Monthly Archives: December 2013

Happy New Year from Brits in Toronto!

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot, and never thought upon ...

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot, and never thought upon … what’s the next bit?

Wow, what a few months it’s been since Brits in Toronto launched — we’re truly chuffed and honoured about the warm reception the site has received.

Our Twitter account has 172 followers — not bots, but real, intelligent and attractive people — and we aim to double that to at least 344 by this time next year!

We have visitors from, yes, CANADA … and Panama, Peru, Malaysia and Aruba, to name but a few countries. Welcome one and all!

We have published exclusive — yes, EXCLUSIVE — deep-probing interviews with a former Mayor of Toronto … the Brit who mostly gets you to work on time … and Mayor Rob Ford’s favourite newspaper editor.

Top stuff, no? We could have packed up and gone home already. But we’re not stopping there.

2014 is going to be the year for the Brits in Toronto team to start bringing it large, showcasing the best of British life in Toronto and to feature many more of our ex-pats in these very pages. (Pages that never end because it’s the Internet, and probably based on a cloud server somewhere in Russia because it’s cheaper hosting.)

A truly big THANK YOU to everyone that’s e-mailed us, RT’d us, spammed us and begged to be featured in the Totally Biased Product Review By Me slot. It means a lot.

Happy, healthy and fun New Year to you all, be safe and see you in 2014!

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Totally biased product review by me — The Oxley

Chaps can multitask at The Oxley's urinals

Chaps can multitask at The Oxley’s urinals

A few weeks ago the Brits in Toronto crew set out into the cold night to prove that good — no, great — British grub DOES exist in Toronto. You just have to know where to find it.

Having heard positive things about The Oxley from other less-well-read blogs as ours, we decided to give it a go. Our intern John Thomas took one for the team and held things back at the office as our crew ventured out.

After yomping through the Yorkville snow, The Oxley stood out with its red brick facade. We were pleased to see a roaring fire in the entrance bar, and that immediately gave the impression we were walking into a favourite aunt’s house for Sunday dinner. Nice touch.

The dinner menu had a great selection of choices, so we opted for the scallops (nice and plump and juicy), the cream of chicken and tarragon soup (just the right tang), deviled brace of quail (first time for some of us — not disappointed), the thunder oak brick chicken (very moist) with some sides of duck fat potatoes (crispy and delish) and carrots with ginger (cooked just right).

The whole meal was delicious and portion sizes were generous. Our server was very humorous and knowledgeable about the menu and wine pairings.

One small grumble — we heard there was a “snug” upstairs so we checked it out. It wasn’t as warm and cosy as the downstairs space, but that’s not a deal-breaker. We just expected a smaller, darker more intimate room, that was all.

They also do a Sunday evening meal of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding which is definitely on our to-do list.

To sum up = EXCELLENT British food at a reasonable price in a nice, relaxed atmosphere. Highly recommended and I give it a rare Brits in Toronto 5/5 stars.

Successful Brits in Toronto: David Miller

Caption here

Toronto’s very own Ipswich Town FC supporter recalls 1978

The Brits in Toronto crew are very honoured to have a former Mayor of Toronto agree to be our latest Successful Brit in Toronto: David Miller.

Now the President and CEO of WWF-Canada, all it took was a single, firm, modest “sure” via Twitter and the deal was done.

So here we go …

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 chose Toronto but my mum chose Canada. We emigrated in 1967 originally, and came to Ottawa for her job as a teacher. I chose to come to Toronto for law school, because I loved the fact it had a subway and streetcars. And I knew that if I worked hard, I could get a good job.

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

My first real job was paving roads in Calgary, to pay for university. They were happy, as long as you had an Alberta address and were fit. My mum, though, had a different experience. She was recruited as a teacher by immigration, then, once we emigrated, told by the Ottawa School Board that she wasn’t qualified in Canada. She was livid. And sorted them out …

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

The best aspect of living in Toronto is the green space — the waterfront, the parks, and the river valleys. The worst is the winter weather. It never stays fully winter and the city turns brown. In Ottawa, it’s cold enough that the snow stays as snow.

