Canadian, Eh?

Yesterday was Canada Day, so just for fun I’m going to ‘speak Canadian’:

Canada Day is one of our favourite times to celebrate!  We had a nice hot day yesterday, so we could finally take off our tuques1 and kick back in the shade with some Freezies2, which was a nice change after the long winter.

Contrary to popular belief we don’t actually live in igloos year-round, but if the hydro3 goes off in the winter we’re hooped4.  All we can do then is huddle in our houses and hope for a chinook5.  So we love summer!

And Canada Day is a great excuse to break out the hooch6 of your choice, whether it’s a mickey7 of screech8 , a forty-pounder9 of ta-kill-ya10, or a two-four11 of beer.  But we don’t want to look like a bunch of hosers12 lying around in our gitch13 collecting pogey14 and building our Molson muscles15, so most of us settle for a poverty pack16 when we’re celebrating.  And that saves us a hangover as well as some loonies17 and toonies18, so it’s a win-win.

No celebration is complete without food, and the unhealthier it is, the better it tastes!  Whether it’s burgers or Eggs Benny, your Canada Day fare can always be improved by adding peameal bacon19.  And if you’re really looking for a way to harden your arteries, nothing fills the bill like poutine20Donairs21 are a good choice if you’d like to spice things up a bit, but dieters could eat fiddleheads22 instead if the season is right.

Let’s not forget dessert!  Canada Day is a great time to break out the gooey and delicious Nanaimo bars23.  And speaking of sweet treats, be careful if you get a loaded beavertail24 – it’s hard to eat them tidily, and if the toppings fall off onto your Arborite25, it’s into the garburator26 with them… and that’s just sad.

There are always lots of Canada Day celebrations to attend, but our favourite is the fireworks.  We don’t go very often because we don’t like fighting the crowds, but we felt like keeners27 this year so we decided to go.  We thought we might be able to deke28 into a parkade29 and walk to where we could see them, but that didn’t work out.  When we discovered we’d have to go to a golf course and fight the crowds after all, we bailed at the last minute and went to bed instead.

Guess we’re just getting old, eh30?


  1. Tuque – a knitted cap (called a watch cap in other places).
  2. Freezie – a brightly coloured frozen treat in a clear plastic sleeve.
  3. Hydro – everybody else calls this ‘electricity’ or ‘power’.
  4. Hooped – screwed.
  5. Chinook – a warm dry wind.
  6. Hooch (also hootch) – booze.
  7. Mickey – a 375 ml bottle of liquor, often conveniently curved to fit in a pocket.
  8. Screech – Traditionally, cheap, high-alcohol booze from Newfoundland, often moonshine.  Now also a brand name for rum.
  9. Forty-pounder – a 40 ounce bottle of liquor
  10. Ta-kill-ya – tequila
  11. Two-four – a 24-pack of beer.
  12. Hoser – a drunken oaf, but the term isn’t too derogatory – it’s kind of like calling somebody a goofball.
  13. Gitch (also gotch or gonch) – underwear of any kind, men’s or women’s. (Where I grew up, gitch was women’s underwear and gotch or gonch was men’s).
  14. Pogey – unemployment benefits.
  15. Molson muscle – beer belly.
  16. Poverty pack – a six-pack of beer.
  17. Loonie – a one-dollar coin.
  18. Toonie – a two-dollar coin.
  19. Peameal bacon (Also back bacon or Canadian bacon) – cured boneless pork loin, originally rolled in ground yellow peas, but now rolled in cornmeal, though the name ‘peameal’ has stuck.
  20. Poutine – french fries sprinkled with curds of new cheese and covered with hot gravy-like sauce.
  21. Donair – spiced meat wrapped in a pita with lettuce, tomato, onion, and sauce (I like sweet sauce best, yum!).
  22. Fiddleheads – baby ferns.
  23. Nanaimo bar – a chocolatey dessert square with vanilla filling (traditional), but there are lots of other flavoured variations.
  24. Beavertails – a deep-fried pastry topped with various forms of yumminess.
  25. Arborite – a brand name for plastic laminate. The name is often used instead of the words ‘plastic laminate’, like ‘Formica’.
  26. Garburator – a garbage-disposal unit that fits in the sink drain and grinds food finely enough to be washed down the drain.
  27. Keener – someone who is overly eager. Can also be a derogatory term meaning ‘suck-up’, depending on the usage.
  28. Deke – dodge or make a sharp turn. Also ‘deke out’ – to fake or feint successfully: “I deked him out”.
  29. Parkade – parking garage.
  30. Eh – the quintessential Canadian interjection. Turns a statement into a rhetorical question that assumes the other person agrees.

How many of these Canadianisms did you recognize?  What oddball words do you use in your neck of the woods?

* * *

Woohoo!  I’ve finished the final edits for Book 8:  Spy Now, Pay Later, and it’s off to final proofreading!  I’ll let you know as soon as there’s a release date on the horizon, but for now I’ll just say “Coming VERY SOON”. 😀


37 thoughts on “Canadian, Eh?

  1. Pingback: Don’t Diss My Beaver | Diane Henders

  2. Pingback: A Grizzly Attempt At Humour | Diane Henders

  3. Wow! We live so near, yet so far apart linguistically. So many ways I never knew to talk about beer. I’ve learned a little of the vocabulary from your books. The problem with regional language is that you don’t realize it’s different. When the Cohen Bros movie, Fargo came out, you wouldn’t believe how many people said we Minnesotans don’t talk like that. Noooo.

