Tag Archives: 411

Directory Assistance in Canada – Paid and Free DA – Facts Every Consumer and Small Business Owner Should Know

This post is about the Canadian Directory Assistance landscape. For users, I will highlight the paid and free services available in Canada, their feature lists, and where to access ‘people search’ or residential data. On the business side I will highlight what every business owner in Canada needs to know to ensure that their business is accessible via voice search, even if you a cellular only business.

The approach was simple, friends along with myself picked up the phone and started dialing. To be fair I used cellular only, as I hardly know anybody that actually has a land line anymore. I had testers using the service on different providers as well as different provinces to get a national feel.

If you know of other services or would like to share your story using any of the services listed below, please feel free to comment at the end of this post.

Paid Directory Assistance – Dial 411

First, let’s take a look at the paid directory services. I will focus on the big 3, Telus (landline and mobility), Rogers (cable and mobility) and Bell (landline and mobility). The user side of these services are accessed directly by dialing 411 which will connect you to an automated attendant. You will then be given the option of requesting business, person or government listings.

What you may not know is that for Telus and Rogers, you have the option of selecting a Yellow Pages category search which will connect you to the Yellow Pages 411 voice activated service. See below for the feature list on Yellow Pages 411.

Please note that these services have different billing rates so check with your service provider.

Links to the paid directory assistance providers:

Telus Directory Assistance
Bell Directory Assistance
Rogers Directory Assistance – note: there is no content on this page, looks like a placeholder

Free Directory Assistance in Canada

In this section we will look at 3 free directory assistance services available to Canadian consumers. Note: all these DA services will only allow you access to business name and category searches. All these services are available from a landline, VoIP, cable or mobile phone.

I have included a feature list after the introduction of these Free DA services.

Yellow Pages 411
Available through 1-877-310-9356 or by dialing 310-0411. If you live in a province that does not support 310 dialing, simply add your (area code) in front of the 310-0411.

For more information please visit Yellow Pages 411.

Available through 1-800-GOOG-411. This is the only Canadian service that also supports business listings from the US.

For more information please visit Google 411.

Available through 310-4110, I could not find a toll-free number. I also could not find a dedicated URL on the CanPages site for their voice service. This service is also not a national service.

Doing a quick feature comparison of these services here is what I have found. I have broken this list down into 3 main buckets:

Search Type
– we know all these services do business name and category search, but I wanted more. Therefore the sub-category search is defined as the following – if you ask for Pizza, the system will prompt you for Delivery, Take-Out or Dine-In. This is a very important distinction to help narrow results, otherwise, you will get a mash-up of services with no clear indication of whether or not a business provides the specific service you are looking for.

Location Refinement
– we know all these services do city wide searches, but again, I wanted more. Most likely voice related search will be conducted in major urban markets, therefore, the ability to narrow results via neighborhood, landmark or even via intersection, is actually pretty important. The last thing any consumer needs is to be standing in downtown Vancouver and getting a list of results that cover the entire city when what you really want is “Sushi Restaurant Near Robson and Homer”.

Language Preference
– we know all these services will work in English. However, Canada has two official languages and the second largest province (Quebec) with a population of under 8 million or about 27% of Canada’s population is a very large market. Therefore, the ability to offer voice services in both of Canada’s official languages is very important. On this note, it is very disappointing to see a company like Google not offer their services in French, this is surprising.

Here is the feature list, based on criteria that I felt important to a consumer:

Canadiand Free Directory Assistance Comparison

For Business Owners – Where You Need To Ensure Your Data Is Listed

From a small business perspective, DA whether Paid or Free is a very important piece for making sure that your customers can get your phone number and address. Therefore, the ultimate question for any business owner is “How do I ensure that I am properly listed?”. The short-answer is simple. If you are in the Yellow Pages Directories or on YellowPages.ca, you are already listed in all the services listed above, with perhaps the exception of CanPages (CanPages does not list specifically where they purchase or get their business data from).

How does your small business data flow specifically?

The graph below shows the flow of data information. YellowPages.ca data is provided to Google Maps which in turn is what is used for Google 411. YellowPages.ca data is provided to Yellow Pages 411 which in turn is the service that can be accessed for free or via paid DA by Telus and Rogers customers. So having your business listed with YellowPages.ca in the right category ensures that your business data is syndicated to all these major players in providing voice directory assistance.

