Key Phrases To Get You Around Canada

14 February 2017

So you’re heading to Canada, eh?

Well it’s time you learn how to speak Canadian. And no, I’m not talking about the official languages, English and French. I’m also not talking about Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi or Spanish – also widely spoken across this multicultural nation of the north. No, I’m talking about the charmingly obscure, sometimes odd, often hilarious linguistic prowess Canadians gift many ordinary words and phrases. Here’s what you’ll need to know to understand our friends in the Great White North.

man wearing beanie at table with friends That beanie this guy is wearing? Not a beanie, a Tuque.

Things

A Loonie and a Toonie – A loonie is a $1 coin, named after the bird on it; a toonie is a $2 coin.

Shit-kickers – cowboy boots, because Canadians wear them everywhere.

Darts – Cigarettes.

Gitch – Underwear, usually mens briefs, usually used in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Girls briefs? Gotch.

Hydro – Electricity.

A Tuque – We’d call it a beanie probably, but a Tuque is a certain type of knitted hat used to keep the head warm in winter. Simple.

A Knapsack – A backpack, rucksack, hiking pack, in Canada they use these a lot in all of that wilderness and they call them knapsacks.

Housecoat –A dressing gown, bathrobe, whatever you want to call it. At home in Canada it’s a housecoat.

poutine, chips, cheese, gravy Chips with cheese and gravy? That's Poutine in Canada!

Food

Double Double – A coffee (often from chain Tim Hortons) with two creams and two sugars.

Homo Milk – Not being discriminatory here; this is slang for homogenized milk, and is actually used on the carton label.

Two-Four – A 24-pack of beer. You don’t pick up a case or a slab in Canada, it’s a two-four of beer.

Pop – You know how we call it fizzy drink, soft drink and the like? In Canada it’s pop.

A Mickey – This is a small, flask-sized bottle of hard liqueur.

A Matrimonial Cake – Not for a wedding, though it probably could be, this is a sort of tart, for everyday eating.

Poutine – Fries, gravy, cheese. Delicious.

Freezies – We call them zuper doopers, icy poles, popsicles,  but you know the long tube ice blocks? They call them freezies in Canada.

multi story car park You don't park in the carpark in Canada, it's the Parkade.

Places

Kitty-Corner – The diagonal corner, as in across the intersection.

Washroom – Canadians don’t go to the loo, toilet, bathroom or restroom, they use the washroom.

Parkade – A multi-story car park.

car on roadtrip through rocky moutnains Head out for a rip in the mountains, eh!

General Sayings

Out for a rip – Going out for a drive, a cruise, a snowmobile ride or the like.

Gut-Foundered – Seriously hungry, for anything.

Chinook – The warm wind that blows over the Canadian Rockies to Calgary in the winter.

A Rink Rat – You’ll hear this a lot in Canada in winter. It’s someone who spends all their time on the ice rink.

Whaddya at? – What are you doing? Mostly used in Newfoundland.

Deke – Originally a hockey saying for when a player sneaks past their opponent by faking it. But used in the everyday to detour, as in deke into the store after work.

How’s she cootin’er? – How’s it going mate?

Hang a Larry – Take a left turn.

Hang a Toger – Take a right turn.

Give’r! – Give it your all! Particularly if you’re taking part in an extreme sport or some kind of physical exercise.


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Vicki Fletcher

A writer and photographer for Flight Centre, Vicki loves road trips down unknown tracks, hiking into mountain ranges, following locals to the best food in town, and spending long afternoons people watching in city squares. She's written for publications across Australia and Europe. Top travel tip: always look up. Follow Vicki on Instagram @vickijanefletcher.