Just by coming to Toronto — leaving your friends, family and decent Baked Beans behind — and trying to make a new life already makes you successful in our eyes. It’s a bold step.
Good job too as Eric Gruber’s only been here about two months and the ratio of Successful Brits in Toronto to Totally Biased Product Review By Me blog posts was a bit lopsided, so we took what we could get for this one.
Only joking, Eric! In fact, it’s nice to hear the thoughts of someone newly-arrived in the city, 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 must admit, I have only been in Canada for little over two months, so I am a little “fresh off the boat,” as it were. I originally came over for a holiday to visit my family in Oakville* after I had finished my contract at my old job back in the U.K. and I just decided to take a quick look at what opportunities there were available here. One thing led to another and, well, here I am …
What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?
I had a very fortunate experience when I was applying to marketing agencies here in Toronto. Back in the U.K. when you applied to a marketing agency, you would have to fill out a 3,000-word application form, after which you may hear nothing back — or if you do get invited for an interview you have to do two days of jumping through hoops in a group interview setting and have very little chance of actually getting the role.
Where as here in Canada I have been incredibly lucky. I applied to the Mint Agency on the Monday, heard back on the Wednesday, and had an interview on the Friday during which I was offered the role on the spot! Mint have since taken me under their wing and is an incredible place to work.
What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?
I think the people are definitely the best aspect of Toronto. I know by Canadian standards Torontonians are considered a little unfriendly, but by London standards, everyone treats you like a good friend. The fact there is real weather is pretty good too!
Obviously I miss my family and friends back home in London, but I think the worst thing about Toronto is that you can’t watch the incredible sunrise over the River Thames in the morning on your way to work. That and the lack of “Sure” spray deodorant. I’m still not convinced by this roll on nonsense.
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 will admit I haven’t made any specific steps to seek out my fellow Brits, though I have met one or two through work events.
In terms of pubs/eateries, although it doesn’t feel very authentic I would recommend the Duke of Somerset on Bay. Their fish and chips are rather good and the staff there didn’t look at me like I had dropped from another planet when I asked if they serve Pimm’s!
However, for more of an authentic feel I would go for The Pour House on Dupont. They have a good selection of beers and ciders, and have genuinely old furniture as decor, helping it feel more like a real pub.
Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.
In terms of advice, I would say a smile goes a long way here. EVERYONE will comment on your accent (don’t speak too fast or they won’t understand you) and it may take a little time … but you will eventually get used to strangers talking to you in the elevator (that’s lift to you and me).
Oh! And there is no ground floor here, it’s the first floor. That has caused a couple of issues to date.
Thanks Eric, excellent stuff! Good luck in your time in Toronto and your future career.
*Posh version of Burlington
As a native Torontonian, Eric, welcome to our city (though I would say we are far from our best right now)! I’m a bit puzzled…our 1st floors are usually called the ground floor (?) Also, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Duke of Gloucester on Yonge St. just south of Bloor. It’s a bit run-down, but has a great history for Brits in Toronto, P.S….my husband Benny is playing guitar and singing Brit Pop there this Saturday night from 9 (no cover), so please join us! He’s from Belfast, so it’ll be good craic!
Thanks for the nice helpful comment, Joanna. Yes — the Brits in Toronto crew have seen Benny at The Duke many a time. Great stuff!
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