Monthly Archives: April 2016

Totally biased product review by me — The Borough

The Borough

Get in mah Belly of the Borough!

The Brits in Toronto crew treated ourselves the other week to some proper British grub at The Borough over on the Danforth. That’s in the Greek manor.

We’d heard some good things so wanted to check the place out. The Borough bills itself as an, “English-style gastro pub, which specializes in local sustainable food, beer and wine.” We like to support the local community, so agree with their ethos.

First things first. We think this place leans more towards a restaurant, than a pub. It’s not huge — we estimated around 30-40 seats — but has a nice cosy feel to it, and a good buzz when busy, like the night we went.

It’s a plus point for us when you can see the chefs cooking your food, as you can here.

I started with the curried kale soup, which was on special. It was very nice, but thought the curry flavour was a little on the low side. Wasn’t looking for more spice … just more curry factor. Delish though.

The star of the show though was the Belly of The Borough: roasted pork belly served with horseradish cream sauce, Brussels sprouts and bashed winter root vegetables.

Some people hear the term “Brussels sprouts” and shrink away in horror, mewling in fear and loathing — but they need to try these for an education. Slightly charred and dipped in the horseradish cream sauce, these are sterling.

Pork belly can sometimes be too fatty and sickly, but The Borough has done theirs proper. It’s a good portion of meat that is simply delicious. (A few of the Brits in Toronto crew had their forks in there too to try it.)

There’s weekend brunch too if you fancy getting your laughing gear around such delicacies as a big and smaller fry-up — thus entitled the Borough Full and Proper and the Proper But Not So Full — or the Full English Breakfast Burger which does exactly what it says on the tin and is a full English brekky atop a burger. Simple … but brilliant.

We will most definitely be back for that bad boy, and give The Borough a Brits in Toronto 5/5 stars.

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

Liz Chester

Liz is a talented Brit in Toronto. There’s jobs here. Let’s connect the two

There’s so many talented Brits moving to Toronto that we feel a need — nay, a duty — to find them good jobs. There are some around … it’s just a matter of connecting the two.

So come on, 22 Brits in Toronto readers, one of you must be able to help Liz?!

Here’s her story …

“I recently moved to Toronto with my other half as he is on a secondment with his UK employer here for two years,” explains Liz. “I am a marketing communications professional with a a BA (Hons) degree in Public Relations and seven years experience, and I am looking for a position within the greater Toronto area.

“I am legally entitled to work in Canada and am very much open to new opportunities of any kind whilst here — part time, full time, temporary and permanent.

“I have worked for national and international companies implementing communications plans and marketing campaigns, and have delivered exceptional results in complex marketplaces, including biotechnology, manufacturing, construction and engineering.

“I’m an adaptable, strategic thinker who is able to translate brand strategy into effective tactics in order to achieve business goals. A caring and trained leader with experience in coaching less experienced team members.

“Key skills include: marketing, internal communications, public relations, events, trade shows, SEO, social media, corporate responsibility, crisis communications, project management, content management systems, customer relationship management, lead generation, design and copywriting.”

Tons of experience. So what about your spare time, Liz?

“I’m a keen volunteer, love walking our foster dog, Winter, around High Park, exploring all of the new experiences that Toronto has to offer, being creative and meeting new people,” she adds.

Thanks Liz. Can you help her? If so, please e-mail her at lizchester630 AT gmail DOT COM or check out her LinkedIn profile.

Let’s all say hello to the Toronto English Country Dancers

Toronto English Country Dancers

There’s not a problem that I can’t fix, cause I can do it in the English Country Dancing mix!

Saturday night rolls around. Your mate Dave from downtown Toronto gives you a shout and asks if you want to go to the pub or hit a club.

“Nah, mate, I’m alright,” you reply. “Do that all the time. I feel like trying something different tonight.

“An activity where I can express myself through dance. Where no one will laugh at my awkward Britishness as I self-consciously waggle my elbows and bob my head to the rhythmic dance floor melodies played by live musicians. If there was a good social scene too, then that would be ideal.

“Hmmm. I wonder if such an activity exists in Toronto?”

Course it does! Let’s all say hello to the Toronto English Country Dancers. English Country Dancing (ECD) is the dance form of Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Napoleon. It is done in groups, with dancers weaving intricate patterns around each other to music ranging from lively jigs and reels to dreamy and hypnotic melodies.

