Monthly Archives: September 2013

Successful Brits in Toronto: Fiona Knight

Fiona Knight Photoshopped in front of Niagara Falls

Fiona Knight Photoshopped in front of Niagara Falls

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!

Just English? Good show, old chap!

Sir. Geoffrey Entwhistle Esq. desperately searches for a Tim Hortons

Sir. Geoffrey Entwhistle Esq. desperately searches for a Tim Hortons near Union Station

I still get the same questions: (1) “So, which part of Scotland are you from?” or (2) “Is it nice in Australia?” and (3) “Looking forward to St. Paddy’s Day?”

(1) Not. (2) Yes. (3) Of course — we’re all Oirish that day!

Then I cry inside, rush home and put on the BBC News and start pronouncing “how now brown cow” over and over until my accent returns.

Being a Brit in Toronto is a mixed bag of emotions. It’s a fantastic city, full of ethnicity, things to do, a big lake and easy to get around. I’ve embraced the life it’s afforded me and feel very grateful.

But … there’s still that part of me that really misses the gentle clink of a pint glass in an English country pub on a Sunday, the dire warning of “Mind the gap!” and — of course — how the whole of the country unites as one during World Cups/Euro, the Eurovision Song Contest and a murder on EastEnders.

I read this article — Being “just English” left me confused in multicultural Toronto — with great interest.

The writer, Daniel Rouse, mentions: “Admittedly, being surrounded by wonderfully diverse people all the time can make one feel a little, well, ordinary or inadequate. In Shrewsbury, with parents hailing from Manchester and Sheffield, I felt a delusional exoticness as a kid: I had a slight accent and regularly spent time up north.

“In Toronto, surrounded by people with parents from different continents whose households speak at least two languages, I’m a mere unilingual, applying thick layers of factor 60 under whatever shade I can find.”

I feel proud to be British living and contributing to society in Toronto. I don’t try to hide it in any way, but also don’t play on it. (This website, you point out? Yes — aimed at Brits in Toronto, but a resource of information. Not to set us apart.)

The mix of people and cultures in this city is what makes it such an interesting place to live. Everyone has a part to play, wherever you may be from.

Totally biased product review by me — Walmart Butter Chicken

Gotta say I've had "better" chicken. See what I did there?

Gotta say I’ve had “better” chicken. See what I did there?

Stuck again all day in the Brits in Toronto office cubicle. It’s such a buzzing place, full of action and ringing phones, that I didn’t get a chance to grab some lunch.

No worries — Phil from accounts had left his Walmart Butter Chicken in the office fridge, so I borrowed that instead. It wasn’t labelled or anything.

Things got off to a rocky start when I followed the on-packet instructions to “tear off corners to allow hot steam to escape.” Upon checking the microwave three minutes in, I noticed a lava flow of molten hot rice bubbling over the edge of the plastic container and making a mess.

As to the actual taste of the cuisine itself, I found the aforementioned rice to be a bit gloopy and stuck together, not fluffy at all. Bit disappointing, but rice is not my favourite part of a curry anyway … so onto the meat.

The chicken was OK — nothing special. Needed a bit more seasoning, and the spice factor was VERY LOW. I didn’t need to blow my nose once. Very tame. (But then butter chicken is a mild dish anyway, so was to be expected.)

One saving grace was that the portion size wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t stuffed or anything, but this will get me through my late afternoon conference call with the Welsh in Toronto office and to dinner.

I give it a Brits in Toronto 2/5 stars.

The Toronto Brit Meetup Group

Now that, my friends, is how you crop a teaser screenshot

Now that, my friends, is how you crop a teaser screenshot for maximum pre-click anticipation

It’s a lonely life running Brits in Toronto. Here I lurk, anonymously in the shadows, like a cyber-Oliver Twist waiting to reach out and grab snippets of useful information to present as an offering to British ex-pats.

Sometimes I lie awake at night, gazing up at the CN Tower under the twinkling stars, wishing there was a way to meet other British Blokes, Geezers, Ladies, Lassies and Birds in a face-to-face, social setting.

It’s hard to meet people when you uproot from friends and family and make that big, sometimes life-changing move to another unfamiliar city. Sometimes you need a friendly face to help you get settled.

