Callum is a perfect example of a Successful Brit in Toronto. He chose his country of residence based on what time they show the football, likes long bike rides around the city and also thinks it’s ridiculous you can’t buy your groceries and pop along to the next aisle to get your booze too.
So, what else does he think about living 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?
A mate and I decided to spend a year working abroad after finishing University back in 2011. There are a few options open to Brits wishing to work abroad, including Australia, but Canada just seemed the best fit and we chose Toronto primarily so we wouldn’t be getting up too early in the morning to watch Leeds United games!
Almost four years on and I’m a permanent resident and living with a Canadian girl.
What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?
Maybe five or six weeks after moving over and applying for what seemed like hundreds of jobs I got a call out of the blue from someone who found my CV on Kijiji. They hired me for a management position and I’m still with the same employer now, albeit in a different role.
I got lucky in the sense that my job allowed me to apply for residency once the relevant “experience” time had elapsed.
What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?
I’ll try to answer this question without mentioning diversity or bad weather! [Oooh, we’ll see, you cheeky bugger! ~ Editor.]
Best — It’s never boring. There’s always something happening, whatever the weather. [Fail. ~ Editor.] Whatever you want to eat, whatever you want to drink, whatever you want to do on any day of the week … you can do it.
Moving from a small town in England (Doncaster) to a huge city like this is a surreal experience. I still feel like a tourist in my own city; every time I speak to my dad he asks, “How many bloody pictures of the bloody CN Tower can you take?”.
Worst — LCBO and The Beer Store. I don’t think any Brit can get along with this idea. Gone are the days when I can walk out of ASDA with a case of 24 bottles of Stella.
Another bad thing is having to “dumb down” my accent to speak to Canadians. They seem to think the “British accent” is people basically speaking like the Queen. You wouldn’t believe the amount of times I’ve been asked what part of Ireland/Scotland/Australia I’m from.
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 don’t try to avoid other Brits but I don’t seek them out either. Maybe I’m worried I’ll get along with a bloke from back home only for him to tell me an hour later he’s a Man United fan? I’ve got a mate here from Yorkshire who I met watching football at Scallywags a few years ago, that’s about it.
As for pubs, the best for me undoubtedly is The Bristol. I spent the first few years here craving a British-style curry and a Sunday Roast. All my prayers were answered at once when they opened up. It’s very authentic — they don’t just stick a few Union Jacks up and put Fish & Chips on the menu and call themselves British-themed.
The Queen and Beaver is a bit fancy but does very good grub too.
Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.
In England we tend to put down roots and stick to what’s local. Local boozer, local curry house, local shops etc.
In Toronto it’s best to explore the city whenever possible. Try different neighborhoods for nightlife … there’s dozens of them, all offering a different vibe.
The best advice I can give to someone fresh off the boat is buy a bike. Even if it’s a cheap bike from Kijiji. The city is easy to navigate on two wheels and it beats paying so much to ride a sweaty streetcar.
Riding the Lakeshore path to the Islands or Ashbridges Bay is the best way to spend a day in the summer.
Great stuff, Callum! And we miss ASDA too, mate …
Sounds like a great guy, if I ever come to Toronto I’d love to meet up.
Why should Canadians know by your accent which region of Britain or commonwealth country you’re from, Callum? While they shouldn’t assume either, I hope they’re at least interested enough to ask you where you’re from?
I’m not saying they SHOULD know, to be honest. Its just the repetetiveness of it that gets annoying sometimes. Sorry if it came across differently. I guess almost any Canadian has had ‘where in America are you from?’ while abroad.