The club has been enjoying this in Toronto for over 20 years, so we caught up with its rep Karen to tell us more …

How did the Toronto ECD group get started and who was responsible for putting it together?

Back in the ’90s a group of dancers were chatting and decided they wanted more social dancing in Toronto. It originally started with the idea of being a rotating variety of English country dance, vintage dance, turning couples’ dances, and other kinds … but after they did some English country dancing, they just couldn’t stop!

How is ECD different from other forms of dancing, and can anyone of all ages/abilities take part?

ECD is different because there is no lead or follow, and no distinction between gender roles. You do have a partner, but you’re dancing as part of a group, forming patterns together, rather like square dance. (Today’s squares actually descend from 17th-century English squares.)

Scottish Country Dancing is a close cousin as well, though there are differences, some of them aesthetic, some structural.

Our music tends to be quite different, though there is overlap; there is a huge variety of tunes, from jigs, reels and slipjigs to dances in 3/4 and 3/2, even the odd one in ragtime or klezmer.

ECD music and choreography offer an enormously satisfying range of dance experiences: in one night you’ll do something exuberant and goofy, then something elegant, something driving and dramatic, something stately, something haunting and melancholy, back to jolly and lively again!

ECD takes you on a really lovely ride. It’s done quite differently here than it is in the UK, where you’ll get English folk dances or ceilidh dances mixed in with maybe some American dances as well. Here we mostly do what is known in Britain as “Playford”-style dances.

As for all ages — pretty much! We’re planning a family dance that will be particularly child-friendly, but our regular social dances are fine for motivated kids age seven or eight and up who can focus and follow the instructions. Typically they love the live music and getting the chance to move to it! They start bouncing right away.

We have regulars in their teens and ’20s, on up to middle-aged and older people, and we all dance together. It’s great.

ECD is a beginner-friendly dance form because you need no formal training, and we all laugh at ourselves if we make mistakes. In addition to there being no lead or follow, there’s no fancy footwork, and it’s mostly low-impact as well. (Once in awhile one of the dances will be a bit rompy, but we always warn people of that first!)

If you can walk and hear the instructions, you can do these dances.

How many members does the Toronto ECD currently have?

We don’t have formal membership, but for special events we’ve had as many as 80 people show up. Usually it’s a lot more intimate than that!

The nice thing about ECD is that it’s fun no matter what numbers you have — it’s not dependent on having a huge room full of people, and our community is friendly, so you get to know them quickly. You don’t need to come with a partner, because everyone will ask new people to dance, for example. It’s not “cliquish” at all.

Do you meet and dance with other ECD groups around the country, or world?

Yes! We travel around to dances all over the place. I’ve danced as far away as Ottawa, the Maritimes, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, England and Italy. But there are groups almost right across Canada, from Halifax to Victoria.

What does a typical ECD night entail?

If there are lots of newcomers, the caller will give a few teaching points to get everyone oriented to the basics and make sure they’re comfortable with what’s going on in the set.

Then each dance is taught by a professional caller, everybody walks it through, then we dance it to live music, with the caller cuing the dancers just before they need to do the next move (again, just like in square dance).

Questions are always welcome if people aren’t sure what they’re meant to do … but we’re pretty laid back, and nobody gets uptight over mistakes — we were all beginners once!

At the break we have snacks provided by the community (it’s a volunteer-run, not-for-profit group) and take a breather, chat and get to know each other. Sometimes there’s a particular theme, such as Halloween or New Year’s Eve, so sometimes we decorate as well.

Then we get back to dancing! We’re incredibly lucky to have live music at every social dance, and a wonderful range of instruments, from traditional fiddle to clarinet, piano, flute, guitar and others.

What social activities happen around the club?

We like going out, so often we’ll go for a drink or some food after the dance. Sometimes we’ve had potluck suppers. In the summer we dance in High Park on Sunday afternoons, and have a pre-dance picnic, then dance, then go for ice cream or beer and dinner on Roncesvalles. We’re a very social bunch!

Are there a lot of Brits in the Toronto ECD?

It’s a dance form that appeals to lots of people, so while we do have British expats we have people of other backgrounds as well. Everybody is welcome.

Anything else you want to tell us about your club?

We dance all year round in various parts of the city, indoors and out, with regular community dances and special events, including themed workshops for dancers of various experience levels.

