Monthly Archives: March 2016

Last Night of the Proms in Toronto

Last Night of the Proms small

Get ready to wave a Union Jack and bellow out Land of Hope and Glory

The Brits in Toronto crew used to love watching the Last Night of the Proms when we lived on the other side of the pond. It’s the kind of TV event where you sit with your mum and nan (she’s nodded off), wave the Union Jack around and sing along in a raucous fashion.

We miss it.

But wait? What’s that you’re saying, Jubilee United Church located at 40 Underhill Drive in Toronto? You’re holding a Last Night of the Proms IN TORONTO?!

“Yes, that’s right, Brits in Toronto!” replies the promoter. “This concert is taking place on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. The Jubilee Choir presents an evening of music and fun, celebrating the traditions of the great British ‘Prom’ concerts and the musical heritage of Canada. During this program of music, song and story, expect to sing along to ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ and ‘Rule Britannia’ and be ready to tap your feet, wave a flag and enjoy a wonderful evening.”

Here’s the 80-minute set list:

Opening Choral Number by Swansea Town Choir
Medley – Sax and organ by Christopher Dawes and Daniel Rubinoff
Five English folk songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams Choir
– The Dark-Eyed Sailor
– The Springtime of the Year
– Just As the Tide Was Flowing
– The Lover’s Ghost
– Wassail Song
Organ solo by Christopher Dawes
Songs of the British Isles
Wales – The Ashgrove, Soloist Aaron Durand
Scotland – Flow Gently Sweet Afton, Soloist Janaka Welihinda
Ireland – Down By the Sally Gardens, Soloist Marie Criscionne
England – Rose of England, Soloist Janaka Welihinda with choir on chorus
Jerusalem – music by Sir Hubert Parry, words William Blake, choir and audience
Rule Britannia, Soloist Marie Criscionne, choir and audience on chorus
Pomp and Circumstance #1 – organ, Christopher Dawes
Land of Hope and Glory – choir and audience
Auld Lang Syne – Janaka on verse, choir and audience on chorus

And here’s something to get you in the mood:


Calling fans of cricket and the British sense of Fair Play


Begone sticky wicket to whence ye came!

When you see something that goes awry, or seems to be a little unjust, do you spill your tea, splutter in shock and exclaim, “That’s just not cricket!”

No, we don’t either. Because the juxtaposition of a game where you throw a hard ball against three sticks and the act of something not going as planned doesn’t really make sense.

But you know what does make sense? A connection with Toronto, London and the great game of cricket. So we were BOWLED over and CREASED up in joy to get this press release from The British Canadian Chamber of Trade and Commerce, which we highlight below …

Did you know that there have been seven annual Toronto school cricket tours to London since 2008?

Over 100 GTA schools compete to win the CIMA Mayors’ School Cricket Tournament and this year they need your help.

The UK tour is part of a larger initiative entitled “Cricket Across the Pond” (CAP). This programme provides a unique opportunity to engage young people with sport in the GTA, promoting inter-cultural relationships, team spirit and Fair Play through cricket. Since its inception in 2008, the CAP programme has developed young leaders who possess positive self-esteem, role-modeling characteristics and a strong sense of civic responsibility (as well as a few Canadian National team players).

Once selected, the Team is announced by the Mayor of Toronto in front of TV and other media at City Hall. The team is welcomed in London by Mayor Boris Johnson, the London City Council and area Municipalities. As ambassadors for Toronto and Canada the players engage with cricketers and cricket organisations in England and in addition are given VIP access to Lords, London Oval.

The inaugural Toronto Mayor’s Youth XI versus London Mayor’s Youth XI was held in London in 2012 and the Toronto – London program was recognized by the International Cricket Council Development Award in 2013.

We want you to be part of this international award winning program to strengthen bonds between Toronto and London via the exciting game of cricket.

CIMA Canada is currently inviting a limited number of corporate partners to support the CAP tour to UK as well as CIMA’s growing GTA-wide school cricket tournament that attracted over 100 GTA schools last year. Sponsors can choose the level of support that matches their needs including trophy naming rights, speaking opportunities at media events, advertising on clothing and at games.

Please contact Martin Buckle via e-mail at martin DOT buckle AT and visit our websites for more information:

And here’s a catchy ditty from Brits in Toronto (that includes a world-ending catastrophic meteor for some strange reason) to get you going:

Stream British TV for free


Stare at this image for 30 seconds, close your eyes, and unfortunately you’ll still see Gary Lineker

You know what, we really miss our British telly. Don’t get us wrong, North American shows are OK for the most part … but we sometimes get a hankering for that plummy British accent reading the news, or acting out some drama.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to watch British TV for free in Canada? [Us looking up into the sky, dreamily mulling that thought over as the picture wobbles and undulates while the camera zooms in …]

Thanks to Youk TV you can! Not content with just throwing a quick link onto Twitter, we fired up the e-mail, reached out to the guys and asked them what’s it all about then, mate?

