Monthly Archives: June 2014

Reforms to immigration and citizenship act in Canada passed

Got bored with using stock photos of the Canadian flag for these kinds of posts

“Ow! That’s a really strong Canadian citizenship you got there, mate!”

ExpatForum published a story yesterday about the strengthening of rules around access to Canadian citizenship. Here’s some highlights:

“Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander said that reducing the decision-making process from three steps to one will vastly reduce the average processing time for citizenship applications to under a year by 2015/2016. The current backlog will also be reduced by more than 80%.”

“More applicants will now be required to meet language requirements and pass a knowledge test to ensure that new citizens are better prepared to fully participate in Canadian society.”

“As a way of recognizing the important contributions of those who serve Canada in uniform, permanent residents who are members of the Canadian Armed Forces will have quicker access to Canadian citizenship. The Act also stipulates that children born to Canadian parents serving abroad as servants of the Crown are able to pass on Canadian citizenship to children they have or adopt outside Canada.”

“Citizenship applicants will need to be physically present in Canada for a total of four out of their last six years. In addition, they will need to be physically present in Canada for 183 days per year for at least four of those six years. These provisions will come into force in approximately one year.”

Full story here.

Common People: British Film by Canadians coming to Toronto

One of the many well-shot, scripted and beautifully acted scenes from Common People

One of the many well-shot, scripted and beautifully acted scenes from Common People

This e-mail we received speaks for itself. (Bolding and caps are ours.)

Dear British Bloke in T.O.,

LOVE YOUR WEBSITE. Read every Successful Brit in Toronto interview thinking I should write to them all, but then figured it might be easier to write to you, and hope you might be able to disseminate this info from your Brits in Toronto Headquarters.

I’m the Canadian writer/co-director of the hit British film, Common People, which will be having its Canadian Premiere in Toronto at the ReelHeART film festival on June 28, before it is released on iTunes nationwide in Canada the following week.

I’m absolutely thrilled to be bringing it to Toronto, as that is where the whole odyssey began, when I was writing the last draft from an apartment overlooking the Bell Lightbox during TIFF 2011.

The journey since then has included shooting the actual film for £35,000, outdoors over 18 days in London during, “the wettest April since records began;” winning awards at our first and subsequent festivals, a one-off screening in London that snowballed into a nine-week sell-out run, and, last week, a nationwide theatrical released in the U.K., to considerable acclaim from British critics.

As the budget suggests, we’re a micro-budget operation, with no marketing team, so we’d really appreciate any help to spread the word about the film among Brits and Anglophiles in Toronto.

My co-director (and Essex Girl) Kerry Skinner and I will be flying in from the U.K. for the festival, and we’d be extremely grateful of any help to spread the word before we bring Common People to Toronto.

Thankfully, I think the film screens BETWEEN World Cup matches. We’ll also be finding those BRITISH PUBS to watch the England matches in at a much more convenient time.

You can read all about the film and view the trailer at www.commonpeoplethemovie.com and see the trailer, and London audience responses to the film on our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/commonpeoplethemovie

Tickets can be booked here: http://reelheart.org/saturday-june-28/saturday-june-28-300pm/

And do come along if you’re free. It’s a lovely film.

All the best,

Stewart Alexander
Common People Productions

Successful Brits in Toronto: Andrew Davies

Not sure where Andrew Davies is, but it looks very "cool" (hee hee)

Not sure where Andrew Davies is, but it looks very “cool” (hee hee)

“Sure, why the hell not.”

With those enthusiastic, committed and determined words, we managed to line up yet another Successful Brit in Toronto. There are so many — the city is truly spoilt by the sheer number of talented Brits willing to give up their cushy lives over the pond, and come here to make a go of it.

Andrew Davies … the stage is yours:

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?

My then Canadian girlfriend, now wife, lives in Toronto so it was inevitable that ultimately I would end up in Toronto, especially as my skill set (civil engineering estimator) is in such demand here.

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

Arrived on Saturday, CNE on Sunday, interview on Monday and a job offer arrived on Tuesday. It was all very Solomon Grundy apart from the bit about being buried on Sunday. I have been buried in work since I arrived. The lack of “Canadian experience” fortunately hasn’t really been an issue — and if anything, being British has opened a few doors for me. Cool Britannia. 🙂

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

Traffic and commuting in Toronto is a nightmare. My first two months of commuting was probably the most stressful and painful thing I have ever had to do, other than leaving family and friends back in Yorkshire.

However once you get to where you are going though, you will find that people are welcoming, open, understanding, friendly and great fun. The city has so much to offer that there is never a dull moment. If you want it, Toronto has it.

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 have British friends and, yes, I enjoy getting together with them. However, I don’t go to meet homesick Brits pining for Coronation Street, Heinz tomato soup or Curly Wurlys as that’s not me. I go to have a laugh with a fellow Brit who “gets” the humour and doesn’t get offended if you tell them to f**k off.

Don’t get me wrong though, I miss a decent pie and pint like the next guy.

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

If you are moving to Toronto, don’t hesitate, do it. I did, I don’t regret it and I wish I had done it 20 years ago. I would urge you though, to network with friends who are already here and get advice on locations before you do it.

That’s great advice, Andrew. Thanks mate! If anyone is curious where the photo was taken you can connect via LinkedIn.

