Monthly Archives: April 2015

Transfer your currency … and help a charity


Transfer your money with these guys, and Brits in Toronto gets 10% to donate to charity

Money. Quid. Dollar. Cash. Green. Coin. Wonga. Spondoolies. Wedge.

We all have our preferred term for the thing that makes the world go round. If you’re moving to Canada from the UK, or taking a trip back home to see Uncle Charlie, then you’ll need to transfer some money.

Thanks to our latest best friends from Canadian Forex, Brits in Toronto can assist you with that — and, here’s the good part — we have requested that 10% of the gross revenue from any sign-ups be donated to a charity of our choice!

Do the banks agree to that? We think not.

Here’s the legal bit they make us say:

CanadianForex is offering Brits in Toronto readers no originating fees* and great exchange rates on international transfers. CanadianForex is a part of the OzForex Group, which is one of the world’s largest foreign exchange companies. They have more than 120,000 clients worldwide and last year alone they transferred over $13.6 billion.

You can use their services when transferring money to purchase a property abroad, relocating overseas or simply transferring money to and from the UK.

To register for an account please click here. (And help a charity at the same time!)

*Please note that the recipient’s bank or intermediary bank may assess fees on the transaction. Minimum transfer size is C$1,000.

So there you have it. Check them out, ask questions, transfer some spondoolies … and feel good about it at the same time.


CONTEST: We have five pairs of tickets to Toronto FC vs. Manchester City FC up for grabs!

Caption here

How good is that, eh?

Ever since Toronto FC announced a friendly against THE Manchester City FC on May 27 at BMO Field, Brits in Toronto wanted to get involved in some small way. We love these games where the Premiership is pitted against MLS, in our adopted city of Toronto.

And thanks to our very generous friends at Manchester City FC, we have an exclusive free contest where you can win one of five — yes, five — pairs of tickets to see the match!

How good is that? You’re welcome 🙂

Some of the Brits in Toronto crew attended the Toronto FC vs. Tottenham Hotspur friendly last summer, and let us tell you — whatever your team allegiance — it was an amazing occasion, full of atmosphere and excitement. Tons of fellow Brits there too, obviously.

We have no doubt that TFC vs. MCFC will be exactly the same, and we’re pumped.

Who will take it?

Who will take it? Red blokes or blue blokes? Be there!

So, how can you win the chance to grab a pair of free tickets? Simply click this exclusive Brits in Toronto link, fill out some quick details and a representative from MCFC will pick five winners of two tickets each.

Nothing to lose. And get the chance to be there and see whether the reds or blues prevail …

As Alan Partridge would say, “Back of the net!”

Happy St. George’s Day!


A 15-foot high statue of St. George unveiled in London

Happy St. George’s Day to those who celebrate it! St. George’s Day is the feast day of St. George and the National Day for England. We found that here.

We also found this, egads! St George’s Day: 5 very English things that are not actually English. (But we do agree with David Cameron.)

And here’s the St. George’s Society of Toronto for future ref.

What a day!

Brits in Toronto Book Club — “Invisible Immigrants: The English in Canada since 1945”

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It’s like a Pink Floyd album cover

The Brits in Toronto crew are always on the lookout for cool books to read on the TTC, when it’s running. We heard about this one today — “Invisible Immigrants: The English in Canada since 1945”.

From the PR blurb …

“Despite being one of the largest immigrant groups contributing to the development of modern Canada, the story of the English has been all but untold. In Invisible Immigrants, Marilyn Barber and Murray Watson document the experiences of English-born immigrants who chose to come to Canada during England’s last major wave of emigration between the 1940s and the 1970s. Engaging life story oral histories reveal the aspirations, adventures, occasional naivetĂ©, and challenges of these hidden immigrants.

“Postwar English immigrants believed they were moving to a familiar British country. Instead, like other immigrants, they found they had to deal with separation from home and family while adapting to a new country, a new landscape, and a new culture. Although English immigrants did not appear visibly different from their new neighbours, as soon as they spoke they were immediately identified as ‘foreign.’

