Parlez the Taal
The nice thing about moving to a different country is the attempt to assimilate and learn all the new cultural nuances. Most South Africans think that Canada will be similar to back home. Wrong!  Despite both countries being British colonies there is a huge cultural difference.About the only similarity is that we speak English ...and even that is open to interpretation! So the following is a light hearted attempt to help you understand some of the differences.


Toque : Pronounced took as in cook. A weird sort of hat thing.
Po Boy : A flat cap worn backwards.

Food and Drink
Back bacon : Canadian bacon. Same as any other bacon. Sometimes rolled in peameal ( I've been                          taken to task for saying it's th esame as any other bacon! I'm informed that "Canadian" bacon is better than any other bacon in the world! So there!)
Brown bread : In most of Canada, whole wheat bread.Actually has some taste as opposed to the South African version.
Bun : A bread roll.
Can or Tin?: Older Canadians eat out of tins while younger ones nwo eat of cans. Tincans are apparently not part of the vocabulary
Canadian Bacon: We call it back bacon.
Pie: Mostly refers to fruit rather than meat. Meat pies are not a big hit in North America.
Donair :A pita containing spiced meat and a sauce made from sugar, vinegar, milk, and garlic.
Glosettes : Brand name for chocolate-covered raisins.
Homo milk  : A pretty interesting name and drunk by everyone. Your sexual proclivities having nothing to do with the ability to drink it. It is merely a shortening of homogenized.It takes some getting used too on  hearing a request for 2%Homo!
Ketchup : Tomato Sauce. I think it is sweetened and with the new "Green" variety even more nausiating
Kraft Dinner (or KD) : Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. The staple of most Canadian students and immigrants too poor to buy "real" food!  I am told that there are different varieties available but that so far no one has managed to taste the difference. Canadians eat a lot of Kraft. No one seems to know why.
Nanaimo bar : A confection, named for the town of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, that resembles a brownie but is topped with a layer of white butter cream icing and another of solid chocolate. The brownie part usually has coconut. I have seen many different flavours here in Ontario.
Napkin: what we poshly refer to as a serviette.
Pop  : Cool Drink. Cold Drink. Coke etc...You get used to it after a while but the first few times you are asked if you want pop sounds rather licentious. Don't even bother asking for a "cool drink"...they haven't a clue!
Poutine : Pronounced poo-TEEN.  Quebecois specialty. French fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. Actually rather tasty once you get over your initial hesitation.
Rockets  : Small chalk candies packaged in rolls wrapped in clear plastic. A staple at school and Halloween.
Smarties : Taste different to the South African version. I don't know why but there is some deep seated Canadian need to eat the Red ones last.
Timbits : Despite the claim that these are in memory of the founder Tim Horton and were started after he was killed in a car accident, my belief is that some suit at the head office worked out that they were losing money by throwing away the centre bit. Small little munch size doughnuts.
Tortière : A kind of mincemeat pie, most popular in Quebec.
Whitener : That chalk stuff you put into coffee or tea if you can't stand the thought of "Homo" milk. "It's not's on Top etc."
DoubleDouble : Double helping of cream and sugar in your coffee.Canadians Loooove coffee! You might as well learn too.
Butter tart : A very small (single-serving) pie.
Beer Store  : For some reason you have to buy beer here.
Bloody Caesar  : Just like a Bloody Mary, except it's made with Clamato (clam and tomato) juice instead of plain tomato juice. Tastes weird. Clamato is very popular here.
Case : A case of beer here consists of twelve (12) beers. If you want 24 beers it is known as a "two-four". Very literal the Canadians.
LCBO : While it stands for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario it is generally used to refer to the Provincial Government run chain of stores where you can buy your booze. You can get Castle and sometimes Lion here. The question is...Why? With the range of different and better beers the only reason to buy Castle is the price. They also sell liquor in litre and 1.5 litre bottles as well and then spend most of Christmas putting on advertising that advocates responsible driving.
Pogo : A brand name for a corn dog (hot dog dipped in batter and then deep fried).
Joe Louis : A cake much eaten by school children. No nutritional value. Looks like it may be chocolate flavoured.