The best thing about living in Toronto during the World Cup is …

Beep every time you see this glorious sight on a Ford Capri 2.0. That's us

Beep every time you see this glorious sight on a Gold Ford Capri 2.0. That’s us

… the car flags!

Football is the best sport in the world. Brits are passionate about it. And now the BEST sporting event is a few days away. The Brits in Toronto crew cannot wait.

We are going to drink a lot of booze during this event. Let’s be honest about it. The best thing? Socializing with other countries’ fans. There will be Italians in the pub we frequent this coming Saturday. We have friends in blue football jerseys. It’s about the spirit of the occasion, the competition — not the aggro and trouble.

The best part, though? We love seeing all the different car flags driving around the city too. There’s nothing better than rounding the bend on the Gardiner — the one by Jameson — and suddenly spotting the red and white fluttering in the wind speeding by on the other side.

Quick! Hand on horn. Listen for the reply. Job done! Acknowledged. Respect due.

Also, the joy of overtaking the German flag. Cutting off an Argentinian flag. Slowing down to let a Japanese flag in front, as they’re polite and also won’t last long.

It’s all good fun! The city’s multiculturalism is one of its strengths. Toronto welcomes people from all nationalities, and this is the best time when that comes to the fore.

So … Brits in Toronto … get those car flags on and show support for England!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Nick Drew

Nick Drew forgot to send a photo of himself, so here's E.T. auditioning for the next A-Team film (E-Team?)

Nick Drew forgot to send a photo of himself, so here’s E.T. auditioning for the next A-Team film (Mr. E.T.? The E-Team?)*

We have a LOT to thank Robin Brown for. A lot. Not enough to reward him financially in any way, but just enough to link to him again.

You see, a while ago, by the wizardry that is Twitter, we put out a call for more Successful Brits in Toronto volunteers. Tumbleweeds and chirping crickets.

Was just about to press “Delete Blog” and go for a pint, but … like a last-minute strike from Rooney to win the upcoming June 14 England vs. Italy World Cup game … Robin e-mailed us a tip. And that tip was Nick Drew.

Thank you Robin, and take it away Nick …

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 guess I kind of fell into it. After 10 years of living in London my girlfriend and I had a general feeling of, “There must be more out there than this.” She was offered a transfer to Toronto within her company, so we thought why not?!

“Permanent” sounds quite final, though; I think after four years we’re still in the “trying it and seeing how it goes” stage.

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

It was actually relatively straightforward: I worked out pretty quickly that multinationals are more amenable to hiring expats than domestic firms, and went for a few interviews. I’m lucky to work in a role in which international experience is a valuable asset — and an industry where an English accent is still regarded as a desirable trait!

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

For me, the quality of life is far and away the biggest difference from the U.K. It’s a combination of so many things … but hot sunny summers and cold sunny winters are a big factor. Cost of living can be more expensive here (i.e. mobile phone, groceries), but being able to live three miles from the downtown core in a house with a garden is something you could only dream of in London!

As for the worst aspects, Toronto infrastructure has to be up there on the list. Construction on the Gardiner and across the city; TTC reliability apart from the subway; even the waste water system is in desperate need of overhaul. It’s such a shame, because I think it’s what keeps Toronto from being among the absolute best cities to live in.

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?

A lot of my best friends here are Brits, but it’s really not intentional — I just keep kinda running into them. It’s probably something to do with a worldview, and having similar context and experiences. For pubs, The Queen and Beaver and The Oxley are excellent tastes of home: they even have cask ales!

Amaya comes closest to a British curry that I’ve found, although I’m always keen to try others (any suggestions?). And for meeting other Brits, we’ve found the sports leagues to be a good starting point: the football (soccer) leagues are great, and for the younger crowd (20s and 30s), the ski club is a great way to meet expats.

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

One of those clichéd inspirational quotes comes to mind: “It’s not the destination that’s important, it’s the journey” — and when it comes to deciding where to live, that’s so true. Spending even a few years in Toronto is excellent, just to experience the change.

And for sheer excitement, seeing someone you don’t know in the office, or on your street, or just in a café, and having them give you a cheery, “Hello, where are you from?” can’t be beaten!

Thanks Nick! If any other Brits out there want to connect or recommend a good portrait photographer to Nick, here’s his LinkedIn profile.

*Update: Nick e-mailed us today and apologized for forgetting to send a photo of himself, and included the one below of him and the famous pug from Men In Black, the one that the special effects guys made say, “Kiss my furry little butt!”

Nick Drew

Toronto’s eight great places to watch the World Cup

See ya later, Italy!

See ya later, Italy!

The World Cup is only 11 days away now, and if you haven’t been thinking about where to watch the games, Inside Toronto have come up with a handy guide.

“For England fans there are not specific neighbourhoods where fans gather so it’s a matter of finding your favourite pub. There are no shortage of English pubs, given Toronto’s heritage, for instance, just to name a couple: The Queen and Beaver Public House at 35 Elm St. or The Duke of Gloucester at 649 Yonge Street, or Opera Bob’s Public House at 1112 Dundas Street West.”

Brits in Toronto is partial to The Duke, but there’s also The Official England House or possibly one of these locations.

No excuse! Loads of great pubs to check out. COME ON ENGLAND!!