Preaching in Canada

By John McCort

Several years ago I moved to Canada to preach for the church in Wellandport, Ontario. I was fresh out of college and this worl,, was my first fulltime work. Needless to say I was anxious to get my work off on the right foot and make a favorable impression on the brethren.

My first Sunday there I was invited to eat lunch at a young farmer’s home, After arriving at the farm, the husband 7went out to the barn to do some chores before lunch leaving me to talk to his wife and two-year old daughter. This cute two-year old crawled tip into my lap and I said, “Why, you are a cute little buggar.” Her mother’s face turned bright red and she said, “Well, I never.” She then refused to speak to me. Her husband came in a few minutes later and asked what was wrong. I told him what I had said, and he promptly told me that a “buggar” in Canada was one who is a sodomist or one who committed incest with relatives.

Communication and vocabulary differences are much more of a problem in Canada than one might think ‘ Even though they speak the English language they have many vocabulary differences from “United States” English, Anyone Who wants to preach in Canada needs to familiarize bittiself with these language differences or learn their the hard way, as I did. One Sunday evening my Nvife was ill and unable to attend services. I announced from the pulpit that my wife was “under the weather”, which prompted some hysterical laughter from the copgregation. I later learned that when somebody was “under the weather”, they were home drunk with a hangover.

It is reported that Foy E. Wallace was preaching in Windsor, Ontario many years ago and used the expression “piddling around” from the pulpit. Several women supposedly walked out on him when he used the expression. To Americans, the phrase merely means to procrastinate or waste time. In Canada the expression refers to the act of urinating. One can well imagine the embarrassment Brother Wallace felt.

There are several other language differences. Electricity is referred to as “hydro”, deriving its origin from the fact that electricity is produced in that region from Niagara Falls. Couches are called chesterfields. When I moved to Canada I took over the departing preacher’s apartment. He kept talking about his chesterfields and I thought that the man had a smoking problem, A hamburger is called a hamburg. These language differences are not radical but are different enough to cause a unsuspecting preacher a great deal of embarrassment.

Truth Magazine XX: 47, p. 741
November 25, 1976