Brits making the move to Toronto — Part 1: The questions

Andy McLachlan 1

Andy and family happily start planning a life of Poutine, Christmas stuff on sale in October and buffering Premiership feeds at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday

This is a new — and exciting — one. Andy McLachlan sent an e-mail to Brits in Toronto a few months ago with an offer: would we like to document his British family’s move to Toronto?

We had two questions: (1) Will it cost us any money? (2) Can you write it for us?

Satisfied with the answers, we waited … and Andy got back to us this week: “Sorry for the delay! I’ve been busy making life decisions and planning. Having written some moany Brexit-bashing waffle, I’ve put together the following in the hopes of getting some advice ;-). I’m willing to contribute more to the blog as the story develops if you’d like.”

And so, Brits in Toronto is proud to present the first in a series of posts by guest contributor Andy as he documents Lancashire’s loss and Toronto’s gain. This is part 1 and we’re thinking it may last as many as 8 or 9 if we stretch it out a bit, but we’ll see how it goes …

Part 1: The questions

Hi British Bloke,

Faced with a relocation choice between moving to the South East of England or Toronto, guess which we’ve decided on? We fly from Manchester on December 22; me, my wife Laura and boys aged 6 and 2. Laura has a job lined up starting January 2 downtown close to Yonge and Queen, and I’ll be a homeworker/chief child wrangler.

Our house in Lancashire is for sale, and we’ll be shipping furniture over at some point, somehow.

We’re looking for somewhere to live that is easy for work, close to schools and with a possibility to buy in future. We know the city, having lived and worked there for a year in 2010. Since then, we’ve visited a couple of times, and we have some amazing friends who can help us out with various things.

Our plan is to stay in an Airbnb for a month in a reasonable neighbourhood, find a school for our 6-year-old, and rent somewhere nearby soon after that. We’re thinking the area around the Southern Annex/Palmerston/Little Italy/Christie Pits … which we know is relatively expensive but would suit us well, we think.

I hope that your readers can give me a bit of advice:

1. Shipping stuff — any good companies?
2. Accommodation and schools — is our plan completely barmy? We’re open to advice! We’ve also considered Leslieville/Riverdale.
3. Any tips for moving over with little ones? For example, on our last trip to Toronto in May, we learned that gently adjusting bedtimes by one hour per day seemed to work for jet lag.

Thanks and best wishes!


p.s. Anyone who responds with good advice gets a brew and a Curly Wurly.

So, there you have it. Loads of good questions. If you have some good advice feel free to post in the comments section below so any potential Brits in Toronto can benefit from Andy’s journey to this side of the pond.


Let’s all help fellow Brit Joshua find a job!

Joshua Cunningham

Joshua is looking for work in British/Political researching or reporting

It’s that time of the month again where we try to help out a fellow Brit earn an honest crust. Or better still, real money that can be exchanged for food, heat and rent.

So, welcome to Joshua. He’s not actually in Toronto yet, but will be soon so being the clever chap that he is, has started reaching out early. And we’re happy to help, possibly for some preemptive Timbits. But that would never happen. *sigh*

He writes:

“So I am a Brit (soon to be) in Toronto, with my flight is booked for the November 25. I am a lucky International Experience Canada lottery winner, and will be able to work in Canada for two years! For the last few months, I’ve been researching all the cool things I will soon be able to explore/do, but the looking for a job bit is trickier.

“So you’re offering to help out fellow Brits in that area? Thank you so much! Any advice/help will be very appreciated. Can I offer you some preemptive Timbits in return? I’ve heard they’re good.

“Firstly I’ve got no idea what is a realistic Canadian salary expectation for myself (other than above minimum wage)? If I could get a job in British/ Political researching or reporting, I would be bleeming over the moon. I want to do a masters in international relations in a few years, so anything relevant to that would be awesome.

“But dream job aside, any 9-5 office job where I get the weekend off to enjoy Canada sounds pretty good too.”

