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14 Things a British Person Notices When They Move To Toronto

Brits may have a reputation as your cuisine-challenged, tea-swilling, self-deprecating cousins from across the pond.

But it turns out Canadians aren’t lacking in their share of quirks. Here are just a handful of eccentricities of your own as noticed by an ‘across the pond’ native:


1. I have started to care about my telephone number (particularly how it starts).
As the native of a tiny island where all cell phone numbers begin 077… I was unaware that my digits could be so significant of my status. What had once impressed me with a catchy sequence and a great mix of number repetition was now a source of shame with its 647 opener. And while I’m not planning on shelling out for a 416 prefix any time soon, I already know I’m relieved not to be a 905-er.

2. I’m a lot more scared of heights than I thought.
I do not suffer from vertigo, nor have I ever had an aversion to heights. But upon moving to the fifteenth floor of a new build, complete with floor to ceiling windows and (humble brag) a rather roomy balcony without so much as a guard rail or warning sign, I realised what a novice to altitude I was. It’s fair to say there isn’t much high-rise living in the UK, and you all seem to embrace it without a second thought.

3. People really don’t say ‘eh’ as much as I thought they would.
I’m not saying it doesn’t happen – I’ve definitely heard it used on occasion. But it certainly doesn’t litter the Toronto vernacular in the way I pictured it would before I arrived. And contrary to popular belief, it is not attached to sentences at random and with wild abandon, as in ‘I spent the weekend in my cabin in Muskoka. [pause] Eh?!’

4. Bagged milk is a thing.
This one doesn’t really need an introduction  you can buy milk in bags here. A real head scratcher for someone more used to seeing carton-dwelling dairy. I’m not against it, but carrying it to the checkout does make me feel like I’m transporting an udder or a particularly wriggly infant.

5. You guys hate to be damp.
You can handle a week of minus 40 weather, but dampness? Hell to the no. When the heavens open you kindly remind me that I must be feeling more at home. According to you guys, foggy London town is a swamp from which I have recently emerged.

6. One thing’s for sure – you’re a polite bunch.
It’s not for nothing that Canadian’s have built up a reputation for being courteous. And while I’m not suggesting that you have a sunny disposition every day of the week, I will say this – people have smiled and made eye contact with me on public transport. ON PURPOSE.

7. Asking for ‘bangs’ is a legitimate request at the hairdresser.
After an exasperating encounter with a very sweet hairdresser, I was eventually convinced that getting my ‘bangs’ trimmed was desirable and that fringe is not a term I should persist in using if I want a haircut from this century.

8. You love hockey, no matter the score.
It’s your national sport, so it figures that you worship the puck, but win or lose, you are unwavering. You sell out seating for a team that has one of the worst losing streaks in sporting history. That’s a level of commitment that I have to respect.

9. It’s a sweater, not a jumper.
Telling someone about the jumper you just saw at the Eaton Centre will not start a friendly conversation about chunky knits and wool blends. It will cause panic, alarm and many a raised eyebrow (particularly if you do so while smiling).

10. People love British accents.
More specifically, Canadians love an opportunity to practice their own British accent. (Pro tip: you won’t get any answers to a question you pose in a British accent.) At least many people’s reference point is still Mike Myers as Austin Powers. Smashing baby.

11. Nobody is ever prepared for winter.
A novice at this winter business, I think I deserve a pass when it comes to whingeing about sub-zero temperatures. But you guys were raised on this stuff! Nonetheless, winter is feared and maligned by all Torontonians, who dedicate at least a month to mentally preparing themselves (out loud) for the season.

12. Turning right on a red light is terrifying for pedestrians.
Cars turning right on a red light in Toronto is one of the more frightening experiences for a foreigner crossing roads in the city. Having to dodge traffic when it’s actually my turn to go is not cool.

13. It’s not that expensive.
It may seem pricey to you guys, but back in London I was paying the equivalent of $800 to share a room with another human, in a house that accommodated a total of 5 grown adults. Still not convinced? We all shared a bathroom. The horror, the horror.

14. You don’t drink THAT much.
Canadian’s like a tipple, but in the UK it’s often just a way of passing the time. So when people ask what I’m celebrating and I’m reply meekly ‘um, it’s Wednesday?’, I’m not surprised if I end up finishing that bottle alone. And I always finish it.


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