Tag Archives: Toronto

The Most Commonly Spoken Languages in Canada, Besides English and French

A couple of years ago, I came across an map that I found fascinating. It showed the most commonly spoken languages in the US (after English and Spanish). Some were fairly intuitive (French in Louisiana, Arabic in Michigan, etc.), but some forced me to think about the history (recent and past!) of a given state. For instance, I wouldn’t have guessed Chinese as the most commonly spoken language after English and Spanish in New York! I probably would have guessed Italian or Polish in thinking about the early immigrants to Ellis Island.

After seeing that post, it made me wonder what the most commonly spoken languages in Canada were (after English and French, of course). Sadly, my Google Fu kept turning up ‘snake eyes.’ It wasn’t until early last year that I saw tweet from Conrad Hackett, a demographer with the Pew Research Center, that linked to the very map I was looking for the year before. However, this map is even better, because it’s interactive!

The US map I linked to above shows the most commonly spoken language (after English/Spanish) by state. The map for Canada allows you to zoom in and look at specific areas within Canada. For instance, instead of grouping all of Ontario into one bucket, you can see some differences, depending upon which part of Ontario you’re viewing. For instance, in the Census Division (er, Census Division in Canada is kind of like “County” in the US) or York and Toronto, the most commonly spoken language after English/French is Chinese. However, in Peel, it’s Punjabi. Having lived in all three of those areas, those would have been my guesses.

However, I’ve also lived in Victoria and I’m not sure what I would have guessed. The answer is Chinese and I suppose that’s somewhat intuitive given that many immigrants from China choose BC (Vancouver or Victoria) as their place to call home). Similarly, right now, I live in Ottawa and I wouldn’t have guessed Chinese, nor would I have guessed Arabic for Gatineau (which is part of the National Capital Region).

One thing that should be immediately striking about the map is how much “Aboriginal” there is. It appears to be the account for the most land size. It’s probably not fair to group all the Aboriginal languages into one, so here’s a note on the methodology from the creators of the map:

We thought about this a lot when creating the map, and the primary reason is that there are simply not enough colours in the visual spectrum to use a distinct colour (and texture) for each language so that the map is actually visually pleasing and comprehensible. The editorial decision was made to combine the Aboriginal languages into a single colour (while retaining the distinctions and language-specific details when hovering). Why do we think this was a good decision? Almost all of the feedback we’ve received has been “Wow, I’m so happy there’s so much purple, it’s so great how much of Canada is dominated by indigenous languages!”. The purple wave is so striking, so visually stunning, and it clearly communicates the strength of the Aboriginal population across much of Canada — this effect would have been lost if we had selected different colours, and it would look just like everyone else. So we believe we struck a good balance.

One other part of the country that stands out is the Northwest Territories (near the top of the map). You probably could have given me a dozen guesses and I wouldn’t have said “Arabic” as the most commonly spoken language after English/French.

 

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How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk: What About Canada?

I’ve been clearing out some of the tweets that I’ve favourited over the last week or so and one of them was a fun dialect quiz from the New York Times Sunday Review. There are 25 questions that ask you the various ways you do (or do not) refer to certain things in the world around you. For instance, do you say y’all or youse or you guys (or something else) when referring to other people?

I found it relatively fun.

If you do decide to do it, though, I’d advise you to be careful in selecting an answer too quickly. There were a few questions where I clicked on one option and hit next and as the next question was loading, I noticed that there was actually an option for (none of these).

I realize that the New York Times is hosting this quiz, but I would have been interested to see where I stand in Canada. Maybe The Globe and Mail or the National Post can look into doing something similar?

I grew up in the Toronto area and have spent some time in British Columbia (and now Ottawa), but I’d be interested to see how I compare to other Canadians. Since I did grow up in Toronto, I wonder if that throws a wrench into my dialect. And, since I’ve lived in so many different places (California, Hawaii, New Zealand, Michigan, Virginia, etc.).

On the whole, it turns out that my dialect is closest to the people in Portland or Seattle. If I’m being honest, after undergraduate university, the west coast of the continent is where I’ve spent most of my adult life. I spent about a year in California and about a year in British Columbia (and about a year in Hawaii). The next closest would have been Virginia with 2 years.

The Time I Saw Nelson Mandela and the Earth Quaked

Nelson Mandela at the SkydomeWhen I was in elementary school, I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to see Nelson Mandela in person — at the Skydome. It was a very impactful experience for me and it’s one of my shiniest memories. It happened about 15 years ago when Mandela came to launch the Canadian Friends of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. I was in a Kindergarten to Grade 8 elementary school and two students (one male and one female) from each grade were getting the opportunity to go to the event at the Skydome. I don’t quite recall how I got picked, but at the time, I remember thinking that it was pretty cool I was going to get part of the day off from school to go see Nelson Mandela.

Early I said it was one of my shiniest memories and it was an impactful experience. I don’t really remember many of the different events that happened that day, but a few things are quite clear in my mind. On a side note, it seems I wasn’t the only person who doesn’t remember everything from that day. One of the things that I remember clearly is the song or at least one of the songs. After some brief searching, I was able to find it on YouTube. You can hear it in the beginning of this video:

Those singers continuously repeating his name and then when he makes an appearance by way of a golf cart. I remember that. Also, when he made his entrance, I remember this roar overcoming the crowd. I remember that in our section, we were banging our feet on the stands to add to that excitement in the crowd. I’d been to baseball games at the Skydome before, but I didn’t remember ever hearing the crowd become so loud. That whole experience, I remembering being a bit awestruck. I was a bit young to really comprehend everything that was part of what happened to Mandela, but I suppose part of me knew it on a visceral level and that’s what made the event so impactful.

