"May 2-4" and Some Other Differences Between Ontario and Saskatchewan

Christina and
Jonathan came over a couple weeks ago for drinks and one of the topics of conversation was some of the differences we've encountered
between Ontario and Saskatchewan.  Since it's the May long weekend and that's one of the things that came up, I thought this would be a good time to list a few of those differences…

– in Ontario, they call May long weekend “May 2-4”.  In Saskatchewan, we just call it “May long” and nobody has to be reminded how much beer you should attempt to consume during this first ritual weekend of spring.

– I've touched on it elsewhere about how a lot of people in Ontario seem to have no problem throwing out perfectly good furniture and electronics without attempting to recycle them or give them away unlike in Saskatchewan.  For instance, I think my first couch had three (and possibly) four previous owners and got passed on to someone else when I was finished with it.

– milk is extremely expensive here ($4 for a 2L jug here – I can't remember what it costs at home but I don't think it's that much.  Jill – do you know?)

– apparently people don't buy extra bread and keep it in the freezer
like we do in Saskatchewan.  In fact, Christina says that lots of
people here don't even have deep freezes. (Shea: “My parents have three
– two of them full of meat!”)

(Then again, pockets of Saskatchewan have their own little unique things – Shea's hometown is still the only place I've seen where people keep their cheques and cash in their fridge freezer until they can get to the bank.  Why?  Before fire safes were common, the fridge freezer was the last thing that would burn in a fire.  I've always said it would be really easy to be a successful criminal in her hometown – wait until a Saturday in summer when there's a wedding.  Since everybody in town will be at the wedding, either as a guest or volunteering in the kitchen and since nobody in a small town locks their door, you could very easily go house-to-house grabbing the “cold cash” <rim shot>)

– every food delivery place here asks for your buzzer number whereas in Saskatchewan, I think giving the apartment number was usually good enough .  If it was a different number at the front door, the delivery person would look at the list and figure it out. 

– very few washrooms have paper towels, instead most have hand dryers.  Perhaps they're more environmentally friendly but I'm not a big fan of hand dryers and usually end up drying my hands on my shirt anyhow.

– this is pretty obvious but distances mean a lot less here (at least where we are.)  Pretty much 1/3 of Canada's entire population is within a six-hour drive of where we live.  In Saskatchewan, you have to drive six hours just to get to a major city with more than 250 000 people. 

– I've seen exactly two gravel roads here and when Shea and I have gone for drives in the country, we can't stop laughing at the “farms” that have paved roads in front of them AND mailboxes!  No shit. 

– Saskatchewan doesn't have an NHL team but I bet the Moose Jaw Warriors could still give the Leafs a run for their money! 

Admittedly, I am working on a very small sample size for most of these observations – well, except for the food delivery one.  I think Shea and I have tried every delivery restaurant in the city and all of them asked for our buzzer number!

Comments 21

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    They call May long weekend “May 2-4” in Ontario? Obviously I haven't spoken with enough Ontarians on that subject. πŸ™‚
    I never buy milk, but I do think it's cheaper than that on the West Coast. I *have* noticed that *soymilk* is more expensive here and you have fewer choices for it, which is annoying. (I have emotional issues with drinking something that came out of a cow, but no problem with putting soymilk in my cereal. πŸ™‚ Or with eating cheese, but I never claimed to be *consistent*.) But cheese and ice cream tend to be cheaper here than in BC…win some, lose some.
    People keep bread in the freezer back home, too. And my parents do keep some important documents in their deep freezer…not money, though. (But I don't know how many people in BC actually have deep freezers. I think it's more of a rural thing; my parents live in a somewhat-rural area – it's zoned as farmland, but I have to admit they've got paved roads and mailboxes. πŸ™‚ No high-speed internet, though, very sad.)

