Today’s brave victim to be profiled as a Successful Brit in Toronto is Fiona Knight, Owner/Consultant at Fiona Knight Consulting Services in Toronto. She gave a very non-committal and unsure “ummm” when I asked her on Twitter, but now I have the info there’s no turning back.
What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice?
My family immigrated to Kitchener in 1978 and soon after I found the Big City of Toronto
on a school trip, I have lived here since 1981 — on and off. Raised my family here and started my business here in 1993.
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 not the one planning anything; I actually returned to live in Croydon in 1983 and came back to Toronto for a lad … been here ever since! However, I do get to travel a LOT for my special events work and go home to England nearly every year, sometimes twice a year.
What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job?
My first official Toronto job was as a backup singer — as I have been in the music and entertainment business most of my life it was not at all difficult to land. However, I was also working as a chambermaid at the Roehampton Hotel while I was singing at the
Chick’N’Deli on Mount Pleasant (and other jazz spots), which worked out well for getting on the job ladder in hospitality.
Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?
Not really, although this was the late ’70s = different times!
What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?
Best – most diverse and wonderful city in the world and great food and local neighbourhoods from all over to discover! Worst – it takes a LOOOOONNNNNGGGG time to really meet people who might become your forever friends here. I took a long time to get used to the reserved nature of the typical Toronto lifestyle; no one invites you out — they are too busy commuting one to two hours each way for work.
Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it?
I made my own networking opportunities with other like-minded folk to meet and hang out with! AND, I must admit, most of my good friendships are still across the pond or with ex-pats here.
Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?
I am part of a Meetup group for U.K. ex-pats and those who love them (lol) that holds pub nights around town, and pub quizzes are very well-attended. I live in Cabbagetown and was lucky to have two local pubs for most of the 30 years I have lived here, with a darts league and footy teams, so easy to meet folk. I find that pubs will advertise if they have special nights, so easy to track down a variety of activities. More difficult for young parents and those who do not live in the downtown spots. I found it VERY hard when I had a child until
I happened across a bunch (gaggle) of English and Scottish nannies in the local playgroup, then it got easier.
Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.
FREE ADVICE – BE PREPARED TO NOT FEEL TOO BRITISH WHEN IN ENGLAND AND NOT TOO CANADIAN WHEN IN TORONTO!!! Explore the two sides of your new lives and contact me for anything advice or event wise!!! Twitter and LinkedIn or 416-939-0090.
Thank you Fiona for being a good egg and taking part!