I have an Ameritrade account and thought I was purchasing a stock that trades on the TSE. However, I was only able to buy a pink sheets stock. I'm not sure of the difference. Would it be possible to buy the actual stock and how would I go about it? I'm from the U.S. and the stock I would like to purchase is WJA, whereas the one I purchased was WJAFF. Any help would be appreciated.
You probably bought the cross listed WestJet stock. If you wanted to buy shares on the TSE, I'd suspect you'd have to find a way to open a brokerage account within Canada and then you'd be able to buy the shares. However, this could get complicated to some extent as there could be requirements of Canadian tax stuff like a Social Insurance Number that may require some paperwork. In addition, you'd have to review tax law of both countries to determine how to appropriately report to each country your income as there are various rules around that.
TD Waterhouse would be the Canadian subsidiary of TD Ameritrade though I haven't tried to create a Canadian brokerage account.
While most all Canadian brokers allow us access to all the US stocks, the reverse is not true. But some US brokers DO allow trading on foreign exchanges. (e.g. Interactive Brokers at which I have an account). You have to look and be prepared to switch brokers. Americans cannot use Canadian brokers (and vice versa).
Trading of shares happens where-ever two people get together - hence the pink sheets. These work well for Americans who want to buy-sell foreign stocks using USD without the hassle of FX conversions. You get the same economic exposure as if the actual stock were bought.
But the exchanges are barely policed, and liquidity can dry up, and FX moves are not necessarily arbitraged away by 'the market'. You don't have the same safety as ADRs because there is no bank holding any stash of 'actual' stocks to backstop those traded on the pink sheets.