844-5400, fax (514) 844-5757.


Canada's capital, Ottawa, boasts one of the finest collections of cultural attractions in the world. These attractions include the National Gallery, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the National Museum of Science and Technology, the Canadian Museum of Nature, and the National Aviation Museum. To this fine collection of national treasures add outdoor concerts, jazz festivals, live theater, and even a hot air balloon extravaganza. During World War II, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands and her family took refuge in Ottawa. When they returned home, the Dutch government presented Ottawa with a gift of thousands of tulips. More than 10,000 bulbs have arrived every year since then. As a result, delegates will find that springtime in the capital is a sea of blooming color, with the largest display of tulips in North America.

Meeting Facilities

The Ottawa Congress Centre features two column-free halls with 42,640 square feet of space and 12,520 square feet of space.


Ottawa offers a total of 8,000 hotel rooms in the downtown area, 1,500 of which are within two blocks of the Congress Centre. Major properties include the Westin (478 rooms), Radisson (700 rooms), Chateau Laurier (450 rooms), Delta (329 rooms), Lord Elgin Hotel (300 rooms), Novotel (300 rooms), and Les Suites (242 rooms).

Additional Information

Ottawa Tourism and Convention Authority, Ottawa Carleton Centre, 111 Lisgar St., 2nd Floor, Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2L7; (613) 237-5150, fax (613) 237-7339.


The Huron Indians congregated on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario to trade and socialize hundreds of years ago. They named the area "Toronto" or "place of meeting." Today Toronto is a global business center located within an hour's drive of 5 million Canadians and within a 90-minute flight of 60 percent of the United States population. It also has one of the world's most ethnically diverse populations, making Toronto the cultural capital of Canada with the best in art, theater, music, dance, and shopping, as well as more than 5,000 restaurants. This is Canada's largest metropolitan area, with a population of 3.4 million. Toronto also can boast of having Canada's largest convention center--the Sky Dome--the world's only stadium with a fully retractable roof.

Meeting Facilities

The Metro Toronto Convention Centre features 200,000 square feet of column-free exhibit space, a 28,000-square-foot ballroom, 36,000 square feet of meeting space, and a 1,339-seat theater. A proposed expansion project is planned to add 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 50,000-square-foot ballroom, and 70,000 square feet of meeting space to the facility by 1995.


Toronto offers approximately 17,000 first-class guest rooms in the downtown area, 10,000 of which are within walking distance of the convention center. Major meeting properties include Delta Chelsea Inn (1,600 rooms), Royal York (1,408 rooms), Sheraton Centre (1,392 rooms), and Westin Harbour Castle (980 rooms).

Additional Information

Metropolitan Toronto Convention & Visitors Association, 207 Queens Quay West, P.O. Box 126, Suite 590, Toronto, Ontario, M5J 1A7; (416) 203-2600, fax (416) 867-3995.


Calgary is an energetic city located on the junction of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, at the foot of the Canadian Rockies. Its western heritage is celebrated every July with the Calgary Stampede. Concerts, colorful parades, and free street-corner pancake breakfasts are a few of the ways this city recognizes the largest rodeo in the world.

Host of the 1988 Winter Olympics, Calgary is well-equipped to entertain large groups of people effortlessly. At Canada Olympic Park, adventuresome visitors can try their hand at bobsledding or a luge run. Dinosaur buffs should visit the Calgary Zoo and Prehistoric Park, with more than 1,400 live animals and life-size replicas of the dinosaurs that roamed the Jurassic forests of prehistoric Alberta. Calgary is also the gateway to Alberta's famous Rocky Mountain resorts, including Kananaskis Village Resort, which offers year-round meeting and recreational facilities such as golf, tennis, horseback riding, and skiing, all within an hour's drive of the city.

Meeting Facilities

Calgary Convention Centre offers 48,840 square feet of exhibition, meeting, and banquet space.


Calgary has more than 8,000 hotel rooms, 2000 within walking distance of the convention center. Major properties include The Westin Hotel (525 rooms), Skyline Plaza Hotel (386 rooms), The Palliser (403 rooms), Delta Bow Valley (398 rooms), and the Prince Royal Inn (300 rooms).

Additional Information

Calgary Convention and Visitors Bureau, 237 8th Ave., SE, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2G 0K8; (403) 263-8510, fax (403) 262-3809.



Vancouver has been acclaimed as one of the six most beautiful cities in the world and often rated one of North America's top 10 convention cities. Set in a natural oceanside environment on the Pacific and surrounded by towering mountains, Vancouver caters to delegates with an appreciation for the great outdoors. With warm summers and mild winters, Vancouver's beaches are for swimming, sailing, kyaking, windsurfing, and waterskiing. Its mountains offer skiing, cycling, hiking, and hang gliding.

The Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre, with its unique five-sail roof, dominates the city's waterfront. And it's just a few steps away from downtown, which boasts impressive hotel rooms.

Meeting Facilities

The Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre features a 94,123-square-foot exhibition hall, a 16,768-square-foot ballroom, 21 meeting rooms, and 17,000 square feet of pre-function space.


Vancouver offers a total of 15,000 hotel rooms, 4,500 of which are within walking distance of the convention center. Major properties include Hyatt Regency (646 rooms), Westin Bayshore (519 rooms), Hotel Vancouver (508 rooms), Pan Pacific (507 rooms), Waterfront Centre (489 rooms), Ramada Renaissance (432 rooms), Le Meridien (397 rooms), and Four Seasons (385 rooms).

Additional Information

Greater Vancouver Convention and Visitors Bureau, 200 Burrard St., Suite 210, Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 3L6; (604) 682-2222, fax (604) 682-1717.


Ideally situated between the cities of Vancouver and Seattle, Victoria, British Columbia's capital, has blossomed into a premier meetings destination. This seaside city has the most temperate climate in Canada, lending itself to year-round golfing as well as whale watching, fishing, and sailing. Furthermore, Victoria was rated by readers surveyed in Conde Nast Traveler as one of the world's top 10 leisure destinations. The red double-decker buses and turn-of-the century architecture that houses woollen shops and tea rooms give Victoria a distinctly British flavor. Add to its attractions a collection of gardens such as world famous Butchart Gardens. These gardens date back to 1904, when a cement baron's wife turned a quarry into a spectacular sunken garden.

Meeting Facilities

The Victoria Conference Centre features a 14,190-square-foot exhibit hall, 8,780 square feet of meeting space, and a 400-seat theater.


Victoria has more than 2,200 deluxe hotel rooms, all within a 10-minute walk of the conference center. Major properties include the Empress Hotel (481 rooms), Ocean Pointe Resort (250 rooms), Harbour Towers (185 rooms), Executive House (179 rooms), Chateau Victoria (178 rooms), Grand Pacific (149 rooms), and Coast Victoria Harbourside (132 rooms).

Additional Information

Greater Victoria Visitor and Convention Bureau, 1175 Douglas St., #710, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada V8W 2E1; (604) 382-2160, fax (604) 361-9733.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Association Management
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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