Differences Between the U.K. & Canada: The Definitive List 1 – 10

Inspired by my own comparison series From Flags to Fags and Buck-a-Beer: the Biggest Differences Between the UK & Canada:

An ongoing list of differences posted in batches of ten.

Having only lived in Toronto while in Canada some of them may only be relevant to there. Perhaps they extend as far as the borders of the Province Ontario, but not Canada as a whole. I indicate to the best of my knowledge no further research done.

Toronto is located on the shore of Lake Ontario. On a good day Buffalo, New York, U.SA. can be seen on the other side.

It’s currently listed as the largest city in Canada and fourth so in North America. It isn’t Canada’s capital, that’s Ottawa – a much smaller city also in Ontario. However, Toronto is the capital of Ontario.

Consider those bizarrely converse facts as setting the tone for what is to come . . .

Okay, off we go, eh!

1) North America: the UK drives on the left side of the road, while Canada the wrong.

2) The UK finds humour like that hilarious, Canadians not at all – in fact they go so far as to find it offensive (unless it’s at the expense of Quebec and/or Newfies).

3) Toronto: when people visit friends they think absolutely nothing of just walking right on in, opening up the fridge and putting whatever they please in – even going so far as to rearrange things to make more room if needs be, without the slightest hint of recognition for the atrocious social faux pas it is to lack a formal request to the host for fridge privileges, which should never under any circumstances be assumed as ‘will be given’ in the first place.

It’s the fridge not a cuppa tea!

Conversely, people never offer you a cuppa tea when you get to their house, never mind at the what-should-be-anticipated intervals of every 30 mins after.

The tea thing possibly should’ve had its own number, but for some reason I find this fascination for stuffing things into other people’s fridges somehow intertwined with its failure to be offered in a way that can’t be unravelled.

I’d always imaged a failure to offer or be offered tea in the UK would result in a fists being thrown, but perhaps scientists might like to conduct studies to find out if in fact it leads to worse—outrageous liberties being taken with fridges—and people here have just forgotten the origin of their violently askew sense of entitlement?

4) Ontario: items in shops don’t have the tax added until you get to the cashier. Though things still get priced enticingly at the likes of $9.99 despite the fact it will cost more when it comes to paying.

5) Canada: light switches work in the opposite direction; up for on/down for off.

6) Canada: in the UK it’s standard practice all doors open inward, there might even be a law dating back to when London started getting big, but didn’t think to make roads or pavements wider, making it mandatory on exterior ones at least.

In Canada, it’s do whatever you like, so always imperative to look for the sign whenever entering shops, bars, banks, hospitals, leisure centres, etc.

7) Fucking: in Canada it’s completely different; the word is taken as a harsh, aggressive escalation in things and so certainly not something anyone would do with someone they liked.

Whereas in the UK ‘fucking hell, mate!’ would be considered quite an endearing thing to say to a friend, and is quite commonly found used in congratulatory circumstances.

Likewise, British couples can often be found saying, “Fancy a quick fuck before ‘Enders, love?” At least in the early, fun throes of their relationship (after which they just watch Corrie first).

8) Canada: during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the BBC ran an article in which the writer couldn’t stop gushing about how amazing and great the service in Canada is and implied it was so good that’s why people happily left tips for table service in bars.

Christ, they went on and on and on about it like Britain is the shittiest place in the world as you’ve got to get off your arse and go to the bar to get a drink!

Actually . . . it is the worst thing about going back to visit.

Unfortunately, while the service is better here, there’s a huge incentive. Bar work is just one of many jobs that doesn’t have to adhere to minimum wage as staff are expected to rely on tips to make up their earnings.

Because of this it’s not a lot of skin of a bar’s nose to have staff waiting tables with the biggest smiles they’ve got to get the biggest tips they can.

(You’re also still expected to tip if buying at the bar; even if queuing for 5/10 mins at a major sporting event or concert)

9) Canada: talking of which, the word beverage and drink mean different things.

In the UK beverage is a world rarely spoken and mostly used as technical jargon in manuals, while drink is a term adequately covering all and any fluids going in the mouth to be swallowed.

In Canada, beverage is used in everyday speech to specify a drink that isn’t alcoholic, while drink specifically means some form of alcohol.

Having realised this I now delight in asking locals if they’d like a drink as early into the day as possible, and relish answering their look of surprise and horror with a casual, ‘Is alright, I’m having one.’ Oh, how I laugh . . .

Ironically when beverage is used in common usage in the UK, it’s always abbreviated to ‘bevvie’ and relates in particular to drinking beer – ‘bevvied up’ means drunk.

What a funny topsy-turvy world we live in, eh?!

10) Canada (and U.S.A.): words.

One number/one word. But to get the ball rolling an additional thought that overall the UK has fared poorly in the stakes of a language it (the English bit at least) invented.

Example: bonnet vs hood – the bit on the front of a car hiding the engine; better to sound like something a baby would wear or a shady figure skulking in the night? What kind of of car do you want to drive?

More in: 11 – 20

Other posts not directly related but scintillating nonetheless:

Thanks for reading 🙂

N. P. Ryan.


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