Whatever you do, don't get discombobulated!
(work in progress)
'Canadian English' is just different enough from 'English English' to be idiosyncratic, and sometimes charmingly old fashioned.
Take, for instance, the term 'pop', which in Canada refers to what the Brits would call a 'soft drink' (and Australians and South Africans would confusingly call a 'cold drink' or a 'cool drink', regardless of what temperature it's served at). This is a word straight from an Enid Blyton story, reminiscent of a halcyon 1930s world that has long since ceased to exist.
And then there's the stuff that's just so folksy that it borders on the bizarre. Searching unsuccessfully in a small town for a certain type of store, we drove up and down and round about in a rather aimless manner. Clearly there wasn't much going on in town that day, as presently we were pulled over by the local police who must have thought that we were acting suspiciously. Being used to an aggressive style of policing, our hearts sank as the officer strolled over to our car, leaned amiably through the window and said, "You folks seem to be kinda discombobulated ... what seems to be the problem?"
I have been trying to engineer opportunities to slip this splendid word into conversation ever since!
Regional geography and proper pronunciations
Vancouver Island is commonly referred to by locals as the island. Even on the mainland, if you hear people talking about "heading over to the island" - you can be certain that they're not talking about Hawaii! Unless of course, they happen to own a cottage on one of the many other islands (like the Gulf Islands), but if the context is not readily available or obvious to you, then it's safe to assume that "the island" means Vancouver Island.
Once you're on the island, locals tend to break it down by region. And so on, and so on. For a proper break-down and understanding of Vancouver Island's distinct regions, take a look at www.vancouverisland.com.
The only oddity is Tofino. Tofino is the name of a small fishing village located on the western coast of the island. And yet, over the past few years it has developed into a colloquialism for the entire 40km coastline south of Tofino (which includes Long Beach, the Pacific Rim National Park, Chesterman Beach, Mackenzie Beach, Cox Bay, and even Ucluelet!). So when people are telling you that you must go to Tofino, they're usually not stressing about the actual townsite, but the entire coastline surrounding the area.
Ucluelet is often called "Ukie" amongst those in the know. I've only ever pronounced it as it's fully spelled.
Another name that stumps first time visitors is Nanaimo. It's pronounced "Nuh-NYE-moe". Pronounce it any other way, and you'll stick out like a tourist.
And this brings me to the best advice I can give you if you want to stick out as a tourist. To do that, all you have to do is call the island Victoria Island, and the rest will fall into place!
THE Nicest People
The people of BC and more specific the sunshine coast and Vancouver Island are the nicest most genuine people we have ever met. Low-key, friendly, always helpful. Would like to own a place there someday...
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