Travelling with film in Canada - airport issues, film stores/labs, etc.

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mooseontheloose

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I'll be travelling to Canada this summer after a 4-year hiatus, and will be flying through multiple airports over my 7 weeks there - Vancouver, Whitehorse, Dawson, Yellowknife, Ottawa, Toronto, and Winnipeg.

I'd like to know what the current situation is in Canadian airports - do most airports have the new CT scanners for cabin baggage, and/or are requests for hand-checks honoured?
I'd like to know if I can safely travel with film or if I will need to find other options (like buying film/developing it later once there, getting film shipped to certain locations, etc.)

Also, are the problems that are occurring in airports in Europe and the US (long lines, delays, cancellations) a problem in Canada? I haven't seen any news about it but I don't want to assume anything based on that.

Secondly, I thought this might also be a good place to ask about recommended film stores to buy black-and-white/colour slide film (35mm and 120) and/or labs that have a good reputation for good work and that could possibly ship the developed film to another location in Canada. Obviously I'm interested in any of the larger cities I'll be going to (esp Vancouver, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Montreal) but for the benefit of the greater good any and all recommendations for locations across the country would be appreciated.
 

markjwyatt

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Once thing I noted in 2019 was that flying back to the US from Montreal, they were willing to hand check my film, but not a camera. They insisted on x-raying the camera. In the US going out anywhere they will hand check both.
 
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mooseontheloose

mooseontheloose

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Once thing I noted in 2019 was that flying back to the US from Montreal, they were willing to hand check my film, but not a camera. They insisted on x-raying the camera. In the US going out anywhere they will hand check both.

Yeah, I've had that experience in both places. But that's why I'm asking for more current information, preferably from 2022, since a lot can change in just a few years.
 

Alex Benjamin

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If you're coming to Montreal and want to buy film, I suggest Photo Service in old Montreal.
 
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mooseontheloose

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MattKing

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Beau Photo in Vancouver.
Amplis Photo - the Ilford distributor - if you can have film shipped to an address.
Given the prices and the competition from the US internet retailers, not a lot of Canadian retailers stock a lot of film.
 

Andrew O'Neill

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I wish I could tell you about Vancouver airport, but I haven't flown since 2017. At that time, I had several 4x5 holders loaded with Rollei IR, as well as a box of it, heading for Japan. I let them go through the check-in xray machine. Same in Japan. They got xrayed a lot, but showed no damage. I did email YVR a couple years ago, and they suggested having film hand inspected. Let me dig around to see if I can find that email...
 

GregY

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The Camera Store in Calgary is the place for all things photographic in Calgary...

 

Ko.Fe.

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mooseontheloose

mooseontheloose

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Downtown Camera in Toronto. Film sales and kind of OK developing.

Cancelations and delays are part of the welcome package.

Not sure how many places left here which are willing to deal with slide film.

If you are for seven weeks here, driving is better option. At least, rent at location. Public transit is not developed in Canada.

Cancelations and delays are part of the welcome package. - You mean that this is the CURRENT situation at major airports in Canada (YVR, YYZ, etc)? In all my travels to and from Canada over the past 23 years I've never had a delay and only one cancellation (that got dealt with promptly by putting me on the next available flight). I'm not interested in pre-pandemic information since I have plenty of that myself, I want to know about more recent experiences people have had (or that they know of from others), ideally from this year.

If you are for seven weeks here, driving is better option. At least, rent at location. Public transit is not developed in Canada. I lived in 4 different provinces for 26 years without a car and am pretty aware of the public transportation options. I got along just fine. That said, other than my 10 days in the Yukon and NWT (where I will be renting a car for part of the time), and possibly for a day or two when I am in Ottawa (for day trips out of the city) most of my time will be spent at home with my parents where I will have free access to a vehicle, so no issues there.
 
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mooseontheloose

mooseontheloose

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Beau Photo in Vancouver.
Amplis Photo - the Ilford distributor - if you can have film shipped to an address.
Given the prices and the competition from the US internet retailers, not a lot of Canadian retailers stock a lot of film.

