Monthly Archives: July 2017

Successful Brits in Toronto: Adam Burwell

Adam Burwell

Archaeologist Adam searches through the ruins of Arsenal’s defence

“Sorry this took so long … my newborn decided I wasn’t allowed time to myself.”

Excuses, excuses Adam! We had to wait, like, literally a WEEK for you to respond.

But it was worth it. We learn about why he’s here … where other Brits hang out … and his favourite pies. All good stuff.

Here’s his views on what life is like as a Successful Brit 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?

In short, love! While travelling through Cuzco, Peru, I met my Torontonian wife-to-be. After flying back and forth so much that the “welcome home” sign in Toronto Pearson Airport actually started to mean something I made the hop across for good.

For a long time we had been unsure where would be best to start off — Canada or the UK — as we love both for different reasons. In the end though, Canada won and three years down the line I can happily say that, for now at least, it was the right decision.

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

I wasn’t hindered by the “Canadian experience” per se … more by the fact that it took well over a year to be issued with a work permit. This was thanks to a backlog and the fact it was being processed alongside my spousal visa.

If I were to give one piece of advice to people planning on coming across it would be to lock down a job before coming. It will make your lives a lot easier!

The good news is, once the paperwork is out of the way the opportunities come thick and fast. Toronto is a city on the rise and so whatever your interests are, there will be jobs appearing in that field.

One of Toronto’s true strengths is its communities and by throwing yourself into these you will uncover a rich network of ideas, connections and opportunities.

For me, after a career in climate science back in the UK I fancied a change so I turned my boyhood interest into my profession, and am now an archaeologist.

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

When I first visited Toronto I remember thinking how ramshackle many areas of the city looked with its rows of old housing now turned into businesses. But, the longer I’ve been here and the deeper I’ve looked the more I’ve realized this is in fact Toronto’s strength.

There is potential everywhere. Everyone is welcome to try anything they want to do, whether this is a business idea, a hobby or simply exploring a different cuisine! I think it is this ethos which provides the glue between Toronto’s plethora of vibrant communities.

Worst aspect? Well as the saying goes, you can take the lad out of Yorkshire but you can’t take Yorkshire out of the lad. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there are many times where I miss my family, friends and my old stomping grounds. More so now than ever now I have a little baby son who I wish could spend more time with his British family.

In coming across here though, you reconcile this in your own way and simply accept that in the same way people pay taxes, you’ll be paying for flights!

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?

We Brits all seem to have the same hobbies. I haven’t actively sought out other Brits but I always seem to bump into them seeking home comforts; at the pub, the football, hiking, church etc. It also seems Brits and archaeology go hand in hand!

The newest British gathering spot I’ve heard rumoured (but alas have yet to try out) is the new Toronto rugby league team the Toronto Wolfpack. Last I checked they were destroying the English lower leagues.

I know it’s neither in Toronto nor British, but The Irish Harp Pub in Niagara-on-the-Lake deserves special mention. The pies take you home in a bite … and not many places serve fish and chips with two fish as standard!

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

Despite Toronto being a world within itself, get out and explore Ontario. You’re in Canada, the land synonymous with beautiful scenery. Go enjoy it!

Thanks Adam — we’ll definitely check out those pies next time a relative flies in and we do the customary and expected designated driver road trip to Niagara Falls and back along the scenic route.


Successful Brits in Toronto: Alison Copeland

Alison Copeland

DJ Amber dressed for action for her weekly radio show, Rapsolute

Great with a pen and quick to spot an opportunity, Alison Copeland is a Communications Specialist with more than 10 years of experience supporting the PR, marketing and business writing needs of professional service firms.

When she’s not blurring the boundaries between marketing and PR for her business Copeland Creative, she’s creating clever ways to keep listeners hooked into her weekly music show that she hosts and produces under the moniker DJ Amber on Toronto’s newest Internet radio station, iLive Radio.

We caught up with Alison/DJ Amber to find out a bit more about what brought her to Toronto and whether all those multitude of knobs on the DJ decks actually do anything when you twiddle them randomly and shout “Yeaahh, boom boom boom … let me hear you say ‘wayooooo! Wayooooo!'”

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 was definitely looking for adventure, because my creative life had plateaued in London, and I was thinking, right, what’s next?

Then I discovered the Student Work Abroad Program (SWAP) from a tiny “blink and you might miss it” classified ad in The Guardian newspaper. They were looking for gap year students who wanted to work abroad in cities like Toronto, Johannesburg and New York.

I chose Toronto, because it was relatively safer than the other two cities. Plus, I had visited once before in 2004 and I was impressed with how far the British pound stretched.

Rent prices in Toronto, for example are 39% cheaper than in London!

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

Interestingly, I landed my first Toronto job within 24 hours. I was boarding at the Global Village Backpackers Hostel, right at the intersection of King and Spadina (sadly, it’s no longer there) and there was a Jamaican restaurant about one block north called the Ackee Tree (which is also no longer there).

After ordering the jerk chicken dinner, I told the owner that if they needed a waitress, I was just one block away and could work late nights. The owner was like “when can you start?”

Four months later, I got my first corporate break, by becoming the face and voice (receptionist) at one of the world’s largest advertising agencies. It was here that I convinced the Vice President of New Business (who also happened to be British) to hire me as their media relations specialist. I worked with some amazingly talented people, and enjoyed the best years of my corporate life here.

