Toronto, eh?

Last month, I fulfilled a lifelong dream by travelling internationally for work. This wasn’t quite as exotic as it sounds because I was only just up the road from New York state, in Canada. At least working in Toronto gave me the chance to observe another new city and a new type of people. Two things struck me instantly. The first was the French influence. I barely heard or asssociated with any French but nearly every sign or paper I saw during my stay was written in both languages. The second was that, as I drove away from the airport, parallel to the runway, I could see clumps of neighbours sitting out with camping chairs, watching the planes come and go. It certainly looked strange, but maybe I just haven’t experienced how thrilling it is. It reminded me of Darryl Kerrigan enjoying his view of the power lines because it reminded him of man’s ability to generate electricity.

The city itself was fine, even lovely, but something was missing. It had everything you’d want in a big city and the suburbs indeed felt very liveable. Even parts of the city center seemed like you could raise a family there; however, some spark seemed to be absent … some defining character, unique building or special reason for enjoying this city. Maybe I’m just spoilt from living in London and NYC. The guidebook said that the city hasn’t fallen in love with itself yet, which might just mean that the locals don’t all wear “I heart Toronto” shirts and constantly ask foreigners if they like Toronto better than the land they came from (which is what New Yorkers do to me incessantly).

The Canadians were decent folk and I enjoyed the more British feel of the place, compared to the USA. They sound exactly the same as generic Americans except for the vowel in “about”, which comes out as “a boot”. They can’t hear the difference at all, no matter how hard you try to demonstrate. They also say “eh?” at the end of sentences a lot, which the Americans are constantly making fun of. Although they sounded American and appeared to possess all the modern comforts of America, they seemed slightly superior in every way – more fit, more healthy, more cultured, more polite, more modest, more environmental, more tolerant.

Here’s a list of the things Canadians have done the right way (British) and the wrong way (American).

Date format
Metric measurements
Plastic money

Yankee accent
Ground floor is labelled as 1
Mad about the US-style sports
Tax at the register
Phone numbers

How did Canada get its name? Three lumberjacks decided to name their great new land so they reached into a Scrabble bag and pulled out 1 letter each. Lumberjack 1: “I got a C, eh?” Lumberjack 2: “I got an N, eh?” Lumberjack 3: “I got a D, eh?” And thus was spelt CANADA.

What Canadians say –

One Response to “Toronto, eh?”
  1. K says:

    That’s really interesting, I didn’t know that the French influence was in Toronto, I’d ignorantly thought it was mainly Montreal!

    You know Nato has left the UK when ‘centre’ becomes ‘center’!!! ;)

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