Canada shows how it can be done.

John Frewen-Lord has passed on a link which illustrates the UK’s increasing isolation from other Commonwealth countries in the matter of measurement. And if Toronto, facing New York State across Lake Ontario, can nevertheless escape US influence, then why can’t we?

John writes:

“Thought you might be interested in this article from Wheels.ca. (From the Toronto Star). You will see metric used virtually exclusively, including fuel consumption figures. The only non-metric bit I could find was the car’s engine power and torque outputs. Now if only British newspapers could follow suit!

Please visit link: http://www.wheels.ca/article/30690

John has overlooked the ’21-inch doughnuts’, but nobody’s perfect!

6 thoughts on “Canada shows how it can be done.”

  1. He has also overlooked the “450 horses” – Should be 335 kW ( I think).

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  2. A good question to ask is: Did the Canadian people want to be fully metricated? If they did, then good for them, they’ve now got the system they want. Did any Canadians oppose metrication? Were they ignored, just like anti-metric campaigners are ignored by some in the UK?
    In Britain, it is not the US’s influence which is keeping the Imperial System alive; it is the support of traditional units, which many people still use. Unlike some country’s (such as France) which have used the metric system for many, many years, Britain still has many proud users of the Imperial System who are not going to be budged by other countries (or the EU).

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  3. I have been to Toronto twice, once in July this year and once in October last year, for a total of 20 days. I spent a lot of the time socialising with Canadians, and they were completely baffled by my use of metric terms.

    I discovered that even young Canadians of around my age (26) are only really savvy with kilometres, litres and Celsius. Describing distance in metres or even length in metres confused them (they use feet – so evidently they didn’t make the easier jump from yards to metres for distance). Also, their gyms all use pounds, and although their shops weigh in grams they use imperial measures when talking. The only exception was a deli that sold cheese per 100g.

    There was a very surreal moment when I was in the lobby of the office building I was working in, when I went to buy a smoothie. The drinks were priced by size, and there were (I think) four sizes.The first three sizes were in imperial ounces (I don’t recall exactly what) and then the largest size was one litre(!). I didn’t really think I could cope with a full litre of orange and mango juice, so I asked for half a litre not knowing what the other measurements meant. I got a very blank look from the girl behind the counter, and she showed me the next smallest cup sizes for me to choose. Very strange.

    Also, the Canadian press (especially the CBC and Globe & Mail) are much more metric than here in the UK. They will often write things in kilos and metres, just like in the Wheels.ca article. However, from my experience of talking to intelligent young Canadians, young British people are MUCH more conversant with metric measures and also use them a lot more in real life.

    My personal take on all this is that in the UK, a lot of the people holding back metrication are the older, middle aged people in power and in the media. Whereas in Canada the reverse is true: the people in the media seemed to be very pro-metric, but the young people I met were more or less no different to American young people when it came to understanding measurements. What is even worse, is on Canadian driving licences you have your height in centimetres. However, you put this down yourself on the application form… And everyone guesses so even that isn’t a way of teaching people.

    Canada’s proximity to the US and with so much US tv is the problem here, plus Canadians travel to the US a lot more than to other metric countries. The reverse is true in the UK of course.

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  4. I have Canadian relatives and when I last spoke to them I was surprised to hear them use some imperial units. They told me the distance from their house to the supermarket in miles and I also heard one of them use the inch! How confusing?! It seems not all Canadians have taken the matric system to heart!

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  5. I was in Toronto a few months back and from what I saw they’re actually in a similar mess to us… the difference is that it’s not so visible to outsiders because they managed to get their roads converted before the process stalled and that is more visible to the foreign visitor who isn’t really looking. I also noticed shops selling goods in “imperial” units but this seems mainly because of US influence along with the fact that their own process stalled.

    Interestingly, I was looking at a Canadian on-line newspaper article about a bridge replacement in Ontario yesterday and the animated demonstration actually used “6 inches” at least twice (http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/flash/bridge/bridge.html).

    Tabitha asks were the Canadians given a choice. I think that is the crux of the matter… protests from one small portion of their population managed to stall completion whereby governments in other countries (such as Australia and Ireland) just pushed ahead. It’s the job of government to make the hard choices in the interest of the country, not to bow to every lobby group who shouts loud enough – did we get a choice on interest rates or whether to go to war in the Falklands? Do we get a choice when the Bank of England change interest rates? No and on the whole we look back and see that everything worked out ok. The Australians and Irish don’t seem to have a problem now they’re totally metric and if we (and Canada) had completed the jobs by now we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

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  6. Tabitha,

    People made a fuss about decimalisation, but I dont see anyone calling for pounds, shillings and pence to be re-introduced.

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