The Problem with Toque

"Took a canoe?" "Toucan Canoe?" "Toe cue can ooh?"

photo by toque & canoe

When naming our blog “Toque & Canoe,” we inadvertently took on the job of educators – having to teach anyone and everyone outside our Canadian borders just what a “toque” actually is.

We took it for granted that the entire world must surely know that the woolly knitted cap we all (yes, all of us) wear is affectionately known as “my toque.”

During a recent travel bloggers’ conference (the outstanding TBex) held in Vancouver – which was attended mostly by super interesting and educated Americans – our Canuck eyes were opened to a potential language barrier.

“Toke & Canoe? Wow, what’s the story with your blog? Maybe we can hang after the ‘narrative’ workshop?”

Since our mandate, we assure you, has absolutely nothing to do with getting high while paddling across Lake Ontario, we realized we had some work to do.

The loveable toque has a deep history in Canada.

From the coureurs de bois (the French woodsmen/explorers of 1700’s) to a paddling Pierre Elliott Trudeau (our late canoe-loving prime minister) to Justin Bieber (no explanation necessary) – we all have at least one.

Many of us have a drawer full. Just ask Toque about her collection.

First, it’s cold here. And while you might think this is reason enough to embrace toque-world, it is not always cold here.

Canada can get really freakin’ warm. Not Texas warm, but warm nonetheless.

Our toque remains the highest, coolest, hippest expression of fashion both at home and around the world – no matter what the temperature.

Just ask toque-topped stars like U2’s The Edge (Ireland), Johnny Depp (USA) or English footballer David Beckham.

Whether you’re gnoshing with the glitterati or heading out for a midnight flood in your Zamboni (that’s another blog), the humble toque is de rigueur.

So, how do you say it? Think 2 + k. Simple, eh?

What toque you so long?

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  1. Josee commented:

    Well I may be wrong but as a former Montrealer and French speaking a Toque spelled that way is what a chef wears. What we all Canadians wear and have full of drawers of is a Tuque not a Toque. Ask any French Canadians if they wear a tuque or a toque and I know what they will answer. After all both of those words are in French.

    For the sake of it I checked Webster and that is what I got for toque:

    : a tall brimless hat worn by a chef —called also toque blanche.
    : can also be a women’s brimless hat from the 16th century

    I also put in “tuque” and got the following:

    a warm knitted usually pointed stocking cap. Which is what we refer to when we wear our Tuque proudly, anything knitted of similar shape.

    To give you credit, the term toque might be used in English but the real McCoy is Tuque pronounced tük. Also it is “de rigueur” not de riguer.

    Cheers from warm Bermuda where I never have to wear a tuque anymore!


    • toque & canoe commented:

      This was the debate we had in naming our site “toque & canoe” (instead of “tuque” or “touque”). The spelling seems to have regional/cultural considerations. Toque seems to be the more common English spelling (though all 3 spellings are considered to be correct) and tuque the French spelling. We had great fun debating which to choose. Thanks so much for your comment Josee. (Will fix de rigueur – sorry for the typo) Please check back on upcoming blogs about our travels in Quebec. Cheers!


  2. Mary commented:

    While knitting toques for my family in what was Italy’s worst winter in 50 years, I had to educate a few Italians, as toque when plugged into google translate means tocco, an Italian word for touch.


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