“Barber and Watson reveal the personal nature of the migration experience and how socio-economic structures, gender expectations, and marital status shaped possibilities and responses. In postwar North America dramatic changes in both technology and the formation of national identities influenced their new lives and helped shape their memories. Their stories contribute to our understanding of postwar immigration and fill a significant gap in the history of English migration to Canada.”

Are things the same today as they were then? Do we identify as “foreign” when we say “settee” instead of “Chesterfield”?

Grab the book, give it a butcher’s and send us a review if you like. We’ll post it. Promise.

Update April 22, 2015
The publishers kindly gave permission for us to print an excerpt and supplied a couple of nostalgic photos.

A traditional English pub was often the first port of call when visiting family back in England. By permission Rosemary Sloan

A traditional English pub was often the first port of call when visiting family back in England. By permission Rosemary Sloan

Suburban backyard potlucks helped English immigrants integrate into the community. By permission Rosemary Sloan

Suburban backyard potlucks helped English immigrants integrate into the community. By permission Rosemary Sloan

Ye olde English pubs were a nostalgic memory for many landed immigrants from England. This extract from “Invisible Immigrants: The English in Canada since 1945” reveals what the English thought about Canadian drinking habits and “puritanical” liquor laws.

As many English immigrants realized soon after arriving in Canada, the variety of food in part reflected contributions made by diverse immigrant groups to the country. Although they had to learn new methods and products for cooking, English immigrants could choose the extent to which they wished to partake of the variety of food in Canada. No interviewee mentioned feeling deprived of traditional English fare.

What many of the interviewees did miss were English pubs. It was not English beer that they missed; rather, it was the experience of neighbourhood or community that they associated with English pubs. Noel Taylor expressed the nostalgia for the institution he had left behind: “There are things I miss in England, and anybody will tell you what they are, mainly the pubs …. I miss the pub. We have pubs here but they are not the same, because they’re inhabited by young people, and pubs to me in England are where all generations meet. You might see us [less youthful people] in a pub in the lunchtime crowd, but in the evenings you wouldn’t go to a pub, an older person, you just wouldn’t be part of the crowd in a pub.”

He noted that pubs in England had changed over the years — many were now more restaurants than pubs — but the warm feeling for the English pub that he had known remained with him. Peter Semple was one who frequented the pub opposite his Toronto workplace for lunch and sometimes also immediately after work at six o’clock, but even this regular attendance was not the same as taking the cat on his shoulder down the road to the pub for the evening. A pub could become a meeting place for English immigrants.

Peter Robinson, the popular mystery writer who came to Toronto in 1974, recalled that in his early years in Toronto he felt culturally isolated, surrounded by Portuguese and Greek neighbourhoods. To compensate, he regularly drank at the Feathers’ Pub, which was frequented by expats; their accents “provided a comfort zone” that made him feel English.

More often, the interviewees emphasized the contrast between Canadian drinking places and the English pub. Charles Hall had not gone to a pub regularly in England but liked to have pubs available as a place to go and have a few leisurely drinks; living in Montreal, he found that people who went to Canadian night clubs drank much more and finished the bottle.

Ron Inch had an even more negative opinion of Toronto beer parlours, which in no way could replace the English pubs that he missed: “I hated what they called their ‘beer parlours.’ They were disgusting, I thought, so I would do anything to avoid going in them. But the British pub where you go in and take a pint and talk, or play darts, or some other card game or something, you’d spend all night drinking two pints.”

In 1950s Ontario, female English immigrants felt particularly excluded by the restrictions imposed on Ontario bars following the prohibition period of the earlier twentieth century.

