A black Brit’s guide to Toronto

Toronto from above

Absolutely stunning shot of looking over to Hamilton in the distance

I liked this article about a black woman who lived in Toronto for five months and wrote about her experiences, so asked The Voice for permission to reprint it here. They said it was written by a freelancer who I’d need to get in touch with … but that was a couple of days ago and I’m a bit impatient.

So click here to read it if you didn’t already click the bit above where it says “this article.”

Please bring Guinness Extra Cold to Canada!

Guinness Extra Cold

Who wouldn’t want a pint of this on a hot, summer’s day in Toronto?

I just got back from two weeks in Scotland and England, and it’s fair to say partook in the odd tipple or two.

One of those said tipples was Guinness Extra Cold. Beautiful stuff.

If they can sell it in the wet and damp UK then why the flipping hell is it not on sale in Canada? Better still, Toronto!

So, come on Guinness — sort it out please!

Must-see British architecture in Toronto

British architecture

Gooderham “Flatiron” Building

Note from British Bloke: This is an interesting, relevant and FREE article sent in by Jason who would really like you to check out his site Contractors Today. Cheers!

British architecture is something that you would expect to show up in England, Ireland or surrounding countries, but many people are surprised to learn that many of the buildings put up throughout Canada are inspired by the Brits as well. That’s because British architecture was very much a part of construction 100 to 200 years ago, and there are many buildings still standing today that show off that beautiful architecture.

If you walk around Toronto you’ll see many Gothic and Victorian-style homes and buildings. Many show off sharp peaks, carefully styled window casings and large bay windows. These are all signs of British architecture and they’re amazing to observe.

Below is a list of some of the top locations and buildings that demonstrate British architecture.

Take the time to visit some of these locations and you’ll become enamored with having a house of your own that incorporates at least some of these features. Be sure to speak to a professional contractor if you are considering having a home built or would like to incorporate some true British architecture into the design and style of your current home.

Rosedale Suburb

Rosedale Suburb

Rosedale Suburb

Visitors to Toronto should take the time to explore Rosedale, a beautiful suburb that’s home to some of the nicest Queen Anne revival homes in Toronto. They’re well-known for their beautiful arched windows and massive sun rooms that bring light into the home very effectively. Victorian homes are common around Toronto today and they were originally brought to the area in the 18th and 19th centuries after the British conquered the French while going after Quebec.

St. Michael’s Cathedral

St. Michael's Cathedral

St. Michael’s Cathedral

St. Michael’s Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Toronto and has the capacity to hold up to 1,600 people at once. It was put up in 1848 and is a beautiful example of Gothic Revival construction. All the beautiful towers and angles give it an intriguing look that’s hard to ignore.

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

Casa Loma is a beautiful example of how Gothic Revival construction shows up in Toronto. It was built from 1911 to 1914 and now serves as a museum to the area. It’s open for display and is a very convenient location to visit for a look at top-notch British architecture in Canada.

Knox College

Knox College

Knox College

Knox College is an active religious school that shows off excellent British craftsmanship and design. It’s one of the best examples of British architecture in Toronto and is open to visit today. It’s still actively in use, and can be visited anytime that you want. The chapel is a particularly nice area of the school with a massive glass window that allows direct sunlight in for a nice bright viewing experience.

Hart House

Hart House

Hart House

Hart House is an activity centre for the children going to school at the University of Toronto and it’s a beautiful Gothic construction that’s tall and thin like the buildings of that era are known to be. IT was built in the early 1900’s and is still actively used today. Hart House stands out compared to all the other buildings surrounding it because it’s taller and has a grander look to it.

Fort York Armoury

Fort York Armoury

Fort York Armoury

The Fort York Armoury is truly a structural feat that’s worth looking at. The building is home to the largest lattice wood roof in all of Canada and shows off many British design elements in its construction.

Each of the buildings listed above demonstrate some form of British architecture and they’re excellent options to check out for a good feel of British architecture and what some of the different design elements can do for you.

If you’ve taken the time to look at some of the buildings recommended above, you’re probably excited and enamoured with the beauty of the architecture. It’s impressive compared to many of the homes and buildings put up today.

These are the types of features that you can still incorporate into your own homes and businesses today.


Britannia Video Dance Party

Britannia Video Dance Party

He took her to a supermarket. Probably Loblaws

It’s Friday afternoon, you recently moved to Toronto from the UK and — having got over the hurdle of gaining Canadian experience — are happily sitting at your office desk, minding your own business, working away.

Just then your boss pops his head in and utters those dreaded words that all Brits fear: “Hey buddy, grab a partner, meet us by the stationery closet … it’s the random office dance party! Yay!!”

So, you look around … but there’s no escape. The corridor seems to stretch off into the distance as you walk along it, reach the throng of co-workers and join in the “fun” as you jerk around like a Thunderbirds puppet to Drake singing about The Six.

Or, you can wait until July 22 for the Britannia Video Dance Party! Join the common people for a special night of Britpop and Madchester video favourites including:

Oasis, The Verve, Suede, Pulp, Blur, Supergrass, The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Sleeper, Ash, Shed Seven, The Boo Radleys, Wonderstuff, Ride, The Smiths, The Charlatans, Happy Mondays, Carter USM, Jesus Jones, Echobelly, Manic Street Preachers, Travis, Stereolab, Ocean Colour Scene, EMF, House Of Love, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Kula Shaker, The Jam, Soup Dragons, The Auteurs, Joy Division, Ian Brown, Dodgy, Mansun, Black Grape, Morrissey, The La’s, The Farm, Republica, Menswear, Cast, Space, Longpigs, Echo and the Bunnnymen, Lush, Primal Scream, James, Saint Etienne, Gene, Jesus And Mary Chain, Lightning Seeds, Catatonia, Spiritualized, Adorable, Paul Weller, Franz Ferdinand, Super Furry Animals, Simple Minds, Flowered Up, The Bluetones, The Fall, New Order, The Mock Turtles, Radiohead, and more.

