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10 phrases you’re guaranteed to hear in Ontario

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We tend to think of Newfoundland as the only province that has a really unique dialect—but, believe it or not, Ontario has its share of quirky phrases too. From London to Fort Severn, the province is a treasure trove of head-scratching vocabulary.

For those who reside out of province, here’s a guide to some truly Ontarian phrases.

“Can you drop by the LCBO and pick up a mickey of Canadian Club?”

In Ontario, you can only buy liquor at stores regulated by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, referred to colloquially as the “lick-boh.” A mickey is a 375 ml bottle of liquor, usually plastic and curved slightly—perfect for fitting in your back pocket.

“I’m going over to The Beer Store for a two-four of Canadian.”

As with the sale of liquor, the sale of beer is mostly restricted in Ontario to specially licensed stores called, in what must be the most literal name in the history of stores, The Beer Store. A two-four is, not surprisingly, a case of 24 beers.

“Yikes! I can’t believe how high my hydro bill is!”

This makes more sense when you know that in Ontario (and a few other provinces) “hydro” is actually short for “hydroelectricity.” Ontario gets more than a third of its electricity from water sources like Niagara Falls, but saying “hydroelectricity” every time you want to complain about your utility bill is a mouthful, so it gets shortened to “hydro.”

“Good thing you deked around that mud puddle!”

Derived from “decoy,” to deke is technically a hockey term meaning to move quickly around an opponent by changing direction or speed.

“What are your plans for May Two-Four?”

The Victoria Day long weekend is called “May Two-Four”—ostensibly because May 24 is actually Victoria’s birthday, but really because it marks the start of the summer beer drinking season. (You’ll likely be drinking a two-four over the weekend.)

“I’m spending the weekend up north.”

For Southern Ontarians, “up north” means anywhere further north than Barrie—a distinction that would probably be challenged by someone living in Fort Severn.

“Can you pick up a bag of homo?”

Yes, Ontarians (and some other provinces) get their milk in bags, which mystifies folks in other provinces that use cartons and plastic jugs. “Homo” milk refers to homogenized milk with 3.25% butterfat.

“I’m starving. Let’s get a beaver tail.”

Everywhere has some version of slabs of deep fried dough—they’re called elephant ears, doughboys, fried bread, and flying saucers in other places. In Ontario they’re called beaver tails, originally made popular in Ottawa by the kiosk of the same name and now available across the country.

“Wendel Clark had a beauty of a shot.”

Used constantly by iconic Canucks Bob and Doug McKenzie, “beauty” refers to something exceptional or a job well done. Although now used more widely across Canada, you’re guaranteed to hear “beauty” or “beaut” in Ontario.

“Oh, it’s not too far—just a couple of klicks down the road.”

We suspect other provinces say “klicks” too, but it’s definitely a common phrase in Ontario. A “klick” is a slang term for a kilometre, and apparently originated in the US military—even though it’s widely considered to be a characteristically Canadian phrase.