    My family has a number of “Momisms.”
    1. Sko, short for “Let’s go.”
    2. Squeet, short for “Lets go eat.”
    3. Gwin, or Squin, as in “Let’s go into the house.”
    4. Goatha, as in “do you want to go to the store?”

    Unfortunately, I’m sure I have taken over where Mom left off.


    • Oh, those are great! And they make perfect sense… after I read the definitions. I’m not sure I’d have caught on otherwise. 😉 You’re absolutely right about the regional language thing – I didn’t realize how many of these words weren’t universal. But that’s one of the things I enjoy about travelling: If I get to try some local food/booze and learn some local words, I’ve had a good trip!


    • In Texas, a comment like that would have in it somewhere, “and the horse you rode in on.” But then we have Shiner beer, so why would we worry about that sort of thing? 🙂


        • A commercially produced beer brewed in the small town of Shiner, Texas. They make several flavors, but I’m partial to Shiner Bock. Good stuff. Then again, I’ve never tasted Molson, either.

          But with Shiner handy…never mind. I think this is where me and my horse came in. 🙂


  4. Just thought of a couple of ours from Texas. Granted, these are as much just southern as they are Texan.

    Jew. A contraction of did you. “Jew eat?” “Naw, jew?”

    Jawl. A contraction of did you all. “Jawl eat?” “Yep, jawl?”

    Yaller. A contraction of you all are.

    “Remember, when y’all come down here to see us, say, for supper some time, yaller the ones who talk funny.” 🙂


  5. That was so much fun! I only recognized a few, but my sister had a boyfriend from Canada way back, ( 1968 in Spokane, WA) and he used the “eh” a lot. Then when I read the definitions, I remembered a few others like “hoser”.

    My husband was from Southern California, and he always called underwear “chornies”, male or female. So now, I use that. LOL.
    Question for you. We used to use the term “Canuck” a lot, (with love, cause he was a great guy!) but I’ve been told by some people that it’s derogatory and by others that it isn’t. What do you think? I really like most of our Canadian neighbors and I wouldn’t want to be saying something rude. But for me, the conotation is warm and affectionate. Similar to being called a Yankee or Yank, unless it’s by someone who hates U.S. Americans.

    Thanks for the great reads. I love your books.


    • Thank you – that’s so nice to hear! And thanks for adding to my vocabulary – I’ve never heard ‘chornies’ before.

      I’ve never thought of ‘Canuck’ as derogatory – the first time I ever heard it was back in the 70s when the Crazy Canucks were dominating the ski slopes at the Olympics, so I’ve always thought of it as an endearing term.

      I have the same dilemma with using Yank. I’ve never considered it derogatory and certainly never meant it that way, but I guess if people look hard enough for offense, they’re bound to find it. 😉


  6. Most of the list is familiar, but I was surprised by a few that I thought were universal, like garburator, Arborite, keener and hootch … guess I don’t get out of Canada enough, eh? 🙂


  7. Even though we grew up in different parts of the country, Diane, I’m happy to say I recognized every one of your “Canadianisms”! Good job on pulling them all together to describe your Canada Day.


  8.  Dear Diane,   You might be interested in our dialect just south of the border in Michigan:   Yooper dialect – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Yooper dialect – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Yooper is a form of North Central American English mostly spoken in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which gives the dialect its name (from “U.P.” for Upper Peninsu… View on Preview by Yahoo There are some similarities. For example we say “chook” instead of “tuque”. We call deerskin mittens with wool liners “choppers”. We also end a a lot of sentences with “eh”, eh. We have a joke, “how many letters in da Yooper alphabet? The answer is 52. Well, lemmesee, ders “A” eh, den deres “B” eh, den deres “C” eh…..   Keep smilin’, Duane.


    • Ha! You made me laugh, Duane, thanks! I’d never heard of the Yooper dialect until now. I once read somewhere about mitts being called choppers, but it’s not a word I’ve ever heard associated with anything but motorcycles in ‘real life’. Thanks for the vocabulary lesson… and the joke! 🙂


  9. I’ll be laughing all day over those sayings, thank you so much for posting them. I’m sort of familiar with a couple, “hootch” and “keener” and of course the favorite “Eh”. As far as odd ball sayings from my end, this is the Gulf South, everything is oddball. LOL Just listen to the guy that does the “You might be a Red-Neck if….”. It is so sad, but so, so true!
    My happiest moment now is the update on #8! Extra smiles for sure.


    • I’m glad you got a good laugh! I haven’t been down to the Gulf South since I was a kid, but I’d like to go back now – I love oddball sayings. One of these days I’ll get there…


  10. Great post! Some I recognize from general usage, some I get from your books (parkade and Molson muscle, for instance), but the rest are new to me. We’re heading out for our big blowout (for us) Alaska cruise soon and coming back through Vancouver, so maybe I’ll pick up some new ones.

    And serious, heartfelt congratulations on the progress on Spy Now, Pay Later! Can’t wait! I’ll be watching closely for the “you can buy it now” notice! 🙂


  11. Ha! Hoser. Haven’t heard that one for a while. I lived in Canada for a while as a kid, but I don’t remember many of these. I always thought ‘tuque’ was such a funny word. What a fun post. Thanks for a trip down memory lane. 🙂


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.