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Immigrating to Canada From the Uk?

Updated on May 21, 2019

Crisps aren't Crisps

Crisps, Lifts, Jerseys, Ice Hockey.

If you go into an Ontarian supermarket and ask where the crisp aisle is, you may be directed towards the aisle that has crackers, but more likely you’ll get a blank look from the assistant. In Canada, crisps are chips. So what are chips? Chips are French Fries.

If you’d like someone to give you a lift, and ask - ‘Can you give me lift’? Again, you’ll get a blank look. In Canada the expression is ‘Can you give me a ride?’

If you’re looking for a jersey to wear, and you ask were it is, again, surprise, surprise – the blank look comes to life. In Canada, jerseys are sweaters. But, there is an oddity in the jersey/sweater routine. If the person wearing the sweater is an ice hockey player, he wears a hockey jersey. And when I’m on the subject of ice hockey players, there is no such thing as ice hockey. It is hockey, pure and simple; you’re not allowed to insult the only game in the world by giving it a frozen description.

(p.s. The ONLY game in the world is the most vicious game I have ever seen. Putting a player from the opposite team into hospital is not only accepted, it is expected.)

Another Canadian clothing oddity is with trousers. Trousers don’t exist; what you would call trousers are Pants in Canada. The next one I’ll give you a few seconds to figure out – what do you think Pant Cuffs are? Correct, Pant Cuffs are Trouser Turn-Ups.

 A Mi' - A Canadian Mirror
A Mi' - A Canadian Mirror

Coming from Scotland?

First of all, be prepared for an endless supply of the usual jibes about Scots being mean, eating animal entrails in the form of haggis, playing the bagpipes, being drunk all the time and what you wear under the kilt. I saw a perfect t-shirt at the Glengarry Highland Games: - One of the bagpipe players was wearing his kilt and giving it the traditional swirl, but his t-shirt read –

‘It’s a kilt, not a skirt…..if it was a skirt I’d be wearing underwear.’

You’ll learn to keep your mouth shut – why? As soon as you open your mouth and speak, some stranger will slobber all over you about what a lovely accent you have and how much they would love to visit Scotland and how their ancestors were Scottish. Occasionally you may be mistaken for being English or Irish, but oddly enough, you will never be mistaken for being Welsh. It’s as if Wales doesn’t exist.

This slobbering happens in every shop you visit, and if you make a mistake and speak to someone in a queue, you can bet your life that everybody in that queue has relations from Scotland. When I’m on the subject of queues, there are no such things as queues in Canada. Queues are ‘Line-Ups’.

If you are a tennis player, be prepared, especially when playing doubles, for the other players to ask you what the score is when it is ‘30 – 40.’ The reason for this is because of the Scottish rolling ‘RRR’s’. In Canada, 30 – 40 comes out as thity, foty.

The same fascination for the rolling R comes when you are purchasing, or describing a mirror. If you are buying a mirror be prepared for the assistant to ask you again and again what it is you are looking for. In Canada a mirror is a mi’.

Now and then, the UK immigrant can make a boo-boo of an error. Take the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. You will call the Province ….New- FOUND – land. This might get you deported. Newfoundland does not have the emphasis on the ‘found,’ it is on the LAND. The ‘found’ part of the name disappears completely when spoken about by Newfoundlanders; they say Newfoundland this way….Newf’nLAND. And, I got that straight from the mouths of two Newfoundlanders, again and again to infinity.

Somewhere in there is a 'sidewalk'.
Somewhere in there is a 'sidewalk'.

Other Canadian Oddities

Buoy, you know the type of buoy that delineates channels in rivers, aren’t pronounced ‘boy’. No they are pronounced ‘Boo – eh’. That one I still haven’t figured out.

If you were driving on motorway M417 in the UK, if there was one, you would normally describe it as the four one seven – not over here you wouldn’t. In Canada it is the Four Seventeen. There is a similar quirk when describing amounts of cash; if you had $40,001, you would describe it as ‘forty thousand and 1 dollar’ – over here it is ‘Forty Thousand 1 dollar - the ‘and’ is always omitted.

A pavement in Canada is where you drive, not where you walk. Pedestrians walk on ‘walkways’ or ‘sidewalks’ – This makes sense in its own way. Somewhat like where you go if you want a pee in a public place in Canada; you don’t go to a bathroom or a toilet, you go to a ‘washroom.’

This reminds me of my first visit to a rural home in Canada. It was the middle of winter and as far as I was concerned it was cold enough to freeze two of my private anatomical parts off. Halfway through the visit, I needed to go to the ba…washroom. I asked where it was, and our host pointed to a door. “It’s through that door and turn to the right. Even if you’re desperate, we’ll know if you have a pee before you get there.”

It was an odd statement to make, and I was trying to figure it out as I walked through the door he had indicated – and found myself outside in the snow. The washroom was a small shed over a ditch, but it did have a toilet bowl. Did I use it? Are you kidding? At -39 Centigrade, if I’d even unzipped, I’d be short three private parts and would be hobbling about forever with my legs crossed.


Before I forget, bring lots of sunscreen and remember to pack your sunglasses. Not because of the wonderful summers Canada has, but for the winters. The snow begins to fall at the end of November, and continues to fall until the January thaw, which lasts all of three days. After the thaw, winter truly begins, and it snows along with the freezing rain, until the Ides of March - make that the Ides of May - OK? You will need the sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare of the sun on the snow and ice.

You will need the sunscreen to protect your face and hands from frostbite. Not only does it snow and rain ice, but it gets rather chilly. The cold isn’t too bad, you can survive -39C as long as you have layers and layers of clothing on. The trouble comes with the wind. There is such a thing in Canada as the Wind Chill Effect.

For instance, you can have a temperature of -26C, but with the wind chill it will feel like -37C. And believe me, that wind makes all the difference between life and death. Before you venture forth, slather on sunscreen, and make damn sure your journey is necessary before you finally open that door.

Still thinking of immigrating?

There is a coffee chain in Canada known as Tim Hortons. It isn’t so much a coffee chain as a religion - with it’s own language. For instance, if you want coffee with two creams and two sugars, you will ask for a Double Double.

One you have mastered that oddity, and you can carry a Timmies in one hand and a cellphone in the other, you are truly a Canadian.


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