So, there’s Joshua’s ideal wishlist. If you can help — or know someone who can — please contact him at CunninghamJ95 AT outlook DOT COM … and good luck to him.

Open call to collaborate with British artist Michael Landy in DEMONSTRATION

Michael Landy

Michael Landy may transfer your submission into drawings for an exhibition in Toronto

Just recently, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery announced an open call to collaborate with British artist Michael Landy in DEMONSTRATION, the artist’s fall 2017 project at The Power Plant, which will be a continually evolving exhibition built with participation of the public.

The British community has been invited to participate in the creation of this collaborative work of art, vocalizing the key issues of Canada’s current social and political landscape.

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE? If you have an opinion on anything that impacts Canada’s social or political landscape, or affects you on a personal level, this project is for you!

HOW DO I PARTICIPATE? Submit images, words, phrases or slogans that shed light on urgent issues affecting our contemporary reality. Landy will transform selected submissions into drawings that will be installed over the course of the exhibition. Submissions will be accepted throughout the duration of the show, however those received by September 10 will be considered for the unveiling of DEMONSTRATION at its public opening on September 28.

HOW DO I SUBMIT? Send images, words, text, slogans — anything that you see or come across throughout your day that makes you feel strongly enough to protest or support — to submissions AT thepowerplant DOT ORG or simply by posting on social media using #TPPDemonstration. All the details are here.

SPREAD THE WORD! Please do share this open call information with other Brits as well as with supporters, other groups or organizations, friends, fellow advocates and art-lovers or anyone else that may be interested. Your thoughts and opinions are important, and we need to hear them!

If you need more information contact Adrianna Marling at amarling AT thepowerplant DOT ORG or call 416-954-0013.

Show off your patriotic British roots with this blanket from i am baby

I Am Baby

i am baby

The following is sponsored content.

Have you relocated from the United Kingdom, and have just had a baby over here in Canada? How do you plan on making sure your kid knows all about their background from a young age? Sharing your child’s heritage is a must, so introduce them to the British ways from young age by bringing the iconic Union Jack into their bedroom in a tasteful way.

If you’re a Brit living in Canada, the company i am baby has the perfect item to make sure your little one is brought up feeling patriotic of their British roots, whilst championing beautiful home-grown products from the new country you have settled in.

Long-gone are the memories of stereotypical British memorabilia from cheap shops which line the streets in London. You don’t need to fill your baby’s room with plastic red buses, pictures of the Queen, or start feeding them fish and chips from an early age to make them appreciate the British culture. I am baby has created and designed a muslin blanket right here in Canada, with subtle but smart union jacks on it for you to show off where you’re from.

Finally, something covered in union jacks which isn’t Ginger Spice at the Brit Awards and isn’t tacky items which fall apart.

I am baby believes that patriotism to your country and its traditional customs, wherever you hail from, is something which is important and should be taught early. So, if you’re a Brit in Canada you must tell your kid all about the country of his or her ancestors. We know that Canada is an awesome country, but England is pretty good too, with its royal family, terrible weather, cups of tea, and typical British politeness.

What’s the best way to bring some of those British vibes into your child’s bedroom? This 100% organic cotton fabric muslin swaddle blanket. Covered in the Union Jack, you can proudly show off where you began whilst familiarising your child with the country you came from, all whilst keeping your kid cosy and comfortable at the same time.

I Am Baby blanket

One of the beauties of Canada is how many people from across the globe come and settle in our fabulous country, so the muslin blankets from i am baby come with all different flags on to suit our lovely locals. No matter what country you hail from, there’s a blanket for you and your family.

The muslin blankets are super chic and funky, so your British baby in Canada can have the best of both worlds when it comes to looking stylish. Of course, keeping your baby comfortable is the most important thing, so it’s good to note that these blankets aren’t just chucked together with any old material. The blankets are made from certified 100% organic cotton fabric, making them so lush that you will probably want one for yourself no matter how old you are.

