Opinion: 23 things you only know if you're a Brit in Vancouver

Jan 21 2020, 11:00 am

Ah, the snow-capped mountains, the verdant rainforests, the general lack of people getting in our way – us Brits bloody love Vancouver.

But when we’re fresh off the boat, looking for adventure in the land of moose and maple, there are a few things we have to… get used to.

So, with a tip of the hat to all my fellow British expats, here are 23 things you only know if you’re a Brit in Vancouver.

English Breakfast tea is not the tea you want

Woman drinking tea (aldarinho/Shutterstock)

Shall we put the kettle on? (aldarinho/Shutterstock)

Tea. Always there for you in a crisis. But in Vancouver, it’s not that simple. For the closest cup of regular British brew, buy Orange Pekoe… whatever the heck THAT is…

A pint measurement is more flexible than you think

A man and his beer (g-stockstudio/Shutterstock)

Too much head? (g-stockstudio/Shutterstock)

It’s true – Canada has no standard pint, so good luck sending your beer back for a top up. And WTF is a sleeve? It’s for clothing, not containing an alcoholic beverage.

Hash browns are not what you were expecting

Potato cubes hash browns (Robyn Mackenzie/Shutterstock)

These are hash browns. Apparently. (Robyn Mackenzie/Shutterstock)

Hash browns are supposed to be shredded potato, pressed into triangles and fried, fast and dirty. Not bite-sized frozen tater tots or hipster cubes of fried potato with rosemary.

Stella is an acceptable beer choice

Stella beer (Annavee/Shutterstock)

This can actually make you look classy. Maybe. (Annavee/Shutterstock)

While Stella Artois may have dubious reputation back home (Brits know what I’m talking about), here in Vancouver it’s actually a discerning choice and can even make you look classy. I know, I couldn’t believe it either.

Scotch Eggs are not meant to be a delicacy

Scotch eggs (Civil/Shutterstock)

This is wrong. So, so wrong. (Civil/Shutterstock)

A Scotch Egg – a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat and breadcrumbs, and deep fried – is for grimy pubs and common picnics. Not high-end, British-style restaurants, Vancouver.

People think you’re weird if you walk to work

Woman walking looking happy waving (vfedorchenko/Shutterstock)

We are literally this happy about being able to walk to work. (vfedorchenko/Shutterstock)

You lucky Vancouverites just don’t understand how much we would have had to pay in London for an apartment that is a 30-minute walk from work. This is paradise.

Don’t ask for a straight up cup of tea

Man drinking tea straight from teapot (Elijah_Sad/Shutterstock)

If your order tea in Vancouver, who knows what you’ll get? (Elijah_Sad/Shutterstock)

If someone offers you tea or coffee, and you choose tea, don’t assume it will be black. And even if it is a bizarre white colour, that’s not necessarily milk in there.

People have no idea just how bad transit can be

Imagine this, but hundreds of people squeezing into each others armpits (GagliardiImages/Shutterstock)

Vancouverites who complain about the Canada Line have never had to get the Tube to work. In fact, they would probably be eaten alive in less than 30 seconds on the Underground.

No one knows how to use roundabouts

Traffic circle roundabout (nacroba/Shutterstock)

Roundabouts seem to send drivers in Vancouver into crazed confusion (nacroba/Shutterstock)

Confusion. Massive confusion. Like a baby lemur trying to use a quantum computer. Vancouverites do not understand roundabouts. But we do.

This is not the bacon you’re looking for

Bacon (farbled/Shutterstock)

Bacon should not look like this. Even the pig knows that. (farbled/Shutterstock)

What is this fat, streaky mess? Can I get some meat with my fat please? Bacon should not look like this. Even the pig knows that.

Banking should not cost anything

Shocked woman with no money (tanja-vashchuk/Shutterstock)

Seriously – how can banking cost this much? (tanja-vashchuk/Shutterstock)

Also, how are chequebooks still a thing and debit cards don’t work online? On the flip side, no one is going to call us out for paying for a stick of gum with a credit card.

Extra Mature Canadian Cheddar is a lie

Cheese board (Gamzova Olga/Shutterstock)

Our cheese dreams are in tatters since we came to Vancouver (Gamzova Olga/Shutterstock)

The stuff that was always on offer back home is a lie. In reality, Canadian cheddar is orange and white, tastes bland and plastic, and costs way, way too much. Cheese here IS the biggest disappointment in life.

Splitting bills is truly a thing of wonder

A server splitting the bill for customers (zeljkodan/Shutterstock)

Even the servers think splitting the bill is amazing, right? (zeljkodan/Shutterstock)

In the UK, if we asked a waiter to split the bill 11 ways, accounting for the fact that five of us shared nachos, he would tell us to f**k off. Here, the servers do it before you even ask.

Vancouver, you have a serious alcohol problem

Where’s the beer? Not in the supermarket, that’s for sure. (Kues/Shutterstock)

Seriously, when you can’t just pop down to the supermarket to buy some milk and grab a bottle of wine “while you’re there” you have to ask what kind of world you’re living in.

Your bill is always bigger than you think

Um, that drink was how much? (Pashyksvsv/Shutterstock)

Once you add on all the provincial sales tax, general sales tax, liquor tax, environmental tax – none of which are included in the price – plus of course, the mandatory 15% tip.

Bars are for mingling, not table service

Cheers! With people you already know, in a relatively sober state. (TORWAISTUDIO/Shutterstock)

No standing room here. Vancouver likes its drinkers seated, served at the table and preferably eating food too. And good luck finding a pub without a thousand TVs in it.

There’s something weird about the milk here

Farm fresh anyone? We think not. (Lukasz Siekierski/Shutterstock)

We’re not sure what’s going on, but the milk lasts for like three weeks. God knows what they do to it, but it’s nice not having it smell like cat puke in a matter of days.

‘Heritage homes’ are not historical

Now this is some real history (Justin Black/Shutterstock)

Aw, you think a house that’s 80 years old is historic. Bless. Try the Tower of London if you want something really old – that’s been there 1,000 years!

Vancouverites will never commit to anything

Sorry I’m busy today, tomorrow isn’t looking good either (kozirsky/shutterstock)

Good luck trying to get Vancouverites to commit to plans more than a day in advance. Or ever, in fact. Not like back home, where we reliably turn up at the pub any night of the week.

It is possible for supermarket staff to be nice

Who knew the supermarket could be such a happy place? (Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock)

The cashiers at the supermarket here pack your bags with a smile on their face. Sometimes they even have actual staff dedicated to bag packing. Bloody amazing.

Drinking alcohol outside is not the end of the world

What’s wrong with a nice civilized picnic in the park? (Alexander Raths/Shutterstock)

Come on Vancouver, can’t we be grown up about this? All I want to do is have a nice case of wine/crate of craft beer/sneaky bottle of whisky with our picnic.

Only having one team to cheer for is a relief

Go Canucks Go! (Sergei Bachlakov/Shutterstock)

Now that we don’t have to pick between City or United, or Arsenal or Fulham, we can just cheer for Vancouver wherever we go. Go Canucks!

Oh Canada! is way better than God Save The Queen


The Queen is great and everything, but her anthem is a bit… dull. The True North strong and free? Way, way cooler. From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.


This article was originally published on Daily Hive on February 9, 2017

Jenni SheppardJenni Sheppard

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