Monthly Archives: March 2015

British citizen living abroad? You can apply to be an overseas voter

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Have your say about who does what, where and when, and with who, sometimes, in this beautiful building

It’s the big one. The next UK general election has been set as Thursday, May 7, 2015.

The campaigning officially kicked off yesterday and there’s still time to register to vote if you live overseas.

Check the website About My Vote for all the details. We think it’s important to still have a say in who runs the UK back home.

Here’s the timetable of events so you can keep up with all the action over the next few weeks.

We already have some related articles lined up … so watch this space.


Behind the scenes of … a fish and chip shop

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Breaking news: enjoy your halibut while you can. And we need to start a mushy peas campaign. Read on …

We’re very excited to launch a new series of articles: Behind the scenes of …

On a regular basis (we’re not committing to a definite schedule in case the series flops and this is the only one) we will contact British institutions — such as a fish and chip shop — and ask the hard questions that no one dares to explore.

It will be groundbreaking, truly insightful and, yes, sometimes we’ll walk the editorial tightrope of pure fear and excitment to bring you the scoop on information that you’ve always wanted to know — but never had a Brit blog to take care of for you.

That changes now.

So, without further link bait ado, let’s go behind the scenes of a fish and chip shop!

To help us in our quest, Kevin from Sea Witch Fish and Chips very kindly agreed to answer our thought-provoking, deep and probing questions.

Although not a Brit, Kevin describes himself as, “A pretty typical Canadian: a mix of a medley of immigrants. Fell in love with Britpop in the early ’90s. Toured the indie record shops in the north a fair bit. That, and fish and chips, is about as British as I get.”

But that’s totally acceptable; he runs a fish and chip shop.

Hold tight as we go … behind the scenes.

How long does the oil take to cool down and how often is it changed?

I have a system for “seasoning” the grease in the different fryers. Loosely, I remove a fair bit and add at least 40 lbs of pure rendered beef dripping every morning. As for how long it takes to cool down … I’m pretty sure you could dip your finger in it an hour after we close, but we’re long gone before it is “cool.”

What’s the most popular type of battered fish do you sell?

In Canada, halibut is still king. And it will always be that way until it approaches the $20/order mark — which is coming soon. Although, as the price climbs, haddock sometimes comes close … but never surpasses.

What happens to unsold food? Is it just thrown away or given to charities or organizations?

Happily, we don’t waste anything. I’ve been doing this for a while and, I guess, have learned how to prep enough without wasting.

For fish, I’d rather sell out of one or two — we have five types on the menu — than throw some out.

For spuds, if there are any blanched ones left at the end of the day, one of us will take them home and make a hash out of them in the morn. Taters blanched in beef and finished in bacon fat? Yes please!

Why is it always served in newspaper? Why not in a magazine or on an e-reader or something?

Hey, chips wrapped in an e-reader is a perfectly good waste of chips. As you know, the newspaper wrap is one of the vestiges of a working class meal. Cheap eats served on a free supply of packaging.

Sadly, fish isn’t so cheap anymore.

Any plans to get pickled eggs or curry chip sauce on the menu for the Brit palate?

In my experience, items like these are nostalgically mentioned occasionally but are not actually requested with any frequency. Like mushy peas. And Salad Cream for a chip butty. Scraps, bits. And kebab vans.

What’s the one surprising thing about a fish and chip shop that the punters don’t know?

This is a great question. Unfortunately, my top 10 answers can only be shared over pints! On the record, though, all fish ‘n’ chippers, after a time, eat things with legs, not gills.

So there you have it. We broke the news about the price of halibut going up and that — woe is us — staples like mushy peas are not frequently requested.

So, thanks to Kevin, and we’re off for a lie down while we digest these revelations. Until the next behind the scenes of …

CONTEST: Win two tickets to the Totally British Festival!

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There may be a special guest appearance at the festival by Michael Caine’s butler dog holding two flags

We published a blog post back in the heady days of 2013 asking: Do we need a Little Britain in Toronto?

After much debate in the Brits in Toronto office — settled by a game of slapsies — it was decided that no, we don’t. Brits are scattered far and wide across this fair city … but now and again (especially during World Cups) we tend to congregate as a tribe and (modestly, ahem) celebrate all things British.

