Monthly Archives: January 2018

The top 10 events for Robbie Burns Day in Toronto

Robbie Burns 2018

You da man, RB!

Robbie Burns Day is on January 25 and, as is customary, we show some link love to BlogTO who compile one of the best “things to do” list out there, so …

The top 10 events for Robbie Burns Day in Toronto.

p.s. We can vouch for The Caledonian, excellent place.

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Do you want to work for the British Consul-General in Toronto?

Kevin McGurgan job

Folded arms body language at the job interview? Might as well get your coat

You know when you walk into a greasy spoon and the conversation goes something like this:

“Alright boss! What you ‘aving today?”
“Hey boss! My usual fry-up plus an extra fried slice please boss!”
“Nice one boss! How’s the missus?”
“She’s alright thanks boss! Can’t complain.”

Well, if you get this job, you’ll be able to walk into the office and say to Kevin McGurgan, British Consul-General in Toronto, “Morning boss! Nice weekend?” because he will be your actual BOSS, and you won’t have to josh around in nonsensical banter to lighten the Monday morning blah.

Yes, the British Consulate-General in Toronto is recruiting for the position of Executive Assistant. The position will report directly to the Consul-General and Director-General for the Department for International Trade in Canada (that’s the bloke in the photo and this is his tweet about it).

The position being offered will be on a full-time, permanent basis starting on April 3, subject to receipt of a successful security clearance. The position will be based at the British-Consulate General Toronto.

The application deadline is January 28 so get your skates on.

(And in case you’re wondering about some of the stuff you may be doing, you’re welcome.)

Brits making the move to Toronto — Part 2: Settling in

Andy McLachlan 2

Andy found this neighbourhood on Zoocasa. And wept

Back in September we started a series of posts following the real-life adventures of Brits moving to Toronto. You can find that here if you wanted to catch up first: Brits making the move to Toronto — Part 1: The questions.

Andy has sent us part two — the settling in phase. And in a really cool “cut and paste way but just insert the links,” he has done it in the form of an alphabet. So, here you go …

Part 2: Settling in

An update for you. I’ve written an A-Z covering our immigration to Toronto, and our first couple of weeks settling in.

Best wishes,
Andy

A
Airports. Travelling with two children under seven, eight large checked bags, two Trunkis (https://www.trunki.co.uk/) and musical instruments was a life challenge. Manchester airport was chaotic, with conveyer belts not working at check in and delays. Fortunately, the flight was fine; a porter helped us with a big trolley at YYZ and a huge SUV got us to our new dwellings in Leslieville.

B
Bread that is good (rye) and awful (regular squishy white stuff) in equal measure. Also lovely Beer and (vaguely) British pubs which, for a more authentic experience should be generally unfriendly and have non existent service. Britannia movers (https://www.britannia-movers.co.uk/) are shipping our other belongings over — special things like Books, commemorative Biscuit tins and Bongos. I will punish you with this alphabet thing. [Bring it on, Bro!]

C
Cheese! Back in Blighty the range and prices of cheese in regular supermarkets is generally good. This is vital. Cheese access here is understandably different, but fortunately I’ve discovered the Leslieville Cheese Market (http://leslievillecheese.com/) and I am happy. Also, C is for Cottaging, which is a thing that means, er, a different thing.

D
The Dry cold. We’ve experienced real winter here so far, with temperatures changing from around -20 C and up to +2 C, which demands wrapping up warm, especially for the little ones. It’s a change from the Damp back home, and asthma seems to have improved.

E
Ebox (http://www.ebox.ca) for inexpensive home Internet. Sign up and mention my name and I get a generous one Canadian dollar off my next bill. Eh! [Tenuous “E” usage at the End there, Andy, but we’ll allow it.]

F
Fran’s (http://www.fransrestaurant.com/) for glorious breakfasts, and Freshco (http://freshco.com/) for reasonable grocery shopping, including reasonable Foods such as Tofurky (http://www.tofurky.com/) which exists.

G
Go trains (http://www.gotransit.com/). Double decker trains! They’re generally on time! They have seats! You can sit in them! Glory be! Top tip — act like a foreign idiot at the ticket counter in Union Station and you may get a free cardboard train for you or your children to play with.