Thanks Matt. I'm aware that getting film from the US would probably be cheaper (and have more options) but I'm trying to prepare for situations such as running out of film while I am travelling and/or stocking up as I go to avoid all the x-rays (and more importantly the CT machines) that could affect my film. I'll be spending 3 weeks in all 3 territories and want to make sure that whatever film I take survives the trip both to and from those areas.

Similarly, being able to get film developed and/or pick up fresh film (likely in Ottawa or Montreal) would give me more room in my carry-on bag for the second part of my trip (cruise through the Northwest Passage and Greenland) without having to make room for and worry about the rolls already exposed.

Out of the 7 weeks, 4 will be spent travelling and taking photos (3 in the Territories, 1 with a few days each in Vancouver, Ottawa/Montreal, and possibly Toronto). Budgeting 5 rolls a day for the Arctic, and 2-3 rolls a day for the other week, that's about 120-130 rolls of film I'll need to bring with me in my carry-on, plus cameras, lenses, iPad, and other important documents. It doesn't leave a lot of room (or weight) for me to play with, so being able to shed some films as I go would definitely help and/or coming with a smaller number of rolls initially (say 30) and then buying more once I'm in Canada.

Edit: The developing part is not a huge concern for me, as I could just send unexposed rolls back to Manitoba and then develop them once I'm back home with my parents. But then I'd need to make sure to bring at least a couple of tanks and reels with me and hope that I can get the right chemicals in Winnipeg (or shipped in time to my parents) to be able to do that. I won't have much to do hanging out with my retired parents, so developing film would be a good distraction :wink: . Conversely it looks like Photo Central in Winnipeg might be a good option to get film developed and scanned, although with 100+ rolls that would get pricey very quickly.
 
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spijker

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For Ottawa:
  • No CT-scanners at the airport, I got on a plane today.
  • Galaxy Camera on Bank St has a lot of film in stock, 135 & 120, BW, C41, E6. Also a good supply of chemicals and BW paper. I get practically all my film and darkroom supplies there.
  • GPClabworks, also on Bank St beside Henrys, does processing and sells some film. I use them mainly for colour prints but recently also C41 development with scan. I always had a good experience with them. And they take my used fixer for silver recovery and proper disposal. 👍
Menno
 

spijker

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With respect to flights, our flight YOW - YYZ was delayed by 1 hour. Security in Ottawa was smooth as usual. The next flight YYZ - AMS is also delayed by 1 hour for now. The board at YYZ shows a lot of delayed flights. However, these things happened pre-pandemic as well. It may be a different story when the English language schools go on summer vacation by the end of next week. YYZ currently has a personnel shortage like other airports. It's best to keep sufficient time (2h) between flights at the big airports if possible.

FWIW, Montreal Trudeau airport (YUL) did NOT have CT scanners in October 2021.
 
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mooseontheloose

mooseontheloose

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With respect to flights, our flight YOW - YYZ was delayed by 1 hour. Security in Ottawa was smooth as usual. The next flight YYZ - AMS is also delayed by 1 hour for now. The board at YYZ shows a lot of delayed flights. However, these things happened pre-pandemic as well. It may be a different story when the English language schools go on summer vacation by the end of next week. YYZ currently has a personnel shortage like other airports. It's best to keep sufficient time (2h) between flights at the big airports if possible.

FWIW, Montreal Trudeau airport (YUL) did NOT have CT scanners in October 2021.

Thanks - that's really helpful! I'll be arriving in YYZ from Greenland (!) and then flying to Winnipeg from there. However, because I'm not sure what flight delays may be like I've decided to book a flight out of Toronto a day later, just for some peace of mind. It's not a connecting flight as such, so ideally, as long as I get through check-in and security early enough I should be okay.

Are hand-checks still done (either YOW or YYZ)? Even if it's just regular x-ray and not CT, I'd like to get my film hand-checked just to be on the safe side, if it's possible and if there's enough time to get it done.
 

Ko.Fe.

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Cancelations and delays are part of the welcome package. - You mean that this is the CURRENT situation at major airports in Canada (YVR, YYZ, etc)? In all my travels to and from Canada over the past 23 years I've never had a delay and only one cancellation (that got dealt with promptly by putting me on the next available flight). I'm not interested in pre-pandemic information since I have plenty of that myself, I want to know about more recent experiences people have had (or that they know of from others), ideally from this year.

