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EDITORIAL – Welcome aboard the Imperial-metric bandwagon, Boris

(Image: Mel Rothenburger file photo)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

WHAT DO THE QUEEN’S JUBILEE and FireSmart have in common?

I’ll explain. I was at a community FireSmart meeting the other night in which several speakers explained what homeowners can do to reduce the risk of losing their homes to a wildfire.

When it got to the part about creating a fireproof zone around buildings, one of them noted there should be nothing flammable within five feet. Then he corrected himself, pointing out the official literature says 1.5 meters and that he’s still trying to figure out metric.

I feel his pain. Canada is officially metric but we use a dog’s breakfast of metric and Imperial measurements that actually works surprisingly well.

Embattled Boris Johnson must have noticed because he wants to allow Imperial measure a new foothold in the U.K. While a few Imperial measurements are still used there, stores might now be allowed to sell things in pounds and ounces as well as grams.

For whatever reason, the move was connected with the Queen’s just-concluded Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Maybe the Queen has trouble with metric herself.

At any rate, it seems an entirely civilized thing to do. Here in the colonies, we co-exist quite well between the two systems, though it seems ridiculous that juice is sold in 1.36 litre bottles. Who can visualize that? Kilometres and Celsius, though, get along just fine beside 65-inch TV screens and size 10 shoes.

Some, of course, insist we should do away with Imperial altogether and decree metric-only as the law. Can you imagine going into a lumber store and buying a 50.8 by 101.6 millimetre board?

In my books, a full return to Imperial would be in order but that won’t happen. Canada has been at this for 52 years — not nearly as long as the Queen has been on the throne, but long enough, so let’s leave it alone. To our friends across the pond, long live the Queen, and welcome back to Imperial.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (9116 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca 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 ArmchairMayor.ca 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.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – Welcome aboard the Imperial-metric bandwagon, Boris

  1. Our local food store is in Imperial,with metric below in smaller letters. Ask almost anyone how tall they are or how much they weigh and their answer will be in Imperial .If they are visitors from Blighty it could be in Stones. 14 lbs to the stone.70 plus years ago my wooden school ruler had inches on one side and centimeters on the other but unlike Sean we did’nt all become scientists.He has his world,most of the rest of us peasants have ours. I was 185,lbs that is, on the button this morning, and it,s going to be awhile before they get a
    Wyoming cowboy or the folks in Appalachia on metric or even us BC mountain folk.

  2. Sean McGuinness // June 6, 2022 at 8:03 AM // Reply

    Canada never went fully metric because somehow lumber companies couldn’t sell 5 x 10 cm board and trucking companies couldn’t make signs that say “Stay back 5 metres”. As someone who teaches in the sciences, imperial units are horrible. Technically a pound is not a unit of mass. It is a unit of force. Ounces are used interchangeably as units of volume and mass. Then there are imperial gallons vs U.S. gallons. Things like the 400 yard dash are well, gone (but there are still 400 yard tracks in the U.S). The point is metric makes total sense because it’s based on factors of 10 (not 12 or whatever). It is unambiguous. It is universally used in Science. Europe has adopted metric for decades without having to convert everything back to inches and feet. But alas we are tethered to an archaic system of units invented by a stubborn island people who still drive on the left side of the road.

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