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Learn to speak “Canadian”

Like every country, Canada also has a set of slang words, expressions and behaviours that are peculiar to Canada. Here is a quick list of common words you might encounter:

  • If you go to a coffee shop and hear the term “double double” or “triple triple”, don’t be confused. It just means two creams and two sugars or three creams and three sugars. While double double and triple triple are common terms, any other combination has to be said in words (eg. There is no double single, you will have to ask for a coffee with two creams and one sugar). You might want to check out the famous Tim Hortons and timbits while you’re at it!
  • Don’t forget to wear your toque when the weather is cold. What’s a toque? It’s just the Canadian word for a woolen cap!
  • Did someone ask you for a loonie? No problem, they’re just asking for one dollar! The Canadian one dollar coin is called a loonie since it features the loon on it. Two dollars (two-oonie) is called a toonie!
  • Very soon you’ll start looking forward to “long weekends”. A long weekend is when a government holiday falls on a Monday, thus giving you a three day weekend! It is also known as statutory holidays. You can access the list of stat holidays for the year
  • Canada is a very large country and has multiple time zones. So remember to check the time before you call your friends on the east and the west coast! Alberta falls under MDT (Mountain Daylight Time Zone)
  • Alberta follows Daylight Savings, which means that twice a year we change the time on our clocks and then operate on that time! Since we get less sunshine during the winter months, we change the clock so that we are awake and working during the sunshine hours. Once winter is over, we change the time back. All your electronics (eg. Cellphone, laptop) will automatically reset to Daylight Savings Time, but you will have to manually change any non-electronic clocks (eg: oven, microwave etc).
  • Canadians are known to be extremely polite and take great pride in it. Want to blend in? Use please, sorry, thank you and welcome as much as you can and you’ll be treated like a local in no time!
  • Be careful of which hockey team you support – it can make or break friendships (just kidding – but not really!)
  • “It’s really cold, eh?” – Pronounced “ay”, this word is the classic term used in everyday Canadian vernacular. Used to indicate that you don’t understand something, can’t believe something is true or if you want the person to respond. Similar to “huh”, “right?” and “what?” commonly found in U.S. vocabulary.
  • Enter through a door and there’s someone coming in behind you? Make sure you hold the door open for them – it’s the Canadian way!
  • It is common for Canadians to smile and say hello to anyone they pass by. Feel free to smile back and say hello!
  • Canadians are friendly but reserved. Canadians usually greet a new person with a handshake and hugs are uncommon unless you know the person well. Be aware of the person’s personal space and do not stand too close when you talk to them.
  • Canadians have a respectful code of conduct in public spaces so make sure you do not do things like accidentally litter, play music on your phone in public spaces (wear headphones instead), do not give up your seat for wheelchair users and baby carriages etc. Not sure of what to do? Observe the Canadians around you. Still not sure? Ask!
  • Pop refers to soda (e.g. Pepsi). Candy refers to chocolate. Canadians are called Canucks!

That’s all you need for now!

Learned something that’s not on this list? Let us know and we’ll add it and credit you!