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 make too much effort to join British events in Toronto, although I have gone to some formal ones, like with the Canada/UK and with the Consul General. I see other Brits when I go to a suitable pub to watch the football — I proudly wear my England shirt, and watch them break our hearts. Again.

Ipswich Town is my home club. Remember ’78!

Best pub to just enjoy: Allen’s on the Danforth. John Maxwell pours a great pint, food is excellent, and a terrific patio.

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

I seem to connect with others from the British Isles through sports — rugby, which I played for over 20 years, football, and cricket primarily. But there are some great formal organizations, like the Chamber of Commerce, and the accounting organization CIMA, that can help meet people from a business perspective and often host events with interesting UK speakers. Cheers!

Thank you, sir!

Let’s all help fellow Brit Adam Winfield find a job!

The best stock photo that $2.48 can buy

The best stock photo that $2.48 can buy

As mentioned on our Jobs page, we like to help fellow Brits in Toronto find work and jobs. You just need to send some details and a link to some more information — as much as you’re comfortable sharing online — and we’ll put it out there in the hope that the British ex-pat community can keep their ears open for you.

Adam Winfield, it’s your turn to shine. Here’s some details about his experience taken from his resume/CV:

“I am a journalism graduate with expertise in content creation, account management and media relations. I am experienced in supporting a wide variety of PR/marketing campaigns and activity within the B2C and B2B technology sectors. I’m ideally looking for a copywriter/marketing role within a marketing/comms department, or an account executive role within a PR/marketing agency. My previous experience is in technology writing and media relations — however, I’m open to working in new fields.”

Adam has an online writing portfolio and you can contact him via adamwinfield AT hotmail.com or his LinkedIn profile.

Good luck, Adam! You certainly have the “write” stuff. (See that?)

Two good news stories about immigrants to Canada

During my 11 o’clock tea and choccy biccy break this morning I spotted two very interesting articles about skilled immigrants as it relates to Toronto and Ontario, courtesy of the brilliant Yonge Street website/e-newsletter.

Here they are:

TRIEC celebrates skilled immigrant mentors

Immigration isn’t just a matter of navigating clearly defined legal and employment constraints: getting your paperwork in order, re-credentialling, and so on. There is also a host of soft skills — cultural conventions and communication best practices, social insight and networking capacity — that anyone needs to successfully make a transition to a new country.

Helping skilled immigrants do just that: the mentors of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), who assisted 1,000 immigrants this past year via a program called The Mentoring Partnership. Mentors offer sector-specific advice (mentees and mentors are matched by occupation), but also help with the ephemeral, essential task of getting settled in a new work environment.

Full story.

Provincial and federal governments expanding opportunities for skilled immigrants

The Ontario Bridge Training Program assists skilled immigrants by providing support while they get their credentials, licenses, and professional certifications settled in their new home, and helping them find jobs in their fields once they have.

Recently, the provincial and federal governments announced that they will be “expanding and enhancing” the program over the next three years.

Details are right now scarce — representatives for Ontario’s Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration could not spell out any of the particulars — but we’re told that more announcements are coming soon. What we do know is that the province is putting $63.6 million into the program over three years, and the federal government is kicking in another $16.6 million; of that pot $15 million of provincial money is “additional support.”

Full story.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Paulo Antunes

"Nah, stop it mate. Yer cracking me up, seriously."

“Nah, stop it mate. Yer cracking me up, seriously. Ya silly old sod.”

We’re a little bit confused about Paulo Antunes. A little perturbed. His Twitter profile shows a proud photo of Winston Churchill; he’s a Londoner living in Toronto; Lisbon is randomly thrown in there; and he appears to support Arsenal.

Yes — most perplexed.

Anyway, on with the show:

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?

It’s actually something of a fairy tale, how I have ended up in Toronto. In 2000, whilst on a family holiday to Portugal, I met a very pretty girl with an “American accent.” We spent lots of time together and had lots of fun; however, as with all good things, our time came to an end.

Turns out she was from a place called Mississauga, which I had never heard of before. Arrrhhh, young love. We exchanged letters as well as kept in touch through Yahoo messenger, before eventually losing contact.

