Canada Language & Customs

Home of the maple leaf
Great country eh?
Ice hockey - an institution
He sort of looks like Michael Buble!
It seems compulsory to go ice skating whilst in Canada
Ice hole fishing
Just driving around Canada is beautiful
Hot Tub Time Machine was filmed in Fernie
The ski town of Revelstoke has a very relaxed vibe
Ymir near Nelson is a quirky tourist attraction
Silver Star has lots of family friendly activities
Salmo near Nelson BC
A day spa at Whistler
Zip lining at Whistler
The home of Wildhorse Cat Skiing
Soaking the muscles after a hard day on the slopes
Nelson BC, a colourful ski town
Snowmobiling is really popular in Canada

Canada Language & Customs

Here are a few tips on the language and customs of western Canada that may assist you on a Canada ski holiday or vacation.


The official languages of Canada are English and French. In very simplistic terms, English is more commonly spoken in the West, and French is more commonly spoken in the East, with Quebec being full of francophones. The Canadian ski resorts on this website fall into the English category.

There are some slight differences in the type of English that the locals will use, compared to the Queen's English. You will be able to understand most of what the Canadians say, but the locals potentially won’t be able to understand some Queen's English phrases. Of course there are so many Australians working in the ski resorts in Canada, so they might have heard the Australian slang before!

The spoken language is much closer to American English than British English, but the spelling is a cross between American and British English. There is no universally accepted standard of Canadian spelling, and no one seems to be about to agree on the “our” debate ie is it colour or color? In Canada, there is also more of a tendency than in America to use the French version of a word – e.g. “serviette” rather than the American “napkin”.

You’ll recognise (or is that recognize?) lots of Canadian words that are similar to the USA. Some examples include:
  • Trunk: Canadians store items in the car in the “trunk” not the “boot”
  • Gas: Canadians fill the tanks of their cars with gas not petrol
  • Vacation: Canadians generally go on vacations not holidays
Examples of words that aren’t American include:
  • Bill: Canadians ask for the bill, not the cheque
  • Tap: Canadians turn on the “tap” not the “faucet”
Examples of words that are uniquely or rather Canadian:
  • Loonie (or loony): the unofficial name for a Canadian $1 coin which has a picture of a loon on one side
  • Toonie: the unofficial name for a Canadian $2 coin, which derived its name from the $1 coin.
  • Toque (tuque): pronounced “took”, it’s a warm, tight woollen winter hat 
  • Anglophone: someone who speaks English as a first language
  • Francophone: someone whose first language is French
  • Allophone: someone whose first language is neither English nor French
  • Cougar: a 40-something woman who hangs out in bars and is on the prowl (although this term is now used universally!)
  • Poutine (French fries covered in cheese curd and brown BBQ chicken gravy)
Other oddities:
  • Brown toast: it doesn’t really mean it’s been toasted - it means whole-wheat bread.
  • Dick: means “nothing” – ie “last weekend I did dick all”.
  • Eh?: similar to our New Zealand buddies, it’s a great way to finish a statement by saying “don’t you think?”
  • Awesome – this word is used way too much in Canada
  • Homo milk – sounds weird, but is just short for “homogenized”


In Western Canada, the culture is somewhat similar to Australia or New Zealand. Typical of the Western Canadian culture is amazingly incredible friendliness, and a keenness for outdoor activities and exercise. Ice hockey, known simply as “hockey” to the locals, is an “institution” in Canada.

The Canadians seem to be pretty keen to distinguish their culture from that of their southern neighbour. The locals can probably cite many differences between the US and Canadian culture, and Canadians might get a little annoyed by naïve international travellers who can’t tell them apart. Some of the unique culture elements are potentially partially attributable to the influence of French settlers, and the Commonwealth links to the British.

Needless to say, there are very different cultures between the English and French speaking regions of Canada, or perhaps these would be better termed as “stereotypes”.

One thing we’re not clear on though, is why is every second male in Western Canada seems to be called “Bob”?