H
Homelessness. Alas, any city has its social problems and there seem to be a fair number of people out in the cold, so to speak. There is a winter respite service at Moss Park Armoury (https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/housing-shelter/homeless-help/).

I
Immigration. We were issued with our working visas (https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/foreign-workers/global-talent/requirements.html) on arrival at the airport. While our stuff was being sorted, I spoke with a young chap who was applying for asylum — I gave him my phone charger, and hope he too can make a life in Canada.

J
Jam/jelly/jello. If I’m correct, Jam = jam with bits in, and is considered somewhat fancy. Jelly = jam without bits. Jello = jelly. This has been a considerable source of anxiety.

K
Kraft dinner (http://www.kraftcanada.com/brands/kraft-dinner). Feed this to kids and watch as they become huge! Friends stocked our cupboard with about 30 packets, and it is good. Admire my mass!

L
There are no big (ceiling) Lights in our home. Light switches activate a socket, which should have a Lamp plugged in, to alleviate darkness. This is entirely alien.

M
Milk comes in bags and folk seem to have generally good Manners. From passing a store on Queen East, I’ve also learned that a Manzilian is a thing, although not one I will Google. [Don’t worry, Andy — we did it for you! NSFW obvs.]

N
NoFrills (https://www.nofrills.ca/) for inexpensive food, and Niagara Falls (https://www.niagarafallstourism.com/), where I will probably visit many times with our visitors who fancy a taste of Blackpool (http://www.visitblackpool.com/), the obvious difference being massive waterfalls instead of a shitpipe.

O
Oh Henry! (https://www.facebook.com/OhHenryCanada/). These must only be spoken of in the manner of Kenneth Williams, and are acceptable large chocolate bars like the ones not available any more in the UK. There are no Brexit Toblerones here (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/08/toblerone-gap-brexit-falling-pound-2016?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other).

P
Poutine. Pizza. Pastry. Paunch.

Q
Quebec — a mysterious place which excites me with cheeses.

R
R is for Refrigerators the size of one-bedroom flats in London.

S
Snow, Squirrels (pronounced Squirls), Sushi pizza, Streetcars and Static electricity, which means every day can be a bad hair day.

T
Tim Hortons (http://timhortons.com/) for a reasonable brew (ask for steeped tea) and TVOkids (https://tvokids.com/) for great children’s TV. Also, the TTC for when legs won’t do, and Transfers to get from streetcar to subway without criminality.

U
The Corktown Ukulele Jam (http://torontoukes.wixsite.com/torontoukes). It’ll be nice to play some music here again after a few years away.

V
Value Village (https://www.valuevillage.com/), a vast charity shop network with an excellent range of my favourite finds, namely the senseless commemorative plates and unattractive LPs of the dead.

W
Water pressure (good!) wind chill (bad!) and Wendy’s (https://www.wendys.com/en_CA/home/), where beef has corners.

X
X. Er, X-Men was filmed here (https://torontoist.com/2007/12/reel_toronto_th_1/). [Andy’s buckling a bit at this point.]

Y
Yoghurt and Yogourt, which are correct/meaningful, unlike in Morrisons back home (https://groceries.morrisons.com/webshop/getCategories.do?tags=%7C105651%7C104268%7C162681&Asidebar=1) where it is inexplicably spelled Yogurt, for no Americans ever.

Z
Zoocasa (https://www.zoocasa.com/) for noseying what property in your neighbourhood is worth, and weeping.

Behind the scenes of … the British-Consulate General in Toronto

Kevin McGurgan

“Please don’t skip to the end to find out who my favourite James Bond is! Pleeeaaasse!”

This is the third in our occasional “Behind the scenes of …” series that pulls back your gran’s curtains to take a peek behind everything British in Toronto. So far, we’ve gone behind the scenes of a fish and chip shop and a football blog and podcast.

Today we’re upping the game and going behind the scenes of the British-Consulate General in Toronto which represents the UK government in Ontario.

To help us out in that respect, we finally got in touch with Edinburgh native Kevin McGurgan, the British Consul-General in Toronto and Director-General for Department for International Trade Canada.

A very busy man having served duties in Russia, Pakistan, Saudia Arabia, Syria and free gin offerings around the world, it took us a while to get this one set up. But, here we are.