I am baby sampled loads of different textures and densities of muslin from all over the world before settling on the best and most luxurious fabric, and have put a lot of effort into making the blankets the best they can be.

The cotton muslin blanket comes in a custom size to fit your baby perfectly, and there are plenty of ways in which you can use it. Use your blanket as a swaddle, a breast-feeding shield, a stroller cover, or a comfort blanket for your little one. The best thing about this blanket, is that those flags won’t wash off when it gets covered in dribble and must be put into the washing machine regularly as a result.

I Am Baby package

Embrace the customs and cultures from your motherland! A muslin blanket is a must for any baby as we all know how important comfort is when they’re tiny.

Get your i am baby muslin blanket for your little Brit here and show off that UK pride in the Union Jack print for all to see. Head over to social media to join in with the chat as well, where you can tell i am baby where you’re from and what your story to Canada is.

There are also hashtags you can be involved with for showing off your British roots in the muslin blanket. Use #iambaby and #borntobeloyal to meet other Brits in Canada who have wrapped their baby in this beautiful product, and follow and like on social media by clicking on the links below.

I am baby Facebook
I am baby Twitter
I am baby Instagram

Are you from the UK and now living in Canada? Do you have kids? What do you do to teach them about their British heritage? Let us know your thoughts on how important it is to give your child the knowledge of their heritage in the comments below!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Adam Burwell

Adam Burwell

Archaeologist Adam searches through the ruins of Arsenal’s defence

“Sorry this took so long … my newborn decided I wasn’t allowed time to myself.”

Excuses, excuses Adam! We had to wait, like, literally a WEEK for you to respond.

But it was worth it. We learn about why he’s here … where other Brits hang out … and his favourite pies. All good stuff.

Here’s his views on what life is like as a Successful Brit in Toronto.

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

In short, love! While travelling through Cuzco, Peru, I met my Torontonian wife-to-be. After flying back and forth so much that the “welcome home” sign in Toronto Pearson Airport actually started to mean something I made the hop across for good.

For a long time we had been unsure where would be best to start off — Canada or the UK — as we love both for different reasons. In the end though, Canada won and three years down the line I can happily say that, for now at least, it was the right decision.

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

I wasn’t hindered by the “Canadian experience” per se … more by the fact that it took well over a year to be issued with a work permit. This was thanks to a backlog and the fact it was being processed alongside my spousal visa.

If I were to give one piece of advice to people planning on coming across it would be to lock down a job before coming. It will make your lives a lot easier!

The good news is, once the paperwork is out of the way the opportunities come thick and fast. Toronto is a city on the rise and so whatever your interests are, there will be jobs appearing in that field.

One of Toronto’s true strengths is its communities and by throwing yourself into these you will uncover a rich network of ideas, connections and opportunities.

For me, after a career in climate science back in the UK I fancied a change so I turned my boyhood interest into my profession, and am now an archaeologist.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

When I first visited Toronto I remember thinking how ramshackle many areas of the city looked with its rows of old housing now turned into businesses. But, the longer I’ve been here and the deeper I’ve looked the more I’ve realized this is in fact Toronto’s strength.

There is potential everywhere. Everyone is welcome to try anything they want to do, whether this is a business idea, a hobby or simply exploring a different cuisine! I think it is this ethos which provides the glue between Toronto’s plethora of vibrant communities.

Worst aspect? Well as the saying goes, you can take the lad out of Yorkshire but you can’t take Yorkshire out of the lad. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there are many times where I miss my family, friends and my old stomping grounds. More so now than ever now I have a little baby son who I wish could spend more time with his British family.

In coming across here though, you reconcile this in your own way and simply accept that in the same way people pay taxes, you’ll be paying for flights!

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

We Brits all seem to have the same hobbies. I haven’t actively sought out other Brits but I always seem to bump into them seeking home comforts; at the pub, the football, hiking, church etc. It also seems Brits and archaeology go hand in hand!

