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Updated: May 29, 2020

1. Finding an unpacked dishwasher

I can hear the violins of the orchestra as the door opens and it is completely bare. A rare gem. It puts a smile on my face and somehow the day is even better! I know you can relate, but we run ours at least twice a day. It means that the next pile of crockery and things can be loaded with minimal washing of dishes. I don't mind the cleaning and housework which is a massive change for most of us living here. The key is to get organised with a capital "O"! I do miss my darling nanny Geraldine though.

2. Cheque books (Check books)

I thought that living in a first world country would mean that cheque books were a thing of the past, like in the days of the A-Team or MacGyver in South Africa. No, your bank will issue you with a couple of hundred of these things and for some of us, will need to learn how to write a check! You will need checks to secure your rental property (get your Voltaren out because you will have to write out about 12 or 13 post-dated cheques to give to the landlord. Who uses a pen these days?!!!). Your kids school will want cheques for most things - unless they have moved over to the cashless system already (yay, lucky us and sorry for you if your school hasn't!!).

3. "I'm Good" means "no thanks"

Think about it for a sec. I say: "hey Matthew, would you like another Timbit?" Matthew replies, "I'm good thanks". Do you understand what he just said? You do understand because of the tone he uses which makes you realise he has had enough. I am of course glad that Matthew is good.

4. Pedestrians have right of way, ALWAYS

No matter what, pedestrians walk across the road and all traffic will stop for them. Most pedestrians will not take as much as a glance to check if there is traffic hurtling at 100km's per hour toward them. It is quite uncanny actually and I think it is so unique (especially for us). In winter, people wear their parkas and hoods covered with fur over their heads and cannot see left or right unless they turn their whole body. As soon as the walking man appears, the people are off! If I am driving, it is most likely that the traffic light is green for me and the pedestrian walking man is green too, so I will have to wait until all have crossed the road until I can go. Can be quite stressful in downtown traffic with so many things to consider like other cars, trams, turning right on red, pedestrians, motorised wheelchairs, bicycles, skateboards etc. I am so happy to know that my kids are safe on the roads and that cars will stop.

5. It's Chalk and Cheese!

Canadians don't know this phrase. Hilarious. So where did it come from? Is this a South Africanism? I found this on

"Tourist boards in several of the chalkland areas of the UK try to place the phrase's origin in their locality and allude to vague connections between chalk and the local cheese. None of these is convincing and they clearly owe more to marketing than to etymology. So, how did the phrase come about?"

"Maybe, 'as different as a cormorant and a lamp-post'", thinks our coiner, "or 'as different as floorboards and greengrocers'". "No, 'as different as chalk and cheese' sounds better". Why? For no better reason that the fact the 'chalk' and 'cheese' are short and snappy words that alliterate. The English language is packed full of phrases that contain pairs of rhyming or alliterating words - often just because the person who coined them liked the sound of them; for example, hocus-pocusthe bee's kneesriff-raff etc."

I have noticed that there is a lot of English phrasing and wording we use which does not translate here in Canada.

6. Not a single washing line

No one (bar a few hardcore South Africans) hangs their washing outside to dry. For the very practical reason that winter is not "ideal" for hanging your broekies on the line! In summer, yes, it is very possible and some of my friends love to feel the crispness of their linens drying in the natural sun. Tumble dryers are the thing here and you will come across "bounce sheets" (laundry fabric softeners in the form of a tissue looking sheet). I had no idea what these were until we got here. I have stopped using bounce sheets with my towels as they never get to crisp up and the bounce sheets form a layer on the towels that I don't like. They started to smell miff!

I recently read this article which made so much sense. I nearly threw out all my towels before reading this. Check it out for yourself:

7. How to choose milk? (I can hear you laughing - you've been here..)

There you stand with your basket in hand, in front of the milk fridges. Your eyes scanning across what seems like a 20 metre isle of just milk. Now what. We have: 1%, 2%, 3.25%, 10% Half and Half, 35% half and half, 1% cream, 5% cream, then there's lactose free milk, chocolate milk (big, very big thing here - almost bigger than beer!), Almond Milk, Rice Milk, Soya Milk, Pea Milk... and on! Crikey I just want full cream milk with my coffee bro! Oh, let me take the 3.25% milk. Oh - what size. 1 litre, 1.89 litre, sachets? Sigh. Its amazing, all the variety. Thank you Canada.

8. No perforated plastic wrap (Glad Wrap) anywhere

So this used to be a huge thing for me. Now, not anymore. I would search everywhere for perforated cling wrap. It makes life so easy and funny how something so small was such an irritation for me. I have not found any and have stopped looking, let me tell tell you why. Once I figured out how to use the blade on the box, (harder sometimes for lefties) it is a complete breeze! Nothing is going to get me down. I am in Canada after all.

9. Have you spotted a Fiso yet?

I have a friend who moved from Cape Town to Sudbury and now runs her own kids yoga business. She saw these trucks in Canada and said that she was amazed that they had a isiXhosa name, a Fiso! Only after a while did she realise what it was when she saw the F250 and then realised the Fiso was a F150 Ford! We only call them Fiso's now. You can too! Still laugh about it! Love the way we see things.

10. Drive Time

I have learned to set aside way more time to get to places else you will always be late. It has been quite an adjustment to learn that places are not as close as they are in South Africa. You will get quite accustomed to driving quite a distance to get to places and meet ups. Because our daughter played field hockey for Ontario - she would either have practices in Guelph or University of Toronto which is downtown. Both venues are both at least a 40 - 60min drive on a good day. We have just accepted it, but its different. I will say that you get so see cool things along the way. On the topic of driving, we decided to drive to New York City for the labour day weekend 2 years ago. It is an 9 hour drive from Oakville, well worth it we and made fabulous memories! I still use Google Maps or Waze even though I know the route, because of accidents and unexpected congestion. The 401 is often a parking lot in the winter months!


  1. A sandwich is a burger at a take out place

  2. "Sorry eh" - standard Canadian comeback

  3. Timothy's is not the same as Tim Hortons (coffee places)

  4. A trolley is a shopping cart

  5. A "couple of dollars" is 2 dollars. Yes, check yourself! If a person at the check out asks if you want to donate towards some charity, say: "sure, a couple" They will deduct exactly 2 dollars!

  6. 1 dollar is a looney

  7. 2 dollars is tooney

  8. A beanie is a toque (say "took")

  9. A costume is not a bathing suit, it is considered a halloween costume or dress up costume

  10. A gown is not a bath robe, it is a ball gown (Kevin told a colleague he was in his gown, the guy nearly fell over laughing)

  11. Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Drake, Jim Carrey, Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, Diana Krall (my personal fav), Avril Lavigne, Matthew Perry, Celine Dion, Mike Myers, Dwayne Johnson (the Rock) are all from Canada. Oh yes. Nice.

You're welcome (as they say so politely, love it)


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