Isobel Sinclair remembered: “The first thing that struck me about Toronto were these strange drinking places because they didn’t look like London pubs at all …. We found a room in Summerhill and, next to the subway station, there was one of the places, and there were two doors and one said ‘Gentlemen’ and the other said ‘women [sic] and escorts’ [Ladies and escorts]. I used to think, ‘Oh, we go in there to rent an escort or something.’ We never went to those places, and somebody told me years after, women weren’t supposed to go in the main door and they had to go to this side door. Very, very, peculiar.”

When she experienced other rules imposed in the post-prohibition era, Norma Inch thought similarly: “The attitudes were so old-fashioned, the things you couldn’t do!” She was amazed that “you couldn’t stand up for a drink, you had to sit at a table. You had to have food with it, and you couldn’t have more than one drink at a time.”

Mary Irvine also recalled her astonishment regarding the “puritanical” culture surrounding alcohol in 1950s Ontario: “When you used to buy anything from the Liquor Control Board you had to have a licence and I’ve still got my licence. It’s a little booklet that they used to sign. It was so puritanical we couldn’t believe it. You weren’t allowed to have it in the car; you had to have it in the trunk, and of course it could never be opened. It was the last thing that you bought when you were out shopping …. You picked up the bottle that you wanted and it was wrapped in a brown paper bag, and you put it in the trunk of your car and you had to go straight home. That amazed us.”

Gradual modifications of Ontario’s drinking laws eventually eased the restrictions, and such laws were never imposed in Quebec, but English immigrants continued to miss the English pub.

Arriving in Ottawa in 1970, Arthur Wood, a mechanic from Nottingham, complained that the backyard barbecue in Canada replaced the community social life that the pub had helped to provide in England: “I was very disappointed. I was a total stranger, but I like a social life. I like to socialize and the Canadian way to socialize is to have a barbecue in the back yard and that’s it, but in England we went out, we got dressed, we went out and we went to the pub, to the dances, we went to the theatre, we went to the shows, and we did all kinds of things to socialize with our circle of friends …. When you’re an immigrant, you don’t have a circle of friends, so it’s kind of restricted. That was one disappointment. The social life was a big, big adjustment to make.”

Excerpt from “Invisible Immigrants: The English in Canada since 1945” by Marilyn Barber and Murray Watson, published by University of Manitoba Press.

Let’s all say hello to the British Canadian Chamber of Trade and Commerce


The British Canadian Chamber of Trade and Commerce. Ready to welcome you with folded arms!

Time to meet an organization and get to know them a little better (or a “liddle bedder” as we’ve heard from some Brits’ accents that have subtly twanged after a while here.)

Today it’s the British Canadian Chamber of Trade and Commerce (BCCTC).

“But what’s in it for us, mate?” you selfishly cry. Quite a bit actually, as our contact Idalia explains:

How can you help Brits moving to Toronto set up their own business or find work?

BCCTC can provide you with information on what the necessary steps are to start your own business (export – import – investing).

We can advise you on who to contact and how you can get help in everything you need, i.e. registering your business, doing the necessary market research, branding and marketing, trade and logistics, accounting and legal needs, via our members and — most importantly — we can connect you with your future clients!

We have close ties with the Ontario – Federal – Municipal governments plus various agencies.

For people looking for work, we can recommend centres that can help; we sometimes receive inquiries from our members looking for people, and although this is not our focus, we will try to help.

Is it better to get in touch with you from the UK or once arrived in Toronto?

From the UK is better, time wise, as we have members who help people and businesses in their transition to Canada, so we can give some recommendations in that area as well. We can start learning of their needs and how best we can provide assistance, with reasonable notice.

You get no funding from the British/Canadian governments … how do you get financial support?

We are fully self funded with our events and by membership, details here.

You have quite an active events calendar — is that the best way for Brits to network with each other, or do you run a LinkedIn group or anything too?

In our events calendar we publish all events also hosted by our partners: British associations in Canada, the UK and the US, European chambers, and business events that we think are of interest to our members. We believe we are the most international chamber of commerce in Toronto.