Twenty-sixer: 26 ounce bottle of booze (aka twixer)

Two-four: case of 24 beers

Mickey: 13 ounce bottle of booze
Chips : Can mean potato crisps or french fries. The term "Crisps" is totally unknown here
Forty: 40 ounce bottle of booze (also known as a 'forty pounder')
Canada Day : Canada's birthday. July 1, the anniversary of the Confederation of Canada in 1867. The day is marked by parties and fireworks and buying lots of two-fours.
The May Two-Four : Actually Victoria Day but any excuse for a pissup. Generally the start of Spring being the real excuse.
Thanksgiving : Celebrated on the second Monday of October which is earlier than the American one. I don't know why. It is still similar to the American Holiday though...Turkeys and family fights etc...and lots of pumpkin pie too.
Victoria Day : Queen Victoria's birthday, May 24th.
Labour Day : Normally the first Monday in September. I think it is so named and at this time because of all the Christmas conceptions. It is much warmer inside during winter after all.
Civic Holidays : Everyone likes a day off. In Canada this excuse is different from Province to Province. Called Civic Holidays they also commemorate different people or reasons too.

Language Differences
Anglophone : A Canadian whose first language is English. Despite Traudeau's attempts very few speak French.
Francophone :A Canadian whose first language is French. Despite Trudeau's attempts very few speak English.
Allophone : Just about every immigrant who discovered that speaking English is a requisite for landed status. Everyone claims to speak "good" English and the majority can say hello and that's about it. South Africans are classed as Allophones purely because the majority of Canadians can't understand what we are saying despite "loving" our accent.

Loonie : A dollar. The Canadian $1 coin has a loon (a duck I think) on the back. It doesn't really refer to the state of the economy.
Toonie : The fairly new $2 coin. Supposedly Gold in the middle, with a silver ring around the outside. Obviously inspired by the "every cloud.." story.. Has a Polar bear on the one side. This probably has something to do with the story that in extremely cold temperatures you can make the middle pop out.
Bill: We call it a check as in "may we have the bill please" Not to be used in Chinatown Torruna where you may indeed get the bill.(I think it is a No53!)

Aluminum : What we know as aluminium. Still used in some parts where Americanisms haven't encroached.

Apartment:  What we call a flat.Telling someone you live in a flat conjures up a vision of you sitting in a tyre! Why someone would call a closet with a kitchen and toilet in close proximity to about a million similar hovels an "apart"ment I do not know!

Arena: An enclosed area with ice and seats. Either you go to watch Ice Hockey or Curling. Will allow Ice Skating in an emergency.

Bathing Suit : Cozzie or costume. Considering that most of the "bathing suits" that young women wear are nothing more than dental floss and two stamps I fail to realise why "suit" is still used.

Binders : What we used to call files.

Competition : The process of applying for a job. As Alan says "in Canada it is a real lottery"! Competion also denotes that everyone has a fair chance which is a bit of a laugh.

Corner store : The "Cafe". Despite the French influence no one calls it a cafe unless they mean the one or two highbrow eating eastablishments in Toronto.

Diaper : What we call a nappy. Very hard to find the cloth variety as most Canadians seem to use disposables. Given the hysteria about the ecology and recycling I have no idea why.

Dick: Well aside from the normal meaning it means "nothing" in Canada. (I did dick all)

Drapes : Curtains with attitude and a rich feeling

Drugstore : The Chemist. Odd name for a society now paranoid about just saying no.

Elevator : The lift. Second floor has dictionaries. Going up!

Fanny :  Not the same as the South African version although very funny when watching American Football to hear the announcer talk about " patting his fanny"!

GST : Exactly the same as the South African version but a little fairer. 7%  on just about every purchase. The current Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, got elected partly because he promised to get rid of this tax (also called the "Grab and Steal Tax" or the "Gouge and Screw Tax), and then promptly reneged!

Hydro : Actually electricity. Much confusion if you try to pay your water instead.

Hogtown : The rest of Canada's term for Toronto.

Hooter : Those magnificent attributes that women possess to attract men and feed children

Hoser : For some reason this is either an insult or a friend. I can never tell which.

Humidex : Result of Humidity and Temperature. Ontario is almost as bad as Durban. As in hearing "it's not the heat it's the humidity!" all the time!

