Look at that happy face above. Clutching a pack of McVitie’s Digestives like he’s won the lottery.
Which, in fact, David has. Because he is today’s Successful Brit in Toronto. The exposure alone — across Toronto, Canada, the entire Internet and Scunthorpe — is pure gold.
Anyway, before we start taking the biscuit, let’s ask David some questions …
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 first experience with Toronto was as a university exchange student. It recently came back on the outgoing destinations after it was cleared of SARS. I had the option to go to Australia where everything I hate (spiders mostly) are poisonous; Hong Kong, I didn’t speak Cantonese; and there was no way at 19 years old, I was going to the U.S. where the drinking age was 21.
Toronto it was! Drinking age of 19 and with my passion for basketball, had the Toronto Raptors in the NBA. After meeting my partner while on exchange at Ryerson University, I decided to move back in 2009 after she had graduated … as when I graduated (2008), there were no jobs in the U.K.
What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?
When I did not lack “Canadian Experience,” I had “too-little” “Canadian experience” and unfortunately you can’t say, “Well no s**t, I just moved here.”
My first job was with the Toronto District School Board as a sports coach in the Jane/Eglinton area which held me over until I started a “grown-up” job in the solar industry. With very little luck in the job market it got to the point where if no one will give me a job — even after networking at multiple social events a week — I’ll make a job for myself, and by mid-2010 I started my own solar consulting company.
Fortunately the contacts I had made whilst networking became clients over the next few years.
What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?
Best = It’s probably a cheap answer but the multicultural-ness of the city. The buildup of the city as a patchwork of different countries offering a little taste of home (Little Italy, Malta Village, Portugal Village, etc.), and probably my home away from home, Opera Bob’s Public House, home to the Toronto Blues who never miss a Manchester City game.
Worst = The fickleness of Toronto sports fans. No matter how long it takes the Leafs or Raptors or my beloved TFC to win a cup (or even make the post season), you support your home team through and through. Don’t jump on the bandwagon when they put a string of wins together.
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’m always open to meeting new Brits to Toronto and being able to show off the city. Fortunately, the majority of them are from Manchester and support City so we usually meet at the pub over drinks.
Being involved in Twitter and Facebook allows you to get involved with other Brits.
Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.
To integrate quickly, I find that by joining sport and social clubs (football, rugby, etc.), you’ll meet expats along the way and are a great support network but it’s also a great way to integrate into a new city, culture and friends.
After being here full-time for almost six years now, I’d say the percentage of friends who are British is less than 10 per cent.
Great stuff, David! And we think too that Sergio Leonel “Kun” Agüero Del Castillo is currently unstoppable.