Even though our focus is primarily business events, we also promote British social events, via our membership of the “Loyal Societies” (an association of 17 British organizations in Toronto, to name a few: Freemen of the City of London, North American Branch, Monarchist League of Canada, Toronto Branch, St David’s Society of Toronto, St George’s Society of Toronto, etc.).

We also have an active social media presence with a LinkedIn group, Facebook page, and Twitter account.

Any other information we should know to help Brits in Toronto be successful?

Even though Canada is very similar to the UK there are subtle differences, which we can help you learn and overcome.

Many newcomers have found that by joining our chamber and becoming involved is the quickest way to get acclimatized to Canada, make friends and “hit the ground running.”

We are recognized as a friendly as well as active chamber.

Totally biased product review by me — Cricketers Mature Cheddar

Caption here mate

Someone cut the cheese back at the Brits in Toronto HQ

The Brits in Toronto crew are always keeping our eyes peeled for those little bits of home we find around the city. Today was a great discovery: Cricketers Mature Cheddar.

Now, there’s certain cheeses that label themselves as “mature” but actually taste like the rubbery black block that your swimming teacher at school used to throw to the bottom of the pool and make you dive down to retrieve. Not pleasant.

But the illustration of the cricketer on this one, plus the “Very Best Of British” tagline prompted us to throw this in our basket, grab the Loblaws PC Plus Points at the checkout and head home to try it.

The texture was extremely nice, not crumbly, but slightly creamy. The sharpness was there too, which is what we always look for in a mature cheddar. This one would match well with a Ploughman’s Lunch, a few bits of apple or some nice tangy chutney.

All in all we give this cheese a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars.

(There are more in the range we need to try too.)

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


Potential future Canadian business owner right here

It’s time to try and help a keen, enthusiastic, willing and able Brit to find meaningful work in this lovely and welcoming city we call Toronto.

Today’s requestee (is that a word?) is Jordan.

He writes …

“Hi, my name is Jordan. I currently live in the north west in England, and am highly enthusiastic about moving to Canada and starting a new life over there and learning more about the country and the culture.

“I currently work in the food industry and would like to widen my abilities to work in different areas and a different job. I spent the last five years studying performing arts and dance and have lots of experience in public and private performances and teaching classes.

“I have set myself a target to migrate to Canada and make something better of my life. I would like to learn more trades over there and get more experience and eventually become a full-time Canadian citizen and build a new life in Toronto.

“I am willing to climb the ladder of success and fulfill my dream of making a life and hopefully owning my own business in time to come in Canada.

“I am looking for a friendly helping hand to make this possible. I am very determined and highly motivated when it comes to achieving my targets; it would mean a lot to me if you was able to help me. I look forward to hearing from you.”

So, there you have it. Jordan just needs a chance so if anyone out there can lend a helping hand, please contact him at jordansmitha10 AT gmail DOT COM.

Cheers … and good luck Jordan!

Which Toronto charity needs $60? MONKEYS!


That’s about $60 in coins we estimate

We ran a survey back in February on behalf of a research group asking for the opinions of temporary foreign workers in Canada and their thoughts on financial services.

Because we used an affiliate link, every time a qualified candidate completed the survey, Brits in Toronto got a few bucks. “Great,” we thought, “can pump that revenue into a Facebook ad campaign or something.”

Then we thought, “Nah. It’s only $60 and could be put to better use.” So we decided to donate it to a Toronto-based charity.

Any suggestions? Could be homelessness, health, animal welfare, conservation … anything really. But we’d like to give it to a smaller charity that doesn’t get much press or PR, and can put $60 to good use. It’s not much in the grand scheme of things, but any little helps.

So, Brits in Toronto … leave a comment, e-mail us or tweet the details of any good causes we can help out.


Update April 7, 2015
We liked this suggestion from the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary, so today donated the $60 to them. We hope it made some monkeys very happy!