    Posted 20 May 2006 at 10:16 am
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Oh! Also: people here refer to everything west of Ontario as The West, when *clearly* it is only Alberta and British Columbia that truly qualify, while Saskatchewan and Manitoba are The Prairies. No Ontarian, however, ever refers to The Prairies. *amused*
    (I admit I don't know if people in The Prairies think of this differently; you'll have to enlighten me on that. πŸ™‚ )

    Posted 20 May 2006 at 10:26 am
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    Another difference between Sask. and Ont.:
    Sask. have three-way or four-way stops while Ont. has “all-way” stops.
    Also, Sask. small towns are known for having incredibly large landmarks (ie.Mac the Moose in Moose Jaw, a teapot in Davidson, a large Mountie on a horse in North Battleford).

    Posted 20 May 2006 at 6:04 pm
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    Tsk, tsk. I am going to have to call Jason (and possibly the other posters for this topic) on his small sample size of Ontarians. Do not forget that there two halves to this egocentric province. Have you had any input from the people who reside in the northern part, which is not as far north as Saskatchewan's most northern point, but nevertheless they have a different point of view than we navel gazing non recycling (cheeses my biscuits, too) sky polluting buzzer number asking southerners.
    Incidentally, there is a monument to Jumbo the elephant in St. Thomas and there is a giant red apple on the south side of the 401, which marks the approximate half way point between London and Ottawa [all you co-op people know what I am talking about].
    Ontario – Yours to discover

    Posted 20 May 2006 at 6:53 pm
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    So…we're not allowed to comment on this stuff unless we have a big sample size? Jason *said* his sample was limited. I didn't provide such a disclaimer, but let me rectify that now: everything I say is purely based on my own experience, I've been wrong in the past, and will no doubt be wrong in the future. Comes with being human and non-omniscient. πŸ™‚

    Posted 20 May 2006 at 8:18 pm
  6. Anonymous wrote:

    I've got another one. A lot of houses (at least in rural areas) seem to have garages on the end of the house. What I mean by this is, instead of the typical configuration where the main entrance to the house faces the same direction as the main entrance to the garage, here it's often perpendicular (ie. if the house faces south, the garage's entrance is on the east end, not the south-facing side.)
    Nope, no input on this topic from northern Ontarioinians. Really, as I admitted, not much input from anyone except the three classmates I've talked to who are from Toronto, some rural SW Ontario town I can't remember and er, Toronto again I think. Plus my own skewed observations of course.
    Lauralee, that's a good point about the “money in the freezer” being more of a rural thing than an east-west (er, central and other central) thing (just as the “large roadside attractions” thing is Canada wide but perhaps more noticeable on the prairies where there's less to look at? I mean, somewhere on this blog I've got a picture of my wife standing by the “world's largest tomato” in Leamington, ON).
    I was fairly conscious in Saskatchewan that it was bad form to call Ontario (and to a lesser extent Quebec) “the east” because of how offensive it was to everyone in the Maritimes. But until I got here, I'd never realised that calling Saskatchewan “the west” was offensive to people from BC.
    I have no idea if this is geographically valid but I've always considered the Manitoba/Ontario border as the demarcation line between what was “west” and what was “east”.
    Lauralee, if you're firm on using the “prairies” to differentiate MB/SK/AB from BC as “the west”, do you have a different descriptive term for Ontario to differentiate it from the Maritimes (aka “the east”?) Or is Ontario “central Canada” to you?
    Saskatchewan – “Come for the barley, stay for the beer”

    Posted 20 May 2006 at 8:47 pm
  7. Anonymous wrote:

    I know of a few rural Nova Scotians who keep their cash in the freezer… and who don't call this weekend May 2-4. The oddest thing for me when I moved to Ontario was shopping on Sunday (you can't do that in NS).

