How to pronounce Ucluelet, Tsawwassen, and that outdoor gear place


I heard this while eavesdropping (the kind of eavesdropping where people are near you and their voices are crystal clear).

The conversation went something like this.

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“I bought this jacket at Mec.”

“Mec? What’s Mec? You mean M.E.C.? Our family always calls it M.E.C.”

“No, no. We call it Mec.”

My eavesdropping left me curious.

Over at the Victoria store, I asked a cashier what the staff calls it. There’s no consensus, she said. Some call it Mec, some M.E.C., some Mountain Equipment Co-op.

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Which reminds of the story I heard from a colleague who had been out covering a meeting in Metchosin. There was a speaker who had the crowd all confused because she kept referring to something called MET-chaa-sin.

(Metchosin is home to My Chosen Cafe, which hints at how the locals pronounce Metchosin.)

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And then, there’s the Ucluelet issue. And Tsawwassen, too.

This has obviously been a point of some import, because there are several Internet entries about how you should pronounce Ucluelet. [Including this one.]

I found a lively debate about how Tsawwassen should be pronounced, sprinkled with insults. The big argument was about whether the T is silent or not.

The government of Canada has a guide to pronouncing First Nations place names in British Columbia. Unfortunately, there’s no audio, just phonetic spellings.

It says Tsawwassen is pronounced tah-WASS-en.

And Ucluelet is You-CLUE-let.

You can find the government pronunciation guide here.

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