If that sounds like something you’re mad for, then here’s the deets.

I went to the last one and can honestly say, it is a really brilliant night.

Come one, come all to the Brilliant British Patio Bash

Brilliant British Patio Bash

Would have called it the Brilliant British Bash as the odd “P” in BBPB doesn’t look right. But that’s just me

Just got exclusive word — OK, a random mailing list e-mail that loads of others probably got too — that the Brilliant British Patio Bash is incoming on July 18. It’s a school night but don’t let that deter you from:

Live Music and … Invictus Games Activation Team! and …  Business card raffle and win great British gifts!


Tickets include Brill BBQ Buffet, 1 Brit drink, and HST.

Sounds brilliant.

More deets and tickets here.

Hanging out at the British Beverage Showcase

British Beverage Showcase signs

Yep, this is definitely the right place!

So on Thursday Brits in Toronto was invited to attend the British Beverage Showcase, pitched thus:

“British Consul General Kevin McGurgan, OBE invites you to an exclusive trade tasting event featuring exciting newly released UK beverages and mixers. Guests are invited to discover a selection of UK products recently launched or coming soon to the LCBO and the Beer Store, as well as a range of non-alcoholic mixers. This showcase will feature over twenty British and Northern Irish beverage products, including gins, vodkas, whiskies, beers, ciders, coolers, mixers and English sparkling wine.”

Right? Done deal. Half-day vacation from work booked immediately.

Two funny coincidences to get the afternoon started right: my Uber driver was a bloke from Manchester who moved to Toronto in 1972, so we compared notes on Brits living in the city and not one — but TWO — Aston Martins passed us on the road. And you don’t see that every day. Brits everywhere!

The British Beverage Showcase was held at the very nice Wychwood Barns venue, and had all the vendors lined up either side. There were at least 26, so I was very glad I wasn’t driving.

Being the caring hosts they were, there was a nice food table to help soak up some of the booze featuring cheeses, fruit, scones and real, authentic CLOTTED CREAM no less. Not the spray can crap, but the real thick stuff. Delish. Good start.

British Beverage Showcase food

Yes. Real clotted cream. And some grapes

My guest and I started at one end of the aisle and zig-zagged our way down, trying a little of everything. Here’s some of the standouts that I can recommend:

Black Cow Pure Milk Vodka and Black Cow Cheddar (one of the best cheeses I’ve had, actually, so good)
anCnoc Highland Single Malt Whisky
Bloom London Dry Gin (I don’t even like gin but this was bloody lovely)
Penderyn Dragon Series (I can confirm WELSH whisky is definitely worth a tipple)
Thunder Toffee & Vodka Spirit Drink (sweet and good for a shot)
Franklin & Sons Ltd. Natural Indian Tonic Water
Hobgoblin Gold (not a fan of the original but the Gold is, well, gold)
Benromach (15-year-old whisky)

Once I had my happy face on I wandered around looking for some familiar Brits. I spotted the owner of The Caledonian, had a chat with Scottish Chef John Higgins (who pulled a face when I mentioned the Welsh whisky for some reason) and also met the legend himself, British Consul General Kevin McGurgan.

This was an excellent example of how to really show off the best British imports into Canada and Brits in Toronto was extremely grateful to have been a part of it.

There’s more photos here.

Here’s the hosts:

British Beverage Showcase program

These hosts know how to throw a free booze and cheese party, let me tell ya

UK’s Department for International Trade

Visit Britain

Scottish Development International

Visit Scotland

A big Brits in Toronto link love to them and here’s to a really enjoyable afternoon!

Hello, I’m British Bloke

John ink

Hello, I’m British Bloke

Hello everyone, my name is John, AKA “British Bloke” and I created Brits in Toronto almost four years ago. How time flies and what a brilliant experience it’s been.

I started this website with the aim of helping Brits discover Toronto, find out the best places to buy the products they missed from home, interview interesting people and get their views and basically have some fun and educate people on all that Toronto has to offer, from a British ex-pat perspective.

Since then, the support has been astounding and I’m extremely grateful for all the e-mails, tweets, enthusiasm and interest that has been shown in this very niche area.

Anonymity has been fine until now … but I can’t take Brits in Toronto to the next level this way.

Then an e-mail came recently: “British Consul General Kevin McGurgan, OBE invites you to an exclusive trade tasting event featuring exciting newly released UK beverages and mixers.”

My finger hovered over the regular “Thanks, but can’t make it” response … until something clicked, and I realized that Brits in Toronto needed to be at these events, needed to start getting a little more serious and see where I can take this passionate side project of mine.

I went and had an amazing time.

But, on the flip side, I’ve turned down the chance to comment on British happenings in The Toronto Star, CBC Radio’s Metro Morning and the Metro newspaper because I wanted to stay under the radar.

The invite by the British Consulate-General Toronto got me thinking that now is the time to take Brits in Toronto onto its next stage, be able to cover more events, interview people openly and just make this a stronger community for British people in this city.

Everything stated thus far has been true: I did move to Toronto in 2000 … I am British … and real people have been featured in Successful Brits in Toronto and trying to help real people find work and real products and places have been reviewed by me.

But there is no Brits in Toronto “crew.” No office, interns, British admins or cohorts. It’s just me, sometimes talking to myself with two Twitter accounts or being very careful not to tweet the same thing twice. Think I have slipped up a few times and maybe people noticed … maybe not. Those days are over.

So, I’ve tested the concept, people seem to like it and with continued support from the British ex-pat community, let’s take Brits in Toronto onto bigger and better things!

John AKA “British Bloke”