Introducing The Toronto Brit Meetup Group. Founded in 2003 — the momentous year that Brogdale enters the U.K. Weather Records for the highest ever recorded temperature of 38.5 °C. — the group bills itself as “a social meetup of individuals, ranging from Brits who are ‘New to Toronto’ all the way through to the offspring of Brit parents.”

(Not sure of the use of the word “offspring” personally; think I saw that used in a video trailer for The Hills Have Eyes … but I digress.)

The group have social events every two weeks and also pub quiz/trivia nights, the staple lifeblood of a good British pub. There’s over 1,000 Brit members (and “offspring”) in the group, so seems like a great way to meet fellow ex-pats and chat about the weather, the meaning of a “double-double” and “What the hell is a Chesterfield again?” over a beer or strong cup of Rosie Lee.

They will know who Curly Watts is, trust me, always a good conversation-starter. So why not check them out and get to know some Brits in Toronto! (And probably Brits in Mississauga, Oakville and Burlington too, but that doesn’t play well on the theme of my website. Sure they’re nice people too. Unless they’re “offspring.”)

Which pub in Toronto do you watch your football at?

Watching football in the pub. Sunglasses optional

Watching football in the pub. Sunglasses optional

There’s nothing better than when game day comes along, and you head to the pub to watch the game with fellow fans. Which Toronto-based watering holes consider themselves the HQ for which teams?

I’m trying to compile the definitive list for all the English Premier League teams, but need your help to spread the word and complete it.

So far, we have pubs listed for fans of Toronto FC (guest inclusion as the home town club!), Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Everton, Chelsea, Sunderland, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle, West Ham, Aston Villa and Arsenal (yes, there are six Gooners in Toronto apparently).

Over to you, fans in Toronto! Contact me or tweet me and let’s make this list happen.

Mayday! Mayday! Curb idiotic radio presenters. Stop people from Ann Arbor, Michigan immigrating. Or it’s the end of the Canada we know!

Mayday! Mayday! Curb Idiotic Radio Presenters. Stop People From Ann Arbor, Michigan Immigrating. Or it's the end of the Canada we know!

Come on, give me a smile you granola-crunching, tree-hugging thug hugger

Until this morning, I thought Lowell Green was the name of a nice little British town in the middle of the countryside where residents washed their cars on Sunday, enjoyed a lunchtime pint and always said “Good morning, Bert, how’s the wife?” to the milkman.

How wrong I was. Thanks to the Globe and Mail’s media reporter Steve Ladurantaye who tweeted these quotes from Mr. Green, I was roundly educated.

“To summarize: CFRA’s Lowell Green believes there are forced marriages in Ontario because immigrants can watch satellite TV from homeland.”

“Lowell Green’s deep reflection on immigrants: ‘They can’t read Canadian books, and watch native television from their homeland everyday.'”

Where do I start?

First off, Mr. Green is an IMMIGRANT. According to Wikipedia — which is never wrong, and totally accurate, always — he was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and IMMIGRATED to Canada as an IMMIGRANT via the IMMIGRATION process. There’s a theme there somewhere. Stick with me.

So, having enjoyed a successful career as an IMMIGRANT to Canada, Mr. Green then goes on to write a book with the subtle, yet gentle, almost whimsical title of Mayday! Mayday! Curb Immigration. Stop Multiculturalism. Or it’s the end of the Canada we know!

Hard to tell from the title which way Mr. Green is leaning on the subject, and as I haven’t had time yet from my daily life of being a successful and contributory IMMIGRANT citizen to Canadian life, have not read the book.

But then again, according to Mr. Green, I “can’t read Canadian books.” Oh well. That’s that, I suppose.

And as for the satellite TV comment? I literally choked on my cucumber sandwich when I read that! As Steve Ladurantaye asked me, “Do you insist on watching Coronation Street?”

Oh yeah. All the bloody time. I can’t function in Toronto society without knowing who’s shagging who at the Rovers.

Ridiculous.

/Rant. I’m off to enjoy a lukewarm cup of tea and read about my fellow IMMIGRANTS to this welcoming country who are doing great things.

