Tag Archives: brits in toronto

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

Alex Irving

Say goodbye to quaint English country garden trestle tables and hello to condo patios where you have to book the BBQ!

Do you know what propaganda is? It’s when a Cockney takes a long look at Alex’s resume … and likes what he sees.

Alex contacted Brits in Toronto with the exciting news that he’s coming to Toronto on March 19 and would like to get a job ASAP.

“I have extensive experience in VIP client and supplier management and also in team management. Basically I’m looking for something in sales/ business development or partnership management.”

A quick scan of his resume using the patented HR slush pile bot reveals more: “I would best describe myself as a highly ambitious, self-motivated leader with an entrepreneurial spirit and strong desire for personal and professional growth. A keen focus on relationships is something I pride myself on maintaining to a high level with friends, colleagues and clients alike.”

So, if any connected Brits out there remember what it’s like to come to a new city and try to make a go of it, please reach out to Alex via his e-mail alexirving8 AT hotmail DOT COM or his LinkedIn profile.

Advertisement

And A Scotch Egg: A British-style panel show

And A Scotch Egg

We can see Mr. Bean’s jacket and some mashed potato, but that’s about it

Dan e-mailed to let us know about a British-style panel show called And A Scotch Egg.

And A Scotch Egg is everything you love about British panel shows, brought to you live on stage every month at Comedy Bar.

In each show two hilarious teams of comedians face off in a series of quizzes, games and challenges in order to see who has the right combination of wit and wisdom to win the competition — and with it the people’s ovation and fame forever!

The theme for their first show is SCIENCE!

Team Marmalade: Mike Payne (captain) with special guests Lexa Graham and Joey Harlem.

Team Horseradish: Peter Fraser (captain) with special guests Brian Millward and Chris Sandiford.

Hosted by Dan Donnelly.

So if that sounds like a bit of a giggle, the first one is at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 17 for $10 a ticket.

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

nicole walters

Already thinking about a lunch expense account

Been a while since we posted so firstly … happy new year! Only about 346 days left till Christmas.

Let’s start off mid-January 2019 with helping a fellow Brit find a job.

Nicole will be making the big move to Toronto at the beginning of April this year on an International Experience Canada working holiday visa.

With regards to finding a job once she arrives, Nicole has been looking online at some Toronto-based recruitment agencies, and have even signed up to some local career fairs — however she would hugely appreciate it if anyone out there can offer some leads or advice for her job prospects when she arrives in this fair city.

On her arrival in Toronto she will be looking for an administrative or customer service based-role.

She has over eight years of administrative and secretarial experience and is happy to be put forward for either a temporary or contract position.

Nicole considers herself to be hardworking, motivated and adaptable with excellent organisation, communication and IT skills. She can adapt to fast-paced environments and work well under pressure, both independently and as part of a team.

Her previous roles include a Client-Services Coordinator, Team Secretary and Employer Liaison Coordinator.

Interesting fun facts fact about Nicole:

She performed as a dancer in the 2012 London Olympics opening and closing ceremonies.
She can complete the Rubik’s Cube in less than a minute.
She can play the trumpet.
She can play the piano.

So, there you have it. Very impressive indeed. If anyone has some help to offer please contact Nicole at nicole.walters92 AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk. Cheers!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Miranda Anthistle

Miranda Anthistle

Look familiar? Then you watch CTV Toronto.

Brits in Toronto got an anonymous news tip the other day (thanks Brian, see you at Scallywags next Saturday?) and not being ones to burn our sources, decided to follow up on the scoop.

Five minutes of hard Googling later we discovered Miranda Anthistle, a Successful Brit in Toronto, who is a reporter at CTV Toronto.

Sometimes those people reporting the news become the news. So much so, in fact, that we requested an exclusive e-mail interview that Miranda happily agreed to … and here’s the result. (Didn’t have time to fact check it because Dufferin Mall was closing and we still had some Crimbo stuff to get, but it looks pretty honest.)

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 didn’t have a choice! It was already a done deal before I was born. My mum grew up in Toronto, while my dad grew up in London which is where they ended up meeting one another through a mutual friend.

When my dad proposed, my mum said she would marry him … but only if he promised they would eventually move to Toronto where most of her family still lived.

I was born in London and grew up there until I started primary school.

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

I had to leave the city in order to land my first on-air gig in Toronto!

I started in Medicine Hat, Alberta (which actually has a huge British population due to the nearby army base that houses BATUS: British Army Training Unit Suffield).

From there I worked in Hamilton before moving back to Toronto to work at Bell Media as a reporter.

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

The best part of living in Toronto is that the whole world is right at your doorstep. I grew up with friends from a variety of different cultures which exposed me to so many incredible experiences.

I have the most eclectic taste in music and love all types of food.

And in Toronto it doesn’t matter what mood you’re in — there’s always a dance floor or restaurant nearby to scratch that itch!

The worst part about living in Toronto? Trying to buy property downtown that’s larger than a shoebox without breaking the bank.

And of course, the winter weather. I can’t stand the cold!

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it?

I’m always excited to run into British people and usually ask off the top who they support. If it’s Arsenal, I’m terribly disappointed, but I try not to judge! [Editor’s note: feel free to judge away, Miranda, we all do :-)]

My great uncle played for Tottenham and my family have always been Spurs supporters through and through. COME ON YOU SPURS!

Thanks Miranda! If anyone wants to connect, here are her Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Air Transat tests British expats in Canada for homesickness

Air Transat

“Here’s a clue: it’s big and rhymes with hen.”

Air Transat’s latest campaign aims to offer customers a tongue-in-cheek cure for homesickness at the holiday season.

In the video, British expats living in Canada are told they are participating in a scientific study that will help cure their homesickness. While hooked up to a brain scanner, they are shown photos of things like a cup of tea, Big Ben and an English terrier to test just how homesick they are.

The researcher then reveals that she works for Air Transat, giving participants a free ticket to the UK, the only real cure for their homesickness.

Full story here … and you’ll be cutting dusty onions by the end.

Well played, Air Transat!

Brits making the move to Toronto — Part 3: Life so far

Andy McLachlan island

Andy’s dodgy selfie while working on Toronto Islands during the summer

Back in September 2017 we started a series of posts following the real-life adventures of Brits moving to Toronto. The Brit in question is Andy McLachlan and you can read parts 1 and 2 here.

Andy has sent us part three — a quick update on life so far. Read on and hear how this Brit is getting on with a new life in Toronto …

Part 3: Life so far

Since I last contacted you with my A-Z of Toronto, I have continued to exist. The family is doing fine — we finally secured a full-time daycare place for our youngest son in September, so that has ended my ~9 months of child wrangling.

I’ve also enjoyed doing some volunteering, playing with Raspberry Pi projects and drumming with a band called Tay Sera but alas, it’s now high time for me to find a serious job.

So far I’ve been doing some freelance writing and part-time work for Toronto Bicycle Tours as a tour guide on the Islands. People from all over the world go on these tours and it is mostly seasonal work; things have now slowed down a lot for the winter. Only a handful of people have braved the outdoors in November; mostly hardy folk from the Netherlands and elsewhere in Canada.

Overall, it has been a nice change for me to work outside, and to be paid to improve my fitness.

I’ve been applying for professional jobs and I have had a couple of interviews, but nothing right has come along yet.

Please could you do a shout-out to see if anyone out there could employ a nerdy scientist Brit who likes bikes? My LinkedIn profile can be found here.

Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger in conversation with Toronto Star editor Irene Gentle

Alan Rusbridger

WikiLeaks? Tick. Phone-hacking scandal? Tick. Edward Snowden stuff? Tick.

Brits in Toronto got the heads-up on a forthcoming event that will appeal to those aficionados of the British press who will get the chance to hear former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger in conversation with Toronto Star editor Irene Gentle.

Over a 20-year career as editor of the British daily The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger oversaw the publication of ground-breaking journalism: the WikiLeaks story, the phone-hacking scandal, the mass government surveillance as disclosed by U.S National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

As he managed the transition from national print newspaper to news site with a strong global online readership, he championed free access and strong journalistic standards. But decisions made along the way were not without their challenges and controversies.

Join Rusbridger for this conversation with Irene Gentle, editor of the Toronto Star, and for the Canadian launch of his book Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now.

Thursday, November 29
6:00 p.m. Doors open | 7:00 p.m. Discussion | 8:30 p.m. Reception (Cash bar)
Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. West, Toronto
Tickets = $20-$30

More details here.

Are the UK pensioners finally coming in from the cold?

Anne Puckridge

Photo of Anne Puckridge by her daughter, Gillian

Nigel Nelson is a regular contributor to Brits in Toronto, and is a member of the non-profit Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP), and Past Chair of the (also) non-profit International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP).

Here’s his latest thoughts on the “frozen pensions” policy. All views are the CABP’s and Brits in Toronto does not endorse them and is not held liable in any way. As always, do your due diligence.

As regular readers of this column will know, I have a good friend, James (real person but name changed) who is a doting pensioner in his eighties. If I had to describe James, it would be curmudgeonly, but recently he has an almost sickly smile on his face and he is … humming (not exactly in tune, but humming nevertheless), and here is the reason why.

By way of background and, according to the latest figures from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), there are just over 132,000 UK pensioners living in Canada who are in receipt of a UK State Pension. The average amount received by each of these pensioners is just £42.65 per week, or, based on today’s exchange rates, $71.22 a week — some are receiving as little as £20 per week.

By contrast, there are 11.6 million pensioners in the UK and they receive an average of £145.57 per week; admittedly, there are one of two benefits (such as the disability allowance) that are included in the UK figures that UK pensioners living in Canada are not entitled to. But, as you can see, there is a huge discrepancy between the average weekly amounts received based on where you decide to retire to.

Once a pensioner decides to retire to Canada from the UK their UK State Pension is “frozen” at the level first received here. This is known as the UK “frozen pension” policy which has been in existence for over 70 years. In James’s case, he has received nearly £28,000 (over $51,000 using historic exchange rates) less than he would have received if he had remained in the UK.

James lives in Ontario, and, if he had decided to retire south of Niagara Falls (in the US), he would have continued to receive the annual increases to his UK State Pension, but, by living North of the Falls (in Canada), then he does not receive the annual increases — how can that be fair, on any level?

Anyway, today’s story is not about James, but about another of my friends: Anne Puckridge, whose picture is above.

