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  #1  
Old Posted May 3, 2018, 3:50 PM
ghYHZ ghYHZ is offline
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Geographic Misconceptions

As a follow-on to the recent Geography Quiz….lets hear some of the Geographic Misconceptions or comments you've heard from those who might be a bit Geographically challenged!

Here in the Maritimes…..people think we are a lot further north than we are.

-Halifax is further south than Montreal….and at the same latitude as Genoa Italy on the Mediterranean. (but I don’t think I would want to go for a swim here yet!)

-All the Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick…..as well as a good portion of the island of Newfoundland (not a Maritime Province....another misconception!) are south of the 49th parallel which is the US/Canada Border across the west.

-We were in Massachusetts awhile back and staying at a hotel just outside of Boston. Loading up the car on the last morning of our stay the couple parked in the next space noted our Nova Scotia plate: “are you ever far from home……that’s up by Greenland isn’t it?.....how many days will it take you to drive there?” ……. “About 10 hours…….We’ll be across the border at lunch time and home for supper” But I don’t think they believed me. They had Virginia plates……which is roughly the same distance!

Last edited by ghYHZ; May 3, 2018 at 4:07 PM.
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  #2  
Old Posted May 3, 2018, 4:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ghYHZ View Post
Here in the Maritimes…..people think we are a lot further north than we are.
Indeed. There are portions of both NS and NB that are below the 45th parallel, just like southern Ontario.

Regarding your parking lot encounter, I find the geographic ignorance of our American friends knows no bounds. Occasionally you will get surprised however.

I'm just back from a week long conference in Washington DC. The same conference next year is in Honolulu, and there was a booth at the conference promoting the upcoming event manned by a native Hawaiian. I dropped by the booth to get a free chocolate covered macadamia nut and chatted with him for a second. He asked where I was from and when I said Moncton, he knew precisely where that was. Turns out his girlfriend is a fan of Anne of Green Gables and they had travelled to PEI at some point in the past, stopping in Moncton along the way. I thought that was pretty good.......
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  #3  
Old Posted May 3, 2018, 4:25 PM
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Ours are obvious - that we're very far north or not as far east.

We are about the same latitude as Seattle, and closer to Rome than Victoria. Bermuda, the Carribbean, etc are all west of us.

Another is that the island is small. It's 1,110km to drive from southern tip to northern tip, and 917km from east to west. It takes two days (including the ferry, and if you're lucky enough to not be delayed) to drive from St. John's to Halifax. 22 hours minimum if you dont even need to press the brakes going from highway into ferry. Halifax is also roughly halfway if you're driving from St. John's to Toronto. There is a hell of a lot west of us before the rest of Canada.
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Old Posted May 3, 2018, 4:39 PM
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I spent part of my younger years living in an Ontario community just east of Ottawa.

Since my parents were from the Acadian Maritimes we had lots of friends and relatives who lived in Atlantic Canada or Quebec (where quite a few Acadians had migrated).

One thing that was very annoying to us was the perception that because we were in "Ontario" that somehow it was really far away - being in Ontario meant we were next to Toronto somewhere. Five hours away.

So we'd get people telling us all the time, who were visiting or had visited Montreal, that they'd love to come see us, but it's too far away and they didn't have time! And yet if they were already in Montreal we were barely over an hour away.

Maybe they just didn't want to come see us...
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Old Posted May 3, 2018, 4:49 PM
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One of the better Newfoundland ones I heard was of a fellow on a refueling stop in Gander...making the comment in the airport restaurant that it was ‘cool’ to be eating ice-cream so close to the North Pole. He didn’t realize he was now further south than he had been when leaving London 5 hrs earlier!

Last edited by ghYHZ; May 3, 2018 at 5:08 PM.
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  #6  
Old Posted May 3, 2018, 5:02 PM
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Misonception: That Winnipeg is categorically a Western City, when in fact it is closer (1518 kilometres) to Toronto than to Vancouver (1871 kilometres)
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Old Posted May 3, 2018, 5:05 PM
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I'm not sure how true this is but someone working in tourism in Vancouver once claimed that visitors to the city sometimes point at Vancouver Island off in the distance and ask "is that Japan?"
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  #8  
Old Posted May 3, 2018, 5:13 PM
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I'm not sure how true this is but someone working in tourism in Vancouver once claimed that visitors to the city sometimes point at Vancouver Island off in the distance and ask "is that Japan?"
I wouldn't rule it out. On this forum, most of us are probably in the top 20% of geographic knowledge; some are probably in the top 1% (I'm probably not one of them).