Grab your Spotted Dick

It's SPOTTED DICK. Great time-waster for health website search engine bots

It’s SPOTTED DICK. Great time-waster for health website search engine bots

Poutine is delicious! It’s the national food of Canada (I think?) = chips with gravy and cheese on. Really yummy. But sometimes you have a hankering for some Spotted Dick, a Curly Wurly or the real Heinz Baked Beans. (You know what I mean, smiley wink face.)

British Corner Shop contacted me about being featured on Brits in Toronto. As simple as that, here they are. NO MONEY CHANGED HANDS! There was talk of an affiliate program where I get a percentage of sales from clicks to their site blah blah. But no. Maybe in the future Brits in Toronto can start begging for ads and sponsors, but in the spirit of full transparency and honesty, we need to develop a bit further along first.

That means bringing you great, interesting, relevant content that is useful and — I hope — fun to read. Please spread the word, link to us, bookmark us, subscribe to our RSS feed/e-mail alerts, tweet the crap out of us etc. Good things will come if we get the traffic and support.

Oh — here’s the deal. Thanks to Chris at British Corner Shop (extra link for good karma), just quote BRITSINTORONTO2013 when ordering and you get 10% off. Not bad eh? (That’s “eh” as in “agree” and not “eh” as in “Sidney Crosby looks great, eh?” I still have an accent, thank you.)

We need a Little Britain in Toronto! Or do we?

Relax, not all Brits look like this! Only about 98% of 'em

Relax, not all Brits look like this! Only about 98% of us

As Gerard brought me my morning gin and tonic and I sat on the patio, watching the hounds chase the housekeeper, I mused to myself: Why is there no Little Britain in Toronto?

I’m not ruminating on this Little Britain, or even a Wee England — I mean an area in Toronto full of British pubs, good steak and kidney pie and the chance to have a good old chinwag with other Brits?

There’s a Little India … a Little Italy … a Little Portugal … and China even has its own bloody town! The Greeks too! Why not the Brits? I rubbed my chin thoughtfully, cleaned off my monocle slightly and gazed into the distance. Research had to be done.

I walked two feet to my computer, went to Google and found this, courtesy of Library and Archives Canada:

“In the 1500s explorers from Europe came to North America to claim lands. They realized that this land was rich in resources. Soon settlement began, with people seeking a new life in the new world. The two European countries that figured the most in North America were Britain and France. They met Aboriginal Nations that had been living for thousands of years in what is now Canada. These First Nations and Britain and France often had difficult relations. They often went to war with each other but sometimes they were friends.”

Nice to know that “sometimes they were friends,” but sounds like the implication is we took it over and pissed them off. The Brit integration had begun.

So, in effect, there really isn’t a need for a Little Britain … we’re all over the place. Kind of like The Borg, but being assimilated into certain aspects of British culture and history instead of a massive black robotic cube thing floating through space.

You can see the Brits pop up when the World Cup/Euro is on, as they gather in their favourite Toronto watering holes to watch their national teams fail on penalties. Or when a royal wedding takes place. Ahhh, good times. (*sniff* Welling up a bit here.)

We don’t need to claim part of Toronto as “British” — there’s a load of us scattered throughout the whole city. Just seems a bit fragmented at times, but what can ya do?

Successful Brits in Toronto: Ed Lee

Ed Lee sits and quietly reflects on the ROI of social media

Ed Lee sits and quietly reflects on the ROI of social media

Ed Lee is a brave chap. I contacted him out of the blue and asked if I could profile him as a successful Brit making it in Toronto. Even though Ed doesn’t know me from Adam, and could have been royally stitched up, he quickly agreed.

Thank you sir — and you have the honour of being the first Successful Brit in Toronto to inspire others who may be living in the city, or contemplating a move here.

Ed is the Senior Director of Social Media at Radar DDB and, in 2009, was named one of Marketing Magazine’s “Ones to Watch” — you can read about that on his Blogging Me, Blogging You blog (do I detect a nod to a certain Alan Partridge there?) and follow his Twitter account.

So, without further ado, here’s Ed’s thoughts on being a 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?