Anne is 93 years old, and she is a former college lecturer. She lived and worked in the UK for 40 years, paying mandatory National Insurance contributions throughout this time. In 2002, aged 77 she finally retired and decided to move to Canada to be with her daughter, Gillian, and grandchildren who had moved to Calgary in the 1990s.

Sixteen years on, Anne, who served as an intelligence officer in the Women’s Royal Navy in the Second World War, is struggling to live on the frozen £72.50 a week rate she was entitled to when she moved abroad. Anne has received around £22,000 less than if she had stayed in the UK, and, in my article in August, I highlighted the fact that Vic Williams, who passed away earlier this year at the grand old age of 96, had received £67,000 (over $129,000) less than his peers in the UK.

Anne now feels that she will be forced to move back to Britain, because her pension will no longer cover day-to-day expenses and she is increasingly reliant on her daughter to get by.

“It’s the small things, and the injustice, that is really getting to me. I value my independence, but I can’t go on living on the breadline and I don’t want to inflict this on my family. As well as ever-increasingly poverty, I feel a sense of stress and shame, which is affecting my health,” she says.

Anne used to be able to go out to lunch and afternoon tea with her friends, but now she must weigh up the cost of this versus spending the same money on Christmas gifts for her grandchildren.

Last year, in a debate in the UK House of Commons on Pensions Uprating, when referring to Anne, Mhairi Black, MP, Scottish National Party had this to say:

“We are saying, ‘We’re not going to give you that money, but you can go and live abroad, make yourself ill through poverty, worry and the stress of having to come home. When you are forced to return to Britain, don’t worry, we’ll foot the bill for the NHS and everything else.’ The argument about cost does not stand up — costs will increase when pensioners who have been made ill through stress or whatever, have to come back in order to survive.”

The cost to uprate the State Pension worldwide has been estimated by the UK Government to be £600 million, and that the country cannot afford it. However, what they forget to tell you is:

1. According to the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), each pensioner living outside the UK saves the Treasury around £1,500 per pensioner per year. There are 1.2 million UK pensioners living overseas. This means that the UK Government is saving £1.8 billion off the backs of the most vulnerable people in society today – pensioners.

2. All National Insurance Contributions are paid into the National Insurance Fund (NIF), and the State Pension is paid out of the same fund. According to the latest set of NIF accounts (year ended March 31, 2018), there is currently a balance of £24.2 billion (page 13) in the NIF. By law, there must be a “running balance” (or “float”) equal to 1/6th of the Annual Payments from the NIF account (£101.5 billion) which is £16.9 billion, which then leaves an excess of £7.3 billion. Why can the uprating amount of £600 million come from this account? It is also interesting to note that the excess has grown by over £2 billion in the past 12 months. As an aside, this balance of £24.2 billion is used as a UK National Debt offset, rather than distribute it to those who are in most need.

So, when the UK Government says that they cannot afford it, what they are really saying is that the over 520,000 UK pensioners living in “frozen” countries like Canada and Australia aren’t worth it, even though many, like Anne, fought for their country. In addition, because UK pensioners living in this country do not receive the annual increase, the Canadian government is subsidizing the UK government by providing the extremely poor with cash and housing benefits, which is coming out of taxes you and I pay. In addition, it has been estimated that because these pension increases are not being received by UK pensioners living in Canada, it is costing the Canadian economy more than half a billion dollars a year since, typically, pensioners are spenders and not savers.

Just these past few days, Anne and her daughter Gillian have flown to the UK. The International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP), which is half owned by the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP) has recently set up a new petition, where Anne is our campaign “poster girl.”

If you are a “frozen” pensioner, or if you hope to receive a UK State Pension one day, I would ask you to please check out this petition, add your own name to it, and send the link to everyone in your contact list, both here in Canada and in the UK; this is a global issue. So far, the petition has attracted 218,000 signatures and Anne will be on hand in the Palace of Westminster to answer questions that MPs may have. At the same time, the Chairman of the ICBP will be presenting the petition to 10 Downing Street.

Anne has had a lot of attention recently (which she absolutely hates!), as articles have appeared on both sides of the pond. In the UK, the FT Adviser wrote an article, as did The Guardian and Daily Express, and here, in Canada, the BBC (USA and Canada) and the CBC both have articles on their websites, and there is also an article in the International Adviser.

In addition, Brits in Toronto (hello!) and emigrate.co.uk have also picked up the story.

If there are any questions you have relating to the UK State Pension, you can call the CABP toll-free on 1 888 591 3964 or contact info AT britishpensions DOT COM.

UK’s I Am Not A Witch included in European Union Film Festival in Toronto

European Union Film Festival

 This year’s EUFF is being held in … you guessed it … Toronto!

The critically acclaimed European Union Film Festival returns to Toronto with a wide variety of films screening from November 8-22 at the Royal Cinema. Award winning-films will make their debut at the festival, representing a rare opportunity to see these movies on the big screen. With genres spanning drama, comedy, romance and more, there is something for everyone at the EUFF.

Included in the line-up is the United Kingdom’s I Am Not A Witch, a dark, satirical fairy tale about a young girl accused of witchcraft.

After a minor incident in her village, nine-year-old Shula is exiled to a travelling witch camp where she is told that if she tries to escape she will be transformed into a goat. As she navigates through her new life with her fellow witches and a government official who espouses her, exploiting her innocence for his own gain, she must decide whether to accept her fate or risk the consequences of seeking freedom.

The film was both the British entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards 2018, and the 2018 BAFTA winner for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer.

Trailer:

Some Brits to catch at this year’s Hot Docs Podcast Fest in Toronto

The Sound of Europe

Masterclass: The Sound of Europe

I got an e-mail from the organizers of the Hot Docs Podcast Festival starting November 1 in Toronto saying, “This year we’ve invited a couple of British shows and artists over and we wanted to let your followers know about it!

“Two I wanted to flag in particular: The Allusionist, a very funny British show about language, and a Masterclass with Elisha Sessions, Senior Commissioning Producer at BBC Podcasts.”

Here’s links to The Allusionist and Masterclass: The Sound of Europe so you can check them out.

British violinist Daniel Hope and Friends: AIR — A Baroque Journey

 

Daniel Hope

British violinist Daniel Hope cradling his favourite violin

I personally think the violin looks like one of the trickiest instruments to master. How can you pluck the strings AND use the bow at the same time, whilst grimacing? It takes preposterous skill.

Here’s British violinist Daniel Hope making it look easy:

And guess what? He’s coming to Toronto on Saturday, November 3 if you wanted to see some of that violin class in action.

British violinist Daniel Hope, “Among the best in the world as well as the most thoughtful,” (The Observer) returns to Koerner Hall with an outrageous romp through the baroque with a dazzling ensemble of virtuosi wandering minstrels.

Here’s all the deets …

The Royal Conservatory Presents Daniel Hope and Friends: AIR — A Baroque Journey
Saturday, November 3, 2018 at 8:00 p.m.
Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor Street West
Tickets start at only $45
For tickets call 416-408-0208 or visit https://www.rcmusic.com/events-and-performances/daniel-hope-and-friends-air-baroque-journey

You can also send him a little tweet too and welcome him to Toronto!

Entry requirements reminder for Brits travelling to Canada

London to Toronto

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

Quick scary story. I went back home in the summer and booked online using my British passport. All well and good travelling across to the European mainland, up to Scotland and back down to London.

But when I tried to check in online 24 hours before my flight back to Toronto it wouldn’t let me do it and stated some scary message along the lines of — and I paraphrase — “not having the correct documentation,” “the Canadian government isn’t allowing you back in” and “you have to sort it out at the airport.”

I spat out my tea and then tried checking in again online using my Canadian passport. That went through without a hitch. Phew!

Having lived in Toronto for 18 years I got lazy with checking requirements to travel between the UK and Canada … and got caught out.

So this is a word of caution. With Christmas coming along and the possibility of having family and friends over, make sure all their paperwork is in order.

Here’s the official word from the UK government as a starting point.

Seeking British expats for a case study about homesickness being conducted in Toronto and pays approximately $750 if selected

Woman crying

“I really miss me mam, back ‘ome like. But $750 will definitely help me get over that sadness.”

A friend alerted me to this today — thanks Leanne! — and thought I’d pass it on. Might apply myself.

FYI: I have no connection to this company and it’s not an advert. So do your due diligence and Brits in Toronto can’t be held responsible for any woes that arise.

Here’s the original posting. Cut and paste begins … NOW.

Seeking British Expats for a case study about Homesickness being conducted in Toronto

Looking for British Expats – ages 20 to 60. Must be someone who was born and raised in Britain and later moved to Canada. Participants to the case study will be asked to share their experience with homesickness.

*Pays approximately $750 per person if selected.

Please send your name, age, phone number, tell us where you are from in England, how long have you lived here, where do you live currently, recent photos (no hat or sunglasses) and ideally a quick cell phone video of you answering this question: What do you miss most from back home?

Are you a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident?

Email – info@jigsawcasting.com

Please write ‘HOMESICKNESS’ in the subject line of your email, along with your name and age. (E.G. HOMESICKNESS – Josh Howard – age 38)

If selected, we will book you directly from submission. In order to be considered, please make sure you have sent in all required information above. Information collected will only be used to process your application. Participants will be recorded on video. Such video will only be used internally, unless other uses are expressly approved in writing by the participants. The case study is not conducted in the context of medical research. No counselling, medical advice or treatment will be provided in connection with the case study.

Submissions are due ASAP or before: Oct 18 at 9am.

You must be available for this key date (in Toronto):

Case study interview – October 24, 2018

Totally biased product review by me — Campbell’s Butter Chicken and Vegetables Soup

Butter chicken and vegetables soup

Heaven in a tin? If you’re too lazy to read the review, no

Was wandering around Loblaws at the weekend looking for the organic alfalfa sprouts section when I spotted two words on a tin that shouted BUY ME! Butter Chicken … soup. With veggies thrown in to make it a balanced meal. Sold!

Noticing that this soup was part of the famed Chunky range I hoped that the contents would live up to the lunchtime legacy — but, alas, not to be.

It wasn’t really a soup, per se (by or in itself or themselves; intrinsically), but more of a gloopy stew. It’s the kind that when you heat it up on the cooker, heat bubbles get trapped under the surface until they force their way up and explode out of the saucepan, like a butter chicken stew volcano eruption.

