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Be Ready to Communicate

With borders starting to open up, many Canadian residents will be heading south to the US. Since it has been almost two years, I wanted to make sure you remembered how to speak American, as you certainly don’t want to stand out as a stranger.

There are certain words and phrases we use in Canada, which will give you that ‘deer in the headlights’ stare if you use them south of the border. Words like humidex, for example, is used only by Canadian meteorologists to describe how hot the weather feels.

When Americans ask you how you survived the winter, and you explain you wore a toque, you had better explain you are referring to a knitted hat or cap.

Should you find yourself in need of a fire truck, they are located in firehouses or fire stations, not fire halls.

Please do not use the word ‘Eh,’ as you will never blend in with our southern friends. If you ask for homo milk, you may be considered guilty of inappropriate slurs. Americans do not use the term and don’t realize it is short for homogenized or whole milk.

If you ask for a Caesar, you may get someone serving you in a toga. In the US, a Bloody Mary is about as close as you can get. Eavestrough is another Canadian word. Americans call them gutters.

A mickey of whiskey, vodka or any liquor is unheard of south of the border. The closest you will get is a half of a fifth (whatever that might be?).

Remember that in Canada, French is an official language, so what Americans call “coloured pencils” would be “crayon de couleur” in French. The result? We simply call them pencil crayons.

If you’re in a restaurant and you want brown bread with your breakie, you may have to use terms like ‘wheat,’ which I assume is brown in colour.

If you have to go, simply ask for a restroom, not a washroom. I’m sure Americans do more than rest there, but it is not in their vocabulary.

Try to avoid asking for KD. I think they call it Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, and if you want to stand out in the crowd and be proud of being Canadian, the letter is ZED, not zee. Of course, they may think you are British.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on Rogers TV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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