So you’ve got your bags packed and are ready for your vacation to Niagara Falls. Of course you didn’t pack a phrase book because they speak English in Canada, right?
Well, yes. And no.
Just like different regions of the United States and Britain have their own unique slang terms and words, Canada is no different. While you won’t find yourself puzzled too often when talking with a Canadian there are a few words that you may not understand.
So here’s a handy guide to some of Canada’s most popular words and phrases that you might encounter during your visit to Niagara Falls.
Canadians use this term at the end of a question, like the way an American might end a question with “right?” Here’s an example: This is the best poutine in town, eh?
You might call it soda but Canadians use the word pop to describe those sweet, fizzy drinks. Here’s an example: Do you want pop or water with that burger?
In Canada a loonie is not someone suffering from mental illness. It’s the nickname for the one dollar Canadian coin that features a loon as its emblem. The two dollar coin is called a toonie. Here’s an example: Can I borrow a loonie? I haven’t been to the ATM yet.
You know that thing that keeps the lights on in your house? You call it electricity but Canadians call it hydro. Here’s an example: That storm last night knocked out the hydro all over town!
What you call a napkin the Canadians call a serviette. Serviette is also the French word for napkin, so this is one of those cases where French words have become part of Canadian English. Here’s an example: Can I please have another serviette? This one fell on the floor.
Another French word used in Canada is toque, pronounced as “took”, and is a winter cap or beanie. You’ll definitely need to know this word if you visit Niagara in the winter. Here’s an example: You’d better put your toque on or your head will freeze!
Nearly every English speaking country in the world uses this word, except America. Zed is how Canadians pronounce the last letter of the alphabet. So if you ever need to spell something out you’ll need to know this word. Here’s an example: My last name is Zimmer; it starts with zed.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth you’ll want to know this word. It’s Canadian English for a jelly donut. Here’s an example: Let’s get some jam busters before we head over the falls.
While you’re ordering your jam buster you might want to ask for a double double too. This is how Canadians order coffee with two creams and two sugars. Here’s an example: I’ll take a jam buster and a double double please!
Country roads are called lines in parts of Canada, especially Ontario. If you plan on taking a road trip during your visit this is a good word to know. Here’s an example: Which line will take me to the farmer’s market?
While it’s not absolutely essential to use these words it’s always fun to try out the local customs and language when you travel. Use one or more of these during your trip and see how fun it can be!