A guide to Canadianisms for William and Catherine’s first North American tour
Toronto, June 28, 2011 – In welcoming the royal couple to our home and native land for their first visit to Canada, Ketchum Public Relations offers this helpful guide to Prince William and Duchess Catherine on some of the curious Canadianisms they may encounter.
“While Brits and Canadians share the English language, it might come as a surprise to the royal couple that Canadian English contains words, phrases and meanings that are unique and that don’t resonate with people from other English-speaking counties, including the Brits,” said Emma Capombassis, Senior Vice President, Ketchum Public Relations Canada and a British expat herself. “In the spirit of service, we offer this guide to enable the royal couple to be aware of the some of the language and cultural differences that will inevitability arise in their interactions with Canadian officials and the public. So, William, you can be safe in the knowledge that if someone happens to mention that they love your pants, they very likely aren’t referring to your underwear.”
The couple’s nine-day tour kicks off this Thursday in Ottawa. No matter where they find themselves during their Canada tour, it’s important to keep the following in mind:
- Canadians have a fondness for Tim Horton’s coffee, so replace the cuppa and biscuit with a Timmy’s double double and a Timbit.
- When we talk hockey, we’re referring to Canada’s official national winter sport played on a sheet of ice, not women’s field hockey (no disrespect to the Duchess of Cambridge, former captain of her field hockey team). In fact, in Canada the term “ice hockey” is redundant, and reveals you as a foreigner.
- When you say football, we think of the game where passing is done with your hands, not your feet. We know that what you’re talking about is the world’s most popular sport, and we love it to. But we still call it soccer.
- When referring to your friend as a “mate” Canadians will wonder if you’re referring to a classmate, housemate or lover.
- Should your pants come up in conversation, the reference is to your trousers, not your undies.
- When nature calls and you need to find the appropriate facilitates, forget about asking for directions to the “toilet” or “loo.” We speak in code of such things. You want the “washroom,” “bathroom,” “restroom,” or in cases of extreme social discomfort, “the little boys'” or “little girls'” room. Out west it might be “heifers” or “bulls.” In the east, “Mermaids” or “Mermen.”
- Bonus points for ending a statement with “eh?” when seeking a response, whether it be one of confirmation or disagreement.
While visiting seven cities across Canada, here are some regional tips to keep in mind:
In between visits to the Museum of Civilization and Parliament Hill in Ottawa pick up a beavertail. But no need to suit up for hunting. Beavertails are a local dessert specialty made of fried dough, often topped with cinnamon and sugar. We’re told President Barack Obama loved his.
In Montreal and Quebec City feel free to practice the French you studied for your A-levels (no Canadian equivalent) with French words such as “enchanté” for nice to meet you or “merci beaucoup” for thank you very much. The effort to parler Francais is much appreciated. It is also worth noting that Quebec employs much warmer greetings than the rest of Canada. Don’t be alarmed if kisses land on both cheeks even when greeting a stranger.
Before boarding the HMCS Montreal to set sail to Quebec City, pick up some snacks at the local depanneur, or corner shop. Lastly, no Quebec visit is complete without tasting poutine, a local delicacy of french fries covered with cheese curds and gravy. Bon appétit!
After visiting Charlottetown and arriving in Summerside by helicopter keep an eye out for PEI’s red sand beaches. Also have a listen for the East Coast way of referring to a guy or girl as a “feller or lad.” Maritimers are friendly, never in a rush, very laid back, and well known for offering their homes to strangers.
Yellowknife. In the summertime, the sun shines for nearly 24 hours a day. If you find it hard to sleep with the sun shining be sure to bring an eye mask with you. July is the warmest month in the Northwest Territories. And did you pack your bug hats?
Be advised that there’s a saying in Calgary, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes,” which refers to the city’s extreme climate changes. Grab your cowboy hat (and a toque, just in case) as well as your cowboy boots when heading off to the Calgary Stampede parade. When departing Cow-Town if you are asked where you are headed next, reply as a Canadian would and say “the States” instead of “America.”
To the Duke and Duchess (though you’ll always be Wills and Kate to us), have a wonderful time, eh?
* The quote, “two countries separated by the same language,” from George Bernard Shaw, was in reference to Britain and the United States, but it may equally be applicable to Britain and Canada.
An innovator in communication since 1923, Ketchum delivers seamless service around the world through its 66 offices in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Ketchum was chosen as the PRNews “Large Firm of the Year” in 2010. Additional information on Ketchum and its award-winning work can be found at www.ketchum.com/canada.
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Leslie Jackson, Account Executive (416) 355-7421