Had a quick sniff and — yes — it smelled like curry. More like a Mulligatawny soup actually, the kind that the Canadian government still won’t let Brits bring into the country from back home. But we’ve started a Twitter campaign to right that travesty!

Taste? Too tame. Butter chicken is on the mild end of the “sweat and blow your nose” spectrum but I was hoping for a touch more spice.

The vegetable-to-chicken ratio (VTCR) seemed too high and the “Chunky” bits of chicken were very small and a little tough for my liking. It did fill me up though, so that was a bonus.

Bit disappointing when all is said and done. Unfortunately have to give this curry product a Brits in Toronto 1/5 stars.

Successful Brits in Toronto: James Deeley

James Deeley

“Oh yes, I’d say it’s definitely NOT a bull market! Law joke, by the way. Ha!” (But it doesn’t really work, James, because it should be a bear then, not an elephant, mate.)

“I’m the funny Brit on @DownToFlux.”

We spotted that statement from James Deeley and immediately “funny” and “Brit” ticked a lot of boxes for us, but “flux” not so much as we have no idea what that means and probably only appeals to people who dress up as Spock and stand in line for three hours for Gillian Anderson’s autograph at $250 a pop or something.

But then we went down the rabbit hole and actually read his bio and it said, “British guys that play games & talk about stuff.”

We’d say that James has definitely made it in life based on that, and thus, is our latest Successful Brit in Toronto.

We also note that he works for a law firm so have to say that the following is James’s own words and not legal advice in any way apart from the bit where he recommends a British pub that allegedly has the best roast this side of the pond. If you feel that is NOT the case then please get representation and contact James directly and leave us out of it. Ta.

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 had visited Toronto a couple of times on holidays and fell in love with the city straight away, seeing how clean everything was, how friendly and helpful the people were, and just how proud they are of their city. I ended up visiting about five or six times before finally moving out here in June of 2016.

I moved to Toronto with the plan to stay here permanently right from the get go, and nothing I have experienced while living here has made me doubt my choice at all.

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

Because I came over with the intention to stay here permanently, it was tricky to find a job that wasn’t just waiting tables or working in a Tims, jobs that many people on the same type of visa as me (Canadian Working Experience) go for in order to fund their adventures.

I wanted a job with solid career prospects from the start and because I didn’t have Permanent Resident status at this time, it was almost impossible to land a permanent role, so I tried everything to get my foot in the door with even a temporary contract position.

I signed up for LinkedIn, I handed out copies of my resume to anywhere that’d take it, I scoured job sites for hours and hours, and visited about 10 different recruitment agencies, one of which got back to me within a week with an eight-week temporary role in a downtown law firm, helping them move offices.

Luckily for me, my manager liked my work ethic and I’m still in the same firm two years later, just in a permanent position managing teams in both Toronto and Ottawa.

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

I think some of the best aspects of living in Toronto are the same things that made me fall in love with the city during my first visits, and the pride that people have for Toronto and their sports teams really makes you feel a part of something special.

Building on that, there is always something going on and it feels like you can find another hidden gem every time you go out. Toronto has so many different cultures and backgrounds within it, and there are so many fantastic restaurants, bars, music venues etc. to satisfy any craving you may have!

HST has to be one of the less attractive aspects of living in Toronto, or Canada in general. It takes a while to adjust to the fact that everything costs 13% more than the marked price!

Another of the downsides, as I’m sure most Torontonians would agree, is the winter. It’s not as bad as other parts of Canada, but as a Brit who is used to mostly rainy winters with the very occasional snowfall, it’s quite the shock to the system to have everything under a foot of snow for months!

House prices have to be one of the major downsides of living in Toronto. I’m from a little town outside London where house prices were pretty bad anyway, but looking for somewhere in Toronto for a reasonable price is almost hopeless!

You’re far better off looking for somewhere a little outside of the city, or just renting until you’re a millionaire!

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?

Most of the people I met when I first came over were through an organization called SWAP Working Holidays, who help people who come to Canada on IEC visas to adjust to Canadian life and meet people. They host lots of social events and it’s through these that I met many of my friends, who are largely fellow Brits (Maybe it’s the same sense of humour?).

Whilst some of these friends have now moved back home to Blighty, a few of them chose the path to Permanent Residency like myself, and we meet up pretty regularly, and also try to meet new people of any nationality! It just so seems that our interests tend to guide us towards Brit-heavy things!

Talking of Brit-heavy things, the Toronto Wolfpack Rugby League Team play out of Lamport Stadium in Liberty Village, and not only is going to a game a great day out, but it’s a good way to meet other people as most of the crowd are Rugby fans, mainly Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, with a smattering of Canadians for good measure!

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

If you’re moving to Toronto and have heard about the winter weather, it is not a joke! It’s a far better option to wait until you get here to buy some winter clothes because it’s pretty unlikely that your winter gear from home will be up to the job. Plus it saves plenty of room in your suitcase!

For those of you, like myself, that really do get a craving for a good old Sunday roast, The Queen and Beaver on Elm street is a British-style pub that serves the best roast I have had so far this side of the Atlantic!

A good way to meet other Brits in Toronto, I’d suggest doing it through the Meetup app, or through Facebook. On both I am a member of groups called Brits in Toronto (funnily enough) and there is always people posting advice, events and other useful stuff.

If anyone if after any information about anything more specific, I’d encourage them to reach out to me directly (Twitter) and I’ll do my best to help them out! It’s a big deal moving countries, but you are in good company in Toronto.

A Very English Concert

A Very English Concert

“Hello old bean, can I interest you in some English string pieces? And biscuits and tea? Hoorah! Then cast your eyes below forthwith.”

Kemi Lo took the plunge for some free PR, fired up the old e-mail machine to write us a nice note … and here we are.

“I am the Artistic Director of the Unitatis Strings, a strings group based in Toronto comprising of violins, violas, cellos and double basses. We are having an English-themed classical concert on September 22, 2018 from 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. at St. George the Martyr Anglican Church, near Osgoode station. We are playing English pieces that are dated as early as 1960, and as far back as 1695.

“The tickets are $10 for students, and $30 for adults, and can be purchased at the door (cash only), or through our website at www.unitatisstrings.com/upcoming-concerts. There will be biscuits and tea after the concert!”

Did you say biscuits and tea?! SOLD.

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

Emma Clay

Tons of experience? Check. Keen to connect? Check. Worth looking at her LinkedIn profile? Check

Emma contacted us and said that she moved to Toronto in May and is currently looking for a solid role. Can any kind fellow Brit (anyone will do, we’re not fussy at this stage of the game) please offer a helping hand or connect with Emma for advice on getting past the lack of  dreaded CANADIAN EXPERIENCE?

Cheers a lot, proper appreciative.

So, Emma — tell us about your excellent track record to date …

“After recently moving to Toronto after a travelling break, I am looking to dive back in to a new challenge. I have worked with Operations and Customer Experience for over seven years in the travel industry, but am open to exploring any role in an operational/logistics/customer care field.

“I have worked in both London and Zurich as a Recruitment Manager, Operations Manager, and most recently Senior Operations Manager, leading a whole range of projects from improving customer experience, to managing IT projects, to being responsible for recruitment channels and internal staff trainings, to organising meetings, trainings and events for up to 5,000 students.

“My full LinkedIn profile is here and for anyone who knows of an opportunity that could be a great fit, I can be contacted at emma.clay2 AT gmail DOT COM. Thank you!!”

Over to you, well-connected and generous-to-a-fault fellow Brits.

Interview with Daisy Wright, author of “No Canadian Experience, Eh?”

Daisy Wright

Daisy Wright talks about getting that all-important Canadian experience

We’ve written in the past about the troubles talented British immigrants face when they come to Canada looking for their first job. Extremely frustrating trying to get your foot in the door and be given a chance.

Thanks to the excellent resource that is New Canadians, they interviewed Daisy Wright, author of “No Canadian Experience, Eh?” so take a butcher’s at her video and website … may be very useful for landing that first Canadian job.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Katya Garipova

Katya Garipova

Katya used to sound British but now she sounds like a Russian Australian … a Braustralian, if you will

Pete Beale from EastEnders was the loveable market trader that constantly tried to flog spuds to punters as they wandered around Albert Square. Who can forget his cheeky Cockney banter and shout of, “Awight tweacle?!” to Sharon, or Kath. We can’t recall who, but he was a sales legend.

Katya Garipova also tries to flog her wares, but because this is not 1985 EastEnders, now has the power of the Internet to help her. In fact, we first spotted her on Facebook in a Brit-expat group and offered her a slot as our next Successful Brit in Toronto.

Katya is a British illustrator, designer and art director living in Toronto. Her family is still living in Berkshire, Leeds and some in South Wales.

We’re not sure which part of South Wales, but probably not Pontypridd.

That’s a bloody shame because here’s some fun facts about Pontypridd we featured a while back:

  • Pontypridd is twinned with Nürtingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany and Mbale, Uganda.
  • Notable people from Pontypridd include Tom Jones, Indie-folk band Climbing Trees and the drummer for AC/DC.
  • Pontypridd has its very own community radio station GTFM 107.9 run by a voluntary management committee.

So, let’s DRAW some ARTful answers from these following questions to ILLUSTRATE why Katya is successful …

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 not originally intending to stay in Toronto or even Canada permanently, but things changed a lot and now I’m a permanent resident! Initially I came to visit on holiday eight years ago and loved everything about the city, so I applied through the BUNAC program to live and work in Toronto for an extended period after graduating with BA from Winchester School of Art.

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

I started doing freelance graphic design work for a small Canadian company while still in the UK to have something to show on my resume when I came to Toronto. Skype and e-mail was my best friend.

Before I arrived, I made sure to research. I applied to some job postings before arriving and told them when I will be arriving, to which a few replied with, “Sure, get in contact when you’re here” — which I did.

When I arrived, I immediately started to apply to more places and doing interviews from the connections I built before coming. That in turn landed me my first proper Canadian job in a multimedia design and production studio.

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

It took some time to get used to not being able to walk over to any ATM and take out money for free. (Your bank, only!) Or not having free bank accounts here in general.

Also, the added 13% tax on everything still throws me off at times! And the tipping took getting used to, definitely.

However, the best would be the friendliness of people, the incredible mix of cultures and backgrounds of everyone around you. Almost everyone you meet is from somewhere else, and made Canada home.