    Posted 21 May 2006 at 3:13 am
  8. Anonymous wrote:

    Oh, I don't think it's at all *offensive* to include Saskatchewan in the broad term “west,” just amusing…and, of course, incorrect. πŸ˜‰ It is very much not how the terms are used back home, that's all. What do we call Ontario? Mostly just Ontario. I've never heard *anyone* back home call it central Canada, and it's not how I would ever naturally refer to it; I've seen the term in print very occasionally, but it was not, I think, used by people from BC.
    There *is* “back east,” which pretty much lumps Ontario and everything east of it together…but I wasn't aware – and I don't think most people in BC are – that people in the Maritimes might find this not-okay. Still, if they can't get their “west” definition straight, I think we can be forgiven for mixing up the “east” definition. πŸ™‚
    But I think you misunderstood one point – Alberta doesn't qualify as part of The Prairies! πŸ™‚ It's part of The West, along with BC. It's the *next* two provinces over that are The Prairies, the ones that are (self-evidently! well, at least to *some* of us…) too far east to really be considered west.
    I wonder how far west you have to get, before people stop seeing the Manitoba/Ontario border as the place where The West begins, and start seeing it as the Alberta/Saskatchewan border? Maybe this is just a BC thing.

    Posted 21 May 2006 at 3:47 am
  9. Anonymous wrote:

    My favourite thing in the world is that I heard hoodies (like hooded sweatshirts) in Saskatchewan are called bunny hugs. That's all I care about. And nevermind that I've never heard a Saskatchewanianiane call it that, it's still my favourite thing EVER. Bunny (cute) + hug (lovely) = perfect.
    And nevermind that y'all don't know even know what “west” is. You all seem to think it ends in Saskatchewan. Uh…yeah. Nuff said.

    Posted 21 May 2006 at 5:37 am
  10. Anonymous wrote:

    Dear Lauralee,
    You seem like a really really nice person so I hate to say this but: you are wrong. Prairies are a feature of the landscape, not a political border. Alberta, particularly the southern bit, looks a heckuva lot like prairie land to me. And the central and northern bit looks a lot more like northern saskatchewan and manitoba than that mountainously gargantuan chunk of unfarmable briarpatch to the west.

    Posted 21 May 2006 at 5:42 am
  11. Anonymous wrote:

    And Jason: don't forget the big one: how people here don't seem to clean their apartments when they move out of them! This is the fourth I've been in that was practically scummy – it would NEVER happen out west! I almost didn't get part of my damage deposit back in Alberta because there was a bit of something stuck to the bottom of the oven (nevermind that I'd washed the walls and the ceilings, mopped the floor, left a role of tp as a housewarming gift…) That's it. Four strong winds, I'm ready when you are.

    Posted 21 May 2006 at 5:46 am
  12. Anonymous wrote:

    Good points about the apartment cleaning, Sabina. In Calgary, we nearly went to small claims court case with a landlord who refused to refund our money because we didn't scrub the walls AND pull out all the appliances to clean behind them on top of the cleaning we did do!
    Lauralee, I'm not picking on you but I think it's hilarious that somebody in the most western part of the country would claim a province *east* of them as “west” on some still undefined criteria! I guess we all have our own dividing lines for what is east/west, based a lot on where we live. Leah, you probably think of all of Canada as “the west”!
    Of course, I also find it hilarious that of all my posts, this silly one is the one that's got the most feedback. Well, the “5 Ways To Change Library School” probably has more volume but that's just me and Michael Thibault exchanging long rambling comments.

    Posted 21 May 2006 at 5:45 pm
  13. Anonymous wrote:

    Ok, Ontario does have large monuments, too. In fact, many provinces seem to want to have their share of large monuments. Here's the link: http://www.bigthings.ca/ I'm quite impressed by the amount of detail it provides for each of the monuments. I'm also thinking the person who set up this site could have been a librarian; it's organized by subject, province, artist.