On the topic of crowd loudness, when we got back to school later that day, in the playground, I remember folks asking me if we felt the earthquake. Earthquake, I thought. They continued on by saying that there was an earthquake (!) while we were at the Skydome seeing Nelson Mandela. This, along with that song, are the two things that really stick out in mind about this event. I had thought that the crowd was just “that” loud to Nelson Mandela, but maybe part of our loudness was amplified by some sort of rumble in the Earth.

So, whenever I think about Nelson Mandela, I remember that song and the joy that we all had singing his name. I also remember that the first time I saw Nelson Mandela, the Earth moved.

Which US City Has the Worst Drivers: No Weather Variable?

A few days ago, there was an article on Slate that claimed to investigate which US city had the worst drivers. I thought the article was interesting as it’s probably something that everyone has an opinion on. That is, we all think that we know where the worst drivers in the US live. After reading the article, I was surprised — thoroughly — that there wasn’t a mention of weather.

Having grown up in Canada, (near Toronto), I am absolutely used to driving in snow and other forms of precipitation. After having lived in 4 different US states (and spending time in 31 others), I feel supremely confident in saying that not everyone is comfortable driving in forms of precipitation. While not an extraordinary revelation by any means, it still seems important. I had to read through the article a couple of times because I didn’t believe there was no mention of ice, snow, snain, or something else related. Weather absolutely affects the way that people drive and their comfort with precipitation will have certainly affect their ability to drive.

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I’ve written before about unexpected snow in Washington, DC, but I don’t think I’ve talked about one of the conversations I’ve had with someone who’s lived in Metro DC for over a decade. She was explaining to me that, not only do you have such a wide variety of drivers in the DC area (those who’ve moved from the South or those who’ve moved from the North or those who’ve moved from the West, etc.), but you’ve also got the weather. More specifically, she was explaining that the “moderate” winters in DC make it awful for driving conditions. When the temperature hovers near freezing, the afternoon rain turns into morning ice. For those who have no experience driving in icy conditions, it can certainly cause drivers to be extra cautious (or mistakenly, not be cautious enough).

This is why I think it is important for any discussion of “the worst drivers” to include a weather variable. Sometimes, we need to be careful we’re not misappropriating the blame.

Room for Innovation in Wind Energy Industry

I was driving down the 401 in Toronto and I noticed a wind turbine setback from the highway. As I looked at it, I remembered seeing it when I used to live in Toronto over 10 years ago. That’s a long time. On one of my first trips across the USA, I drove north through the California desert. As you’d expect, there were lots of wind turbines. When I traveled through New Zealand, there were lots of wind turbines there, too.

The extent of my knowledge (at this point) of wind energy is that the energy is captured through the use of a wind turbine. And because of the structure of the turbines, there are lots of folks who oppose wind turbines. There concerns are understandable and shouldn’t easily be dismissed. That being said, I think about the abundance of wind on the planet I think that there’s gotta be room for innovation in this industry, right?

If I had to choose, my guess is that solar energy is going to be what revolutionizes energy on our planet, but while we’re still trying to perfect energy storage (batteries just won’t cut it), I have a hunch that there’s something we can do about the wind energy industry. I don’t have a grand idea to propose in this post, but there are many inventions or discoveries that come from people who weren’t working inside that industry. My guess is that I don’t have many readers who work in the wind energy industry, so it might be people like you and I who come up with an idea that revolutionizes the wind energy industry.

The next time you get a few minutes, think about the abundance of wind on the planet and how we might capture and store that energy. It just might be a million dollar idea…

Five Years, Five Christmases: You Never Know Where You’ll Be…

As 2012 draws closer to its end, I find myself reflecting on the past. Not the distant past, but the recent past. In fact, with Christmas here today, I found myself reflecting on the last 5 Christmases and just how much things have changed for me over those 5 Christmases. Let’s journey back, shall we?

2008

At Christmas in 2008, I was on reprieve between quarters of the first year of my PhD in clinical psychology (obviously, I didn’t continue with that route). For that Christmas, I left the balmy shores of San Francisco for a flight home to visit my family in Toronto and Detroit. It was a great time.

2009

In 2009, I was in Victoria, British Columbia living on a floathome. My partner and I had just recently come back from New Zealand and decided to spend some time living in the floathome that we had for sale. For that Christmas, my partner and I accepted an invitation to have Christmas dinner with some of the folks living on the Wharf. This particular family had invited a bunch of folks over, so there were like 20+ people inside of this one floathome having Christmas dinner!

2010

The Christmas of 2010 was one that I won’t soon forget, partly because I was just recently married, but probably more so because I spent it on one of the top 10 beaches in the world — on the island of Kauai (in Hawaii). My wife and I got up early on Christmas morning and we went down to Hanalei Bay. The exquisite backdrop of the mountains paired with the sound of the gentle waves kissing the shore… amazing.

2011

In 2011, my wife and I drove up to visit our families in Ottawa/Toronto. If I recall correctly, we spent Christmas in Ottawa visiting with family and friends. It was a rocking good time and makes me consider Ottawa as a place that I might like to live.

2012

And now, 2012. This year, my wife and I have decided to *stay* in Fairfax, VA. I wrote stay like that because it’s not as if we’ve lived in Fairfax for very long (only since August), but we have been in the DC area for over a year now, with me finishing up an MBA.

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If you would have asked me in 2008 about any of the subsequent Christmases, I almost assuredly wouldn’t have been able to guess how any of them turned out. Victoria!? HAWAII!? FAIRFAX!!? Who knows where I’ll be for Christmas in 2013. Wherever I am, I hope I’m happy and surrounded by people that I love.

Enjoy the rest of your day!