There is also so much great food here it’s ridiculous. I have never been so adventurous with food until I came here.

People are very open minded, and supportive. This city is also probably the most influential in the country. When it comes to the art, design and advertising industries, it’s the most buzzing with opportunity. And it’s growing like crazy.

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it?

I actually don’t know any other British people here! Although many of my colleagues have family in the UK. Over the years I have made a lot of great friends through work and hobby-based meet up groups or events.

Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

To be honest, the only places I would advise if you’re craving some Twiglets and such would be British themed sweet shops in downtown Toronto, which there are a bunch (expensive, though!). There are also many British-style pubs.

My favourite option has always been to have my family mail me or bring me my favourite things during holidays or visits.

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

For students: As far as I’ve found, people in the art, design and advertising industries here don’t really care about your schooling or educational background … it’s not something they’re familiar with; GCSEs or A-Levels is gibberish.

So if your work is solid and you’re willing to go out of your comfort zone and meet people, you can become successful.

It’s always going to be tough to leave everything you know behind and start a new life elsewhere. You have to want to it to make it work. The amount of growth as a person you experience from doing something like that is immeasurable.

You’ll need to adjust to the language and slang for sure, but it’s not a big deal.

Expect for everyone to tell you how exotic and amazing your accent is. They love it here.

After some time away, your British accent will probably morph and you will become a foreigner to your own people back home. There will be laughs. After seven years of living in Canada, people here can no longer pinpoint what I am — I get Australian a lot! — and my South-England British accent is now permanently tainted with Canadian intonations, “Rolling-rrr’s” and unintended “‘eh’s.”

There’s also hints of Russian in there. But that’s just more exotic, I suppose!

Brilliant stuff. Katya’s art is also very good and you can see an extensive selection of her wares at these following fine Internet establishments:

Etsy
Instagram
Facebook
LinkedIn

Things the UK government should be ashamed of: Parts I-III

UK government

Grrrrr! We’re so bloody angry!

Nigel Nelson is a regular contributor to Brits in Toronto, and is a member of the non-profit Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP), and Past Chair of the (also) non-profit International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP).

Here’s his latest thoughts on the “frozen pensions” policy. All views are the CABP’s and Brits in Toronto does not endorse them and is not held liable in any way. As always, do your due diligence.

Things the UK government should be ashamed of – Part I

Millions of you out there viewing this blog (I wish!) will have read several outspoken articles that I have written on the UK government’s “frozen pensions” Policy which has been in existence for over 70 years now.

If you live in one of 120 countries (of which Canada is one) your UK State Pension is “frozen” at the level at which it is first received, and you will not receive the annual increases. This affects the over 133,000 recipients of the UK State Pension who live in Canada. The UK is the only country in the OECD (out of 35) that operates this immoral and discriminatory policy. The Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP) has been lobbying the UK government for over 25 years in an attempt to annul this outdated policy.

I would like to tell you about Vic Williams, one of the strongest CABP supporters, who died a couple of months ago at the tender age of 96. I know that this blog normally tells you about successful Brits living in Ontario. As Vic lived in Mississauga, I think that he would have counted.

Vic Williams

Vic Willams. Photo courtesy of Wendy Williams

Vic passed away at the grand old age of 96, and he was of the old school. Born in the East End of London he was a true Cockney, and, like all Cockneys he was a born storyteller, entertaining all who new him with fascinating (and often hilarious) stories of his rich life, which began in London England, where in his youth he was a talented soccer player.

His service as a young man in the Royal Navy on the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable took him around the world. He joined up because “it was the right thing to do.”

Back in post-war London Vic met Helen, and they were married in 1954. They emigrated to Canada in 1956 and settled in Mississauga in 1958, where their family of three soon grew to five. Vic worked for Alcan for over 25 years, rising to a management position, and in the process teaching his children the values of diligence and hard work. Despite the Cockney accent that never quite left him, he was a proud Canadian, camping with his family and exploring Canada with Helen.

In retirement, Vic and Helen became founding members of the Probus Club of Mississauga Centre which provided them with many opportunities to enjoy activities with new friends. Vic was known as an avid horse-racing enthusiast and a prudent handicapper, who usually came out as a winner upon placing a bet. A generous man, Vic often gave his winnings to family and charities. As a proud WW II veteran, he was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, participating in Remembrance Day ceremonies each year.

Until recently, a fiercely independent Vic continued to live in the Mississauga house that has been the family home for almost 50 years. Vic was always proud of the fact that, in his youth, he knew Michael Caine. Even when he was in his early nineties, he was still able to attend the CABP AGM’s where I had the honour of meeting him.

In 2013, Vic, in conjunction with the CABP made a Remembrance Day video for the then Prime Minister, David Cameron beseeching him to revoke the unfair, immoral and discriminatory “frozen pensions” policy. I am not sure if Mr. Cameron ever saw the video.

Because of the UK government’s “frozen pensions” policy, UK pensioners living in Canada who retired at the same time as Vic, and who have earned a “full” UK State Pension will have received more than £67,000 less than their peers in the UK, even though they will have made the same level of National Insurance contributions. In Canadian Dollar terms (using historic exchange rates), this amounts to close on CAD 129,500, which is not chump change and is a life-changing amount for many older pensioners who may have become dependent on the Canadian government for handouts and subsidies.

According to Statistics Canada, as at 2016, there were 828,000 pensioners living in Canada aged 65 and over on “low income,” and, according to the Government of Canada, as at 2016, 10.3% of men and 10.8% of women aged 65 and over were living below the poverty line — in terms of UK pensioners, this means over 14,000 of them are living below the poverty line.

According to the UK’s Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), there are 38% of UK pensioners living in “frozen” countries (like Canada) who are receiving a UK State Pension of less than £20 per week (CAD 32 per week), at current exchange rates. Who can live on this?

Things the UK government should be ashamed of – Part II

If you are a regular follower of this column, you will know that I have a good friend, James (real person but name changed) who is a doting pensioner in his eighties (https://britsintoronto.com/2018/03/19/brexit-update-nothing-is-agreed-until-everything-is-agreed/). I usually find him chortling in his G&T, but times are so hard that he has run out of gin. He recently went down to his wine cellar to get a bottle of claret, but he has also run out of that. Times are hard. Things haven’t been helped by what is happening (or not happening) with Brexit.

With the UK Parliament in recess, and no clear way forward in terms of the UK divorcing the EU, it is UK pensioners living overseas who continue to suffer. When the Brexit referendum result was announced there was an immediate fall in the exchange rate:

Exchange rate small
(Larger version here.) Source: https://www.currenciesdirect.com/en/currency-tools/currency-charts

All UK State Pensions are paid in GBP. Most pensioners are living pension cheque to pension cheque. This mean that they are hostages to fortune when it comes to exchange rates, and have to take the rate on the day that they receive their pension cheque.

According to the latest DWP figures, the average UK State Pension received by pensioners living in Canada is just over £41 per week. At the beginning of June 2016 (just before the Brexit referendum), this would have been worth nearly CAD 80 per week. By the middle of July (just after the Brexit referendum) this would only be worth CAD 70 per week. The longer that the UK government prevaricates over the Brexit deal (or no deal) the more jittery the currency exchange markets become, and this means the UK pensioners living abroad will be worse off.

In fact, my friend James receives a smaller UK State Pension today in CAD terms than when he first retired. When he first retired in 1998, he was receiving £64.70 per week. The exchange rate in those days was 2.37 CAD to the pound, so he was receiving CAD 153 per week. Today, he is still receiving £64.70 per week, but this is only worth CAD 109 per week — so he is receiving a staggering 29% less now in real terms than when he first retired.

Meanwhile, according to the Bank of Canada, inflation has risen by over 46% since 1998, when James retired. Whilst the UK government cannot be held completely responsible for the changes in exchange rates, it is impossible for UK pensioners living in “frozen” countries to budget when their income base is in decline, and inflation is rising at an average rate of nearly 2% a year (at least, in Canada).

However, the annulment of the “frozen pensions” policy is entirely in the hands of the UK government, and the fund from which the State Pension is paid (the National Insurance Fund) currently has a £6 billion surplus. Meanwhile, to uprate the UK State Pension for all pensioners living in Canada would cost a meagre (in comparison) £159 million per year. Hopefully, Brexit may force their hands, but that is a story for another day.

In the meantime, it is enough to drive James and his pensioner friends to drink … except they can no longer afford it. The gin is all drunk, and so is the wine. All that is left for them is to try their hand at homebrewing.

Things the UK government should be ashamed of – Part III

Prior to the General Election called by Theresa May in June 2017, the then Pensions Minister, Richard Harrington had asked for a meeting with the International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP) — 50% owned by CABP. The CABP flew a Board Member to London for the meeting. Mrs May called a General Election before that meeting could take place, and the meeting was called off at the last minute.

After the General Election, the Pensions Minister role was downgraded to the Parliamentary-Under-Secretary role, and Guy Opperman was appointed. Since then, there has been no contact. There was no apology, no offer to reimburse the ICBP for the costs that they had incurred – nada.

Yet another reason why this current UK government should be ashamed …

If there are any questions you have relating to the UK State Pension, you can call the CABP toll-free on 1-888-591-3964 or contact info AT britishpensions DOT COM.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Roanna Cochrane

Roanna Cochrane

If the BBC ever wants to green light “Posh Spice: My Tumultuous Times on Top Of The Pops” … just saying

Just like we predicted, it’s been drier than a hedgehog’s chuffer on the Successful Brits in Toronto front — and then similar to Toronto’s TTC buses, three come along at once.

But we’re not complaining. Just glad to be in this great city of Toronto. And actress Roanna Cochrane is too.

You remember that scene in the recent Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water, filmed in Toronto, where the cleaning lady tries to help the fish-man-creature in the tank? Yeah, we do too … it was really moving. Really well done. The actress caught the moment.

Anyway, back to Roanna.

This Successful Brit in Toronto’s credits include Vikings, Murdoch Mysteries and Saving Hope. She’s also done tons of voice over work for the very popular video games series Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed.

Here’s her showreel:

So, let’s find out more about Roanna’s life 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?

Vikings, a Canadian-Irish co-production I worked on made me think about Toronto, which has an emerging international film and TV market with many productions now filming here each year.

