Area codes 819 and 873

Trois-Rivières Northwest Territories Area code 867

Area codes 819 and 873 are area codes for central and western Quebec, Canada, including the Quebec portion of the National Capital Region, and the Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay coastlines of Quebec. Major cities in the 819 territory include Gatineau, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières.

The incumbent local exchange carriers in 819/873 are Bell Canada, Bell Aliant, Telus, as well as Télébec and other independent companies. From 1992 to 1997, Northwestel was also an incumbent carrier in 819 as it included former Bell Canada points in the Northwest Territories.

Area code 468 is reserved as a third area code in the region.


Sherbrooke, Québec

Originally, Quebec was divided between two area codes. 514 originally covered the entire western half of Quebec from the US border to Hudson Strait, while 418 served the eastern half. In a 1957 flash cut, the 514 area was split into three segments - the southernmost (including Montreal) remained 514, the middle became 819, and the northern part, which had no telephone services, was added to 418. 819 thus bordered 613 and the new 705 codes in Ontario and 418 on the east and north, and the remainder of 514 on the south.

When telephone service was introduced in the eastern Northwest Territories (most of this is now the territory of Nunavut created in 1999), at Frobisher Bay in 1958, Bell Canada nominally made it part of Area code 418. Through the 1960s and 1970s, telephone service was introduced, by Bell Canada at other locations in the eastern Northwest Territories and in locations along the Quebec Arctic coastline, as well as by Sotel, an independent company, in the James Bay region. These non-diallable locations also became part of 418.

Late in the 1970s, the northern portions of 418 served by Sotel and Bell along James, Hudson and Ungava Bays and Hudson Strait, as well as the eastern Northwest Territories, were assigned to 819 as exchanges in that area began to receive direct distance dialling. Thus 819 now also bordered Area code 709 of Newfoundland in the Torngat Mountain area, and Area code 403 where Bell Canada and Northwestel service areas met, as well as 204 (Manitoba) and 807 (northwestern Ontario). Also, from the late 1970s until 1997, 819 extended one-eighth of the way around the world, from the 45th parallel north at Stanstead, Quebec to the North Pole by including much of the Northwest Territories along with most of western Quebec. Northwestel used Alberta's area code 403 for its services in Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

In 1997-98, the portions of 819 in the Northwest Territories, plus the portions of 403 in the Northwest Territories and Yukon, were transferred to Area code 867, a newly created code to unite all northern territories (including Nunavut in 1999). 819 was cut back to western Quebec, while 403 was reduced to serve only Alberta. Thus, borders on 403, 204 and 807 were replaced with the single border on 867. Area code 514 was split shortly afterward, changing 819's boundary on 514 to a boundary with Area code 450, the new area code for the off-island suburbs of Montreal.

Until 2006, it was possible to make calls between Ottawa and Hull with only seven digits, since Ottawa and Hull are a single local calling area. A similar situation prevailed in the Washington metropolitan area, where calls could be completed with just seven digits even though the region spilled across three area codes in three jurisdictions—Washington itself and parts of Maryland and Virginia. An "exchange protection" scheme prevented the same seven-digit local number from being assigned in both Ottawa and Hull. This code protection was implemented in such a manner that, if an exchange in +1-819-77x (1-819-PRovince) was in use in Hull, the corresponding +1-613-77x exchange could not be used anywhere in Eastern Ontario. Conversely, if an exchange in +1-613-23x was being used in Ottawa, the corresponding +1-819-23x exchange was unavailable anywhere in western Quebec, even in areas a safe distance from the National Capital Region such as Mauricie and Estrie.

The problem was exacerbated by Canada's inefficient system of number allocation. Every tiny hamlet is a rate centre, with multiple CLEC's issued 10,000-number blocks (corresponding to a single three-digit prefix) in each. Larger cities had multiple rate centres, most of which were not amalgamated during the creation of "megacities" in Quebec in 2002 and remain separate to this day. For instance, in 2002 Hull was merged into the "megacity" of Gatineau. However, the megacity comprises five separate rate centres which have never been amalgamated. The city centre exchange (serving the former cities of Hull and Pointe-Gatineau) is still named "Ottawa-Hull," while the "Gatineau" exchange only serves the pre-merger city of Gatineau.[1] The Gatineau and Aylmer exchanges, despite now being part of the amalgamated municipality of Gatineau, remained long-distance calls to each other until a 16 August 2007 expansion of their local calling area, five years later.[2]

While many smaller rate centres don't need nearly that many numbers in order to adequately serve their customers, a number could not be assigned elsewhere once allocated to a carrier and rate centre. This resulted in thousands of wasted numbers, and the proliferation of cell phones and pagers only exacerbated this. By 2006, 819 was effectively exhausted except for central office codes that theoretically could have been used in Hull, but could not be assigned without breaking seven-digit dialling between Ottawa and Hull. The situation could have been avoided had some +1-819 versions of the seven-digit Ottawa-Hull numbers been assigned to areas a safe distance from the National Capital Region years earlier.

Ten-digit dialling was made mandatory in both 819 and 613 on October 21, 2006, and exchange protection was largely ended. Seven-digit local calls in centres far from the area code boundary (such as Trois-Rivières or Belleville, with no local calling into any other area code at the time) were failing with intercept messages demanding that customers "dial the area code".

The only legacy of the old system is a "dual dialability" scheme for federal government numbers in the National Capital Region; all federal government offices on the Quebec side duplicated their entire allocation of multiple exchanges worth of numbers available on the Ontario side.

Originally to be introduced in 2015, on July 20, 2011, the CRTC moved up the introduction of the new 873 area code to September 15, 2012 after a report stated that the current 819 area code would be exhausted by then.[3] 873 had never been assigned as a local exchange in 1-819 because the tiny border village Beebe Plain is divided between 1-819-876 Rock Island and 1-802-873 Derby Line, an international local call which had been given exchange code protection to permit seven-digit local dialling.

There is still no number pooling in Canada and redundant telephone exchange rate centres are not being merged when the underlying municipalities are amalgamated; the inefficient allocation of 10000-number blocks to multiple carriers in each of multiple rate centres in (often) the same municipality continues unabated.

In February 2017, area code 468 was reserved as a third area code in the region.[4]

Places that use this area code

See also


  1. ^ Hull and Gatineau on localcallingguide.com; "Gatineau" is still a former suburb ("secteur") with a far more restrictive calling area, particularly into Ontario.
  2. ^ "Communities abandoned by CRTC, says commissioner". IT World Canada.
  3. ^ "New area code assigned to Quebec". CBC.ca. July 20, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-20.
  4. ^ https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2017/2017-38.htm. Missing or empty |title= (help)