We have a Facebook page and a Twitter account, and of course a mailing list, so that people can get acquainted with what we do and receive regular bulletins.

We are in the process of migrating our mailing list to a new server, so individual e-mails to our website might be the best way to start contacting us.

Thanks Karen! Sounds like a fun way to meet new people. Brits in Toronto found a documentary that briefly explains more about ECD:

Showcase your tech skills from the UK to Canadian companies

VanHackathon

Before you ask when, where or what, please check the image above and save us both some time, cheers

Ever wished you could get out of bed, yawn, scratch your chin, put on your slippers, brew a cuppa, wander across to your computer and possibly score a new job with a Canadian technology company? All from the comfort of your own home in the UK?

Wish no more.

The VanHackathon is a virtual event taking place from May 20-22, 2016 that is aimed at programmers, designers and digital marketers who want to show their skills to Canadian technology companies. This way you can have a higher chance of getting hired and bring your talents to Canada! [Says the promo blurb on the website.]

“Hmmm,” we hear you muse. “But Brits in TORONTO, just saying, the Van part of the name sounds suspiciously like Vancouver, thus negating your mandate of helping Brits in TORONTO, n’est-ce pas?”

That’s what we thought too. Until tonight’s bloody insomnia gave us time to read the whole website which explained it’s also open to Canadian companies from coast to coast. Which includes Toronto. But cheers for making us check that first.

And the judges are the Canadian technology companies taking part. So, that could score you a sweet job.

So what have you got to lose? Give it a go and maybe Brits in Toronto will see you in this section at some point in the near future. Please keep us in the loop if that happens, much obliged.

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

Christopher Jordan Lee

Need a Learning and Development professional? Christopher is your bloke

Brits in Toronto got an e-mail a few days ago from Christopher who is planning a move to this fair city and needs a head start finding work.

He wrote, “I’ve been looking at your site as part of my prep for moving to Toronto in October this year. I came across the jobs page and thought I would drop you a line with my CV to see if you know anyone who would be interested in hiring me.”

Always willing to put the word out there, so Christopher provided some more info on what he’s ideally looking for …

He’s a Learning and Development professional with almost six years years of international experience in that discipline. He’s worked as a trainer for a FTSE 100 company and facilitated training to all levels of the business, from new hires to CEOs.

Christopher has also worked in the UK, Nova Scotia and India providing financial services and developmental training. In 2013 he was awarded a national “Trainer of the Year Award” by the Welsh Contact Centre Awards.

He is passionate about development … and that includes his own. Having spent the last four years getting qualified in Learning and Development, he now possesses a Master Diploma in Learning and Development, a Diploma in Learning Facilitation and a Diploma in e-learning.

He also spent time as a trainer on a cruise ship travelling between countries and working with a diverse and multicultural workforce, consisting of 42 nationalities.

Christopher is open to all offers, but in line with his experience a Learning and Development Manager position would be the ideal role.

So, fellow Brits in Toronto, if you can help him get a head start his e-mail is bulbscrib AT btinternet DOT COM or check out his LinkedIn profile.

Good luck, Christopher!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Danny Dichio

Danny Dichio

Yep, got the first-ever goal for Toronto FC. *Drops mic*

Picture the scene. You’re a professional footballer. You take a chance and leave your home country and move to Toronto to play for the city’s new MLS team, Toronto FC. You score TFC’s first-ever goal (in front of home fans). You get TFC’s first-ever red card. Seat cushions have rained down on your head and you now have a chant dedicated to you.

Just another tick box on the career achievements of today’s Successful Brit in Toronto: Danny Dichio, Head Coach of Juniors at the Toronto FC Academy and Club Ambassador for Toronto FC.

Brits in Toronto caught up with this very busy bloke to hear about how he came to Toronto, some on-the-pitch memories and where he likes to spend his free time when not coaching the footballing stars of tomorrow …

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city/club 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? Guessing that TFC played a massive part in that decision — what influence did you have in the choice as a player to come here?

We had always intended to move to North America as a family when my playing career had ended. Fortunately, I had the opportunity from a few clubs in the MLS to finish my playing days here in North America.

I came to an agreement with Preston North End in England to end my contract early as Toronto FC had already began their inaugural season and wanted me to join them ASAP.

I had never been to Toronto before and was little bit worried for my family as we were venturing into the unknown, but I was excited to join a newly formed expansion team in their first-ever season.