It seemed that a lot of my friends in LA were auditioning for series shooting on location in Toronto, so I thought why not just move there instead. Also TIFF’s popularity has really put the city on the industry’s map.

I initially arrived thinking let’s give it three or so years and go from there. Now I’m planning on going for citizenship.

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

Before making the big move, I flew over to find a good agent which helped a great deal. Within weeks of moving here I landed my first job, a regular in a new animated series for Amazon Prime, Wishenpoof. I was very fortunate to land work quickly which has certainly helped the momentum for further bookings.

The Canadian experience has just made me work harder. And being British provides something different for casting directors which has helped me stand out a bit.

My first TV role over here was in Saving Hope for CTV and it was for a Canadian role but they ended up casting me instead which was a real win.

What are the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

Toronto is a cheaper city to live in than London which makes it more affordable for artists to live in. Torontonians always laugh at this as it is one of the most expensive Canadian cities but the cost of living in London is just that much higher!

I also love living in the downtown core as everything you need is nearby and the city is very walkable.

The worst aspects? Probably being away from family and friends. You get used to it but you miss out on important events and that’s hard.

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 didn’t set out to meet other Brits but one of the first Ubisoft video games I worked on was Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate which was set in London so most of the actors working on it were ex-pats. Some of them have become my closest friends. We’ll all be cheering on England together throughout the World Cup!

Oh, and one of my pet peeves in Toronto are those cliche British pubs with tacky Tube maps and Beatles posters all over the walls. I can’t stand them! They are nothing like a cosy, atmospheric British pub.

However, I do rather like House on Parliament in Cabbagetown which feels the closest thing to a genuine British pub. They have Fullers beer on tap! And The Ceili Cottage in Leslieville is a lovely Irish pub with a great patio.

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

My advice to Brits moving to Toronto is this: get on WhatsApp and FaceTime so you can stay instantly connected to everyone back home which makes the distance much easier. Making new friends as adults can be a bit like dating but put yourself out there and you never know who is going to be your next lifer!

Enjoy the ride — it doesn’t have to be a forever move, just see how it goes and take things from there one step at a time …

And finally, what can we see you in this year?

I’m voicing a Cockney fox in a new animated series for PBS Kids called Let’s Go Luna which comes out in the fall. I mean, autumn. Yikes — listen to me. Someone pass me a tea and a Hobnob!

And … CUT! Thanks Roanna, brilliant stuff.

You can stay up-to-date with her work on IMDB, Twitter and Instagram.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Emma Jones

Emma Jones

From Pontypridd to Toronto: One woman’s journey

Just like McDonald’s milkshakes, the Successful Brits in Toronto are now coming thick and fast. And thanks to Kathy Smart who sent out some intro e-mails to her friends — because we’re now a charity case who can’t find our own — today we have Emma Jones stepping up to the plate.

Emma is originally from Pontypridd, Wales, UK and has been in Toronto for seven years.

Here’s some fun facts about Pontypridd:

  • Pontypridd is twinned with Nürtingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany and Mbale, Uganda.
  • Notable people from Pontypridd include Tom Jones, Indie-folk band Climbing Trees and the drummer for AC/DC.
  • Pontypridd has its very own community radio station GTFM 107.9 run by a voluntary management committee.

Enough about amazing Pontypridd though. Let’s hear from Emma …

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?

My partner is Canadian, from North Bay, Ontario, and we met while travelling in New Zealand. I originally came to Toronto with him to visit family. We had flights booked to go on to Australia, but for one reason or another, we kept extending our stay in Canada. That was more than seven years ago now!

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

For maybe my first four years in Toronto, my roles were mostly contract based because I enjoyed the freedom of being able to work remotely and travel back and forth to the UK. I think I felt the most homesick during those first few years so didn’t really want to commit to Canada through a permanent position.

I don’t think a lack of Canadian experience hindered me in securing work because a UK education and background is pretty well regarded. With that, I realize that I had advantages that may not exist for a large majority of newcomers to Canada and my immigrant experience is not necessarily representative of the majority.

I first worked for LexisNexis and then Microsoft Canada, with whom I stayed for over three years as a digital producer. After that I moved into marketing, working at an agency, DAC Group, and fintech startup, Quandl.

Recently I started a new role as a Senior Marketing Manager at RBC, which is proving to be a fantastic opportunity as I get to work on early stage start-ups and innovations that go beyond banking.

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

The best aspect of living in Toronto is how multicultural the city is. I love that every weekend in the summer has a different festival celebrating ethnic diversity.

I also love the summer weather and cottage lifestyle, which is like a levelled-up version of going to the caravan for the weekend in the UK, only with less rain and a few more bugs [that’s “insects” for those Brits who have been here less than seven years].

I think there’s a pretty strong consensus that the worst thing about living in Toronto is the house prices. I’m from a small town in Wales and, when I look at what I could buy there for the price of a small condo in Toronto, it really makes you question your decision.

Other than that, I dream about good cheese, cheap flights, carveries and Boots meal deals!

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 usually meet fellow Brits when chance allows, but I do have a tendency to gravitate towards them at events. It’s like a strange Union Jack honing beacon, but it’s rare that I meet fellow Welsh people.

Even during Six Nations or the football World Cup — the one that Wales actually did well in — I’d watch at the pub (the Rose and Crown at Yonge/Eglinton) and would never see other Welsh folk.

As for recommended eateries for homesick Brits, I don’t think you can really beat a good British Indian, but Banjara (Bloor and Yonge/Eglinton) does a pretty kick-ass [that’s “arse” for those Brits who have been here less than seven years] butter chicken.

For fish and chips, Len Duckworth’s on the Danforth is the closest place to home.

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

My best piece of advice for Brits moving to Toronto is to learn to ski or take up some kind of snow sport because the winters here can be long.

Also be prepared to get a lot of stick from people back home when you start dropping the second “t” in “Toronto.” That’s when you officially know that you’ve become a local!

Great stuff, Emma from Pontypridd. If anyone wants to connect here’s her LinkedIn profile.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Kathy Smart

Kathy Smart 2

And only then did Kathy realize it wasn’t a Canadian fish and chip shop

Back in 2016 Kathy Smart was looking for a job, and then she found a job, and heaven knows she’s not miserable now because she became a manager, then a senior manager, then a director.

We take full and utter credit for that.

Moving on, now that Kathy is a successful mover and shaker in Toronto, let’s catch up and find out what she’s up to now and how life is 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?

Roughly seven years ago I lived in Vancouver, working on an IEC visa. I absolutely loved it. Vancouver is beautiful, outdoorsy and a great experience but, having moved from London, I found it a tad too chilled for long-term living so after six months chose to head back.

Fast forward to 2016 and the opportunity arose to move internationally with my husband’s company. We looked at options in San Francisco, Sydney and New York, but there was something about Canada (maple syrup, bears, baseball, beavers and checked shirts maybe?) that kept calling us back, so we chose Toronto.

We landed with a three-year visa. Eighteen months later we applied for permanent residency. We love it.

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

After 12 years of working in different facets of recruitment in the UK I was pretty confident I would secure work quickly. I expected that my knowledge of recruitment processes would give me the edge. I was wrong. My thorough understanding of the London market did not map across AT ALL here.

I was applying to jobs online, taking time to tailor my CV and cover letter for each one, then following up with phone calls and emails. I got zero traction. It was horribly frustrating, humbling and mind-numbingly boring.

After six weeks I decided to hit the networking loop. I checked out Eventbrite and Meetup and attended anything that looked like it even loosely could help me meet people in my field.

It was through networking and meeting people and asking that I finally got interviews, and from there ended up with two job offers. Lack of Canadian experience did indeed affect my application.

It meant I had to take a job two steps down from the one I had in London, but then, once in the role, I was promoted quickly, so 16 months after starting had worked my way back up from Manager, to Senior Manager to Director.

Not a perfect system but manageable once you know how to negotiate it.

Key suggestions:
– Go to networking events. Meet people, follow up, chase, talk to people about your experience;
– Be prepared to step down and work your way back up.

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

Best:

1. Living effectively in a village, but being a 45-minute walk to work in one direction and a 45-minute walk to the beach in the other.
2. There’s a sense of community here without being claustrophobic.
3. Lots of opportunity to get involved, am part of a Dragon Boating club, I volunteer for Lean In Canada and Merit Award.
4. Genuine work/life balance even for senior staff.
5. After-work summer activities like kayaking, biking, baseball.
6. After-work winter activities like ice skating, sledding, snow shoeing.

Worst:

1. Being so far from home; it’s particularly hard with older parents.
2. There’s no “beer after work culture here” so very hard to make friends with your colleagues.
3. The traffic.
4. Generally, Canadians are very polite, reserved and avoid confrontation … it’s sometimes hard to know where you stand or how your idea is being received.

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?

Absolutely! I love working with Canadians Mon-Fri but on the weekends it’s nice to hang out with other Brits, mainly for the sense of humour and the similarity of situation.

I have Canadian friends as well but they’re a little less available on weekends as they have family commitments and well-established friendship groups, which can understandably be difficult to join.

In the first few months of being here, we collected all the waifs and strays together from every event we went to and now have an awesome group made up of Brits/Americans/Irish/Kiwis for games of baseball and the like.

Would heavily recommend joining the Brits in Toronto Facebook group — it’s awesome for finding other Brits, finding cheap furniture (from people moving in and out of the city) and hearing about events.

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

[KATHY — YOU LEFT THIS QUESTION BLANK OR COULDN’T BE ARSED TO ANSWER.]

So there you have it. One woman’s dream to arrive in Toronto and make a go it it. The pure epitomy of a Successful Brit in Toronto.

Thanks Kathy … and here’s her LinkedIn profile if you want to endorse her for dragon boating.

BRITFEST Canada will celebrate Canada’s diverse British community

BRITFEST Canada

British bloke awkwardly squinting into the sun and complaining it’s too bloody hot as usual

BRITFEST Canada, the country’s annual event celebrating its British migrants, students, workers and expats in Canada will take place from 12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 21 in Pickering, Ontario. (Flyer poster here.)

Highlighting the inaugural event will be music and food reflective of the culture, opportunities to connect with British counterparts, family-friendly activities and more. A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit the Carea Community Health Centre, a non-profit organization providing free community health and wellness programs.