I moved here for a girl. I initially got a one-year working visa with a small PR shop and when it expired, we couldn’t get it renewed and decided to part ways, but I wasn’t ready to break up with the girl. Thankfully I had started doing “stuff” in social media and I was offered another job with a larger agency which had lawyers who were able to get me a work permit. Then the girl and I got married in 2007 and I became a permanent resident — and a citizen last year.

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

I love that the city has the best of what London offered — vibrant night life, sophisticated cultural scene and some beautiful public space and architecture — combined with a smaller footprint, multiculturality (is that a word?) and, well, Canadians. Everyone is so polite.

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 don’t actively seek out other Brits but its always nice to meet a fellow expat — playing footy, at work, at the park with the kid or, like this weekend, at a birthday party. When I moved here I actually spent a lot of time on the Football365 forum in the Toronto thread — that was a big help!

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

When I moved here it was a big shock. I had been here precisely once for two days and then uprooted my life: changing countries, changing jobs and even changing industries. It’s a big change and it takes some time to get used to it. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t feel like you’re getting everything you want all at once. But enjoy this amazing country. My regret is not having done more travelling — I can’t wait to visit the east coast.

Thank you Ed! Here’s his LinkedIn profile if other Brits wanted to connect and get more intel on being a Brit in Toronto.

Come on Jamie Oliver, you old geezer, please open a restaurant in Toronto!

Jamie Oliver's stunt double takes one for the team in the latest Sobeys advert

Jamie Oliver’s stunt double takes one for the team in the latest Sobeys advert

We first got to hear about chef Jamie Oliver in his TV series The Naked Chef where he pounded out his tenderloin to the delight of British housewives everywhere.

Since then, Jamie has learned to cook REALLY well, has a thing for herb gardens, plays the drums and — although he’s from Essex — is still a good British lad.

He has recently teamed up with Sobeys and, even though the latest advert is a bit cheesy, this might be good news. If Jamie is forming closer Canadian ties, maybe we can hope for a Toronto restaurant in the near future?

Fair play to the geezer, the best ravioli I ever had was in Jamie’s restaurant Fifteen. Always remember it, and I’m not a massive pasta fan. Even more impressive is that most of the chefs are young apprentices who had a rough start in life.

So, Jamie, me old mucker, geezer and other cliched slang terms — please consider doing the same thing in Toronto! It would be pukka to have a celebrity Brit chef in town. We love our food here and I could definitely help spread the word around the foodie community.

Totally biased product review by me — The Keg Steakhouse and Bar

Get yer laughing gear around that meat my son!

Get yer laughing gear around that meat my son!

Us Brits love our meat and potatoes, so thought I’d let you know about a nice place to get a good piece of steak. The chain is called The Keg and is equivalent to the Beefeater Grill back home in the U.K.

The Keg has at least 10 choices of steak, which is suitable for any hungry carnivore. Needless to say, leave your vegetarian friends at home next time you go — no mung bean salad on this menu.

My go-to choice is the baseball top sirloin = 12 oz of juicy steak, so thick that the most they can cook it is medium rare … which is optimal to get the full flavour. What’s the point of well done? Might as well eat shoe leather.

There’s some good starters too — recommend the crab cakes — and sides — recommend the mash with roasted garlic. In season, there’s also some tasty lobster specials too.

But The Keg is all about the meat. One small critique I have is that the menu doesn’t seem to change that much. That’s fine if you expect to see the same thing year in, year out, but it would be nice to freshen up the offerings once in a while.

But keep the baseball!

I give it a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars.

Update: The Keg kindly informed me in a tweet that their new feature menu starts on September 30, so check it out.

Pubs that show football in Toronto

And England miss another penalty. Oh well, see you in four years

And England miss another penalty. Oh well, see you in four years

So it’s game day in the English Premier League and you’re dying for a pint, a bit of English brekky and a good pub to watch the game with like-minded fans. Where are the best places to go in Toronto?

Here are some I know of:

The Duke of Gloucester
The HQ of U-Sector (Toronto Football Club supporters group) who have created a shrine to their team in the nook.

Scallywags
The Toronto HQ of Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Everton and Chelsea.