So, time for the British Consul-General to spill the beans. The orange ones you get from British shops, not the dark brown sticky ones that look burnt and taste like molasses.

How long have you been the British Consul-General for and how did you get the job? Did you get a choice of cities and, if so, why Toronto?

I have been the British Consul-General since late 2014. All our jobs are decided by internal interview. There were other cities available but I wanted to come to Toronto for two reasons.

First I have worked with Canadians throughout my career: in London, at the UN and Afghanistan to name a few places. The opportunity to work and experience Canadian life and culture was too good to miss.

Second. The role itself. As well as Consul-General I lead the UK’s Department for International Trade team, responsible for helping UK companies export to Canada and Canadian business invest in the UK. I wanted to help grow the UK’s prosperity and this was the perfect role to do so.

Explain what your role entails and the services that the British Consulate in Toronto provides to Brits.

I have three roles. The first is explaining to Torontonians and Ontarians what is happening in the UK, what the UK is doing globally and why that matters to them. In the other direction I explain to UK colleagues, mainly in Government, what is happening in Ontario and Toronto and why that should matter to them.

The second is my trade and investment role.

The third is the protection of British nationals and providing consular services to UK nationals. Those services range from citizenship ceremonies for new nationals to providing emergency travel documents when passports are lost or stolen (as sometimes happens!).

What’s been the most unusual request for help that you or the British Consulate has provided?

We get many requests from advice on what’s the best British pub to visit — The Queen and Beaver is a good place to start — to can we buy British poppies for Remembrance Day? (Answer: Yes.)

I can’t think of any particularly unusual request here but my colleagues elsewhere have received some. This Independent article gives a good summary about them, from bacon to Spanish nudists. [C’mon, click bait? Really Kev? OK.]

Is Toronto still a good destination for a Brit to consider moving to and why?

Toronto is a great destination for business and living. As the city and its economy continues to grow, there’s increased demands for British goods, services and expertise and I’ve met successful Brits [ahem, *cough cough*] who are seeing their businesses grow, from food and drink to financial services, interior design to recruitment consultancy.

It’s also such a great place to live with fantastic public amenities like the Toronto Public Library to great sports teams such as the Leafs and Toronto FC.

The Toronto Ravines are my favourite place. They are where I go to reconnect and recharge at the end of the week, either for a run or long walk with our dog, Cody.

Feel free to tell us anything about the British Consulate or exciting diplomatic life abroad that Brits in Toronto readers should know.

It’s a great privilege to represent your country overseas and make a difference for British nationals, the economy and global security.

At the Consulate we are always thinking of ways to involve ourselves in city life and for the second time, we climbed the CN Tower to raise funds and awareness for World Wildlife Fund Canada. We’ll be doing the same again next year.

One of the most recent exciting times was the Invictus Games in Toronto. It was inspirational watching all athletes, celebrate their success and see how Torontonians welcomed them to the city, helped along by some fabulous weather.

Sean Connery or Daniel Craig?

Connery. Always.

Totally biased product review by me — North Of Bombay

North Of Bombay

Loads of luvly sauce, guv, just perfect

Took one for the team last week and went for yet another curry, just so I could review the place. You’re welcome.

Steps away from Curry Twist in The Junction, my place of choice was North Of Bombay.

Having checked the menu online beforehand, I was very excited to see a rare sighting of Bombay Aloo, one of my favourite Indian food dishes. Not being a rice fan, I usually substitute it for that.

I complemented that with the Chicken Karahi (listed as Karai Chicken on the menu). Note that it’s not included on the menu in the restaurant but they will cook it on request.

I asked for medium spice levels but the server mentioned better to go up a notch to medium-hot, so I did. It was definitely a good recommendation and I soon had my hanky out to blow my nose. Wasn’t ultra-hot but just getting up there. Perfect level.

I liked these two dishes a great deal because, as you can see in the photo, there was lots of sauce which I love. Threw in a few poppadoms, a side of the spicy mixed pickles and I was sorted.

The portions are very big and mine could have easily fed two people, but I had the leftovers the next night = just as good.

North Of Bombay gets a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars. It’s currently now my local curry house of choice.