This paper analyses junior academic staff's (assistant professors) perceptions of academic work in a highly decentralised Canadian ‘system’. Drawing on recent work by the authors on Canadian university tenure processes and remuneration, the paper compares the perceptions of assistant professor respondents with senior (associate full professor) peers to the Canadian component of the Changing Academic Professions (CAP) survey. The analysis suggests that junior academic staff perceive the academic workplace as reasonably positive and supportive. In addition to relatively high levels of satisfaction, institutional support and remuneration, the findings suggest that there are minimal substantive differences in levels of work and work patterns between junior and more senior academic staff, a finding at odds with the general literature and common sentiment, which suggests junior staff work longer hours. The differences that do emerge appear to be more modest and nuanced than is popularly characterised.