Recently I tried to pay a bill in Canada by sending C$113 from Seattle to Victoria. Apparently I ran afoul of post-9/11 inconvenience, anti-money-laundering worries and maybe even technology. I can accept some confusion, but there's got to be a better way.
When I went to a Washington Mutual branch asking for a money order, payable in Canadian funds, the teller looked at me like I was crazy. Bank of America said they could order a money order in about a week. Western Union was willing to help me for a hefty fee, but only if I wired the cash to an individual, who then would have to pick up the cash at another Western Union outlet.
Desperately seeking a good money changer, I called the Canadian consulate in Seattle. Here's what happened: the single main phone number leads to choices in the automated system that all lead to a dead ends. After nearly three minutes of messages in English and French, I picked tourism. Then the message said there is no longer a tourism office and suggested calling immigration. The immigration line said they no longer take telephone inquiries.
My solution was to find a friend who happens to have an account in a Canadian bank -- a move he took post-9/11 in order to handle details related to his Whistler rental. He says his bank puts a 45-business-day hold on USD checks (even if he writes it to himself) so he's resigned to simply planning way ahead. It's nearly enough to keep us on our respective sides of the border.