New York City has Carrie Bradshaw. But she’s made up; a fictional character forever doing lunch with her gal pals, drinking Cosmos and getting soaked by passing buses as they splash through puddles.
Toronto has Jessica Napier. She’s the real deal. Grabbing Subways to go, sipping Double Doubles and being sensible by taking the TTC (that mostly runs on time thanks to this bloke).
Both Carrie and Jessica have one thing in common: they both write a weekly newspaper column about their busy lives in their respective city they call home. Jessica’s is called “She Says” and appears every Tuesday in Metro.
She took some time out from her crazy media lifestyle to offer her thoughts on being a Successful 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 first moved here in 1997 with my family and after two university degrees and an untold amount of poutine, I’ve decided to make this my permanent home (for now). I do dream of relocating back to London one day but the property prices just seem so ludicrous!
What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?
After graduating from Ryerson I was able to secure a magazine internship and from there moved on to freelance writing, before landing my weekly column at Metro. That said, I did a lot (a LOT) of writing for free before ever seeing a paycheque. Persistence and networking definitely paid off — but it took time.
What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?
The weather is both one of the best and worst things about living in Toronto. I love the extreme heat but absolutely loathe the extreme cold. Even after 16 winters I still can’t get used to minus 30 wind chill.
I miss being able to hop on a plane for a short European getaway; Canada is so big which makes it very expensive and time consuming for any sort of travel. That said, Toronto has so many diverse residents and interesting neighbourhoods that there’s plenty of things to do in the city itself.
I love exploring new areas and discovering all of the hidden gems the city has to offer — preferably on foot if the weather permits. Although, in all my hunting, I still haven’t found somewhere that sells a decent sausage roll … any ideas? [Brits in Toronto readers – there’s a challenge if ever we saw one!]
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 love bumping in to fellow Brits in the city, especially when it’s over food. The Bristol Yard in Christie Pitts is a great neighbourhood cafe that does a proper British breakfast and comfort food. The Queen and Beaver is my favourite spot for an authentic and delicious Sunday roast and Chippy’s in Trinity Bellwoods is a great place for takeaway fish and chips with mushy peas.
Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.
Empire the Collection in Leslieville is a charming retail shop and a great resource if you’re feeling a little homesick. They carry all sorts of imported foodstuffs and housewares from the U.K. that’ll make you nostalgic for all things English. I pop in every once in a while to pick up Jelly Babies and Walkers crisps.