Opera Bob’s
If you’re a Manchester City fan you can connect you with like-minded fans of the football club.

As you can see, this list is by no means complete. If you know of any other fan pubs in Toronto please contact me and let me know so I can add them to the list.

Go and take a running jump in the lake

The blob fish (Latin name Uglius Bastardus) shows his disappointment at not living in Lake Ontario

The blob fish (Latin name Uglius Bastardus) shows his utter disappointment at not living in Lake Ontario

The great thing about living in Toronto — and Canada in general — is the amount of lovely lakes dotted around the country, around three MILLION (60% of the world’s lakes). That’s great news for those of us who like to swim in fresh water during the summer, and bad news for those of us who don’t want to be invaded by the U.S. in 30 years when water is scarce.

Cottaging. That word means one thing in Great Britain, and one thing in Canada. I love to cottage. I try to cottage at least twice a year. Cottaging is now one of my favourite pastimes, and I recommend that all Brits new to Toronto definitely get into the cottaging state of mind. Ahhhh, cottaging. Love it.

There’s nothing better than jumping in the car with some mates, driving at least two hours north of Toronto into “Cottage Country” and living by a lake for a few days. No technology allowed — just board games, booze, BBQs, fire pit and a swim in the chilly water.

The city of Toronto is also very conveniently located right next to Lake Ontario. You can jump on a ferry and be across to the Toronto Islands in about 15 minutes. Rent a bike over there, stroll around, have a beer or nice meal and — if you’re feeling brave — give the old twig and berries an airing at the Hanlan’s Point nudist beach.

Foe those who can’t afford a trip to California, head east to The Beaches. You’ll sit there self-consciously in your pasty white British skin, adjusting the knotted handkerchief on your reddening head as bronzed, fit Canadian bodies frolic on the beach volleyball courts, ride their bikes and jog past you.

Sugar Beach is also another nice space in the heart of the city if you want to lay around on golden sand and gaze out at the lake.

So, there you have it. Wherever you may be in Toronto there are lots of options if you feel like some lake time. It’s personally one of my favourite things to do in the city, and definitely recharges the batteries after a long week of sitting in a grey work cubicle trying to think out of the box.

Former Toronto Mayor David Miller blows the whistle on Toronto FC

"I can't wait! We're going to win so much!"

“I can’t wait! We’re going to win so much!”

So, there I was this morning in my jammies, supping on a hot cuppa char, nibbling on a choccy biccy and mulling over what to blog about today for my five readers and mum.

And then — lo and behold! — a football-related-former-Toronto-mayor-type story broke across my social networks. Back of the net.

Former Toronto Mayor David Miller (in my opinion, better than the one we have now) wrote a public letter to Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment saying how disappointed he is with the way things are going at Toronto Football Club.

So much so, in fact, that he’s handing back his season tickets. And if you know David Miller’s fandom of TFC, you know that is a VERY STRONG PROTEST.

Full text:

“Dear Sirs:

TFC Management Changes

I am writing because I believe that the recent management changes at TFC, and your president’s comments on football/artificial turf, have seriously jeopardized the future of this club. From the moment Coach Cummins was allowed to leave, the team has jumped each year from one playing vision to its opposite, thereby preventing on field progress. At the same time, the experience of the supporters has declined – together with their passion. This is amply demonstrated by the fact that it is now necessary to have someone sing the national anthem, when previously supporters sang O Canada themselves, unaided.

“Since the failed hiring of Preki as its coach, the club has desperately needed stability. Hiring an experienced and high level President/GM, only to fire him a few months later, is exactly the opposite of what is needed. It was either wrong to hire Mr. Payne, to fire him, or both. Similarly, either pursuing a skilled young player like Urruti for two years was wrong, trading him three weeks after acquisition was wrong – or both.

“Here is my advice:
– Stabilize the management. Change simply has to stop – this is the last chance to get it right.
– Stabilize the team. Today, there are at least signs of passion and hard work on the pitch. Build on that with selective change. Don’t start over.
– Stabilize the experience. End the speculation about the Argonauts CFL team coming to BMO. Mr. Leiweke’s suggestion that they might, and the necessary implication that they would play on artificial turf, was the wrong thing to say, at this time in particular. You risk losing the most committed supporters of TFC if the venue is changed to accommodate Canadian football, particularly if turf returns.

