NATIONAL PULSE – Canada is miles, or rather, kilometres, away from a uniform system of measurement

(Mel Rothenburger photo)

(Mel Rothenburger photo)

Metric or Imperial? The question, apparently, still isn’t settled.
Last Nov. 29, an ArmchairMayor editorial proposed a return to the “good old” Imperial system because metric has proven a failure. The above photo was published to prove the point — it which shows a truck with a warning to “STAY BACK 30 FEET.” Just a few minutes a truck was spotted with a similar sign, but it said, “STAY BACK 10 METRES.”
Reaction from readers was mixed. Some like metric, some like Imperial, some were OK with both. Today, the Agnus Reid Institute released the findings of a national survey that says opinions across the country depend partly on age, which is understandable. Here’s what Angus Reid has to say about the results:


Young people use metric the most, but nearly everyone thinks of their height and weight in imperial

How tall is Sidney Crosby? And how far is it from Vancouver to Halifax? For most Canadians, the answers to these questions are “5 feet, 11 inches,” and “6,160 km,” respectively.

Contained within these answers is a distinctly Canadian contradiction: Although this country officially went metric in the 1970s, there are many day-to-day measurements for which Canadians have not forgotten their imperial roots.

A new public opinion poll from the Angus Reid Institute finds this is especially true of older Canadians, who were schooled in a system of pounds and gallons instead of kilograms and litres.

Conversely, younger (under 25) Canadians’ stated unfamiliarity with the imperial system suggests the shift towards the metric system will continue as time goes on.

But even those who came of age after the official shift have hardly embraced metric across-the-board, and it appears that Canadians, young and old, are content to continue using both systems in their daily lives.


Key Findings:
• The most commonly used metric measurement is Celsius to measure air temperature (87% of Canadians do so), while imperial is most often used for personal height and weight (91% of Canadians use feet and pounds over centimetres and kilograms)
• Most Canadians say they know each system either “very well” or “fairly well,” with more expressing this degree of familiarity with metric (86%) than imperial (74%)
• Two-thirds of Canadians (67%) are perfectly fine with the country’s mixture of measurements. The rest split roughly evenly between saying they’d prefer to go back to imperial (16%) and saying the country should “work harder” to fully embrace metric (17%)

Metric vs. Imperial: Which is used for what measurements?
Canada made its first formal switch from imperial to metric units on April 1, 1975. That was the first day weather reports gave temperatures in degrees Celsius, rather than Fahrenheit. Many did not take kindly to the change.

More than 40 years later, Celsius is the default measure for air temperature in the minds of nearly all Canadians, but other changes in measurement have not stuck quite so well.

Asked what units they think of first when considering 10 common measurement situations, Canadians express a preference for imperial measurements on six of them, as seen in the infographic:


Link to the poll here:

About Mel Rothenburger (5782 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on NATIONAL PULSE – Canada is miles, or rather, kilometres, away from a uniform system of measurement

  1. R A George // March 2, 2017 at 11:04 AM // Reply

    We are neighbours with almost 400 million people to the south of us who are the same mix as us, What separates us is a very long basically undefended border and a different method of ruling the nation.One is as corrupt as the other at times.Mr.Trudeau lied to us all to be elected and then reneged on every promise.He,s pretty well a chip off the old block.
    Metric?? basically a pain in the butt forced on Canadians during Pierres reign.Most of us have leaned against the winds of Ottawa.The present situation works just fine.When the folks in Appalachia finally accept metric,and none alive today will live to see it, Globalism will have been successful.

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