Lake Ontario: where all sewers drain into

Pacifier : The parents friend or as we know it, a dummy. Obviously this may create psychological problems later in life so the more politically correct term.

Parkade : A public parking lot. In Toronto you need to take out a mortgage to use one on a daily basis.

Pavement : What we call the road. I don't know why except that they call the pavement the sidewalk.

Pogey: welfare or employment insurance

Postal code : The Canadian equivalent of ZIP codes. Postal codes are six characters long and are a mixture of three letters and three numbers. Most people can't remember theirs.

PST : Provincial Sales Tax. Yet another way to enrich the local Government coffers. Currently 8% in Ontario.

Purse : For some reason even men refer to their wallets as a purse. Which is puzzling unless you are at the Gay Pride parade in which case it is expected.

Riding: In Canada's Parliament and in provincial assemblies, elected members represent ridings as MP's or MPP's,

RRSP :  Retirement savings plan that is tax sheltered. Much activities surround RRSP's every year when tax returns are near.The Government, of course, only allows you to deduct a certain amount.

Shingle : Roof tile actually. Different to the South African variety and they seem to be made of slate.It also refers to a Doctors or lawyers brass nameplate.

Skull Cramp : A headache. Obviously from drinking too many two-fours!

Slip : Not the flimsy bit that stirs mens loins. It is a receipt for goods purchased.

Snowbird : Those Canadians rich enough to go to Florida in winter.

Snuck: As in "to sneak in" .....We snuck into the movies... he snuck past Joseph to score a goal etc.

Surname : Because of its supposed sexist connotation no one now has one. Everyone has a last name instead.

Take a decision : It is supposed to mean "make a decision" but most Canadians don't.

Tronno : Trunna or Toronno. Hogtown in it's splendour. How to pronounce Toronto like a native. The latest update I have had comes from a Canadian named Jim who informs me it is pronuonced "Trawna"

Vest: What we would call a waiscoat. Our vest is known as an undershirt. Very literal theses Canadians
Wicket : The desk at the bank where you conduct transactions with a bank teller. I think it may go back to Colonial times and refer to the bars on the window being like those of the cricket wickets but am guessing here.

Washroom : Actually the toilet but supposedly posher and not to be taken literally unless it is the hands.
Driving and Cars
Click : A kilometre
Fully Loaded : No! Not someone who has had a two-four or two. You will see this on many adverts for cars. It means it comes with all the extra's. Power steering, air-conditioning and the rest.
Gas: Can mean the stuff you use to heat your home or the stuff you use to put in your car. Either way it is another means to give the petroleum companies huge profits.
Ghost Car: An unmarked Police cruiser. Of course in the grand scheme of things it still looks like a cruiser without markings and generally tries to look inconspicuous while merely looking very suspicious. Canadians still manage to get caught doing the most unbelievably stupid things nearby.
Horn: The Hooter. Probably because hooter has a different meaning here. See "hooter" above for an explanation as to why this device to annoy neighbours is known as a horn. But beware because horn has another meaning as well."Blowing my horn" can be a double edged meaning
Impaired: Drunk! Of course it sounds much nicer than "pissed as a newt" and can be written on the charge sheet.
Mobile Home: Two different versions of this. The actual wheeled variety that you get in and drive and the version that we know as a Caravan and is towed.Much favoured as the spawning grounds for guests of the Jerry Springer show.
Parking brake: We called it the hand brake. Very literal when it comes to naming things here.
Sidewalk : What we call the pavement which here is what we call the road or tarmac.
Skidoo : Generic term for snowmobile. Actually made by Bombadier but now refers to every make. The use of a "Skeedoo" and  two-fours adding to the fatality rate every year
Stick Shift : The manual drive car  Not many of them around.
Trunk : The boot of the car, which considering that the elephants is up front makes me wonder as to why this refers to the back


Eh is to Canada what "Hey" is to South Africa. And even more! It is a statement,noun,pronoun,verb,adverb, adjective,question,exclamation and any other form of speech that you wish to use it for. South Africans seem to have no problem with adapting this term. Be careful though, as in the beginning when you use "Hey" they will think you are taking the piss. Canadians being polite, and ever so aware of cultural differences, will mean that you may get away with a raised eyebrow only.