Tag Archives: wireless internet

Caffeine & Wireless, Post #1: A café of one’s own

11 Nov

For over a year, Salon B bibliocafé, a café/library/art gallery on St. Laurent Blvd. in Montreal served as my home office away from home. Though the concept behind that particular café is deserving of a separate post (the café is located above, and affiliated with, a funeral home– yessir, and a very chi chi one at that), what I liked about it was the fact that you could stay for hours without being shooed out or stared down, the music (sometimes Cirque du Soleil, sometimes Nancy Sinatra duets), and the little piece of chocolate or candy that accompanied my cappuccinos. Maybe I was missing the larger point of this controversial café’s raison d’être but to me it was simply a great place to work, with big windows, delicious paninis, and very friendly staff. Free wireless access was the icing on the cake.


Since acquiring a laptop last year, wireless is no longer the icing; very often, it’s the cake. I’ve added Internet access to the mental list of must-haves—proximity to home, good cappuccinos, a relaxed atmosphere and so forth—that help me to choose one coffee shop over another. By ‘Internet access’ I mean free access, of course. Sorry, Starbucks/Second Cup.

Unfortunately, getting coffee and free wifi in Toronto has proven surprisingly difficult. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places. But in the downtown-centre/west core, say Annex-to-Queen-West, I have found very few spots of which I would gladly become a regular. Lots of otherwise great cafés don’t offer wireless (though occasionally one can pick up stray signals). I have also come across several locales that advertise free internet access, but that in various ways make it inconvenient or uncomfortable to actually use it.

In contrast, Montreal is bursting with free hotspots. My impression is that providing free wifi is seen (correctly, in my view and given my personal habits) as a way to draw customers in, even if they do stay a little longer than owners would like. The Île Sans Fil project has done a lot to encourage downtown establishments (including Salon B) to offer free wireless access on their premises. Java U on St.-Denis and Café République on ave. Bernard are just two locales that even provide customers with a way of accessing the Internet without laptops—iGotcha Media‘s ‘webpads,’ ad-sponsored touchscreen units great for checking email and such. (A full list of Montreal locations offering these webpads is available here.)

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