It did not take us long to fall in love with the city and we immediately knew that this was a place we felt very comfortable in … and now call our home.

What steps did you — or a manager/rep — take to land your first Toronto role? What is your responsibility now at TFC?

Toronto FC made first contact me with as they knew there was interest from other clubs in the MLS to bring me over from England. I had spent some time with Chicago Fire who wanted to discuss a deal, but there were problems involving obtaining a work visa.

Toronto FC proposed a deal for me to come over ASAP if I could get an early release from my contract in England.

The position I hold now at Toronto FC is the Academy Head Coach with the U17 team and I am also the Club Ambassador. My role is to develop younger players at Toronto FC and help them in their pathway to hopefully making it as a professional one day.

Standout memory as a TFC player?

Obviously the game against Chicago Fire where we scored our first ever goal in MLS history. It was a very emotional day for all involved as we had not scored a single goal in our first five games of the season.

I was lucky enough to get on the end of a cross to tap home the opening goal. I will never forget the celebrations that day in the stadium after the goal went in.

The club had given out foam seat cushions to every fan and as we celebrated the goal … these seat cushions rained down from every section of the stands onto the pitch. We had to wait 10 minutes or so for the pitch to be cleared!

To add to this crazy day, I unfortunately got myself sent off later in the game after an altercation with a Chicago player, but amazingly for the first time in my career, I received a rousing applause from our home fans as I left the field.

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

Best aspects of living in Toronto are the people are very friendly and we feel that it is a very safe city to bring our young family up. Toronto also has an amazing mix of different cultures from around the world that all respect and abide by the country they are living in.

I love that there is so much in the GTA that you can do, whether it’s sports orientated with all our various teams to support. There are excellent museums and parks to wander through as well as the small beaches you can sit and relax at.

I really like how there are different little pockets of the city that have their own individual character — whether it’s due to the cultural background of that area or the historic architecture.

Worst aspects has to be the cold in the winter months! I am not too bothered about the snow as I like the changes with the seasons … and I love getting out in the snow with the kids … but when that wind chill hits -30 or -40 then that’s a problem.

Also the distance to England is obviously not a short trip, so its hard at times to only see our parents/grandparents once a year.

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 am always running into Brits all over the city. A lot of them are big football fans and watch the Premier League on TV which I cover at the weekends with Sportsnet TV.

If I am going out for a drink and listening to live music, then I like to go to The Orbit Room on College Street. It has a great atmosphere with some quality live bands. The only problem is the owner/manager “Tim” is a massive Spurs fan!

There are a lot of good eateries around the city, but I have yet to find a good pie and mash cafe.

I miss my curry a lot and have just recently found an excellent small family-run restaurant in The Junction called Curry Twist.

There are a couple of nice fish and chip shops around the city with my favourite being Chippy’s on Queen Street West.

Another thing I really miss is the traditional Sunday roast carvery which you would find at your local pub.

Your pick for the Euros?

I have a sneaky feeling that England are going to surprise a few people! As long as they can stay injury free and keep faith with the younger core of players that we have.

Other than that, I feel France will have a decent tournament at home in front of their own fans.

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

Do your homework on the different areas in the city that suit your living needs. If you have a young family then there are some great pockets to live and bring up a young family.

If you are young and want to live in a vibrant up-and-coming area, then there are so many popping up now instead of going for the standard expensive downtown condo.

Good luck with the rest of the season and thank you Danny for sharing those TFC memories and passing on the good eating tips!

2016 Toronto Summer Music Festival: London Calling

London Calling

Forget the cottage, chaps — London is calling!

Bit biased, obvs, but we think that British music is the best in the world. End of.

The Toronto Summer Music Festival seems to think along those lines too as the theme for 2016 is London Calling: Music in Great Britain.

Full credit to Michael Vincent, Editor of Musical Toronto who has the scoop

“In keeping with tradition, the 2016 Toronto Summer Music Festival has announced this year’s 24-day classical music festival around a theme. Between July 14 to August 7, 2016, the festival will explore a rich portrait of the vast musical traditions of Great Britain, and will feature British master composers Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Britten, Walton, and many more.

“The Festival will also touch on a few British Baroque gems, and a few nods to the pop music British Invasion.”

So view the brochure or buy some tickets and celebrate great British music in Toronto!