Launched by a British expat who recognized a lack of events to meet peers as a new resident of Canada, founder Charlee Chiappa-Abibula saw an opportunity to celebrate and connect the country’s multi-cultural British residents.

With the goal of creating a fun, energetic event, she has spent six months building a festival atmosphere for all generations, complete with food reminiscent of her native country, from Pipe Major Andrew Killick to British urban group British Man Dem (B.M.D.).

“BRITFEST Canada promises to be a lively event that will provide British residents with a ‘back at home’ feeling,” said Chiappa-Abibula. “We’re merging the younger and older generations through a mix of music, food and atmosphere that will send them back to their British roots.

“We’re looking forward to establishing a truly unique event that British migrants, students and workers will look forward to each year as a way to honor their heritage and connect with one another.”

In addition to the music, food and culture, representatives from Bright Immigration will also be in attendance to provide qualified immigration advice to interested event attendees seeking immigration consultations. Complimentary Nando’s Chicken will be given on the day to the first interested attendees while supplies last.

Early Bird tickets for BRITFEST Canada are $10 each and available through July 1. Children under 10 years old can attend free of charge. Tickets and additional details are available online, at https://britfestcanada.com/.

Those interested in attending are encouraged to follow the event’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/britfestcanada/ and Instagram at @britfestca.

Where are you watching the Royal Wedding on May 19?

Harry and Meghan

Prince Harry will wed Meghan Markle on May 19

The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is taking place on Saturday, May 19 and — as it’s obviously a very special occasion — we’re covering some options of how to view it. Because of the UK time difference it’s an early start.

The Duke Pubs reached out to let Brits in Toronto know that they are throwing a viewing party at the Duke of Cornwall with co-organizers the BCCTC, Loyal Societies and Typically Brit. Doors are opening at 6:30 a.m. and everyone is welcome to come and watch the wedding with them.

And bonus points: Brits in Toronto readers can print and show this coupon for a COMPLIMENTARY (non-alcoholic) sparkling mimosa! You’re ‘aving a larf ain’t ya?! How good is that?!

But wait — there’s more! The Duke’s early-morning grumbling chef will also be whipping up the Proper London Fully Loaded breakfast consisting of three eggs any style, banger, bacon, grilled tomato, potato pancakes, baked beans, multigrain toast and strawberry jam. A pure bargain at an honest $13.99.

If none of the above takes your fancy and you prefer to watch the Royal Wedding in bed with a warm over-sweet cuppa char, then our new BFF BritBox is feting the nuptials in style, with the opportunity to watch ITV’s broadcast of the wedding celebration LIVE.

The broadcast will be hosted by ITV’s own Phillip Schofield and Julie Etchingham, exclusively anchored from a specially constructed studio on the Long Walk in Windsor.

ITV has put together a lineup of experts joined by a range of guests including those who know Prince Harry and Meghan, as well as friends of the Royal Family and live coverage from across the Globe — From St. George’s Chapel and Windsor Castle, to Lesotho in Africa, the home of the charity co-founded by Prince Harry.

You’re ‘aving more of a larf ain’t ya?! How also good is that?!

So, no excuse Brits in Toronto for missing out on the royal event of the year.

Win tickets to see Brit Mark Kingswood at the Mod Club on May 16

Mark Kingswood

Mark Kingswood couldn’t hide it if he wanted to; music is his passion and his playground

British recording artist Mark Kingswood recently moved from the UK to Montreal to concentrate on the North American market. He will do a concert in Toronto on Wednesday, May 16 at the Mod Club.

Although the show is primarily a media and music industry showcase, Brits in Toronto has been generously offered 10 FREE pairs of tickets to see Mark perform!

Quite simply leave your name in the comments below, contact or tweet us and we’ll randomly pick 10 lucky winners on Sunday, May 14 whose names will be added to the guest list at the door.

How simple is that?

So good luck and here’s a video about Mark:

Footy Talks V

Footy Talks small

It will probably be an event of two halves with some offside comments

Footy Talks is back at The Rivoli in Toronto on Thursday, May 3 featuring some of the best insiders in the industry. Join Luke Wileman, Kristian Jack, Steven Caldwell, Garth Wheeler, James Sharman, Thomas Dobby, Brendan Dunlop, John Molinaro, Joshua Kloke and Laura Armstrong for a night of beers, conversation and Q&A!

The event is hosted by Sportsnet’s Caroline Szwed.

More details and tickets here.

And, oh yeah — Brits in Toronto readers have 20% off so just use the promo code “supporters” to get the discount.

Man on!

British Council looking for individuals from across Canada to become a member of their international policy and leadership program

Future Leaders Connect

Hmmm, if only there was a relevant hash tag we could use too …

Are you a Brit in Toronto, aged between 18-35 and want the opportunity to travel to the UK for nine days of advanced policy and leadership development at the University of Cambridge? All expenses paid? Yes? Read on …

The British Council is looking for individuals from across Canada to become a member of their international policy and leadership program.

As a member of Future Leaders Connect you will access a nine-day residential program of advanced policy and leadership development at the University of Cambridge. You will be part of a group of phenomenal young leaders from around the world discussing today’s biggest global challenges in the Houses of Parliament and you will have private meetings with inspirational leaders.

The costs of travel, accommodation and meals are covered by the British Council and the program is fully accessible. As a member of the program you will go on to be able to access a range of international fully funded professional development opportunities.

You must be aged 18-35, have a policy idea that could create change and be able to attend the nine-day program from 22-31 October 22-31.

If you’re interested apply here by Sunday, May 13 (18:59 p.m. EST).

Here’s the video to explain a bit more:

Ralph Rugoff, Director of London’s Hayward Gallery, coming to Toronto for an International Lecture Series

Ralph Rugoff

The windswept Ralph Rugoff

We got an e-mail from The Power Plant* Contemporary Art Gallery to let Brits in Toronto readers know of an upcoming program that may be of interest.

On Monday, April 16 the gallery will welcome Ralph Rugoff as a speaker in its International Lecture Series. The Power Plant’s long-running International Lecture Series brings some of today’s greatest thinkers from around the world — high-profile artist, curators, and cultural commentators — to Toronto.

Ralph Rugoff has been Director of the Hayward Gallery, a renowned contemporary art gallery at London’s Southbank Centre, since 2006. Rugoff was just announced in December 2017 as Artistic Director of the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019. He curated the 13th Biennale de Lyon in 2015, and initiated and co-curated Baja to Vancouver: The West Coast in Contemporary Art, in 2003.

Readers are invited to attend this FREE lecture, taking place at OCADU.

*Brits in Toronto lawyers made us include the disclaimer that The Power Plant should not be confused with The Power Station, and this is not a reunion tour.

The Power Station

Not The Power Plant

The Cavern Bar and Hostelling International Toronto is hiring

The Cavern Bar

Those hands could be yours …

Got an e-mail from Desmond at The Cavern Bar with a request to post some job opportunities. As Brits in Toronto’s tagline is, “The best pubs, curry, JOBS and dental care in Toronto …” how could we refuse?

He said: “I’m an English bloke, that’s carved out a career in Canada. I’m the General Operations Manager at Hostelling International Toronto. We are always looking for good people, and love the hardworking Brits to work at our facility. We are looking for bartenders, front desk agents, cooks and housekeepers. Feel free to share with your network.”

So, there you have it. The job details are below as PDFs.

Bartender

Front Desk Agent

Cook

Housekeeper

Ken Barlow is coming to Toronto in June!

William Roache

Never needed to update his CV since December 9, 1960

The man … the myth … the ledge that is Ken Barlow from Corrie Street — also known as William Roache to his friends and family — is coming to Canada in May, with a visit to Toronto on Friday, June 1.

Just to give you an idea of this actor’s contribution to one of the most famous soap operas in the world, William has played Ken Barlow in Coronation Street since its first episode on December 9, 1960. He is listed in the Guinness World Records as the longest-serving male television star in a continuous role.

And, if that’s not enough to make you exclaim, “Stick t’kettle on chook, I’m feeling a bit wobbly!” then here’s nearly two hours of pure Barlow to wet your whistle.

This intimate one-on-one onstage interview allows William Roache to give fans a rare glimpse into his personal life. Audiences will be enthralled as he shares stories about his experiences on the famous set, the plot-lines and the actors he has worked with over five decades, many of whom are equally adored by loyal audiences.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an audience with true Coronation Street royalty and no fan will want to miss it.

In addition to show tickets, William will meet and greet a very limited number of VIP fans whose tickets will wrap the best seats in the house and the full show.

This will be a great experience for Ken Barlow fans, so here’s more details and tickets.

Brexit update: “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”

Brexit update

We’ll meeeeet again, don’t know wherrrre, don’t know whe — oh, sorry, we probably won’t

Nigel Nelson is a regular contributor to Brits in Toronto, and is a member of the non-profit Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP), and Past Chair of the (also) non-profit International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP).

Here’s his latest thoughts on Brexit and pensioners in Canada who receive the UK State Pension. All views are the CABP’s and Brits in Toronto does not endorse them and is not held liable in any way. As always, do your due diligence.

I was recently speaking to my octogenarian friend James the other day (you may remember that I first introduced you to James in the Ouch! How Brexit is hurting UK pensioners in Canada and in the later article James and I go to London), and I said to him what a quintessentially European phrase, “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” really is, although its origins seem to come from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2005.

What has this got to do with the UK State Pension which is what James and I always end up talking about? You see, he is a British military chap and he is usually found frothing at the mouth because he has found out that if he had stayed in the UK rather than retiring here to Canada he would be more than £31,000 better off in terms of his UK State Pension; using historic exchange rates, this converts to over $56,000 — not a trifling amount by any means.

If James lived south of the Niagara Falls (in the US) he would have been getting the annual increases to his UK State Pension. Instead, he chose to live north of the Falls, here in Canada and he hasn’t been getting the annual increases, and his UK State Pension has been “frozen.” How unfair is that?

James has been reading about Brexit and that got him thinking about UK pensioners living in Europe. There are 496,000 pensioners living in Europe who are in receipt of a UK State Pension:

Pensioners stats

Source: Dept. of Work and Pensions

Once the UK drops out of Europe, then, technically, the UK government no longer has a legal obligation to continue giving these pensioners the annual inflationary increase. This year the increase is 3%, so, for anyone getting their UK State Pension based on the pre-2016 Pensions Bill, this means an increase of just over £190 per year. Those who have retired after April 2016 will receive up to an estimated £260.