Thanks to Paul and Michelle Meade, the publishers of The British Canadian Group of Newspapers and Totally British Magazine, Brits will have that chance again to meet up and have some jolly old fun at the Totally British Festival being held at the Hamilton Convention Centre on May 16-17, 2015.

There’s tons of great stuff going on, but we also asked Paul to explain a bit more about the event …

It’s being described as the biggest British Show in Canada for a reason. The Totally British Festival will have two days packed with traditional — and not so traditional — British entertainment, with an emphasis on fun.

The event is taking the place of the annual British Isles Show, which is usually held in Mississauga. The organisers announced they were postponing the spring event, and possibly moving it to the autumn. That’s when Totally British Magazine stepped in to fill the gap.

Publisher Paul Meade says, “We didn’t want this annual event to stop. We look forward to it, and so do thousands of people within the British community. So, the magazine and The British Canadian newspaper are backing an entertainment extravaganza for all ages.”

Instead of the usual Coronation Street character being the big draw, organizers hope the varied entertainment will bring people in. From Morris Dancers, to a Beatles band, to a Punch and Judy Show, Tom Jones tribute artist, a Classic Car show, Robin Hood Village, Brass Band, Coronation Street Quiz, model trains, a Concert Band, a bit of British Pantomime, and some seriously funny audience participation, every hour will be packed with family entertainment.

There will be dozens of British vendors on hand selling everything you miss from back home, and there will be a bakery, sweet shop and British grocery, as well as a hot food stall selling pies, pasties, baked beans and mushy peas.

Organizers decided to move the venue to Hamilton because, as Meade says, “This will be more convenient for people from Mississauga to Niagara, and everywhere in between. And we hope Toronto Brits will make the journey as well. I promise it will be worth it. This is going to be a British show like no other.”

But Meade and his team are not new to British festivals. They have put on several shows in British Columbia, and none of them had Coronation Street characters. “We believe that if we can make the entertainment the focus, then people will leave our show having had a brilliant time. I always tell people to imagine you are coming to a British wedding reception or a pantomime — expect the unexpected, and you will have a laugh!”

Entry has been reduced to $10 per person, and there is an online offer that gets you in both days for just $10, but it’s a limited time offer only available at

The website also has details of a weird talent competition being held at the festival. Brits are invited to enter Briton’s Got Talent where they are can display weird and unusual talents to win prizes.


All sounds great, eh?! Now here’s the good bit — Paul has kindly offered TWO FREE TICKETS to the show as a contest prize!

It’s quite simple: just tweet why you’d like to attend the show and (1) include the hash tag #britstix (so we can track entries) and (2) link back to this post (here’s the short link [] so you can save space in your tweet).

If you are not on Twitter, just post your reason to attend the show in the comments section below. It’s that easy.

We’ll pick a winner the week before the show and arrange with Paul to get them the two tickets.

Hoping to see a massive turnout of Brits in May!

Top 8 things you need to know before you go to Canada!


Nick Noorani, always a happy chap

Reprinted by kind permission of the smiling gent above who started Prepare For Canada.

This year is the beginning of my seventeenth year in Canada. Seventeen years of working to help immigrants succeed and thereby give back to the country I adopted. Here are some tips beyond my 7 Success Secrets!

1) Get all your papers ready. Starting from your educational documents, birth, and marriage or divorce documents. Driver’s license, valuables, good to follow all critical. For a complete list, go here.

2) Research your location. Most immigrants go to where they have a close or distant relative which is good but not ideal from a career perspective. Find out the labour market demand for your profession and choose your location accordingly. Remember, with Canada being so big (second largest country in the world by landmass!) once you land moving becomes pretty expensive.

3) Research your career — is it a regulated or unregulated career? If it is the former and you go through the process of getting your credentials recognised, do remember that this changes form one Province to another. In other words, if you move from Ontario to British Columbia you need to see whether your credentials still meet the requirements.

4) Choose your landing time if you can. I hear of so many who land in December or January when the weather challenges will distract you from the whole settlement process. Additionally, that is not a time you want to be going out looking for a job. The ideal time is mid-year when it is summer and just right before schools open in September. You get to go familiarize yourself in new city, connect with a settlement agency and hopefully make friends!