The newest British gathering spot I’ve heard rumoured (but alas have yet to try out) is the new Toronto rugby league team the Toronto Wolfpack. Last I checked they were destroying the English lower leagues.

I know it’s neither in Toronto nor British, but The Irish Harp Pub in Niagara-on-the-Lake deserves special mention. The pies take you home in a bite … and not many places serve fish and chips with two fish as standard!

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

Despite Toronto being a world within itself, get out and explore Ontario. You’re in Canada, the land synonymous with beautiful scenery. Go enjoy it!

Thanks Adam — we’ll definitely check out those pies next time a relative flies in and we do the customary and expected designated driver road trip to Niagara Falls and back along the scenic route.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Alison Copeland

Alison Copeland

DJ Amber dressed for action for her weekly radio show, Rapsolute

Great with a pen and quick to spot an opportunity, Alison Copeland is a Communications Specialist with more than 10 years of experience supporting the PR, marketing and business writing needs of professional service firms.

When she’s not blurring the boundaries between marketing and PR for her business Copeland Creative, she’s creating clever ways to keep listeners hooked into her weekly music show that she hosts and produces under the moniker DJ Amber on Toronto’s newest Internet radio station, iLive Radio.

We caught up with Alison/DJ Amber to find out a bit more about what brought her to Toronto and whether all those multitude of knobs on the DJ decks actually do anything when you twiddle them randomly and shout “Yeaahh, boom boom boom … let me hear you say ‘wayooooo! Wayooooo!'”

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

I was definitely looking for adventure, because my creative life had plateaued in London, and I was thinking, right, what’s next?

Then I discovered the Student Work Abroad Program (SWAP) from a tiny “blink and you might miss it” classified ad in The Guardian newspaper. They were looking for gap year students who wanted to work abroad in cities like Toronto, Johannesburg and New York.

I chose Toronto, because it was relatively safer than the other two cities. Plus, I had visited once before in 2004 and I was impressed with how far the British pound stretched.

Rent prices in Toronto, for example are 39% cheaper than in London!

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

Interestingly, I landed my first Toronto job within 24 hours. I was boarding at the Global Village Backpackers Hostel, right at the intersection of King and Spadina (sadly, it’s no longer there) and there was a Jamaican restaurant about one block north called the Ackee Tree (which is also no longer there).

After ordering the jerk chicken dinner, I told the owner that if they needed a waitress, I was just one block away and could work late nights. The owner was like “when can you start?”

Four months later, I got my first corporate break, by becoming the face and voice (receptionist) at one of the world’s largest advertising agencies. It was here that I convinced the Vice President of New Business (who also happened to be British) to hire me as their media relations specialist. I worked with some amazingly talented people, and enjoyed the best years of my corporate life here.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

The best part about living in Toronto is the cost of living, and its multicultural vibe. You can live in a reasonably good neighbourhood without breaking the bank, and you can also make friends from all around the world without ever needing a passport.

The worst aspect is that you have to develop a pretty thick skin to survive the winters. I still remember how ill-equipped I was for my first winter at -30. I couldn’t feel my ears at one point, and the burning sensation of breathing in ice cold air was annoying to say the least.

There’s also a tonne of construction, and the city can feel like it’s drowning in a sea of high rises.

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

I’ve been quite fortunate to meet a lot of Brits on the radio station where I host my weekly music show Rapsolute. It also helps that the station owner happens to be a British expatriate.

I’ve met fellow Brits through networking within Toronto’s creative and cultural sector, joining meet-up groups and dining at The Olde Yorke — hands down the best chippy in the city.

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

Mind how you cross the street! Cars can turn right on a red light, and even if you’ve been given the pedestrian signal to walk, you could still end up negotiating traffic when it’s your turn to walk.

Be prepared to file an income tax return each spring, even if you have a full time job, or don’t make a lot of money, because you may be eligible for tax credits and refunds on tax that you’ve already paid.

There you have it, loads of information. So catch DJ Amber on her show — if there’s a British problem she can’t fix, she can do it in the mix!