If you are for seven weeks here, driving is better option. At least, rent at location. Public transit is not developed in Canada. I lived in 4 different provinces for 26 years without a car and am pretty aware of the public transportation options. I got along just fine. That said, other than my 10 days in the Yukon and NWT (where I will be renting a car for part of the time), and possibly for a day or two when I am in Ottawa (for day trips out of the city) most of my time will be spent at home with my parents where I will have free access to a vehicle, so no issues there.

Living in Canada without car? No problem to hear it, we are just on different continents of living style.
Kiss you goodbye.
 
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mooseontheloose

mooseontheloose

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Living in Canada without car? No problem to hear it, we are just on different continents of living style.
Kiss you goodbye.

I'm not saying it's better, but for most of my life it was alright. Even if returned to Canada permanently, I doubt I would get a car (just rent on occasions when needed), but of course that would depend on where I was living. In the big cities it's cheaper and easier to get around without a car, less so in the countryside or smaller towns.
 

Alex Benjamin

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Depending on what film you're using, you can also look at what Argentix has in stock and have Jacques ship you what you need wherever you are. He's based in Montreal, and offers express shipping (between 3 and 7 days) everywhere in Canada. As soon as you see your film stock dwindling, you can have film shipped in advance to your next destination.


Thanks Matt. I'm aware that getting film from the US would probably be cheaper (and have more options) but I'm trying to prepare for situations such as running out of film while I am travelling and/or stocking up as I go
 

Steve Goldstein

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You might check in advance with the company running the cruise part of your trip as well. Cruises don't get discussed much in this context, maybe because not a lot of Photrio denizens take them. I took an Alaska/Yukon cruise a few years ago (pre-COVID) and they X-rayed carry-on bags, I presume the same was done for larger luggage, probably with the same sort of equipment used at airports for both purposes.
 

spijker

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Thanks - that's really helpful! I'll be arriving in YYZ from Greenland (!) and then flying to Winnipeg from there. However, because I'm not sure what flight delays may be like I've decided to book a flight out of Toronto a day later, just for some peace of mind. It's not a connecting flight as such, so ideally, as long as I get through check-in and security early enough I should be okay.

Are hand-checks still done (either YOW or YYZ)? Even if it's just regular x-ray and not CT, I'd like to get my film hand-checked just to be on the safe side, if it's possible and if there's enough time to get it done.

Leaving a day later from YYZ is a good idea I think. We left YYZ with 3 hours delay. Our plane had to unload passengers from the previous flight in limited quantities as customs at YYZ was floaded and overwhelmed. When on board ourselves, we had to wait another hour before al the luggage arrived and was loaded. Just make sure you arrive several hours in advance for your departing flight.

I never bother with hand checking my film with the old style X-ray scanners. So far so good. But they always want to swab my camera bag with 2 camera's, multiple lenses etc. Sometimes the security person comments on the Mamiya; "nice camera" or " what's this?" .

Although the funniest experience was when I put a pair of fancy Dutch shoes (Floris van Bommel) on the belt in Ottawa several years ago. The ladies at the scanner got ecstatic and had lots of questions. They could hardly believe that they were Dutch, not Italian and not an exotic leather. "We know shoes here" one of them assured me. 🤣
 

Paul Ozzello

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If you're coming to Montreal and want to buy film, I suggest Photo Service in old Montreal.

This is my go to place in Montreal for film. If they are out of a particular film, try going down the street to Camtec photo. You can also find film at Gosselin.

Best place to get film developped in Montreal is Borealis. Hands down.

Someone also mentionned Galaxy photo in Ottawa. Great little shop and good film supply. He also has lots of fresh polaroid films.

I usually keep all my film in a transparent plastic zipper case (120- removed from boxes but not wrappers) and have never had a problem asking for a hand inspection.

Some times they ask if the iso is higher than 800 claiming that lower speed films aren't a problem - so I keep an empty 5-pack box of Velvia 50 which states that the film should NOT be exposed to x-rays and show it to them.
 
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