Monthly Archives: October 2014

Successful Brits in Toronto: Marilla Wex

Caption

Here’s actress Marilla Wex playing Marilla Wex. She’s very convincing!

Marilla Wex is an award-winning British actress, voice-artist and comedian who’s lived in Toronto for 11 years. Her one-woman show “Lost and Found” won Best of Fringe this summer at the Toronto Fringe Festival.

She is currently the Reader on the TV show “Reign” (she runs lines with the actors and speaks English at them. It’s kind of a weird job).

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 met and fell in love with a guy in New York one Christmas. He was based in Toronto and couldn’t move to England because of his daughter, so I moved here! It was a major upheaval for me — restarting my career from scratch in another country. Luckily it turned out well!

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

I’m an actress so luckily my skills and qualifications are transferable! I sent my CV to five different agents and the best one picked me. I’ve done TV, film, stand-up, voice-work and theatre and currently work on the show “Reign” which films for nine months of the year in Etobicoke.

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

The best: it’s easy to navigate, you can get good curry (I’m from Birmingham where you are obliged to eat curry at least once a fortnight for health reasons) and there’s always a need for a British accent. I can get away with big swears in my stand-up and Canadians still think I’m adorable.

The worst: the bloody winter. I have to shoot on location and it can be quite uncomfortable!

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 meet lots of Brits through my work. There are quite a few ex-pats working in the business we call show — both in front of and behind the camera.

I actually met my closest British friend Jess in the check-in line at Gatwick airport; she was showing her mum her temporary visa in her passport the day she landed in Toronto as a permanent resident. I butted in like a nosey parker and we’ve been mates ever since.

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

People underestimate the emotional impact moving to Canada is going to have. Make lots of connections as soon as you can because it can be quite lonely and the culture is more different than you probably anticipated.

It’s been brilliant for me professionally because I can do all the accents I couldn’t get arrested for in England. I’ve played a 50-year-old Scottish nanny in a commercial, an alcoholic traveller from Birmingham in a movie, a Mancunian trollop in “Murdoch Mysteries” and a Cockney abortionist in “Reign.”

Gor blimey, luv a duck! Cheers Marilla. Now exit stage left.

You can read more about Marilla at her website www.marillawex.com or on Twitter at @marillawex.

Totally biased product review by me — Elephant & Castle bangers ‘n’ mash

We loved how the meaty bangers sat astride the creamy mash, the onion straws observing ...

We loved how the meaty bangers sat astride the creamy mash, the onion straws merely observing …

Bangers ‘n’ mash. Technically, sausages and potatoes. Meat and starch.

BANGERS ‘N’ MASH!

Say it loud and say it proud. A pure British treat, and none better (hmmmm, maybe there is, readers?) than what the Brits in Toronto crew had at the Elephant & Castle pub on King Street West recently.

First off the E&C on King has the lunch schedule down to a tee. In at 12 noon, ordered, eaten and paid for (with a nice tip because the service was great!) by 12:27 p.m. Not bad.

The bangers? Sliced nicely for easy consumption, a good seasoning and generous sizes.

The mash? Nice and creamy. No lumps, buttery and filling.

The onion straws? A little greasy, but nice and crunchy.

The gravy? We loved this part. Loads of it. Nice and thick. Not watery. Good to the last drop!

The sprig of rosemary. Forget it. Waste of plate space.

A really nice dish. We give it a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars (would have been 5/5 but, well, the green bit …)

 

Totally biased product review by me — Union Jack mug

Does exactly what is says on the mug

Does exactly what it says on the mug

The Brits in Toronto crew have been looking around for ages for a decent mug that holds a good-sized amount of tea, and we think this is it.

From HomeSense. $3.99.

The first plus point in our book is that the Union Jack design covers the whole mug. They certainly didn’t skimp on the red and blue paint (or whatever it is) when they fired this bad boy in the kiln. The flag is extremely well represented across the rotund surface of the mug, and — this really blew us away — also on the top of the handle. Very pleasing indeed.

We went to the Brits in Toronto test kitchen, popped the kettle on and waited in anticipation for the brew.

Once the tea was nicely steeped, we poured it into the mug, added some milk, a little sugar and hefted the weight in our hand. It was a nice ratio of “raise from the kitchen table” action to “taking a sip.”

That’s always important when buying a tea mug to adequately test it first, but sometimes it’s impossible to do that in the middle of a shop before buying it, but we’re here for you (on a Sunday) taking one for the team.

Don’t rush your tea. Take your time. You’ve certainly earned it.

Around 10 minutes later our mug was empty. We estimate — and we need to confirm this once we’ve checked the stats — that it took around 15* mouthfuls of tea to finish. (Disclaimer: that number may vary depending on whether you like to gulp or sip.)

All in all, the team are very impressed with this Union Jack mug and give it a solid Brits in Toronto 5/5 stars.

*More like 13.

Let’s all help fellow Brit Christian find a job!