Fast forward almost a decade, I found one of the letters she had sent me, at my parents’ house, and I decided to look her up on Facebook (the gems of modern technology). After hours upon hours spent on Skype and x number of long-haul flights, I took the decision to up sticks from my beloved London, to move to this side of the pond … and what a decision it was … as I now call this girl in question my wife! Love you Ashley!

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

I knew I was coming to Toronto well in advance of actually landing on these shores — I initially applied through a BUNAC working holiday visa which enables you to work for up to two years — so it took a lot of pre-planning. I was fortunate to pre-arrange some interviews, landing myself a retail job in Dufferin Mall within the first two weeks of being here.

This was always going to be temporary for me. I spent most of my spare time learning to cross the road — they are huuugggee — pay for items in shops using cash — loonies/toonies etc., my oh my — and generally just familiarizing (see what I did there? “z”) myself with Canadian culture, as well as applying for a minimum of 10 jobs a day … a lot more difficult then it seems.

Once again, I was blessed by the Big Man above, and in just over a month I was employed at a great organisation, which reports directly to the government — and helps save the environment. Hard work and perseverance pays off in the end!

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

Toronto is 3,548 miles (or 5,710 kilometres for those Canadians) from London. That’s quite some distance from my family … therefore, the worst aspect.

The best aspect — after you have taken in the initial, “Wow, this is surreal” after walking out of Dundas subway station in the centre of Toronto for the first time to be greeted with a flurry of lights, and surrounded on all sides by massive skyscrapers — is the true diversity and friendliness of the city.

Personal favourites of mine include the Canadian mentality towards all holidays: I love Christmas, and it is well celebrated here. Another thing is the close proximity from Toronto of many different activities — camping in Algonquin in the summer, wine tasting in Niagara in the autumn and skiing at Blue Mountain in the winter. So much to do. And of course, at the very top of everything, is my beautiful wife and her wonderful family!

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 am actually a Toronto representative for an England football supporters initiative (The Official England House on Facebook) which covers the whole of Canada, and as a result, I am meeting a load of new, like-minded people. We are hoping to establish a venue in Toronto as a regular base to watch England games at together, as well as other social events. Plans are in the works. Meanwhile, as a massive football fan, the Fox and Fiddle on Yonge/St. Clair is great to watch games — especially as it is home to the mighty Arsenal!

I am also lucky that a Mancunian friend of mine from university actually spent his second year studying at Ryerson on exchange, and funnily enough, he too was enticed back by a lady friend. He was the best man at my wedding.

I am also part of this group called the Toronto Brit Meetup Group whom send me loads of e-mails to events such as pub quizzes, etc., but I am yet to attend anything. Soon enough I will though!

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

Embrace your British roots, whilst keeping open-minded about Canadian culture. Toronto is especially very multicultural, so much to experience, and they do love their Brits. If ever you are feeling lonely and cold out here … don’t! Plenty of us have taken the plunge also, and we are here for you to help you settle and find your feet!

Excellent stuff, Paulo — thank you. Seems you have a great life here! If anyone wants to connect with an Arsenal fan, you can check out his Facebook page, Little Britain: Toronto.

Let’s all help fellow Brit Rob Lancaster find a job!

One day, my son, all this could be yours ...

One day, my son, all this could be yours …

As mentioned on our Jobs page, we like to help fellow Brits in Toronto find work and jobs. You just need to send some details and a link to some more information — as much as you’re comfortable sharing online — and we’ll put it out there in the hope that the British ex-pat community can keep their ears open for you.

Step up, Rob Lancaster. Here’s some details about his experience taken from his resume/CV:

“A results-oriented, adaptable, knowledgeable team player with many years experience leading teams within an Operations framework. I have an excellent understanding of working within high pressure, diverse, client-facing business environments in fields such as Asset Management, Settlements and most recently Global Custody. I am a confident decision-maker, an analytical and systemic thinker who demonstrates a meticulous attention to detail.  I meet and exceed personal targets whilst maintaining a flexible and proactive approach in order to achieve high standards of output and client satisfaction.”

Rob says, “Ideally I’m looking for a role in Investment Banking, specifically within Operations or a more client-facing relationship management role.”

You can contact Rob directly with opportunities and leads directly at rob_1974 AT hotmail.co.uk or check out his LinkedIn profile.

Good luck, mate — we hope something comes along for you soon!