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

The best part about living in Toronto is the cost of living, and its multicultural vibe. You can live in a reasonably good neighbourhood without breaking the bank, and you can also make friends from all around the world without ever needing a passport.

The worst aspect is that you have to develop a pretty thick skin to survive the winters. I still remember how ill-equipped I was for my first winter at -30. I couldn’t feel my ears at one point, and the burning sensation of breathing in ice cold air was annoying to say the least.

There’s also a tonne of construction, and the city can feel like it’s drowning in a sea of high rises.

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’ve been quite fortunate to meet a lot of Brits on the radio station where I host my weekly music show Rapsolute. It also helps that the station owner happens to be a British expatriate.

I’ve met fellow Brits through networking within Toronto’s creative and cultural sector, joining meet-up groups and dining at The Olde Yorke — hands down the best chippy in the city.

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

Mind how you cross the street! Cars can turn right on a red light, and even if you’ve been given the pedestrian signal to walk, you could still end up negotiating traffic when it’s your turn to walk.

Be prepared to file an income tax return each spring, even if you have a full time job, or don’t make a lot of money, because you may be eligible for tax credits and refunds on tax that you’ve already paid.

There you have it, loads of information. So catch DJ Amber on her show — if there’s a British problem she can’t fix, she can do it in the mix!

A black Brit’s guide to Toronto

Toronto from above

Absolutely stunning shot of looking over to Hamilton in the distance

I liked this article about a black woman who lived in Toronto for five months and wrote about her experiences, so asked The Voice for permission to reprint it here. They said it was written by a freelancer who I’d need to get in touch with … but that was a couple of days ago and I’m a bit impatient.

So click here to read it if you didn’t already click the bit above where it says “this article.”

Please bring Guinness Extra Cold to Canada!

Guinness Extra Cold

Who wouldn’t want a pint of this on a hot, summer’s day in Toronto?

I just got back from two weeks in Scotland and England, and it’s fair to say partook in the odd tipple or two.

One of those said tipples was Guinness Extra Cold. Beautiful stuff.

If they can sell it in the wet and damp UK then why the flipping hell is it not on sale in Canada? Better still, Toronto!

So, come on Guinness — sort it out please!

Must-see British architecture in Toronto

British architecture

Gooderham “Flatiron” Building

Note from British Bloke: This is an interesting, relevant and FREE article sent in by Jason who would really like you to check out his site Contractors Today. Cheers!

British architecture is something that you would expect to show up in England, Ireland or surrounding countries, but many people are surprised to learn that many of the buildings put up throughout Canada are inspired by the Brits as well. That’s because British architecture was very much a part of construction 100 to 200 years ago, and there are many buildings still standing today that show off that beautiful architecture.

If you walk around Toronto you’ll see many Gothic and Victorian-style homes and buildings. Many show off sharp peaks, carefully styled window casings and large bay windows. These are all signs of British architecture and they’re amazing to observe.

Below is a list of some of the top locations and buildings that demonstrate British architecture.

Take the time to visit some of these locations and you’ll become enamored with having a house of your own that incorporates at least some of these features. Be sure to speak to a professional contractor if you are considering having a home built or would like to incorporate some true British architecture into the design and style of your current home.

Rosedale Suburb

Rosedale Suburb

Rosedale Suburb

Visitors to Toronto should take the time to explore Rosedale, a beautiful suburb that’s home to some of the nicest Queen Anne revival homes in Toronto. They’re well-known for their beautiful arched windows and massive sun rooms that bring light into the home very effectively. Victorian homes are common around Toronto today and they were originally brought to the area in the 18th and 19th centuries after the British conquered the French while going after Quebec.

St. Michael’s Cathedral

St. Michael's Cathedral

St. Michael’s Cathedral

St. Michael’s Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Toronto and has the capacity to hold up to 1,600 people at once. It was put up in 1848 and is a beautiful example of Gothic Revival construction. All the beautiful towers and angles give it an intriguing look that’s hard to ignore.

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

Casa Loma is a beautiful example of how Gothic Revival construction shows up in Toronto. It was built from 1911 to 1914 and now serves as a museum to the area. It’s open for display and is a very convenient location to visit for a look at top-notch British architecture in Canada.

Knox College

Knox College

Knox College

Knox College is an active religious school that shows off excellent British craftsmanship and design. It’s one of the best examples of British architecture in Toronto and is open to visit today. It’s still actively in use, and can be visited anytime that you want. The chapel is a particularly nice area of the school with a massive glass window that allows direct sunlight in for a nice bright viewing experience.

Hart House

Hart House

Hart House

Hart House is an activity centre for the children going to school at the University of Toronto and it’s a beautiful Gothic construction that’s tall and thin like the buildings of that era are known to be. IT was built in the early 1900’s and is still actively used today. Hart House stands out compared to all the other buildings surrounding it because it’s taller and has a grander look to it.

Fort York Armoury

Fort York Armoury

Fort York Armoury

The Fort York Armoury is truly a structural feat that’s worth looking at. The building is home to the largest lattice wood roof in all of Canada and shows off many British design elements in its construction.

Each of the buildings listed above demonstrate some form of British architecture and they’re excellent options to check out for a good feel of British architecture and what some of the different design elements can do for you.

If you’ve taken the time to look at some of the buildings recommended above, you’re probably excited and enamoured with the beauty of the architecture. It’s impressive compared to many of the homes and buildings put up today.

These are the types of features that you can still incorporate into your own homes and businesses today.