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There's A Likely Reason Montreal Got The 514 Area Code & A Numbers Expert Told Us Why

It's not entirely random, after all.

Staff Writer
A Bell phone booth in the snow. Right: the Montreal skyline as seen from a belvedere.

A Bell phone booth in the snow. Right: the Montreal skyline as seen from a belvedere.

Montreal recently got a new area code as the oldies, 514 and 438, begin to run out of numbers. 438 was introduced for the same reason, but 514 is different — it came along in the first-ever set of area codes in Canada.

"Canada participates in the North American Numbering Plan (NANP), which is currently the 10-digit telephone number system you know of used by Canada, the U.S. and 18 other Caribbean countries," explained Kelly Walsh, program manager for the Canadian Numbering Administrator (CNA), to MTL Blog over email.

The NANP has 800 numbers, between 200 and 999, which are able to be used for "various Area Codes geographically" along with other specialty purposes, according to Walsh.

In 1947, when area codes were launched across Canada, Quebec was covered by the two codes: 514 and 418. Since then, new area codes have been added, and boundaries have been changed, which all led to the 263/438/514 complex that exists in Montreal now.

But where did the number 514 specifically come from? It's not entirely random — larger areas with larger populations were often given "lower dialable numbers," Walsh explained, making them 'easier' to dial on rotary telephones with less mechanical switching movements required for the equipment.

That's cool and all, but some people are more interested in the prospect of getting a coveted 514 telephone number in the first place. The CNA doesn't track individual phone numbers, but Walsh says it's possible — in theory. "Theoretically one could gain access to older Area Code telephone numbers if subscribers using them elected to terminate service without porting the number to a new provider," he explained. But, he emphasized that the CNA cannot directly comment on that possibility or how it would work.

If you're still desperate for the clout factor of an old number, he recommends talking to your telephone service provider to ask about number availability. At least we don't have rotary phones anymore, so it's not like you'll materially benefit from the area code. And who knows — in 20 years, maybe Montreal will be the 263.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

    Willa Holt
    Staff Writer
    Willa Holt is a Staff Writer for MTL Blog focused on apartments for rent and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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