“As you know, I have been an ardent supporter of TFC since you and MLSE first had the vision to bring Major League Soccer to Toronto. I have supported the team through thick and thin, defended management, was one of the first season ticket holders, and, in my former capacity, was instrumental in building the stadium and supporting its conversion to grass.

“I am so frustrated with the latest management missteps that I am returning the remainder of my season tickets to you: it is the only way I can emphasize how serious the situation is for those of us who support TFC. Please donate them to an appropriate cause.

“There once was magic at BMO Field. The latest reshuffle has made the possibility of that magic returning almost certainly disappear.

“David Miller”

I am with you, David … and I’m not.

With you because — yes — as a TFC fan too since they formed, I am also very frustrated, disappointed and, quite frankly, bewildered by their lack of direction and constant re-shuffling of management and the players. There’s no coherency and that will not lead to success.

I’m also torn with your decision, David. As a lifelong (21 years, I’m still young, good-looking and in the prime of my life, honestly guvnor) fan of Tottenham Hotspur I’ve seen the ups and downs of sticking with the same club. I have to say that’s all part of it, right?

You cheer at the wins and groan at the losses. I don’t have season tickets to Spurs but, if they were in the same position as TFC currently are, would definitely not give them up. The minute a club sees the stands half-empty then all really is lost.

David — I think you’ll find TFC fans on the fence with your decision. But, we respect your stand and hope that, in some small way, the very public gesture will somehow turn things around at the club, so once again we’ll see you in the stands at BMO Field!

Hire Justin Kozuch!

Proficient in hash tags and URL shorteners. Box ticked

Justin’s extremely proficient in creating hash tags and URL shorteners. Box ticked!

My well-connected social media network of influencers with Klout scores of 87 and higher put me onto the chap above, Justin Kozuch.

He is currently “in between jobs” (OK — unemployed) and keen to start a new role. Although not British, the name Justin does have a certain air of aristocracy about it so I’m giving him a free pass and helping spread the word about his “Hire Justin” campaign.

Here’s what he’s looking for, taken from his personal website: “My ideal role is working within a marketing and public relations capacity. I’d like to help bring a new product or service to market and help drive awareness, sales and customer acquisition of an existing product or service-based company already operating in Toronto.

“As I’ve spent the last year working for an app-based service (Hailo), I’m particularly interested in working for an organization that uses mobile as the primary (or secondary) touchpoint for a customer experience. Finally, I’d like to leverage and build upon my community management, e-mail marketing and traditional marketing skills.

“In short, I’m wildly curious about the intersection of traditional/digital marketing and public relations and I’m keen to learn as much as I can about that intersection.”

So, there you have it. If you’re an employer looking for a good egg, or a fellow Brit who can help out and spread the word, direct them to Justin’s page or tweet the hell out of him until he cries out plaintively, “Stop it you scoundrel!”

Good luck JK!

Update: Justin got hired. Well done mate!

Yes, great … but do you have CANADIAN EXPERIENCE?

That million-dollar question every Brit will face at their first job interview in Canada.

“I like your track record, Mr. Smith. After quitting a highly successful law career, deciding that after 10 years the brain surgery field wasn’t for you and heading up the multi-national conglomerate and steering it into a $10 billion IPO, your resume is certainly impressive. But do you have Canadian experience?”

Argghhhh! It’s catch-22. How can you get Canadian experience if no one is willing to give you the chance?

I was VERY lucky. Landed a job within months of moving to Toronto and haven’t looked back since. But — I do say that we all make our own luck in life. I researched companies in Toronto six months before I left London, U.K., so was already ahead of the game before I landed. My first employer liked that initiative and I believe it helped land the role.

It breaks my cold English heart to see well-qualified immigrants not get the chance they deserve, and end up as taxi drivers or security guards. They leave a lot behind to start a new life in Canada, and then get a bad impression when no realistic job interview is offered to them after 200 application letters.