5) Get your finances organized. If you have attended our webinars you know that we work exclusively with Scotiabank as we believe they provide a superior product and customer service for newcomers. Find out more about their StartRight program here.

6) Have realistic expectations. Many immigrants migrate at the peak of their career and, understandably, want to pick up where they left off when they move to Canada. Have realistic expectations, but aim for the sky. Here’s the point: It took me 23 years to reach where I was in the advertising industry in my home country, so I cannot realistically expect I will instantly be at the same point immediately in a new country!

7) Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Not exclusive to migrants, fully understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses and being truly self-aware is not always easy. As human beings, we often find it difficult to face up to reality, accept when we’re wrong, admit to making mistakes, and acknowledge we may not be very good at something. To thrive in a new country, it’s critical to put down your defenses and to objectively reassess your skills in a new light — a Canadian light.

8) Seek help and advice. The first thing you should do is connect with a credentialing service that will help you get started on having your education qualifications recognized. Click here to get started. Next, ask for assistance from the many immigrant settlement agencies. They will help you with an accurate self-assessment of your soft skills which you can elaborate on in job cover letters and interviews. And don’t just stop there! Get a mentor, start networking within your profession and get on your way to success one step at a time.

So there you have it. More tips to help you succeed in Canada! Every month, I will be talking more about this in our newsletter. The only way to get it is to subscribe here.

Lastly, don’t forget to attend our Know Before You Go webinar and prepare for success in Canada!

Reddit discussion: How would a British person fit into life in Toronto?


Lots of good comments in this Reddit Toronto thread

We love Reddit Toronto and they often feature some good, relevant content to our subject matter … like this one.

Here’s a very specific discussion that Brits in Toronto readers may find useful, or decide to participate in: How would a British person fit into life in Toronto?

There’s some positive and negative comments in the discussion, so take a butcher’s!

Don’t forget, Brits, you have to file taxes in Canada. How about $20 off? And a wormhole?


Tax. Just like a sad love song, it affects most of us and makes our bottom lip tremble

Let’s face it — this is not a fun, well-crafted, witty and spellchecked post reviewing some nice British-themed food, or a heartwarming story about a Successful Brit in Toronto.

It’s about TAX!

There, we said it. But you have to face it. So we made it a little easier and partnered up with to make the task not such a pain. And as it’s a sponsored post, they’re also offering you $20 off your filing fee. We’ll repeat that fact at the end too just for more impact.

So, let’s get filing those taxes!

Tax season has come and gone as quickly as the snow this year (well, maybe not in the east), but nonetheless, the deadline is approaching for us all to file our tax returns. If you’ve worked in Canada in 2014, you’re obliged to file a tax return.

Unfortunately, the Canadian tax system does not mirror that of the UK’s, where tax is looked after for us. In Canada, we are entrusted to file our own tax returns each year.

It’s not all bad news however, because if you paid tax in 2014, you’re more than likely due a tax refund.’s average refund for international workers in Canada is $904, which is not to be sniffed at! What would you do with $904?

So, where do you begin? Luckily, Brits In Toronto has partnered with to guide you all in the right direction. specializes in filing tax returns for international workers, and look after the whole process for you.

They will even send your refund to your UK bank account if that’s what you want. can send you a free no-obligation tax refund estimate in three days, and all they need from you is to fill out the following registration forms online:

1. Click here to fill in the registration form
2. Click here to sign and date the Canadian tax forms
3. Send your completed registration form, T4 and copy of passport to

Mention Brits In Toronto in your e-mail and you’ll get a $20 discount on your filing fee.

Might as well, right? You have to file them somehow. You could then invest that extra $20 in a tax-free savings account, which will create a tax wormhole and implode the fabric of time and space in a singularity.

And who said tax wasn’t exciting?!

Red vs. Brown: Which sauce are you?


Forget the general election … this is REALLY important

A fun little item caught our SAUCY eye today. Ha! Come on readers, KETCHUP will ya? Ha ha!

OK. It was a slow news day. But we still like this as it will divide a nation of Brits and have families fighting at the table. Red or Brown?

