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.


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