Christian's been in Toronto a couple of months and took this photo to prove it

Christian’s been in Toronto a couple of months and took this photo to prove it

Yes, Brits in Toronto works Sundays. We feel it’s a small price to pay to help a fellow Brit find a job. Today, we’re featuring Christian so give him a shout if you can help …

When did you arrive in Toronto and what brought you here?

I’ve been here for a couple of months after leaving England with my (Canadian) girlfriend. She had been teaching back in England but got a job recruiting teachers from Canada once her visa expired. After a two-week holiday over Christmas to meet the parents, etc. we decided I would come this summer and try the Canadian life!

What stage are you at: landed immigrant, permanent resident, citizen?

So far, I’ve just been playing the tourist role. I’m here only on the six months allowed as a visitor but now plan to stay longer and find work. As far as I can tell, the best option from here is to apply for the International Experience Canada and if all goes well, the common-law sponsorship after that. At this point though, any advice is welcome!

What kind of work are you looking for?

I’m trained in the sport and leisure industry and have a high level of football coaching badges (currently doing some voluntary coaching in Ontario). Where that hasn’t been a full-time position for me in the past, I’ve worked in education for the past four years, working in behaviour management and pastoral care. For now though, I’m happy to try my hand at anything!

What has been the best and worst aspects of the experience of coming to Toronto?

So I’m currently in the GTA (Oakville) but it’s so easy to get into Toronto, the people are mostly friendly and there’s plenty to do, with quite a lot of free options too. Enough sport to follow for someone keen on that topic and as an avid Tottenham fan, seeing JD again is good for me.

Downside? HST drives me mad!

Open question: what would you like to ask our readers, tell them or talk about? Use this as a chance to give your account of a British newcomer to Toronto.

I’ve met a couple of Brits so far, but sites like this can be so helpful. Any advice you can give/receive can go a long way. Saying that, after reading this, any advice you want to give/ask you can e-mail/Tweet me … I’ll leave the details at the bottom.

My one piece of advice to sign off with would be to take any opportunity that someone may give you, be sociable, explore and interact with people. You only get one life, enjoy it!

Twitter: @_Tian15 / E-mail: chris.tian15 AT hotmail.com

Quiz: Can you pass this Canadian citizenship test?

And your starter for 10, no conferring: name this country

And your starter for 10, no conferring: name this country

“Can you name Canada’s first head of responsible government or the first European to explore the St. Lawrence River?

“If not, then you may know less about Canada than most of its new citizens.

“About 140 students from across the country were put to the Citizenship Challenge on Wednesday when they played a bingo-style game at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. The students answered questions about Canada similar to those that appear in a Discover Canada citizenship test.”

Read the full story on Metro.

Bonus story: What is a Canadian Permanent Resident visa?

“What does it mean to have permanent residence in Canada? Immigration to Canada is, and has always been, a changing process. With over 60 Canadian immigration programs that lead to permanent residence in Canada, it is understandable that a degree of confusion arises from time to time. New programs open, old programs close, criteria for existing programs are modified, and definitions change. Some newcomers to Canada who have successfully attained permanent residence status remain unsure about precisely what it is. This article will deal with some common questions surrounding permanent residence in Canada.”

Successful Brits in Toronto: Hannah Perrin-Haynes

Hou's it gaun, Hannah Perrin-Haynes? A'm daein fine, an ye?

Hou’s it gaun, Hannah Perrin-Haynes? A’m daein fine, an ye?

Ahhh, Scotland. Rugged windswept scenery, beautiful castles, bagpipes, fish and chip suppers, haggis, Billy Connolly, deep-fried Mars Bars. What’s not to love?

Hannah Perrin-Haynes certainly agrees. As the Scottish Government’s Diplomatic representative in Toronto, she works as part of Team Scotland which includes Scottish Development International (which has a remit for trade and investment) and Visit Scotland (the tourism body).

“We are based at the British Consulate,” explains Hannah. “I work across the whole country, and have really loved all the different trips around Canada over the last year. Highlights: seeing bears and wolves in the Rockies, and driving around a foggy Cape Breton Island meeting different Gaelic-speaking communities.”

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 was transferred to Toronto for my post as the Second Secretary for Scottish Affairs in Canada. I have been here for a year so far, and I’m loving every minute. My job — promoting Scotland in Canada — is made so much easier given the extraordinary affinity Canadians feel with all things Scottish.

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

What’s the infamous Canadian experience?! It was smooth sailing for me, and I felt right at home from day one.

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

The best: the diversity of Torontonians … and the best thing about that is the fantastic array of authentic cuisine.

The worst: ice quakes.

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?

There are lots of really fun Brits at the Consulate, and it’s amazing how often I hear the familiar accent when out and about in the city. I’m a big fan of the menu at the Queen and Beaver, and The Caledonian is a great place to enjoy a Scottish beer.

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

If you’re a Scot in Toronto, or you have an interest in Scotland, then please do get in touch, we would love to meet you! You can find me on twitter @HPerrinHaynes or e-mail me at Hannah.Perrin-Haynes AT scotent.co.uk.