Successful Brits in Toronto: Sophie Keats

sophie-keats

Only Sophie knows why she has a faded transparent bird on her shoulder

Sophie only joined Twitter about five days ago, so we’re very happy to feature her today as a Successful Brit in Toronto and get her up to at least 127 followers.

(Little bit of a cheat = she now lives in Oakville but DID live in TORONTO and so we’re taking this one. Been a slow news summer.)

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?

Well, I think that it sort of chose us as we recently moved back here for my husband’s job after ten years out of province in Nova Scotia.

My dad (who is a Canadian) wanted to move back home again after many years in England and so we left England as a family in the late ’80s.

Then after I completed university in Ottawa, I met and married my lovely Canadian husband in 2001. We now have a pre-teen!

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

We moved back here two months ago. I am lucky as I am a freelance writer and a singer, so I can work from anywhere thanks to technology.

Moving back to Ontario, I am reminded that every province is quite different so getting used to how everything works again from driver’s licences to finding out which days are recycling blue box days and what to put in the little compost bins really does take time to get used to.

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

I love the proximity of the lake and the beautiful water. The choice of beautiful parks to visit is quite amazing and the varied arts scene is so bubbly.

We have found as a family that the choice of wonderful sports and art activities for kids are really quite incredible with everything from rock climbing to sailing. The choice of higher educational options is also huge.

On weekends I really do love walking along the scenic lake paths and we found that in Oakville, outside of Toronto, there are some great bike paths.

I dislike the long traffic jams when we head downtown, but who doesn’t really?

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 have recently made friends with some fellow mums who are in fact British. We have as a family recently visited the new British shop that just opened last week on Lakeshore in Oakville; they seem to have all my favourite Marks and Sparks biscuits and Coleman’s mustard and Walkers crisps so far.

Recommended places? Not really sure, since our child has food allergies we do tend to eat at home a lot but there does seem to be a vast choice of really good places to eat here.

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

You will be able to find quite a few British specialty shops here to stock up on your favourite sweets and even Walmart sells Jelly Babies and imported Dairy Milk.

As a starting point do check out the school rankings and those boundaries when choosing a school or place to live for you and your kids.

The summers seem quite hot here so staying hydrated and having some air conditioning is really helpful to cool you down.

For the long winters here you might want to invest in several pairs of good mittens that are waterproof and have removable liners. The same goes for a good pair of winter boots with removable liners.

If you need snow pants for your children — and you probably will if you plan to go outside in the winter — we have found, tried and liked over the years the ones at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Thanks Sophie … and here’s her website and blog if you want to hire her or find out the name of the British shop on Lakeshore in Oakville.

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