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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.


Sunscreen

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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    • John MacNab profile imageAUTHOR

      John MacNab 

      7 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      JayeWisdom: I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment Jaye. Isn't there Scots in everybody's ancestry - or at least Irish?? I'm glad you liked the hub. Since I posted it, I've thought of a few more examples, and I should really entitle this one number 1.

      You should be OK coming north unless you go to Nova Scotia; that's an accent that leaves me baffled

    • John MacNab profile imageAUTHOR

      John MacNab 

      7 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      kidscrafts: Thanks a lot kidscrafts. To me it is a gigantic step. I never thought I'd see the day that I would change my nationality (Correction; that should read 'add' a nationality.) I've been waiting for 2 years to become a citizen. You probably felt the same way I do just now, excited and nervous. I think I'm making the right decision, and I'm sure you did as well. Thank you for your comment.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      7 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Enjoyed your hub, John. Most of the terms you mentioned are the same or similar in the USA, so any U.S. resident immigrating to Canada shouldn't have a problem unless he or she goes to Quebec and can't speak French.

      I must confess that I adore a Scots accent, and--yes--there's Scots in my ancestry.

      Voted Up, Funny and Interesting

      Jaye

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 

      7 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Congratulations on becoming Canadian. It's a big step! I know... I've been through it too.

    • John MacNab profile imageAUTHOR

      John MacNab 

      7 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      Bronwyn Hansen: Thank you for becoming an official johnmacnab follower, and leaving me some fan mail,Bronwyn, and double thanks for making me an Australian citizen. I had to laugh when I read your fan mail comment; I take the oath of Canadian citizenship on Feb 6th. That must be a record - Australian and Canadian citizenship within a fortnight.

      Oddly enough, I've been to Australia twice - my wife's brother and wife live in Sydney, and my niece lives near Brisbane.

      Thank you again Bronwyn, and 'Lang may yer lum reek.'

    • John MacNab profile imageAUTHOR

      John MacNab 

      7 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      Bronwyn: I think it's human nature to make fun of outsiders, Bronwyn. In Scotland we used to tell English tourists to look out for wild haggis. Thanks for the visit and comment.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      7 years ago

      John, I just read your answer to me...YOU have my sense of humor! Hopefully now your neighbor is Enjoying COLD Florida Land!

    • John MacNab profile imageAUTHOR

      John MacNab 

      7 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      Bronwyn Hansen: Thanks for the visit and comment Bronwyn. Ta muchly! If I remember correctly I had the same problems when visiting Australia. Nobody understood a word I said ( I put it down to my wonderful rolling 'R' accent.) Eh!`

    • John MacNab profile imageAUTHOR

      John MacNab 

      7 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      Ericdierker: Thank you Eric; I'm glad you liked it. I get corrected every day, although it feels like every minute, about my speech. Yesterday I was in a grocery shop and I spotted some mince. "That's not mince, that's hamburger," said my wife.

      "But, but, we used to eat that back home as mince and tatties."

      "Well over here you eat it as hamburger and potatoes, OK!"

      It is fascinating, but it can de darned annoying.

    • John MacNab profile imageAUTHOR

      John MacNab 

      7 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      b.Malin: I'm glad you liked the hub, b. You would be INSANE if you came up here just now. Even the Canadians are complaining about the fact that it is 'chilly' - at -36C today. To me it is frigging freezing.

      Two of our neighbours are down in Florida for two months. One of them sent up an email today saying how much she missed her river. So we sent her some photographs of her snowed over house and the frozen St. Lawrence. We've got this funny feeling she'll enjoy looking at the snaps as she lies on the beach,

    • John MacNab profile imageAUTHOR

      John MacNab 

      7 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      kidscrafts: Ooops! Thanks for the correction, kidscrafts. It has been corrected in true Canadian fashion. I'm glad you had fun reading it.

    • John MacNab profile imageAUTHOR

      John MacNab 

      7 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      Nell Ross: Thanks for stopping by and commenting Nell. I think in Vancouver you would have different problems - like lots and lots of rain.

      I was only 2 generations away from being born in Canada. My Irish maternal grandfather moved to Canada, then returned to Ireland. Later he went back to Canada and returned to Scotland, where my Mother was born.

      And, oddly enough, my wife's father came to Canada, before returning to Scotland. He married in Canada, and had a daughter in Canada. His wife died and when he returned to Scotland he re-married. My wife has a Canadian step-sister.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      7 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I just loved this! Fantastic. Would you mind putting a schedule to get down here, Spanglish way. Oh my you could have a hey day.

      Thank you. Linguistics is so important to all of us and giving us another view is always great fun and self reflective.

    • John MacNab profile imageAUTHOR

      John MacNab 

      7 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      Jackie: Thanks for that Jackie. I'll make sure I have the Canadian dictionary ready for them.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      7 years ago

      This was such a Fun, and I might add Educational read John. While I don't think that I'll be moving anytime soon to Canada...No, not from (usually) Sunny, Warm Florida...But I'll Bookmark this Hub, just incase I should get the INSANE thought to do so... Only kidding...But, NEVER, NEVER in the Winter time!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 

      7 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      That was fun! But suncream is called sunscreen here :-)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      7 years ago from England

      lol! Nah I think I will stay here! seriously I would get them so confused! and the other way round! in fact we nearly did become Canadians born and bred purely because my great aunt nell, see where i got my name? went to Canada and got married, she always wanted my mum to go, if she had said yes I would have been born in Vancouver Island, and said chips! lol!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      7 years ago from the beautiful south

      John I thoroughly enjoyed that. It is as if I heard you speaking. lol

      I will pass this on to any and all immigr8ters going that way. ^+

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