    Posted 21 May 2006 at 10:47 pm
  14. Anonymous wrote:

    “…mountainously gargantuan chunk of unfarmable briarpatch to the west.”
    Lol. You're from Alberta, Sabina? Maybe these terms, used in this way, really *are* just a BC thing…hunh, well, I already knew the rest of the country was misguided anyway. πŸ™‚
    P.S. What is this geographical reality of which you speak? Reality is for wimps. πŸ˜‰

    Posted 22 May 2006 at 5:54 am
  15. Anonymous wrote:

    “I think it's hilarious that somebody in the most western part of the country would claim a province *east* of them as “west” on some still undefined criteria!”
    Heh. Yes, well, I didn't say it was *logical.* πŸ™‚ …Am trying to put Alberta in the same mental space as “east”, but it hurts my head. Definitely doesn't belong there.
    Silly posts are the most fun!

    Posted 22 May 2006 at 6:06 am
  16. Anonymous wrote:

    “You're from Alberta, Sabina?”
    *headdesk moment* Never mind, you said that on the CLA students list, didn't you? πŸ™‚

    Posted 22 May 2006 at 6:54 am
  17. Anonymous wrote:

    This is based upon nothing but my own twisted mental map, but I think of everything, um west, of Ontario as “the West”, and everything east of Quebec as “the East”. Quebec and Ontario are sort of left inbetween, but they think of themselves as the centres of the universe anyway so I doubt they'd care. I suppose some of my reluctance to count Ontario as part of the East is based on an underlying resentment of Ontario (ie, it's not enough to destroy our economy and mock us for our fishing boots, now they have to take away our geographical identity too?). This is a pretty amusing discussion, in any event.

    Posted 22 May 2006 at 4:03 pm
  18. Anonymous wrote:

    So…would *you* call Ontario “central Canada,” Leah?

    Posted 22 May 2006 at 8:17 pm
  19. Anonymous wrote:

    yeah, I think the sample size is way to small πŸ™‚ I am a born-and-raised SWestern Ontario city gal – I didn't call the long weekend May 2-4 until after high school, my family buys bread that we keep in a freezer (I don't have one myself, so keep it in the little fridge-freezer); we've always been big fans of garage sales and surplus stores and I always send my stuff to charity when I get rid of it (I used to use a commodore 64 monitor for my tv, now I've got a proper tv with a dial); I think the buzzer thing is a new trend – threw me off the first time I was asked a couple years ago (when I moved to London); I think hand dryers are more common because they create less waste and don't require staff to refill, but yes I agree that sucks since I prefer towels. As for gravel roads, can't say much since I haven't gone on too many drives lately, but I know back home (Essex county) we'd come across several – I guess it just depends where exactly you're driving.
    Oh and east-west is hard. I mean MB is west, but I guess I think of Alberta and BC when I say West; not sure how MB and SK fit into that. (Oh and I do say The Prairies on occasion).
    And I don't get the garage thing either – don't they all face “front”?
    Maybe I'm not so detailed oriented…but then again I had a friend from BC who insisted I must be from there since I wasn't egocentric enough to be Ontarian :p

    Posted 23 May 2006 at 5:34 pm
  20. Anonymous wrote:

    I never heard the phrase “push back” (meaning resistance) before coming to Ontario. Now I hear it everywhere from my classes to the TV news.

    Posted 05 Jun 2006 at 1:57 am
  21. Anonymous wrote:

    Nobody will probably ever see it but I keep coming back and posting other things as I think of them…
    – the humidity here is something everybody in the West warns you about but you don't appreciate it until you're here. A high school friend who'd moved to London long before I got here said “in summer, you'll literally want to have four showers a day.” Its not so bad though in the evening when you walk outside and it feels sticky and moist (er, maybe not the best description) like being in Mexico or Hawaii.
    – a related difference – Shea and I both agreed that the flowers and other flora are much more fragrant here compared to home.
    – peameal bacon sandwiches are a common menu item in many restaurants which I don't remember ever seeing in Saskatchewan

    Posted 28 Jul 2006 at 8:27 pm
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