But the ignorance of most people about geography and of the world, in general, is really astounding, and you don't have to go far to find it.

About ten years ago, I worked for a company where we hired analysts in a series of interviews, one of which would be based on case questions (e.g. "How many kleenex boxes were sold in Canada?"). Anyway, someone we were interviewing began their answer on the right, logical track, but it went south very soon afterward. She began by saying that she would start with the population of Canada: "I think it's about 50,000" she guessed. She didn't get the job.
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Old Posted May 3, 2018, 5:16 PM
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The fact that the "south shore" of Montreal is actually east of Montreal, not south, for the most part.
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Old Posted May 3, 2018, 5:24 PM
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Originally Posted by hipster duck View Post
I wouldn't rule it out. On this forum, most of us are probably in the top 20% of geographic knowledge; some are probably in the top 1% (I'm probably not one of them).

But the ignorance of most people about geography and of the world, in general, is really astounding, and you don't have to go far to find it.

About ten years ago, I worked for a company where we hired analysts in a series of interviews, one of which would be based on case questions (e.g. "How many kleenex boxes were sold in Canada?"). Anyway, someone we were interviewing began their answer on the right, logical track, but it went south very soon afterward. She began by saying that she would start with the population of Canada: "I think it's about 50,000" she guessed. She didn't get the job.
People who have literally no idea of the *scale* of a place's population are out there for sure. It boggles my mind every time.
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Old Posted May 3, 2018, 5:29 PM
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Sometimes English Canada media (MuckLeans for example, but also more recently the Vancouver Sun) talks about Toronto and Vancouver as the two largest cities in Canada.

(Deliberately?) omitting Montreal.
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  #12  
Old Posted May 3, 2018, 5:35 PM
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Originally Posted by 1overcosc View Post
The fact that the "south shore" of Montreal is actually east of Montreal, not south, for the most part.
Even my dad, who grew up in Montreal, was skeptical when I mentioned that the 40, a freeway deemed to be "east-west", is, on the island, actually totally north/south in orientation for a while. I mean he knew, like everyone, that it was going northeast and not anywhere close to due east, but he didn't realize it was going true north in places. Similarly, I recall once a conversation with my cousin who lives in Brossard, he said something like "this place X is west of place Y", and I had the impulse to say "you mean south of place Y", and he said, well, yes, but that's the same thing here. Roads in Brossard are deemed to go west and east when they are actually instead going north and south. (Freeway 30, Taschereau, 132, etc.)

However it's still generally true that the South Shore is due south of Montreal, too... it's just it's also southeast and east, the same way that the North Shore is also, in addition to being north of the city, northwest and west of it.

South Shore cities like Delson and Ste-Catherine are actually south of Mtl, while North Shore ones like Terrebonne and Mascouche are north of it.

Places like Varennes and St-Eustache are still considered to be on their respective shores even though as you point out they're geographically way more "east" and "west" of the city.

In Quebec, as you probably know already, the River is deemed to be flowing west->east for basic geographical purposes. This is furthest from reality on the Montreal to Sorel segment, so Montreal East and Brossard are among the places in the provinces that are the most "out of whack" with actual geography with their East/West/North/South numbered roads and freeways.
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  #13  
Old Posted May 3, 2018, 5:37 PM
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Originally Posted by MolsonExport View Post
Misonception: That Winnipeg is categorically a Western City, when in fact it is closer (1518 kilometres) to Toronto than to Vancouver (1871 kilometres)
Wait...what? I've always thought Winnipeg was smack dab in the middle between Toronto and Vancouver. I've done the drive between southern Ontario and Winnipeg a dozen times all three ways, and it was always verging on 24 hours.

