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Canada Confuses Me!

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by Oliver Schmid


Canadians confuse the hell out of me!


Flag of the City of Montreal

Image via Wikipedia

For the last 10 month or so I have been traveling to Montreal Canada every month for 1 to 2 weeks on business. Even I have been living in the US for over 21 years I still fairly familiar with the metric system and I can switch back and forth between the imperial and the metric system in a heartbeat. The same I switch between the English and German language.

Now, maybe because Montreal and the whole province of Quebec is  French speaking, a language I just barely get by on, something never became obvious to me before.

Today I was sitting in the hotel restaurant, waiting for my dinner and as every night I read the local news paper (English edition). I usually read what is going on in the world, a section the Canadian are by the way much better in reporting on, and what is going on locally. After that I quick skim the sports section while moving on the the business part. After that I may read some of the inserts from the local stores to compare prices in Montreal to prices home in Los Angeles (by the way Montreal is between 10% and 40% more expensive). I really never read the classified, except tonight. There has been a real estate insert to the regular classified section, displaying houses and condos for sale.

The metric system massacre

Image by mojosaurus via Flickr

I read the ad for a 800 sq.ft. condo for Canadia $236,000.  My first thought was: Wow that is damn expensive for 800 sq.ft. comparing it first to Los Angeles and coming to the conclusion that is really that more expensive than LA. As my thoughts on this continue and try to figure out how much I had to fork out for a roughly  80 meter square apartment in Germany. And while I did the conversion in my head, almost automatically,  from square foot into meter square, it struck me and I quick check other ads and realized that all real estate property is listed in square foot rather than meter square, spite the fact that Canada is on the metric system.

I then proceeded to catch one of the waiters, which after 10 month I knew pretty well and asked him about it. He told me that this is normal and he could not give me an explanation why Canada is on the metric system, but measures real estate property in square foot and not meters square. He told me that nobody has a problem with it because everybody grows up like this and that it was completely normal to them, and when I asked him how many feet to a meter and how many square feet to 1 meter square he was lost because he never learned to convert.

My goal now is to visit a local hardware store during one of my visits to see what system their yard sticks and measuring tapes use. I will keep this blog updated with what I find out when trying to discover why Canadian live a life with to different ways to measure (metric vs. imperial).

If anybody has some input, please feel free to comment or share your thoughts below.




About Oliver Schmid

Experienced IT executive with over 20 years of global experience and demonstrated success in driving IT value, business and IT, reducing overall costs, and quickly executing and delivering business solutions. Member of the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP)

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