Syndication of Business Listing Data in Canada for Directory Assistance

If you are not listed, then what? Contact Yellow Pages Group to Add Your Free Listing. One FAQ – What if you’re a cell phone subscriber? Cell phone subscribers are also entitled to a free business* listing in their local Yellow Pages directory and in our directory Web sites YellowPages.ca and Canada 411. Go to the Contact Us section of this site to speak to a Yellow Pages Group representative for more info.

Finally, what about People Directory Assistance in Canada

People Search‘ via voice is currently limited to the paid DA providers in Canada. I am not even sure that I have seen a voice enabled ‘people search’ service in the US – if anybody knows of one, please feel free to comment.

However, if you are a lucky Canadian to own either a Blackberry or an iPhone, the Yellow Pages Mobile applications for Blackberry and iPhone are currently the only integrated mobile apps that provide business, residential and reverse lookup services.

You Can Read My Previous Posts on Business, Residential and Reverse Look-up Mobile Services:

iPhone Application – Canadian People Finder Now Available on April 3
A Canadian First – Blackberry Application Featuring People Search on March 30

I hope that you find this information useful and please feel free to add your comments regarding directory assistance services.

Local Search in Canada Using the Apple iPhone – a Visual Comparision

As the iPhone becomes more and more popular in Canada I decided to take a look at 4 local web products, YellowPages.ca, 411.ca, Canpages.ca, and Google Maps.

I selected these as they all have iPhone compatible versions of their websites. Google Maps is a standard icon on the iPhone by default.

For this particular test I decided to focus on a popular generic category search (dentists in Toronto) and a very specific landmark search (restaurants by Eau Claire Market). For those of you who don’t know, Eau Claire Market is a popular destination located in downtown Calgary. I believe that landmarks would be important search criteria for mobile products.

In terms of ranking, I have decided not to rank the results. For the landmark search I indicated success or failure. You be the judge in terms of your personal preference. Please feel free to add a comment on your favorite or suggest other sites in Canada that have iPhone versions.

Let’s start with what happens when you bookmark the websites above and put them on your iPhone desktop.

Local Search Icons on iPhone Canada

From left to right:

Maps (Google) – this is default on your iPhone. One issue that I have is that Apple or Google have failed to customize this icon for regions – notice the US highway signage.

YellowPages.ca – In Canada, Yellow Pages(TM) is a registered trademark and when you bookmark you get the logo on your desktop.

411.ca– They have a unique icon and tell you 411 at the beginning of the text string. The ouch! at the end is a little weird though.

Canpages.ca – No custom icon, uses a screenshot that clearly tells the user nothing.

Let’s look at each property individually based on my two search queries.

First we try Google Maps – “dentists in Toronto” search on Map view.


The same search done via list view.

Google Maps Toronto Dentists

Here is the screenshot of the details of the business listing.


Finally we will conduct “restaurants by Eau Claire Market”. This search failed as the results are located in Toronto. Google did not recognize this landmark.


Second we try YellowPages.ca here is the screenshot for the “dentists in Toronto” search. NOTICE: with YellowPages.ca you also have the ability to switch to find a person in Canada using Canada411.ca.

YellowPages Canada Toronto Dentists

Here are the results of this search.


Here is the details of a business listing


Finally we will conduct “restaurants by Eau Claire Market“. This search was a success, landmark was recognized.


Third we try 411.ca here is the screenshot for the “dentists in Toronto” search.


Here are the results of this search.


Here is the details of a business listing


Finally we will conduct “restaurants by Eau Claire Market”. This search failed as the results are located in Ontario. 411.ca did not recognize this landmark.


Fourth we try CanPages.ca here is the screenshot for the “dentists in Toronto” search.


Here are the results of this search.


Here is the details of a business listing


Finally we will conduct “restaurants by Eau Claire Market”. This search failed CanPages.ca did not recognize this landmark.


If you want to see another comparison - check out Taking a Look at Local Merchant Pages in Canada - a post from last December.

Canada’s Top 20 Surnames Dissected

UPDATED: January 1, 2013 with data from top cities.

Ever wonder what are the most common names and Canada and how many people are listed in the White Pages in Canada who match those surnames. I figure there are at least a few of you who would be interested in this information, so here it is.