I won’t pretend to have a solution. But I have always believed that you hire people for the skills they bring to the table, their ability to do an excellent job, their track record and not because of where they’re from.

We should be embracing the highly skilled immigrants literally begging to come to this brilliant country and contribute to society.

A quick plug for Canadian Immigrant. You can read a lot of these tales of woe there in the letters section.

Update: Following a tweet, Settlement.org mentioned that they have an article on this very subject. Interesting to see that, and I quote, “In Ontario, employers cannot request Canadian work experience unless it is a legitimate job requirement.”

Totally biased product review by me — President’s Choice Blue Menu Spicy Chicken Vindaloo

Beware! Sprig of parsley not included. Repeat, sprig of parsley NOT included

Beware! Sprig of parsley not included. Repeat, sprig of parsley NOT included

So, when you’re sitting in your grey work cubicle trying to think outside the box and haven’t really got time to head for a lunchtime Ruby Murray with the three co-workers you like and the one you don’t that hangs on, then you need options for that spicy craving.

Enter the President’s Choice Blue Menu Spicy Chicken Vindaloo. It’s available for a few bucks from Loblaws supermarket in the frozen food section.

I had one today actually, so thought I’d give it a totally biased review, seeing as it’s my opinion really.

Excitedly unwrapping the box, I was slightly disappointed to find no healthy green sprig of parsley was included as depicted on the box. On the plus side, it only takes four minutes to heat up in the microwave, then another two as you take it out whilst avoiding the scalding steam escaping from the slit, and heating it again. Let stand one minute (really drags when you’re starving) and you’re ready to dive in.

Pretty impressed! The basmati rice is fluffy and moist, not dry at all. The spice levels are adequate to make me reach for my handkerchief for a nose blow and brow mop combo, before diving back into the sauce.

One small critique is that there could be more chicken pieces. But what it does have is moist and tender, so no complaints there.

In summary, a nice lunch if you’re stuck in the office that’ll leave your mouth tingling in the following meeting with Suzy from accounts.

I give it a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars.

New curry house opening next to St. Lawrence Market

Brown paper and green tape teasingly unfurls to reveal zilch inside

Brown paper and green tape teasingly unfurls to reveal zilch inside

I keep my ear to the ground for new restaurant openings that may appeal to the Brit palate, and noticed that BlogTo mentioned an Indian bistro opening soon right next to St. Lawrence Market.

A quick Google search revealed a restaurant of a similar name in Denmark of all places. I perused the menu and one of my wish-list items is there: Bombay potatoes. Superb. That’s not on many curry menus that I have been to in Toronto so will look forward to giving that a try.

Sometimes though, depending on the tastes of the host country, they tweak the menu slightly so I hope that particular dish makes the cut.

It seems to be a franchise, so will keep an eye on when it opens and tweet out the date. Keen to try the food too so will post a review once done.

Looking for a job in Toronto? Maybe I can help. No catch!

Looking for a well-paid job in the stock photo industry

Looking for a well-paid job in the stock photo industry

Just arrived in Toronto and looking for a job? Or — clever person — you are still in Great Britain and doing research first about what’s available in Toronto? Well, I’ve been there and done that and would like to help.

No catch. Free. Good karma and maybe an appreciative pint when you get settled.

Just send me whatever details you are comfortable with sharing publicly. For example, your name and e-mail, CV, LinkedIn profile, what job you are looking for etc. I will highlight you on this page and maybe — just maybe — a generous employer will spot your initiative, get in touch and Bob’s your uncle = job!

Contact me here with your details (or e-mail to britsintoronto AT gmail DOT COM) and I’ll do the rest. Good luck!

Welcome to Brits in Toronto!

Welcome to my site. I’m a British bloke who moved to Toronto in 2000 and — although I miss England, friends and family — have built a brilliant life in Toronto.

I would like to now help others do the same, so created Brits in Toronto as a handy resource for the best pubs, curry, jobs and dental care in the city. All the good and the bad will be here, with a bit of personal opinion thrown in.

Always looking to connect with fellow Brits or hear about your recommendations for things to do in the city that might appeal to our fellow ex-pats.

Send me a message at any time; I will respond to all.

Cheers!
British Bloke