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Disconnecting in Toronto – Wait, I Didn’t Mean It *Litterally*!

I remember checking my phone absentmindedly and still half-asleep when I climbed into the passenger seat in Ottawa. Technically, July 2 is a regular work day but many people take an extra long weekend after Canada Day to kick off summer. And technically, as a freelancer, I don’t need to ask anyone’s permission when I take a few days off work but I like to keep everyone happy so I do answer emails.

I did answer a few emails. Nothing urgent. Perfect. Invoices paid—even better.

“Let’s go?”


I put my Roots hoodie on, my earplug in, my MINISO travel pillow around my neck and I closed my eyes. If I’m not driving, I’m sleeping. The night was short—we spent the day downtown for Canada Day, then packing and cleaning the house took most of the evening.

I woke up three hours later. Stairway to Heaven was playing, Feng was singing along quietly, it was hot and sunny outside.

I pulled my phone out of my bag. A couple of emails. I checked Google Maps.

“We’re only in Cobourg?”

“Yeah, slow traffic. Construction season.”

We stopped in Newcastle for a bathroom and coffee break. Still an hour to go to Toronto.

There isn’t much to do when you’re stuck in traffic, so a few minutes later, I pulled out my phone again. I had just finished A Family Next Door the night before and I wanted to see is the author, Sally Hepworth, had written anything else.

“Weird… I don’t have any network.”

“Probably just a dead zone.”

“Right outside Toronto?”

Feng shrugged. Don’t ask him for network advice, he carries an old-fashioned flip phone.

“Wait a minute… It says ‘R.’ Like ‘roaming.’ Are you fucking kidding me? Does Videotron consider being in the GTA is ‘roaming’?”

Apparently, it does. Videotron’s wireless network doesn’t extend to Toronto. A city in the same fucking province, 400 km from Ottawa.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is why you can’t rely on your phone in Canada—our service providers suck.

We’re just taking a few days off in Toronto so it’s not a big deal for me, I just have to connect to free public Wi-Fi once in a while to make sure I didn’t miss any important email. We brought the laptop, there’s Wi-Fi at the Airbnb.

But still. European readers, can you imagine signing up with a provider in Paris and not being able to use your phone in Lyon or Marseille? That’s just ridiculous.

Arriving in Toronto, July 2019
Arriving in Toronto, July 2019
Queen Street, Toronto, July 2019
Queen Street, Toronto, July 2019
Eaton Centre, Toronto, July 2019
Eaton Centre, Toronto, July 2019
Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, July 2019
Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, July 2019
Front St W, Toronto, July 2019
Front St W, Toronto, July 2019

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