Foreign Countries: They are Different: Signage Edition.

Posted by Bron on March 20, 2012

Montreal is awesome, but some of the signs here weird me out. People usually cite the fact that ‘STOP’ signs here actually say ‘ARRET’ (which is sooooooo crazy – they don’t even say that in FRANCE lolz) to demonstrate how French it is. The least confusing sign in Quebec. But I doubt any foreigners like myself have ever had trouble figuring this one out because the sign is so recognisable.

However, I have found two signs that I am yet to figure out after eight months of living here and it has more to do with the lack of words.


The mystery object –

Can be found on the sides of many buildings downtown

What IS this? Someone told me it was supposed to signify an underground water main, but I can’t find anywhere to confirm this. And anyway, WHO DRAWS A WATER MAIN LIKE THAT? Based on what it actually looks like, it could mean any of these things:

  • Watch for uncomfortable bicycles
  • Pedestrians wearing round shoes
  • Caution: upside-down flower pots
  • Double pocket-watch zone
  • Executive desk toys sold here –



The mystery activity –

On the ferry in Quebec City

This one I actually find quite alarming. You are on a large boat in the middle of an icy river and it’s about to dock, you are clearly supposed to be doing something urgently because the little arrow people are running, but WHAT?

  • Parents: eat your children NOW
  • There are only two lifeboats, hurry!
  • Quick, everybody grab a human shield


Now, HERE is an example of an unambiguous sign –

Featuring a snowflake the size of a car

Sure, it’s telling me that when it snows my Volvo will be destroyed by a frosty boulder falling from the roof and an icy shard will pierce my skull and end my life, but AT LEAST I KNOW WHAT’S COMING.