UK/Canada Differences: 11 – 20

Hello! Following on from 1 – 10 welcome to the next scintillating batch of the biggest differences between the UK and Canada.

If you’ve already seen the last post, jog on to 11. If not:

Having only lived in Toronto while in Canada some points 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, of we go again, eh!

11) There’s a few word differences in this post, often nothing more than a mere pointing out of the alternative. Some, though; take the humble torch.

The amount of times I’ve asked for or said a torch is needed, only to be met with a look of utter bewilderment bordering on horror.

In North America a torch is called a flashlight (even though it doesn’t flash). When torch is said they think of nothing but a sturdy stick with fire on the end much like Lara Croft and Indiana Jones are often found waving about in dark underground labyrinths.

12) North America: zucchini vs courgette.

I’ve lived here so long now I’m starting to forget some of the UK terms and/or which way round they go.

A handy way of remembering is to work out how much time is wasted saying it.

Courgette rolls off the tongue like lyrics in a Prince song; whereas zucchini is a verbal assault course that sounds like it should be the name of a South American math-core band.

Another example can be found in number 9 of the last instalment; beverage, a word better suited to mean mountains only found in Scotland—the Outer Beverages, as example—versus the extremely to the point and one syllable ‘drink’.

Do you know how much time is wasted in Canada by people saying, ‘I’d like to buy a beverage, please?’

Actually, they wouldn’t say please. Apparently manners are too Old World and just one of the many tyrannies people moved here to escape from.

Nonetheless ‘drink, please’ is far more expedient to the tongue and thus faster service, etc.

13) North America: aluminium vs aluminium.

It’s all in the pronunciation.

To such a degree, I had no idea the two words meant the same thing; the version here sounding more like a new style of hip lamp.

Proving the point mentioned 12, when back in the UK a couple of weeks ago I warned someone talcum powder contains aluminium and pronounced it the North American way without a second’s thought, so leaving them completely baffled in the process.

These days I have to really concentrate to pronounce it correctly.

14) North America: cart vs trolley.

Asking where the trolleys are or where they go in a North American supermarket will quickly have you realise what a ridiculous word it is and how much cooler one feels to be pushing a cart about the place.

15) Toronto: the front lawn.

Maybe not true for the whole of the UK, but for the English at least—well, the men anyway—for to quote Edward Coke circa 1678 accurately: ‘the house of an Englishman is to him as his castle.’

A statement that lead to a change in law meaning soldiers could no longer enter a private citizen’s house at will.

What started as a law has become a dearly cherished sentiment; knock on an Englishman’s door when you’re not welcome and don’t be surprised to find hot oil and excrement tipped on you from the turrets.

In Toronto, the front lawn, even though owned by the homeowner, remains the domain of the City (as would be said instead of council).

The City might decide it doesn’t like the tree in your front garden. It will send a letter letting you know, then turn up and rip it out, before replacing it with another of its choosing.

I’d like to assume there is a good reason for this, but having lived in Toronto for a decade, who knows. After all, the City recently spent money over at the local park installing bike racks next to the car park.

Obviously, it has never been used; though plenty of people do use the car park to leave the cars in which they brought the bikes they want to cycle round the park on.

Has anyone ever cycled to a park so they can then walk round it? How much market research was done first? – I certainly never encountered anyone with a clipboard asking if I would’ve preferred to have cycled thus far instead of walking to then continue walking onward through the park but for somewhere to lock a bike.

In another smooth move with other people’s money, they also put in some new benches at the park’s edge where it meets a busy road; but instead of have them face into the park and therefore a nice view, they instead look at the traffic.

A couple of other things about front lawns:

Whenever back in the UK there comes a point in the trip where I have to answer ‘what’s it like?’ for the millionth time.

It might sound a royal pain in the arse, but it’s is a lot better than the people who tell me what Canada’s all about without ever actually having been here.

The following is apparently enough to change the minds of people who were once thinking of emigrating to Canada (which is pretty much everyone British).

Unless there’s a fence round it, dog walkers will think it fair game (only right scummy types would walk their dog on someone else’s front lawn in the UK – its being pooped on too, a whole next layer of scum; and if not picked up, yet another from there, etc).

Despite the free range the City has, the homeowner is still expected to keep the area neat, tidy, grass cut, etc. Failure results in a written warning from the City and a fine quickly after if things aren’t fixed.

The City has also been know to try extend this homeowner responsibility to any grass areas on the other side of the public sidewalk (pavement) i.e. any small grassed area between sidewalk and road.

16) North America: word difference mentioned in the last paragraph above.

17) Canada: rub her what now?!

Rubber boots.

Believe it or not ‘rubber boots’ is the term Canadians use when they mean wellies.

They’re also very fond of wearing those godawful Crocs, but the less said about that the better, hence why it’s not getting its own number.

18) North America: eggplant vs aubergine.

Just what exactly has English speaking North America got against French words?

Especially when it comes to food (see 12).

It’s nothing like an egg; the outer layer being thin like a shell fleeting at best. Far better to name it after a city instead.

Not knowing it’s name, Franco-Catalan gastronomist Sergius Rosario Silvestri called it ‘found at Vergina’ when using it there circa 1504.

19) North America: trunk vs boot

Talking of wellies, where things are kept in the back of a car.

Oh, ho-ho-ho, fucking hilarious the amount of times I’ve been leaving a supermarket or liquor store only for some witty cashier to quip that I might have a bit of trouble getting it all in my boot along with my foot.

Ha-fucking-ha, eh, buddy!

What, like shoving it all up an elephant’s nose is any less ridiculous, is it?!

20) North America: queues vs lineups (and even then it doesn’t have them).

At a venue when queuing for beer two blokes just cut right on in near the front. I let them know. They ignored me.

This annoyed me. I said it again, only this time with a bit of an ‘oi‘ thrown in.

The guy stood in front of me—who by rights should’ve been equally pissed at what was taking place but wasn’t due to being Canadian—turned round to face me. He was laughing.

Well, crying with hysterics, actually. ‘A queue?’

All and any momentum was lost; any second someone would mention chimney sweeps unless I joined in laughing loudly so nobody could.

I’ve never said ‘queue’ since. Least not on purpose.

When someone jumps a ‘lineup’ in Canada, people like to assume they have a genuine reason to be in a hurry instead of risk confrontation by checking to make sure.

Bonus content: accents.

Re 19: a shop cashier has never really suggested I put groceries/shopping in my boot/shoe.

However, one did ask where I was from and tell me she loved my accent—not unusual in itself, I am a handsome bastard after all—before going on to wish she had one too.

When I pointed out she did, the woman next in the queue lineup erupted in hysterics.

Whenever going back to the UK, people always say they’re surprised I haven’t picked up a Canadian accent in the slightest, to which I reply, ‘No, but Toronto’s getting a London one.’

Oh, how we laugh, what!

Other UK/Canada related posts:

Thanks for reading 🙂

N. P. Ryan.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.