These pensioners are not happy about the possibility of them losing the annual increase, and there are a number of European pension lobby groups who are petitioning the UK Parliament.

The European Parliament and the UK Government have agreed that the UK government will continue to “export benefits” which includes the annual increase to the UK State Pension, and that has been drafted into the Withdrawal Bill which is currently before the UK Parliament. This is fine as long as the Withdrawal Bill is enacted.

However, Brexit negotiations are currently getting bogged down with negotiating a trade agreement. If the negotiations are not all completed by March 27, 2019, then the UK could fall out of the EU, and the Withdrawal Bill could be in limbo. So, where would this leave the pensioners living in Europe who receive a UK State Pension?

There are 540,000 pensioners living in 120 countries who do not receive the annual increase to their UK State Pension (larger image):

Countries affected small

Source: International Consortium of British Pensioners

As you can see, Canada is one of those countries (where there are 144,000 “frozen” pensioners). The pension lobby groups that I represent are watching very carefully to see what Brexit delivers in terms of the annual UK State Pension increase.

Technically, the pensioners living in Europe will be joining all the other “frozen” UK pensioners in the world, and the number would then swell to over one million unhappy pensioners — not a pleasant sight!

The UK Government has said that as part of the Withdrawal Agreement, they will negotiate “bilateral agreements” with European countries such that the pensioners living in Europe will continue to receive their annual UK State Pension increase. What James and many others are asking: “Why them, and not us?”

If you think that you are going to be affected by the UK “frozen” pension policy, and would like to help us in our fight, please check out the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners and they may be able to help you …

Where do you stand on this? Nigel can be reached:

E-mail: nigel AT britishpensions DOT COM

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CABP_News

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011398010359

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nigelnelson7150/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/nigelbritishpensionscom/

Successful Brits in Toronto: Ryan Wheeler

Ryan Wheeler

“Express yourself, create the space, you know you can win, don’t give up the chase. Beat the man, take him on, you never give up, it’s one on one!”

We put the call out for more Successful Brits in Toronto, and what do you know? Ryan Wheeler stepped up.

It took a few days to hear from him … but then the reason became clear with his reply: “Sorry guys, been off sick with some dreaded cold!”

So, after sending our thoughts and prayers to Ryan, we hassled him a bit more and got his answers to our deep questions below and the striking photo you see above. Looks like he’s pretty handy at football.

Let’s find out more …

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?

It was a spur of the moment decision. My girlfriend and I had just gotten home from work, we were tired, grouchy and generally fed up of leaving work at 5:00 p.m. Not to mention the perpetual rain and overcast skies to really drive home the misery of a day.

One of our friends had moved here a year prior and we spent a while speaking with them on Messenger about their experiences. After this, we decided Toronto was the only option. Fortunately a week later the IEC visa was opening and we went about applying for that.

We had initially planned to stay for as long as the visa would run with an idea we would stay if we enjoyed our time, but we told family we were wanting to move here for good.

After our first year we decided being here permanently was what we wanted and we applied for permanent residency as soon as we were able to. Next stop, citizenship.

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

Initially we waited for a month after landing before applying for any jobs. We wanted to take in the sights of the city and surrounding areas without the stress of work lingering over.

Once I had started sending my resume out, it was a slightly tedious process. I applied for several jobs daily. Editing cover letters and countless edits of my CV to match the job role without much reward.

Eventually I talked to a recruitment agency to see if they had anything open to matching my skill set and experience and they secured me an interview for a temporary position with a large insurance company with the chance to make it a permanent role at the end of the temporary period.

After I went on this interview I got two more interviews with recruitment agencies themselves as a consultant. Must have been the British accent that enticed them to take a chance, haha.

I decided to take a position with a recruitment agency, as it was full time and a skilled position. Both of which were needed in applying for the coveted permanent residency.

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

It’s just a lovely city. The areas I’ve lived in and visited are all clean and friendly. There are little pockets of settled nationalities all over the place so you can go and experience something new often and as frequently as you want with a usually very accessible transit service.

The worst aspect of being in Toronto I’ve found so far is the period of time between late February to mid March. It’s a time where the weather goes from 12 degrees one day to -5 degrees over the next few days. So it really plays with my willingness to adapt to the cold. In the depth of winter at -30 degrees I can handle it, I know it’s going to be cold.

In the summer when it’s close to 35 degrees, I can deal with it, because I know it’s going to be warm. It’s just that little void between those dates that mean I can no longer handle it being 1 degree because two days ago it was 10 degrees and I was in shorts.

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 don’t go out of my way to meet up with new Brits in Toronto. However when I first came to the city I was made aware of a football team looking for new players and I went there in my first week to train with the lads.

For anyone new and interested in football, I’d recommend trying out for a team if you wanted to play to a good standard.

There are also companies like Toronto Sport and Social Club, who advertise a light and friendly atmosphere for all types of sporting activities throughout each change of season, where you can drop in when a team needs a player and meet like-minded groups of people, all welcoming with open arms to enjoy some sports at a recreational to advanced levels and then go for a beer or two afterwards.

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

Buy good winter gear and make the most of the summers!

Totally biased product review by me — Dorset Drum

Dorset Drum

You can now buy photography prop stands that look exactly like bathroom towel racks

It’s time for another totally biased review and we have an aged cheddar cheese called Dorset Drum on the podium today.

Wandering around Loblaws, our eye was immediately drawn to the Union Jack on the packaging, a sure sign of potential quality. Unfortunately, we were a bit let down in this instance.

The Brits in Toronto crew like our aged cheddar to crumble as easily as an Arsenal back four, but this one didn’t. It’s kind of rubbery and doesn’t taste that aged at all.

Not a fan so we give it a Brits in Toronto 1/5 stars.

Win two tickets to music documentary Something Left Behind and Q&A with David Gedge from The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present

He left something behind but we’re not sure what

It’s contest time!

On Saturday, March 24, The Wedding Present are playing a concert at the Horseshoe Tavern.

Earlier that day at 2:00 p.m., there is a screening at the Carlton Cinema of their brand new documentary, Something Left Behind. It tells the story of the making of their much-heralded debut album George Best, and reflects on the past 30 years in the music business. The Facebook event page is here, and tickets are available here.

At the end of the film attendees will be joined by David Gedge, original founding member of the band, and Andrew Jezard, the filmmaker.

What’s not to like about that?! Want the chance to win two free tickets to attend the screening?

Just comment below or tweet Brits in Toronto why you want to go in one word or more and we’ll pick an entry at random on March 22 and connect you with the generous PR person who offered the prize.

Good luck and here’s a sneak peek of the film:

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

Flo

“I love food, me. Really do. Events with food are even better, seriously, because I’m looking for a job in that area. Ta!”

New month, new Brit looking for a job in Toronto. Let’s all help Flo as she prepares to cross the pond and try life in this fair city.

She writes:

“Hope you’re well and the weather’s on the turn for you! We’ve had a spot of snow over here (I’m based in SW England, in Bristol) the last few days, but I’m sure I’ll be laughing at these light dustings come the end of the year when I’ll be living in Toronto.

“Could I have started this e-mail in any more of a British manner?

“I came across your blog earlier this week, and never one to turn down an opportunity and a bit of help, I thought I’d ask if you wouldn’t mind helping me out with sharing my details in the search for a job for when I move this coming May?

“My LinkedIn page is here.

“I’m looking for something events related, although not necessarily corporate events! And if I can incorporate my love of food within it, even better!”

So, if you know of a good opportunity for Flo please e-mail her at flo_greenland AT hotmail DOT CO DOT UK and tell her Brits in Toronto sent you, cheers.

BritBox Launches in Canada

BritBox

We see the bloke from The Sweeney, multiple Doctor Whos, a future James Bond and some others. Stick th’ kettle on luv, top telly tonight!

Our Valentine’s Day gift to you, dear reader, is the news that BritBox has launched in Canada. *smooch*

Snip:

“BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, and ITV, the UK’s biggest commercial broadcaster, announced today the launch of BritBox in Canada. The subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) streaming service will bring Canadians the very finest and largest collection of British TV available in the market today.

“Soumya Sriraman, President, BritBox North America, said, ‘We know that Canadians have a deep affinity for British culture and the extraordinary television programs produced in the UK, so launching BritBox in Canada has always been at the top of our list. The fact that we can also, for the first time ever, premiere some of the most popular British programs and big special events such as Trooping the Colour as soon as 24 hours after their UK premiere is – hopefully – the cherry on the sundae.'”

You can read more about the launch here.

VisitBritain launches the “I Travel For …” tourism campaign

ITravel2

The theme of the new campaign is “I Travel For …” [insert what you travel to Great Britain for]

On Tuesday evening VisitBritain launched a new marketing campaign in Canada to boost tourism to Great Britain and Brits in Toronto was invited along to check it out.

The “I Travel For…” digital marketing campaign was officially launched at an evening reception at The Spoke Club hosted by VisitBritain with the British High Commissioner Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque CMG.

As well as VisitBritain’s campaign launch, the event showcased GREAT British food and drink in collaboration with the UK Government’s Department for International Trade and Scottish Development International.

Also in attendance were Gavin Landry, Executive Vice President, Americas, VisitBritain; Kevin McGurgan, the British Consul-General in Toronto and Director-General for Department for International Trade Canada; Dana Dickerson, Lead Trade Officer for Food & Drink at the British Consulate in Toronto; Liz Chester, Marketing Manager, British Consulate in Toronto (back when she was looking for a job); and — last but not least — Melissa Grelo, Co-Host of The Social and Your Morning on CTV (tweets express her views and not those of her employer).

Brits in Toronto had a really good chinwag and one manly hug with four out of those six people, before attempting to video the launch promo reel, getting 50% in and then cringing as our phone battery died.

Luckily, it’s online too:

Once the business part of the evening was over, it was time for the pleasure. Sourced from the UK, all of these food and drink products were showcased, providing guests with a taste of what visitors can expect while travelling to Britain in 2018. These products are also available to purchase in Canada! (Tell ’em Brits in Toronto sent you for zero $ off but gets our name out there a bit more, cheers.)

Great

GREAT!

ITravel1

Do you travel to meet the British locals?