The “Red vs. Brown” campaign pits Heinz Tomato Ketchup lovers against fans of HP Sauce. It has kicked off with the message being spread on the brands’ social media channels.

There is a dedicated website to vote on your favourite sauce flavour. The votes will be tracked on a regional map to highlight the divide in popularity across different parts of the UK.

You can vote and also win a year’s supply!

So, prove your alliance once and for all and let’s see what sauce comes out on top.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Ahmed El-Etriby

Ahmed (far left) visits the Brits in Toronto office to chat about his interview with Keith (office intern), Barbara (office manager) and Madge (advertising accounts). Madge needs some work, readers ...

Ahmed (far left) visits the Brits in Toronto office to chat about his interview with Keith (office intern), Essex Babs (office manager) and Auntie Madge (accounts)*

We were trolling the Internet looking for some successful Brits to feature, no luck. Called in some favours from our spies strategically placed at pubs, curry houses and greasy spoons across Toronto. Zilch.

But wait! Didn’t we just chat to a Brit a few days ago about his sports team? Why yes. Yes, we did.

Two seconds later we had Ahmed El-Etriby on the e-mail dog and bone, gave it a little chin wag and bob’s your uncle … 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?

About six years ago I made a decision that I needed to change my life up. I had just graduated from university in Manchester and got a job and started living back at my mum’s. I wasn’t feeling too great about what I was achieving so made a plan to move and live in NYC (one of my lifelong dreams).

But as it turns out, it’s pretty much impossible for British passport holders to get an open visa to the States.

Canada seemed a logical back-up plan and the visa (working holiday visa) was easy to get, so decided to come to Toronto.

I’ve been here for four years now and it definitely wasn’t in my planning, but have made a decent life here and got my Permanent Residency last year so will probably be here for few more.

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

I came here with limited planning and just two goals: find a job and a place to live. When I landed I didn’t know anyone here and was living in an eight-man room in a hostel.

I was amazed by how many people from England/Ireland were in the hostel and doing exactly the same thing as me, coming for the year, searching for a job and place to live.

It was a very hard six weeks at the beginning. To get extra cash was handing out newspapers on King and Bay. But then got a break on a house, moved in with another English fella and then two weeks later got a job — and the rest is history.

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

A lot of people talk about the multicultural aspect of Toronto or the great food but I love how safe it is. People here are very nice and polite compared to other North American cities and compared to back home, it’s a no-contest.

It’s a great sports city as well — not success wise! — but you can find pretty much any sport you want to play and there’s a league setup or some structure in place to play it. Football (soccer) is big over here and it good to watch a game at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday.

Worst is the winter and general living expenses. It’s a deceptively expensive place to live. Rent is borderline extortion and general living costs, TTC, food etc. takes its toll on your bank account.

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?

The vast majority of people I know here are English or Irish. The Irish outnumbering the Brits by a large amount but they’re just as much fun.

My favorite place in Toronto is Queen West. The Dog & Bear (my favourite bar) is down there along with the Bristol Yard across the road, a kind of little Britain.

There are also British food shops across the city, so if you do feel homesick, nothing like a cold glass of thick Ribena to wipe away those tears.

I do feel sometimes Brits are suspicious of other Brits that are here. I think it’s down to Canadians’ perception of us as big drinkers and hooligans and a lot of people like to play up to that. Tends to happen in football bars … can be very cringeworthy to watch.

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

Try and stay here long enough for the Leafs, Raptors or Blue Jays to win a title — the city will be bouncing for months after!

*Shortly after posting this interview, we were alerted to the fact that the man seen in the above photo is, in fact, NOT Ahmed but an imposter. The real Ahmed is below and the authorities have been alerted. We apologize for any confusion.

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The real Ahmed, and not an imposter

Let’s all say hello to the Toronto Irish Football Club


These are mainly Irish lads but there’s a good chunk of English lads too

Time for another profile piece. A sporty way to meet other immigrants to Toronto and bang a ball around a bit. Win-win.

“My name’s Ahmed and I’ve been in Toronto just over four years after moving here from Leeds. Nice to have a website that gives you a bit of home every now and then.

