Canada Vacation Tips: 12 Must Know Terms to Make Your Life Easier While Traveling in Canada

Americans and Canadians speak the same language – right?

Well, not quite and if you want to make the most of your vacation in the beautiful and rugged north, you probably want to brush up on a few local terms to feel right at home.

Of course, you will see labels and signs all over in Canada in both French and English. But, through my extensive travels I’ve learned that some Canadian words just don’t translate into American English, and vice versa.

So, here is a handy glossary of 12 Terms You Need To Know When You Visit Canada:

  1. Loonies and Toonies – These cutesy words are far weightier than they sound. They mean money. Loonies are gold colored $1 coins. Where does this term come from? Well the Loon is the national bird appearing on the front of the $1 coin. The lonesome call of the Loon is a familiar sound in the Canadian wilderness.
  2. Toonies -Yes, you guessed it. Toonies are the Loonies $2 cousin.
  3. Tuque – The quintessential winter accessory in Canada. We hear that these winter hats are called “ski hats” or “beanies” elsewhere. But Canadians will keep their tuques, thank you very much.
  4. Tim Hortons – Canada’s favorite coffee and donut shop. Located throughout the country and often referred to as “Timmies”, it’s a staple in the Canadian diet.
  5. Double-double – Often heard at Tim Horton’s, this is the way the “pros” order a coffee with two creams and two sugars
  6. Pop The common word for a soft drink, deriving from “soda pop”. Up here, soda is the fizzy water that’s good for getting pop stains out of clothes.
  7. Washroom – A synonym for bathroom, restroom or toilet. Don’t waste precious time looking for the bathroom when all signs point to the washroom.
  8. Poutine – With all the multi-cultural foods peppering Canada, be sure to try this homegrown favorite on your vacation. This dish of French fries, cheese curds and gravy originated in Quebec has won fans across the country. Trust me, it tastes better than it sounds!
  9. Canuck -This is a term of endearment for “Canadian” as in the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, who can be seen on Hockey Night in Canada. Hockey Night in Canada is a must see TV event for hockey lovers…meaning most of Canada. Ask any Canadian on your vacation to hum the theme song – it’s a catchy one!
  10. Runners – These are casual sports shoes, otherwise called sneakers or tennis shoes. “Runners” can join “sneakers” on my unofficial list of oddly named items.
  11. Click/Kilometer – Kilometer is such a cumbersome word for measuring distance. The slang “click” is a much faster way to share how many kilometers you’ve traveled on your Canadian vacation.
  12. Bill – Although you may run into a few friendly Canucks named Bill, chances are you’ll meet bill more often. In Canada, a bill is what you pay at a restaurant.

So, next time you’re in Canada, counting your loonies and toonies while enjoying your double-double after walking 10 clicks in runners and thinking about asking for the bill …you’ll feel right at home.