ITravel3

Or travel to be an extra in Quadrophenia 2: The Dads Return For A Rumble

Fish and chips

British event? Must be some posh fish and chips somewh — oh, thank you

Haggis

Haggis on mashed potato with jus and forked peas you say? Don’t mind if I do

Lamb

Bone-in lamb with some extra lamb on the side? Think I just have room …

Cheese

Tons of cheese? No, I really can’t, getting a bit stuffed mate. Oh go on then you cheeky bugger!

Desserts

Oh sir, it’s only wafer thin

Whisky

Scottish whisky. Check

Penderyn

Welsh whisky. Check

Swag

4:23 a.m. on a work night, but with a brilliant swag bag

All in all … a brilliant launch party and we hope that our readers check out some of the products showcased and Brits in the UK see the great job that Brits in Toronto are doing here to encourage people to visit the UK. (That got a bit confusing.)

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.

Totally biased product review by me — Kitchen On Sixth

Kitchen On Sixth 1

Here we are … and there’s a graffiti Twitter bird too

Dreaded tackling the last-minute (like me!) Christmas shoppers today so just had to have a British-style brunch to set me up for the parking battles ahead. And what better place than the New Toronto location of Kitchen On Sixth?

I normally wait a few days before posting my totally biased product reviews, but this one has to go up NOW and you’ll find out why at the end*.

Kitchen On Sixth 2

Half or full, Canadian or lighter?

Here’s a snippet of the menu above. Usually I’m all over the full English breakfast, but because I can buy British-style beans quite easily now, it’s not quite the hook it used to be on menus. But I was dying for some black pudding and thus formed another plan …

Kitchen On Sixth 3

Like mushrooms, red wine, garlic, cheese, runny egg and black pudding? There may just be a dish for you

After starting off with a nice strong cup of English tea — with a little saucer for the tea bag, nice touch — I opted for the Posh Mushrooms: Sautéed mushrooms in red wine and garlic, toasted rosemary focaccia, topped with aged and welsh cheddar, a sunny egg and a side of mixed greens … and extra black pudding. Sorted.

I’d had a similar dish at Spitfire Kitchen in the past, but thought it could have been improved upon slightly. This version at Kitchen On Sixth demonstrated that the mushrooms should be a little smaller and a little crispier, and went really well with the cheese and runny egg.

The black pudding was one of the best I’ve had and also available for purchase frozen. They are also in the process of ramping up their general store.

My Canadian brunch companions both went for the French Toast, and said it was delicious. It was huge though, literally bricks of toast, and one portion could definitely be shared between two. A side of chips rounded off the meal and they were good too.

So, all things considered, we give this place a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars.

*Bonus points. They just got their booze licence about a week ago so are open TONIGHT for a Christmas Eve bash “until late” and, as you know, it’s hard to find Brit place open late in this hood on Christmas Eve with draft Guinness on tap. Say Brits in Toronto sent you.

Cheers … and a Merry Christmas to all our readers and thanks for your feedback and social media love this year.

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

Mustafa Khan

Need IT support, welding or finance help? Look no further

It’s Christmas time and what better way to celebrate the holiday spirit than by helping a fellow Brit new to Toronto find a job.

Here’s Mustafa from London, UK and he’s looking for a position in IT support, welding (finished certification November 2017) or in the finance sector.

“I have a dynamic approach to new challenges and problem solving skills. I persevere under pressure and am not deterred by challenging tasks. I have always made a conscious effort to ensure that all targets and expectations were met to the best of my ability. I am very hard working and organised, having the ability to efficiently prioritise my work load.

“Throughout my working career I have remained professional and adhered to confidentiality based on the task at hand. At every stage of my working life to-date, I have worked with the customers (internal and external) face to face and via the telephone on a day-to-day basis and used my multilingual ability to communicate with customers to maintain business relation with them in better way possible, which allowed me to portray my outgoing, yet professional personality, further developing my leadership and communication skills.

“If you are looking for an optimistic, promising and dynamic addition to your organisation, I can offer the skills, accompanied by an unwavering work ethic. I am a very versatile worker and as a committed and passionate individual I have endeavoured to exceed the expectations of my supervisors and peers.”

So, please give the gift of employment this Christmas season and contact Mustafa via e-mail at mustafa_55 AT hotmail DOT COM if you can help!

Totally biased product review by me — Curry Twist

Curry Twist

If you like your curry delivered in a little bucket, then you’re in luck!

I really, REALLY wanted to like Curry Twist.

The website looks appealing … the reviews are glowing … even bloody Susur Lee has eaten there it seems! And it’s a rare totally biased product review by me where I’ve gone, not liked it — and gone back to give it a second chance.

That second chance was last night. And, to be finally honest with myself, I just don’t like it. That happens sometimes.

I went for the Lamb Twist Masala = “Tender, boneless spring lamb rubbed with garlic and spices before being simmered in a spicy tomato-based sauce seasoned with fresh herbs.” How can that not be delish?

It came in a little bucket that — first world problem — made it hard to pour on the peas pilau rice. The curry itself wasn’t spicy enough and, to be fair, I did ask for “medium spice” so that was probably my fault. I’d recommend going hotter or vindaloo level.

The lamb was a little chewy for me. I tend to eat most meat medium rare though so, again, not my preference. (You can tell I’m trying to give Curry Twist the benefit of the doubt here.)

I also ordered a spicy mixed pickle as a side but the pot was really small compared to other curry houses I’ve been to. Bit disappointing.

So, all in all, I’m giving Curry Twist a Brits in Toronto 2/5 stars.

Addition: Probably not their fault and I am in the minority according to other reviews. I think the problem is that I REALLY miss the bright red neon-glow British curries back home. The ones here are probably more authentic and properly made … but they’re not to my liking as much as the Brit ones. That’s why this slot is always called totally biased product review by me — because it’s only my opinion.

So, my search for a “real” British curry soldiers on.

And, no word of a lie, after living in Toronto since 2000 I’ve NEVER been to try the curries in Little India. I intend to remedy that in 2018, so if you have any favourite places to recommend for a British-style curry, post them below or send a tweet. Cheers.

Totally biased product review by me — Black Cow Cheddar

Black Cow Cheddar

Looks like a hockey puck but it’s not, so don’t be fooled

We first heard about Black Cow Cheddar at the British Beverage Showcase in the summer. Luckily able to try the recently imported Black Cow Vodka (made with milk!) with some cheese, the product of choice was … of course, ha! … the accompanying Black Cow Cheddar.

As you can see from the stylishly shot, balancing-on-the-plastic-towel-rail-in-the-bathroom photo above, the cheese looks like a hockey puck. It is extremely hefty in the hand and could also be used as a door stop or paperweight for the cheese lover in your life.

But that’s not its purpose. Obvs.

The only place we’ve found this product so far is at Pusateri’s — they bigged it up via Twitter a while back — but we’re sure it’s more widely available. Bit pricier than your average cheddar but you get what you pay for.

It’s not a crumbly cheddar this one. It holds its shape when you cut a wedge off. It’s also not a sharp cheddar. It has a sweeter taste that really lingers after the first bite.

Has the “OMG” factor if you’re trying it for the first time. Not sure it would suit a Ploughman’s lunch, but definitely holds its own in the taste factor.

To sum up, this is currently our favourite cheddar cheese and we give it a Brits in Toronto 5/5 stars.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Ruby Sohi

Ruby Sohi

Ruby has yet to discover a good chippie and pub in Toronto … leave your suggestions in the comments

We got so caught up in the excitement of the World Cup draw today — England face Belgium, Panama and Tunisia (not bad!) — that we forgot there was a Successful Brit in Toronto just sitting there in our in-box waiting to be unveiled.

So, here we go. The World Cup is one of the biggest events in the word, and the beautiful coincidence is that Ruby Sohi works as the Chief Event Organiser at Royal Blue Events Management, which has no connection whatsoever to the World Cup but we’re sure their events are top notch too.

Here’s Ruby’s route to 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?

My husband has always loved Canada and actually spent some time in Toronto as a child. He introduced the idea of emigrating shortly after we got married in London. I had visited Toronto a couple of times before but never really considered such a big step. After a few more visits we decided to make the move shortly after our first son was born.

Eight years on, we love Toronto and are so happy to call it home!

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

As we prepared to emigrate, I decided to use this opportunity as a spring board to set up a business and work for myself. I had always dreamed of running my own business doing what I enjoy most. I prepared for the launch of a boutique event planning agency; Royal Blue Events Management whilst still in London.

Within three months of landing, I was out networking and building this new brand. It was certainly a challenging time, being a new immigrant on top of launching a business with the hopes of establishing a new network of friends, colleagues and clients. Within six months, I was fortunate enough to have secured my first client!

Today, I have executed all kinds of events including festivals, conferences and galas in and around Toronto, Kingston, London, Waterloo, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver.

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

In addition to the beautiful parks and awesome city events, the best aspect of living in Toronto is the diverse mix of people. Toronto is a cosmopolitan city and everyone has been so welcoming, I love the inclusivity within this community.

As for the worst, I have to say the cold winters. They definitely take some getting used to. That said, the summers usually make up for the bad winters.

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 don’t make any special effort to seek them out but it’s always great when you detect an accent and end up having a great conversation with a fellow Brit!

I am yet to discover a good chippie and pub, although the local British shop usually fuels my craving for Robinsons Blackcurrant Squash and Quavers!

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

Moving to Toronto was a big (and brave) step, but its safe to say it was definitely a step in the right direction.

Thanks Ruby! If anyone wants to connect, here’s her LinkedIn profile.

Hemingway’s is looking for a football supporters’ club to make it their HQ

Hemingway's

The future HQ of your football supporters’ club or a stock photo stolen from Google?

Hemingway’s is a great pub with an even better patio. If you haven’t been there or are new to Toronto we highly recommend it. (That should earn us a free pint.)

Joking aside, Daimin reached out and alerted Brits in Toronto to the fact that the pub is looking for a football supporters’ club to make it their regular HQ.

Here’s what he wrote:

“Reaching out, we are interested in getting one of the supporters’ clubs that is looking for a home down to Hemingway’s.

“Our only challenge is we are looking for a smaller club … the room we would make available only holds 50-60. So I know that rules us out of some of the bigger clubs, but perhaps there is a group out there where we could be a good fit.

“Anyway, e-mail me at daimin AT hemingways DOT TO if interested.”

So, there you have it. Run a football supporters’ club with no place to cheer or commiserate come match day? Sorted.