Cast your mind back. It’s April 29, 2011. 4:00 a.m. Not a soul is stirring across the City of Toronto.
Not unless you’re one of Ward 13 City Councillor Sarah Doucette’s constituents, who were invited to a live Royal Wedding party she hosted to celebrate the marriage of the future King William and Kate Middleton.
But that’s what Successful Brits in Toronto do. Like Councillor Doucette, they leave family and friends behind in Old Blighty, carve out great lives for themselves in Toronto — but never forget their roots.
Let’s grab a cup of tea, turn off Downton Abbey, and read Sarah’s thoughts on living 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 came to Toronto on October 20, 1980 to work. I had relatives living in Pickering and a friend of my late brother at York University, so at least I would know someone here. I arrived on a one-year return ticket but used it to return to England on holiday before returning to Toronto to stay as I had met my husband-to-be.
What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?
I applied for a job through The Lady magazine while still in England. I wanted to travel the world one year at a time, work for 10 months and explore the country for two months. But as I mentioned I met my husband within four months of arriving, have now been married for 26 years and been in Toronto for 33 years. The world tour will have to wait.
What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?
The opportunities are amazing — far more than I would have had if I had stayed on the Isle of Wight, England. Toronto is a great place to live, work and play. You can travel the world by just visiting different neighbourhoods. I love living in such a diverse city.
I miss being so far away from my family. I miss the open rolling hills, being able to walk up onto the Downs with the wind in your face … it gives you space to think away from the hustle and bustle of life. I miss the sound of the sea and the smell of the seaweed thrown up onto the beach after a storm.
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?
One of my best friends — who I met here in Toronto 24 years ago — is British. This really helps as when I get tired I speak English and she can translate so others can understand. I have met a lot of British people living in my neighbourhood or others with connections of past generations from England. A great place to meet people from Britain is at the local football (soccer) club while our children are playing.
Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.
I think your website is a great place for people to visit when they arrive in Toronto. [WHY THANK YOU, SARAH!] Two biggest things to remember are which side of the road do you drive on and which way to look when crossing the street. Oh yes and I miss double decker buses — you get an amazing view from the front window on the upper deck.
Much appreciation to Councillor Doucette for keeping it real at Council and finding the time to bring a little bit of home to Brits in Toronto!