This list of top 20 common Canadian surnames was pulled from Wikipedia and in the order listed there.

Surname Canadian Count Matched Search Page
Li 71,074 Li in Canada
Smith 61,302 Smith in Canada
Lam 41,402 Lam in Canada
Martin 41,474 Martin in Canada
Brown 38,303 Brown in Canada
Roy 35,665 Roy in Canada
Tremblay 39,343 Tremblay in Canada
Lee 28,343 Lee in Canada
Gagnon 30,429 Gagnon in Canada
Wilson 25,984 Wilson in Canada
Clark 25,358 Clark in Canada
Johnson 24,635 Johnson in Canada
White 22,726 White in Canada
Williams 23,713 Williams in Canada
Cote 26,781 Cote in Canada
Taylor 22,372 Taylor in Canada
Campbell 21,874 Campbell in Canada
Anderson 21,229 Anderson in Canada
Chan 20,995 Chan in Canada
Jones 21,384 Jones in Canada

Turns out that Wikipedia is pretty darn close in terms of the order of the top 20 surnames.

On a personal note, if you conduct a search for my last “Sieben in Canada” there are 412 of us listed in the Phonebook.


New for 2013, I thought I would expand the above list to see where those top 20 surnames rank in terms of some of Canada’s top cities.

Here is the data:

Surname Toronto Count Matched Search Page
Li 7,082 Li in Toronto
Smith 2,902 Smith in Toronto
Lam 1,805 Lam in Toronto
Martin 1,880 Martin in Toronto
Brown 2,323 Brown in Toronto
Roy 327 Roy in Toronto
Tremblay 57 Tremblay in Toronto
Lee 3,331 Lee in Toronto
Gagnon 71 Gagnon in Toronto
Wilson 1,351 Wilson in Toronto
Clark 1,397 Clark in Toronto
Johnson 1,000 Johnson in Toronto
White 1,068 White in Toronto
Williams 1,714 Williams in Toronto
Cote 66 Cote in Toronto
Taylor 1,152 Taylor in Toronto
Campbell 1,230 Campbell in Toronto
Anderson 786 Anderson in Toronto
Chan 3,190 Chan in Toronto
Jones 1,129 Jones in Toronto

Let’s take a look at the results for Montreal

Surname Montreal Count Matched Search Page
Li 1,977 Li in Montreal
Smith 429 Smith in Montreal
Lam 2,154 Lam in Montreal
Martin 1,635 Martin in Montreal
Brown 288 Brown in Montreal
Roy 1,806 Roy in Montreal
Tremblay 2,188 Tremblay in Montreal
Lee 391 Lee in Montreal
Gagnon 1,671 Gagnon in Montreal
Wilson 171 Wilson in Montreal
Clark 175 Clark in Montreal
Johnson 204 Johnson in Montreal
White 170 White in Montreal
Williams 232 Williams in Montreal
Cote 1,435 Cote in Montreal
Taylor 137 Taylor in Montreal
Campbell 138 Campbell in Montreal
Anderson 111 Anderson in Montreal
Chan 465 Chan in Montreal
Jones 167 Jones in Montreal

And finally the results for Vancouver

Surname Vancouver Count Matched Search Page
Li 1,981 Li in Vancouver
Smith 438 Smith in Vancouver
Lam 556 Lam in Vancouver
Martin 231 Martin in Vancouver
Brown 274 Brown in Vancouver
Roy 30 Roy in Vancouver
Tremblay 17 Tremblay in Vancouver
Lee 1,322 Lee in Vancouver
Gagnon 15 Gagnon in Vancouver
Wilson 207 Wilson in Vancouver
Clark 214 Clark in Vancouver
Johnson 219 Johnson in Vancouver
White 138 White in Vancouver
Williams 180 Williams in Vancouver
Cote 10 Cote in Vancouver
Taylor 204 Taylor in Vancouver
Campbell 205 Campbell in Vancouver
Anderson 186 Anderson in Vancouver
Chan 1,504 Chan in Vancouver
Jones 196 Jones in Vancouver

So the question is – how many people are listed with your last name? Enter your name below and hit “Find”, this will launch a new search browser and look in the right to see how many people match your surname.

Enter Your Last Name

Related Links:

Interested in seeing how popular your surname is in the United States? Check out the link provided to PBS.org.