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It's All About the Money

If I were forced at gunpoint to explain the difference between people in the UK and people in Canada, I would say it was all about public versus private.

In Edmonton, there has been outcry against security cameras on Whyte Ave. For those of you not familiar with Whyte Ave, it is "the" bar strip in Edmonton. During the day, it's packed with buskers and people shopping in lovely little stores and drinking lots of designer coffees. At night, there's still buskers, but the number of young women wearing very little and young men proving something with their manly cars goes up. It's that sort of area, and there are more police officers on Whyte Ave on the weekend than anywhere else in the city. After the riots there one Canada Day, the Old Strathcona Businesses wanted the cameras there to help cut down crime. I remember getting back from China and feeling very uncomfortable with the idea, and hearing quite a bit about it from friends who thought it a very bad thing and a violation of privacy.

Here? Closed Circut T.V. is everywhere. You can't walk down any street in this city, can't walk into any store in this city, without being on at least one camera, if not two or three. They're on the buses, they're on the trains, they're in the parks. You are constantly on camera here. And no one seems to mind.

Entirely different issues about public versus private is about privatization. Back in Canada, each city runs its own buses. It's the City of Edmonton that runs the Edmonton Transit Service and makes decisions about where the buses go, how late they run, and how often. The Council recently voted to keep in service a bunch of very old trolley-type buses despite ETS people saying what a bad idea this was.

Compare that to here. There's a cornacopia of bus choices here. Off the top of my head, I can think of three private transit buses running in the city. I happen to take Lothian Buses, which are run by the Council, but there are several other options. You can get anywhere here by bus, and the buses do run 24 hours. There seems to be some agreements about where buses run and most bus stops are shared between companies, but the whole thing gives you a lot of choices. It's the same in other major cities here as well, from what I can tell.

But the strangest difference is the money.

Every bank here prints its own money. (Now that I've made an absolute statement, someone will correct me. Please do!) I've seen the bank notes from the Clydesdale and the Royal Bank of Scotland, as well as English and Irish pound notes. Scottish notes are different than both of those. (Irish notes are greener, Scottish notes tend to be browner.) When traveling outside of the UK, it's recommended that you change over all of your Scottish notes to English ones, because Scottish notes are difficult if not impossible to get taken as currency outside of the UK.

Can you imagine if Alberta printed its own money? And having people in Ontario look at it strangely and check to see if it's real?

When I was in Wales, all of my Scottish notes were checked to see if they were forgeries. Passing Scottish notes with a Canadian accent did get me a few odd looks in pubs.

I don't know how they manage things so the currency isn't devalued, but they obviously do. It's weird, though, having all the different colours and pictures and stuff mixed up. I'm always having to check notes at least twice before I'm certain of what they are.

The only thing that seems consistent is the coins. Which is funny because in Canada, with all the commemorative and province specific coins, they all look different to me.


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Ok I've voted for Mark. I hope he wins because that Raquel looks shifty. She'd probably steal all the office supplies. He should mention that.

Just caught up with all your France photos Anna - v. nice The only problem with travelling alone is none of the photos feature yourself. You have to practice the one arm reverse self portrait.

great post- the ones that show up differences between countries are always interesting...but different notes in the same place?? that is bizzare....

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