“I play for a football team here in Toronto called Toronto Irish. It’s a team made up of a mainly Irish lads but there’s a good chunk of English lads play here as well.

“We’re on the lookout for new players and coaches and was hoping if we would be able to post something on the website to see if anyone fancied their hand at either playing or coaching?”

Here’s the deets:


Toronto Irish Football Club (TIFC) was formed in 2008 and although named Toronto Irish Football Club, no race, religion or ethnic group is excluded.

The club is home to a core of players from the Emerald Isle along with good chunk of British, Canadian and rest of the world players thrown in for good measure. The club has 50 playing members across both of the teams.

It’s been an honour that we’ve had players from all over the globe play for the club and we welcome more to do so.

In addition to on-the-field activities the club has a lively social focus helping recent immigrants settle into a new city.


The club currently runs two teams in different leagues.

Our top team plays in the Ontario Soccer league (OSL) where the standard is high and teams come from across the GTA.

Our other team competes in the Toronto Services Soccer League (TSSL) Premier Division: the top tier of the oldest organized football league in Toronto. This league is based more locally with matches often played within city limits.

How the club is run

The team is 100 per cent non-profit, with player fees, fundraisers and sponsorship used to pay league and referees fees, to rent training facilities and for other essential expenses which keep the club running. Coaching, management and administrative staff volunteer their time to keep the football competitive, the lights on and (on occasions) the refreshments flowing.

Training and home matches

The clubs prides itself on putting its players in positions to succeed and when it comes to training and games we use quality facilities.

Our home games are played at Monarch Park Stadium (South of Coxwell subway station) at 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays.

Our current training centre is St. Michael’s College School (St. Clair West subway station) but we will be moving to a new facility come May 2015. Training sessions usually last two hours.


TIFC has come a long way since joining the Toronto Multicultural Soccer League in 2009 and winning the league and cup double with a cup final outing at BMO Field.

In 2010 TIFC joined the TSSL and successfully won the Media B division in its first season. In 2011 Toronto Irish FC expanded to two teams, with 50 playing members. One team entered the TSSL First Division, while the other competed in the Second Division.

The club’s first season in the TSSL, both sides won their respective leagues, and therefore were promoted.

In 2012 the Premier Division team won their Division, (the highest level in Toronto amateur soccer) while the First Division team gained promotion to the Premier Division for 2013.

There was also great cup success during this period with TIFC winning the Second Division league cup in 2011, the First Division league cup in 2012, the Premier Division league cup in 2012 and the TSSL cup in 2011. The club also won the TSSL cup in 2013

2013 was a historic year for the club after entering the OSL for the first time. The OSL demands a higher calibre of player with strong technical ability and Irish were up to the mark winning the George Finnie Cup and finishing just outside the promotion place on the last game of the season.

2014 was a mixed year for the club, the OSL team finished second in the league again missing out on promotion and silverware.

The TSSL squad finished second in the Premier missing out on the league title on the last game of the season and also missed out on cup honours.

2015 = TBD!


Toronto Irish is not just about the football, the social aspect is an important part of the TIFC culture, being a great way for newcomers to Toronto to get accustomed to their new environment (most of us have been there and done that!), build new relationships and be part of a great organization.

We are delighted to be sponsored by the newly refurbished Elephant & Castle on King Street West (King and Simcoe) and is where our members can be found watching Premiership or European football at the weekends. We also hold frequent events and fundraisers at this location. They kindly provide us with member discounts on food and drink.

A promising future lies ahead for TIFC

Given the success of the last few years the club is looking to the future and is taking steps to implement the next stage of development. The success of the last seven years has also raised the profile of the club.

Word has spread rapidly about the quality of football played by the club and the professional coaching and management that it is lead by. This has no doubt been a contributing factor to the increase in the number of individuals wanting to play for the club.

The club is looking for dedicated players and coaches to be a part of this journey, as we move to the next level.

You can contact TIFC via their Twitter or Facebook accounts.

Click the recruitment flyer below too.


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

Caption this

“I’m fishing around for a job. Cod anyone plaice help me?”

We’ve had the pleasure of featuring a lot of Successful Brits in Toronto on the site recently, and also enjoy helping the next generation cross the pond to join that illustrious group.

