Out And About, eh?

This weeks Weekly Writing Challenge asks to

showcase your slang. It can be a display of regional pride, a contemplation on new words you’ve heard, but still don’t quite understand, or a practice in dialogue that mimics our regular speaking patterns.

As an American who grew up in Canada, I know some slang. Often growing up I was around so many words for the same thing, it was like growing up bilingual. A purse in the south is a “pocketbook” – or that American soda in Canada is pop, a bathroom in the states is a washroom in Canada. Oh, and that probably only Canadians even call America “the states”. And did you know that if you order a rye and coke in the US they look at you funny? We had a server in a bar in Greenville, North Carolina once ask my sister “why on earth would you put soda in a good shot of whiskey”? Sacrilege, I guess. Of course this was only after we explained to her what rye was. How literal, and Canadian.

At 19 I was fortunate to travel to the otherside of the world to Australia. Those Aussies have some slang…we were going to the beach and someone said,

“Put yer togs in the boot”

I’m thinking, “did I just hear them right”? They laughed and translated “put your bathing suit in the trunk of the car”. OHHHHHHH

Canadians even nickname our money – 1$ coin is a loonie, and so of course now the 2$ coin became a toonie. Loonie because there was a loon on the first that were minted so naturally the 2$ had to become toonie. At the time we were all like, really? Yet years later we all say it. Loonie and Toonie does sound like a name of a cartoon. Many of my American relatives think our paper money looks like monopoly money.

I’ve read in many articles where acting & speech coaches when having to work with Canadian actors have a hard time getting rid of the Canadian accent for certain parts that call for the character to be an American – most American’s can peg a Canadian soon as they start to speak. I believe it’s probably because the average Canadian doesn’t realize we even have one. Our accent is so subtle that what defines it is as simple sometimes as how we say a particular letter, or the subtle emphasis we place on either the ending or beginning of a word, or perhaps a phrase. Sometimes it is just “how” we may use a particular word.

When my Mom first moved to North Carolina after Dad and her were married, everyone got a kick out of her accent; I guess they would have her say “out and about in a boat”, which would have everyone just rolling in laughter. Which is rather hilarious when one considers the southern accent itself. I mean, really, a southerner making fun of a Canadian accent?

You know, eh? Or maybe not.

Eh – (pronounced “ey”, as in “hey” or “hay”) A suffix some Canadians add to the ends of sentences, to ask for a response of agreement or disagreement, similar in meaning to “don’t you think” or “right?”(Similar to the word “Huh?” Used in the states.) (eg. “Looks like a storm comin’ in, eh?”). It is a way of being polite – to ensure that the other people in the conversation are feeling included. It is also sometimes used with “I know,” as in, “Wow, the Calgary Flames really kicked butt tonight!” -“I know, eh?”
[WikiHow – How To Understand Canadian Slang]

English: Tim Horton's opened a franchise in Af...
English: Tim Horton’s opened a franchise in Afghanistan so Canadian soldiers can have a reminder of home. David Jacobson, United States ambassador to Canada, is pictured in the foreground. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Any regular reader of this blog may already be familiar with of course the iconic Timmy’s;

Timmy’s or Tim’s or Timmy Ho’s or Up the Horton’s – Slang for Tim Horton’s, a chain of doughnut and coffee shops named after a famous hockey player. [ibid]

My southern Step-Mom swears there must be some addictive property in that coffee. Soon as they cross the border Dad heads straight to the nearest Tim Horton’s – like a bee returning to the hive – they should really just have a sign at customs “Canadians this way”, with a map to the nearest Timmy’s. Let me just say that sitting in a hockey arena watching a game with your cup a Timmy’s is not just a stereotype, it’s a fact. We are a loyal patron of our beloved chain, and game.

And last but by no means the least…is Poutine. If you ask my southern Step-Mom what her favourite Canadian dish is…hands down;

Poutine – (pronounced poo-TEEN) French fries served with cheese curds, and covered in gravy. Originated in Quebec but now prevalent across Canada.(Awesome delicious heart attack in a bowl. You aren’t Canadian until you’ve played some hockey and stopped for some poutine and beer.) [ibid]

As disgusting looking as it sounds, yet additively delicious.

So the next time you hear someone say, “I remember when I could buy a Timmy’s and a Poutine for a toonie”, you’ll know they’re Canadian, eh? Well, either that or you were just magically transported to “the Great White North”.

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Manner of Speaking


  1. anainturkey

    Oh wow, Tim Horton’s in Afghanistan, really? They should open one in Turkey, too. Having lived in Québec for some time, I miss Poutine as well, of course. Thank you, it was nice to read you!


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