And here’s what they said:

When was the site created? What was the reason — did you think that the niche wasn’t being met for the needs of Brits abroad missing their telly?

The plans for it started about one year ago. We wanted an easy and free way to access British TV channels when travelling or living abroad. We felt that there was no really easy way online, that focused purely on British TV.

There’s a lot of complicated ways, and many are worth investing in if you will permanently live abroad — but if you travel, or if you are on the go, i.e. on the bus or the Tube etc., we felt that there should be an easier way.

How many people are behind it and what is the workload in running it?

There’s currently three of us working with the project. It’s not something we do full time and it’s not a project with the goal to become millionaires.

Behind it is a British girl living abroad, and two Swedish guys that lived permanently in England for many years, but now live in other parts of the world.

How are the bandwidth streaming costs covered?

We are partners to the content provider. They host the service, and we are allowed to broadcast the content in exchange for possible ad revenue going back to them.

Do you have plans for more than 20 channels?

At the moment there’s no plans to expand to more channels, but we are working on a way to be able to record shows, which we hope would be really helpful!

Anything else you want to tell our large audience of Brits in Toronto?

I would just like to say that it’s great that people appreciate the service; we’ve had some great feedback during the short period of time we’ve been active, and it’s a great incentive to keep working on it!

If you like the service, it’s much appreciated if you spread the word to your mates at the pub, and of course on social media!

Quirks of the UK State Pension affecting British pensioners living abroad

Canadian Alliance Of British Pensioners

Got some UK pension system questions? Give ’em a bell on the dog and bone for a chinwag

This is a free, non-paid-for guest article by Nigel Nelson, a member of the Toronto-based non-profit Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP). All views are the CABP’s and Brits in Toronto does not endorse them and is not held liable in any way. As always, do your due diligence.

Have you ever worked in the UK? Did you make National Insurance contributions (NICs) when you worked? Depending on the number of years of NICs you have to your credit you might qualify for a British state pension. However, if you qualify for a UK State Pension, as long as you live in Canada, you will not receive the annual inflationary increase as given to pensioners in the UK, EU and an obscure list of countries. This is known as the British “frozen pensions” policy.

The Canadian Association of British Pensioners was established in 1991 to help British pensioners living in Canada navigate the UK State Pension system by providing information with respect to eligibility for a British State Pension; keeping current with the successive changes which have been made to the UK State Pension system and lobbying the UK government for parity with all British pensioners living overseas. We can answer your questions about the UK pension system.

CABP is a registered non-profit organisation and all of the directors are volunteers, as are most of the people who work out of the office in Toronto. Anyone who has worked in the UK and has paid National Insurance Contributions may well qualify for a UK State Pension.

Those people in Canada look to organizations like the CABP, which has the experience and understanding of the UK pension system, for advice. There are over 5,000 members in Canada who currently get this support.

According to the 2011 Canadian National Household Survey, there were 125,000 British immigrants over the age of 65 living in Ontario and another 65,000 in the 55-64 age category. In Toronto alone, there are 43,000 and 24,000 respectively.

Many of these immigrants will qualify for a British State Pension, but may not know that; and they’re probably unaware that, once they start to receive a UK State Pension, they will never receive any of the annual increases enjoyed by their peers in the UK … even though they will probably have paid the same level of National Insurance Contributions.

Successive UK governments for over 70 years have followed this “frozen pensions” policy. The policy is based on outdated logic and the UK government has now conceded that the only impediment to eliminating the “frozen pension” policy is cost, accompanied by the “political will” to do so. There are over half a million “frozen” UK pensioners living abroad — 90% of these “frozen” pensioners live in Commonwealth countries such as Australia (45%) and Canada (28%).

CABP provides support to UK pensioners in Canada and they work tirelessly in trying to abolish this unfair and immoral policy. For example if you live on the American side of Niagara Falls you would receive the annual increase; if you live on the Canadian side of the Falls you wouldn’t receive the increase.

If you had retired in 1980 with a full UK State Pension it was just £27.15 per week — slightly over $50 in today’s money. Could you live on that? There will be cases where members, who do not have the full number of years of National Insurance contributions, are living on less.

A UK pensioner retiring on a full State Pension in 1980 will have been underpaid by £80,000 up to the end of April 2016. Today’s UK State Pension, at £119 per week, is 440% more than it was in 1980! CABP believes that this is unfair, discriminatory, and immoral, and they have been campaigning since 1991 to get this policy changed. In comparison, the CPP payment is payable to Canadians globally and is adjusted annually wherever the Canadian pensioner chooses to live.

Sadly, some of these pensioners even have to go back “home” to the UK since they can no longer live on their “frozen pension.” This is causing them considerable angst — leaving behind their loved ones, having to make travel arrangements, and finding accommodation when they get back.

