Well, we’re still in Toronto, my first Canadian vacation, if you didn’t know, where it’s a wee bit chilly outside. But I wanted to write down a few of the things that have surprised me about Canada, lest I forget.
1. English Units! When we were walking around Windsor, I noticed that a fire truck that drove by had a sign reading “KEEP BACK 500 FEET” on its rear. Feet? I thought Canada was all metric? Lies, all lies, I say. Since then, we’ve seen “feet” and “pounds” many other places. (The CN Tower guide stated the tower height in feet before stating it in meters, and several shops we visited listed the prices of their produce in dollars/pound, and dollars/100g.)
There has also been plenty of metric though, of course.
2. French. We’ve heard a lot of French spoken, and seen a lot of French signage. Announcements on the train we took were made in English and French, which was fun. We all know that many residents of Quebec speak French, but we aren’t in Quebec. And, having done precisely zero research on the matter, I had assumed that while many residents of Quebec might prefer French, they probably also knew English well enough to make dual-language signage unnecessary. Apparently not, because it isn’t only on government signage (where some national law may require it), but also inside restaurants and the like.
I also noticed that the elevator inspection certificate in the CN Tower was only in French!
3. Train food. And speaking of trains, the food on the VIA Rail Canada train we took surprised me. Amtrak trains have either a cafe car (usually), or a more elaborate dining car, and if you want food, you go and get it. But our Canadian train was run more like an airplane – one of the train attendants pushed a cart through the car, and you could buy (with more limited selection) what food you wanted from him.
4. Tim Horton’s. They’re, like, everywhere. There are three of them in the Eaton Centre (a mall near our hotel) alone. Canadians must like donuts.