Today we’re happy to “big up” Adam who is looking for a move into recruitment or facilities management.

Adam considers himself to have, “excellent organisation, communication and interpersonal skills with the ability to perform confidently under pressure, alone or as part of a team.”

His past roles include Business Director, Project Manager, Facilities Manager and Recruiter.

Interesting factoid #1: Adam was also a semi-professional footballer for seven years. Interesting factoid #2: He likes match fishing and is a marine fishing enthusiast.

So, if any of that takes your fancy, you can help Adam with a leg up and contact him at apbaylis AT googlemail DOT COM or via his LinkedIn profile.

Good luck, Adam!

Brit-formed Arsenals play Toronto on Friday, March 13


Dave “Comfort” Vassell singing lead vocals with Dizzy Minott on trombone

The Arsenals 100% Kick-Ass Ska, aka The Arsenals, is a Toronto band formed in 1994 by Brits Crash Morgan and his brother James Morgan. They named the band after their London hometown football club. Their first album “STOMP” was signed to MOON SKA Records, New York in 1995.

After Crash Morgan’s untimely passing while playing drums for Big Sugar in 1996, his family asked Dizzy Minott to keep the band going to honour Crash’s memory. The original members included Crash and James Morgan on lead vocals, Seri Gee on keyboards, Matt Ronson on bass, Darren Edwards on drums, Michael St. Clair on guitar and Dizzy Minott on trombone.

Today, The Arsenals are led by the energetic Dizzy Minott on trombone with easy-going and charming Dave ”Comfort” Vassell singing lead vocals. The band features a steady rotation of accomplished musicians.

They are playing on Friday, March 13 at Lee’s Palace at 529 Bloor Street West. You can get more details on their website or Facebook.

Here’s the band getting their skank on in Toronto’s Kensington Market:

Successful Brits in Toronto: Patrick O’Donoghue

Lottery winner Patrick hides his face as he muses on how to spend the $800

Lottery winner Patrick hides his face as he muses on how to spend the $800 windfall

Successful Brits in Toronto are like the buses in the city: every-bloody-where! And you thought we were going to riff on this tweet, right?

OK, enough with the throwaway banter. Tonight we feature Patrick O’Donoghue who originally hails from Bristol. The Bristol tourism website proudly states, “Want to know what makes Bristol so special? It’s more than just boats, bridges and balloons, you know …”

So now we do know why Patrick decided to leave Bristol, let’s find out a bit more about him …

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 my Canadian fiancée in London near the end of her working holiday. When her visa ran out I decided to come back with her, in 2011, and now we’re getting married in May so that worked out pretty well! [Didn’t work out so well for Bristol: one less taxpayer to fund its boats, bridges and balloons. ~ Editor]

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

Monster, Workopolis, Charity Village, agencies — you name it! Endless sending of CVs with no reply. It took around four months to get a proper job, and when I did, the manager loved England so it helped me on the experience side I think.

A few years on and I’m at Ryerson and it’s a great place to work.

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

Best: So many restaurants from all cuisines and poutine! The summers are great, and I don’t really mind the winters as you can ski and skate. Also, travelling to Muskoka in the autumn.

Worst: Tipping and the cost of going out. The TTC network should be better for a major city — who wants to take a subway, a streetcar and a bus in one journey?!

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 wouldn’t say I’ve made the effort; I’ve found that initially Brits are suspicious of other Brits over here, but once you get chatting you can bond over the weird bits of Canadian life.

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

Buy a proper winter coat. I only bought mine to stop people asking me, “OMG, is that your winter coat?” … but it was a good decision.

Get involved in Canadian pasttimes: hockey, skating, pumpkin picking — if you’re going to live here, you may as well embrace it!

Thanks Patrick. (He didn’t include any contact details in case scammers start to try and get a slice of his $800 lottery windfall.)

Successful Brits in Toronto: Gail McInnes


Fashion! Turn to the left. Fashion! Turn to the right. Oooh, fashion! We are the goon squad and we’re coming to town. Beep-beep

Peruse this famous list and see if you can work out what they all have in common: Simple Minds. John Logie Baird. Kenny Dalglish. Sir Alex Ferguson. Billy Connolly. James McAvoy. Gordon Brown. Groundskeeper Willie.