For example, last year alone, there were 2,000 UK pensioners who returned back to the UK, and, for many of them, it will be because they could no longer afford to live in their country of choice, based on the state pension they were receiving. Any returning pensioner to the UK has their pension uplifted to the current rate — the same as all other pensioners living in the UK. They also qualify for other social welfare benefits.

Currently, the UK Treasury saves over £4,300 per year for each pensioner emigrating, so, for returning pensioners, it adds to UK Treasury costs. Given these numbers, you would think that the UK Government would be encouraging pensioners to leave rather than putting barriers in their way.

The good news is that there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. A proposal, with respect to amending the “frozen pension” policy has been submitted to the Cabinet Office in the UK Parliament in London. The proposal is currently under consideration, but is by no means a “done deal” … and so we must keep up the campaign.

If you would like to find out more about your British Pension rights and how you will be affected by a “frozen pension,” or, you would like more general information, you can check out the CABP.

CABP is based in Toronto and can provide a wealth of current and accurate information with respect to British pensions. Contact information is on the website.

Let’s all say hello to the Toronto Buccaneers Rugby Club

Toronto Buccaneers Rugby Club

Formed the same year that Rocky yelled, “Adrian!”

Brits in Toronto received an e-mail from Greg “Slurry” DeVillers, Director of Recruitment for the non-profit Toronto Buccaneers Rugby Club.

The Toronto Buccaneers Rugby Club is a member in the Toronto Rugby Union. Established in 1976, the club has a long standing tradition of playing hard, competitive rugby on the field while also playing hard off the field with an impressive yearly social calendar of pub crawls, charity events, social gatherings and tours.

Greg says that the club has plenty of British members and are always looking for more. With two men’s teams, an academy team (U25) and two junior teams (U16/U18) it welcomes all players of all skill levels and would be excited to have new members join its ranks.

Here’s the club’s official flyer for more information.

And if you needed any more incentive to join, here’s what happens to the Man of the Match after every game:

Proposed changes in the Canadian Citizenship Act would make it easier to meet requirements

John McCallum citizenship

John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship welcomes new Canadian citizens

As New Canadians is reporting, proposed changes in the Canadian Citizenship Act would make it easier to meet requirements for those who want to become a Canadian citizen.

Brits in Toronto gets a lot of e-mails concerning finding jobs and the process of becoming a Canadian citizen. We can’t offer legal advice, but we can highlight the news, issues and organizations that can assist in some way. Check back often.

The two important parts for us in the proposed changes are, “the time required for permanent residents to be physically present in Canada before applying for citizenship will be reduced by a full year,” and “the Bill also proposes to repeal provisions that allow citizenship to be revoked from dual citizens if they engage in acts against the national interests.”

In effect, if you want to make a new life in Canada then you won’t have to wait as long. And if you do a crime, then prepare to do the time!

Pretty much common sense.

It’s British Pie Week

British Pie Week

It’s like a volcano of pie, whereby the crust represents the mountain, and thus, by deduction, the meat filling is the lava flow

British Pie Week starts today, so we thought we’d pay homage to this popular food item that most Brits like to get their laughing gear around.

To kick off, The Express has featured the top 10 facts about pies. It’s truly an eye-opening list. For example, did you know that the only Oscar-winning film with pie in its title was the cartoon Tweetie Pie in 1947? We didn’t … but that’s really handy for our next pub quiz night.

Need more? OK, The Telegraph weighs in on 10 things you never knew about pies. Unlike the list above, on this one we did know that the British take their pies very seriously. Obvs.

Pieburger. Just say it a few times and let the concept sink in. It’s the result of a sweet night of lovin’ between a pie and a burger. You want one, don’t you? No probs. Here’s how to make a pieburger.

And here’s (old-ish) lists of the best meat pies in Toronto, Toronto’s best pie shops and where to find delicious pies in Toronto.

So, what’s for lunch today?

Let’s all say hello to The British Canadian

The British Canadian

A real treat for your mince pies

Come a Sunday morning, there’s nothing we like better than to open our sleepy eyes, yawn, look out the window at the snow, mutter “eff that for a game of soldiers,” and then go back to bed.

When we do get up a few hours later, then there’s nothing we like better than settling down with a cuppa, grab a hot buttered crumpet and read a good newspaper.

The British Canadian. The title says it all. BRITISH in all caps. End of.

The newspaper is free, claims 125,000 readers and says it’s available from over 400 British locations nationwide. That’s not too shabby.

It covers news, sports, features, TV, community and events. The website also links to some British shops, travel services, pension and investment advisers and the BBC Canada shop so you can catch up on all Corrie Street episodes since 1960. And that is a lot of Ken Barlow to handle.

But wait! There’s more!

If you need even more Britishness then the website also links to Totally British Magazine, which offers a plethora of mainly TV and entertainment news that is available by subscription.

So there you have it. Give your mince pies a treat this weekend.