Just checked on Google Maps:

Via northern Ontario: 2,079 km
Via northern Michigan-Wisconsin: 2,032 km
Via Detroit-Chicago-Minneapolis: 2,236 km (though that's the fastest way due to the interstate highways)

Winnipeg to Vancouver: 2,294 km
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  #14  
Old Posted May 3, 2018, 5:43 PM
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Wait...what? I've always thought Winnipeg was smack dab in the middle between Toronto and Vancouver. I've done the drive between southern Ontario and Winnipeg a dozen times all three ways, and it was always verging on 24 hours.

Just checked on Google Maps:

Via northern Ontario: 2,079 km
Via northern Michigan-Wisconsin: 2,032 km
Via Detroit-Chicago-Minneapolis: 2,236 km (though that's the fastest way due to the interstate highways)

Winnipeg to Vancouver: 2,294 km
You're using different metrics, both equally valid (both having their own pros and cons)... distance as the crow flies, versus driving distance.

I'm not even sure which I'd pick, they're both good.

From Quebec, St. John's is further than Florida using your metric, which is why I've never been to the former in my life, and have no personal ties whatsoever to anyone there, etc.; but it's closer to Quebec using MolsonEx's metric, which is why both of them share a bunch of characteristics (flora, fauna, geography, cultural habits rooted in climate, etc.) that aren't shared with Florida.

Another good example would be whether Windsor, Ontario is closer to Detroit than it is to London/Hamilton/Toronto. I think the only right answer is "it depends".
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Old Posted May 3, 2018, 5:44 PM
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Originally Posted by lio45 View Post

In Quebec, as you probably know already, the River is deemed to be flowing west->east for basic geographical purposes. This is furthest from reality on the Montreal to Sorel segment, so Montreal East and Brossard are among the places in the provinces that are the most "out of whack" with actual geography with their East/West/North/South numbered roads and freeways.
And with that comes the classic "par en haut" (up) and "par en bas" (down).

Je monte à Montréal. (Up to Montreal)

Je descends à Québec. (Down to Quebec City)
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  #16  
Old Posted May 3, 2018, 5:44 PM
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Greenland is the same size if not bigger than Africa. Stupid Mercator projection.

Maps lie. How to Lie with Maps

So much of what we know is based on how information is presented to us and a rather large percentage of the population knows little about how statistics and maps can be made to show many different versions of facts and lead us to all sorts of interesting conclusions.
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  #17  
Old Posted May 3, 2018, 5:52 PM
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And with that comes the classic "par en haut" (up) and "par en bas" (down).

Je monte à Montréal. (Up to Montreal)

Je descends à Québec. (Down to Quebec City)
Hmm, I recall we had that exact conversation here, and I've always been firmly in the camp that is convinced that this is 100% rooted in elevation, i.e. literally going up or down.

More specifically, from a Canadian POV, given that the main means of transportation for a long time was the River, from Quebec City, you're going up to Trois-Rivières, then up to Montreal, then if you want to continue, up to Kingston, then up to Buffalo, then up to Windsor/Detroit, then up to Fort Mackinac, then up to Thunder Bay and Minnesota, and you can follow a river up if you want to go further inland.

The "low countries" from a point of view of Eastern Canada, are down towards the Gulf. My mom and mom's relatives and gf's relatives always "go down" to the Gaspé from Southern Quebec. For traditionally seafaring people, that reference is obvious and natural, I'm pretty sure.
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Old Posted May 3, 2018, 6:04 PM
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on a refueling stop in Gander
They still do those?
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  #19  
Old Posted May 3, 2018, 6:05 PM
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And with that comes the classic "par en haut" (up) and "par en bas" (down).

Je monte à Montréal. (Up to Montreal)

Je descends à Québec. (Down to Quebec City)
While Ontarians often say that they are going "down East", I've never heard anyone say that they are going "down to Montreal". Logical fail, istm.
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Old Posted May 3, 2018, 6:13 PM
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While Ontarians often say that they are going "down East", I've never heard anyone say that they are going "down to Montreal". Logical fail, istm.
We do something similar. Cardinal directions are rarely used in daily conversation or street names here, but to the extent they are, they're wrong. In our minds St. John's faces east, but if you're standing on the harbourfront you're actually facing southeast. So lots of our East End is northwest of the West End, etc.

As for Canada, it's all "up". American border seems to be the dividing line. You go up to Halifax, down to Boston. Up to Toronto, down to New York. Older people would just say "up along" for all of them, though.
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