Yes, that’s correct — they all hail from Glasgow, Scotland.

Now you can add Gail McInnes to that exclusive club, because she has finally peaked in her long career and made it on our site as a Successful Brit in Toronto!

In our opinion that’s a real peacock feather in her haute couture cap, but Gail is also the owner of publicity agency Magnet Creative Management and co-owner of the exclusive fashion showroom Stylist Box.

Prior to launching her own successful businesses, Gail founded the groundbreaking The Style Box, Canada’s first-ever Canadian fashion designer rental showroom which catered exclusively to high-profile celebrities, dressing them for the Toronto International Film Festival, Emmy Awards, Gemini Awards and Toronto Fashion Week.

We wanted to ask her “who she was wearing,” but quite frankly that doesn’t make sense, because you usually wear the clothes physically made by the designer rather than the person themselves, which would look really stupid, so we didn’t ask her that.

Instead, we asked her about what makes Toronto her home …

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 family moved to Oshawa from Glasgow in 1989. Fashion Television was the main motivation for me to move to Toronto; it showed me that Canada had a vibrant and growing fashion industry.

I moved to Toronto when I was 18 to attend Humber College’s Fashion Arts Program in the mid-’90s and started my career in fashion.

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

Toronto welcomed me with open arms. I had two goals when I moved to the city to start my career: become a model agent or a fashion show co-ordinator.

Within my first year of school I was offered — and accepted — the position of assistant model agent at one of the country’s top agencies and was also assisting and dressing fashion shows with the city’s top fashion show co-ordinators.

The simplicity of telling people what my goals were helped me get to where I wanted to be.

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

I cannot rave enough about how many talented people there are in the fashion and arts scenes in Toronto.

Everyone comes from different backgrounds and upbringings which makes for a very open-minded and creative mindset. Those passionate and driven are the ones who are pushing this city forward and showing how progressive we are as a city.

It has been exciting to see how far even our own fashion community has grown and expanded over the past two decades; and there is still so much more room for even more growth.

The worst aspect of living in Toronto is the winter. Those last weeks seems to drag out and by early March you almost feel like giving up and just staying home forever … but then spring comes and the city suddenly becomes alive and active.

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?

When I first came to the city, it was hard for me to even find treats from back home. (I can never resist a Cadbury’s Double Decker or an Irn-Bru.)

The Caledonian on College has been my home away from home for the past five years and I’ve since been introduced to so many ex-pats simply by sitting at the bar there. They also serve the most delicious haggis.

I would also recommend The Bristol at Queen and Dovercourt — my inner Whovian just loves that they have a Tardis as their phone booth.

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

Toronto is one of those cities where from the outside, it just seems like any other city, but once you open a few secret doors you will discover so many areas that you never knew existed … from art gallery openings, fundraisers, fashion events, great restaurants, shopping, etc.

Getting out there and talking to people about where they go is the best way to unlock the city — and everyone is open to sharing their favourite places to go.

Cheers Gail! For those who want to know if that dress is really blue and black, or white and gold, you can contact her via her website, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts.

Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience


That’s FaUlty Towers, not FaWlty … just saying

This looks like another fun experience with a truly classic British theme we ran across on Twitter — Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience.

One of our contacts from the Group Tix Company told us, “I have had the pleasure of previewing Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience last Saturday afternoon. What a fantastic event. We laughed throughout the entire meal.

“The actors playing the characters (Basil, Sybil and Manuel) are brilliant!! From seating guests to serving your meal. You feel like you are a guest at the Fawlty Towers Hotel.”

ow are you, sir? You see, I speak English well. I learn it from a book... Hello... I am English... Helloooo...

“How are you, sir? You see, I speak English well. I learn it from a book … Hello … I am English … Helloooo …”

The lounge holds 130 diners per show in tables of 10. There is the possibility of up to 25% off, depending on the day of the week and if guests are doing VIP etc.



We hear that March is very full so suggest looking at April to May dates, with the possibility of an extension. The savings would be even more if guests buy 10 or more on a given date, since the service fee is lower with a group.

So, there you have it. Another free plug! We’re too nice.

For further details, e-mail info AT thegrouptixcompany DOT COM, check their website or give ’em a shout on Twitter. Say that the nice chaps and chappettes from Brits in Toronto passed along the tip, and you may find yourself enjoying this fine dining experience:

Successful Brits in Toronto: Graham Connaughton

Graham Connaughton

“I can help find the manor that’s right for you! Just call 1-800-GUVNOR and ask for Big G.”

We keep telling potential advertisers that Brits in Toronto is “prime real estate” but now have the chance to meet an expert in that field.

If you pick up the old dog and bone and have a chinwag with Graham Connaughton about prime real estate, he will definitely be ready to chat. He’s been in the business for the past 30 years and is, therefore, a Successful Brit in Toronto.

You can check him out here [insert blatant plug HTML code] at this website [/end free ad.]

So we invited Graham into our house, in the middle of our street, our house (there’s always something happening, and it’s usually quite loud) to tell us about his life 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?

My father actually chose Canada as I was a boy when we arrived in Sault Ste. Marie 1965, followed by a move to Windsor.

I chose Toronto for the economic opportunity that a growing city brings. I attended York University in the mid ’70s; watching the CN Tower being built was somewhat of an indicator of where the city was headed … up, up and away.

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

Fortunately for me I was well integrated into Canadian society prior to my arrival in Toronto as I had at that point lived in Canada for over 10 years. My first job like many in Windsor was in the auto industry, however the opportunity to sell real estate trumped the auto industry.

My first real estate sales position in Toronto was with K. See Real Estate selling condos at One Park Lane.

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

The best part of living in Toronto is that it is a multiethnic international city. The restaurant scene offers every cuisine imaginable and being the fourth largest city in North America, most major musical acts stop by when touring.

We have our own Broadway on King Street which features many of the Broadway shows either in preview or on tour, to say nothing of the galleries and club scene.

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 go out of my way to connect with Brits in the city, but living close to the The Caledonian on College I can usually drop in for a pint once a week.

Donna the pub owner makes you feel at home and there’s quite a group of regulars to commiserate with, beside which my brother-in-law who lives in Kingsville, Ontario is from Liverpool, 20 miles from my hometown. We visit often and frequent.

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

I’ve noticed more young Brits in Toronto lately. It’s a great city and the British heritage makes us all feel less a stranger in a strange land.

Being a Realtor I track trends and Canada is number two after Australia for British expats. For those who are arriving, it’s a great ride that only a youthful country can bring.

I arrived just prior to the Centennial and the 150th is right around the corner. Canada rocks!

Totally biased product review by me — Longo’s Bombay Potatoes


A little bit of Longo’s in my life, a little bit of Longo’s by my side, a little bit of Longo’s is all I need, a little bit of Longo’s is what I see. Aisle number 5!

As we’ve mentioned before on this website, we find it tricky to find a Brits in Toronto staple favourite: Bombay Potatoes.

So it was with utter glee — and Keith the office intern looking at the floor, squinting eyes like he’d scored, pumping his fist, shouting, “Yes! YES!!” — that we stumbled across Longo’s Bombay Potatoes.

Grabbed a box, jumped in the motor and drove off within the legally observed speed limit to try them out.

Now, as all Brits and curry afficiendos know from the cradle, the curries you buy in supermarkets will NEVER be as good as the ones you get from Indian restaurants. Nothing against the supermarkets, it’s just different. Less heat. Etc.

But the convenience is there to throw in the oven or microwave when you have a craving on a cold March evening and don’t want to go out.

It’s a good sized portion, that’s a plus point. There’s a nice amount of curry sauce, more points. The flavour is tasty, nice use of the spice rack.

But — as always — three bites in and we’re thinking, “Hmmmm, not hot enough.” (But we think that a lot about packaged curry, so can’t be too critical.)

Hold on? What’s that red thing hiding behind a quarter piece of spud? A red chili pepper. Back of the net! Took a crunch of that bad boy and it was, “Holy moly! SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!”

The heat kicked in and that was that. The taste rating shot up and we were reaching for the tissues.

So, a slow start for this product, but got better, so we give it a nose-blowing Brits in Toronto 3/5 stars.