Tag Archives: successful brits in toronto

Successful Brits in Toronto: Andy Wright

Andy Wright

“You know what’s a total pain in the nuts? Read on and find out!”

We have to give a big shout out to Claire D. for introducing us to the latest Successful Brit in Toronto, Andy Wright. She connected us, didn’t ask for any commission and thus, here he is.

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 originally relocated to Canada from the old country in 2001 with my wife and two daughters. We were based in Kitchener/Waterloo (where they still live) while we found our feet and made our mark in this wonderful country.

Moving to Toronto was a decision that came at the end of a difficult change in life and circumstance for me. Suffice to say that I knew my photographic career, and my personal life development, had a much more interesting future ahead of it here than anywhere else in Canada.

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

The “Canadian experience” thing was a total pain in the nuts when we first moved here. Back then I was still working in the corporate IT world and despite having a CV full of experience as long as your arm … nobody would give me that first break. Especially difficult when you start job hunting in the same month as 9/11 happening and suddenly finding that no one would employ anyone from anywhere else for ages!!

It reached a point where we had consumed most of our savings for our start here and I was considering heading back to London to do some contract work, when I finally landed a job here.

I lost a few jobs because I was unaware of the cultural differences — I was used to interviews where you spent the last 15 minutes discussing the package and benefits and such — totally normal expectations for any job interview in London, but over here you’d think I had dropped my trousers and peed on the desk for the reaction I received when I asked about the salary and compensations of a management position.

I ended up attending several government-run workshops that explained how the Canadian marketplace worked (which was very different) before fully appreciating the etiquette of getting employment here.

Now as a visual artist running a visual media studio in Toronto, I find that people love the accent, and it certainly helps to start conversations.

The funniest thing I find is when shooting live concerts for British bands, and the venue will automatically assume that you are part of the road crew for the band because you sound like the others. Something that I have been able to take advantage of now and again to find a better angle to get “the shot” through using my cheeky charm.

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

Best aspects: It’s a beautiful city with lots of green space, and some wonderful views, and a fantastic vibe. Plus as a visual artist I am always finding something new to pique my creative interest as I wander around. I also love the fact that they just “get on with it” when there is snow here and the whole place does not shut down when it reaches zero degrees or we have a quarter inch of snow on the ground.

Worst aspects: The London Underground network of a hundred years ago covers more areas, included more stations and successfully ran more lines than modern day Toronto can manage. We have only just added a rail link to the airport, and it takes as long to drive to another city as it does to use a mainline train. Considering the amount of people here it’s quite shameful at how inadequate the transport infrastructure is.

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?

Until now I have not consciously been out there searching for people with whom I can share a joke and not have to explain the punchline, or finding people that get that sarcasm and black humour are normal and inoffensive. I have close friends who are Brits living here too, and they help to keep me from missing it too much. It’s more chance encounters than anything that bring me across paths with other Brits currently.

I’d happily raid a Firkin pub and steal some of the fixtures and fittings and décor, but they certainly don’t feel like a slice of home. It has been a struggle to find something near to a good local that I would feel at home in to sup on a good pint etc.

And trust me — if I ever find a café or restaurant that actually serves a mug of tea instead of a cup of hot water and a tea bag I will be shouting it from the rafters to get others to go there!!!!

The one gem I would share is the BGW (British Grocer Wholesale) at 2905 Argentia Road in Mississauga. Fantastic foods from home at a really good price. Well worth the trip.

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

If you have just got here …

1) Stop mentally converting prices in your head. It gives you a great sense of value and bargain when you first get here, but really is a false sense of fluffy that you need to get beyond.
2) Get a good supply chain in place with people back home to bring in huge supplies of Marmite or good cheese whenever possible.

If you are moving here …

3) Be prepared to get lost in some of the processes here that have an inherent sense of “we know how its done — so should you” which can often be frustrating when trying to get settled as an outsider.
4) You won’t die when winter hits and the world does not end. Some day you will find yourself thinking that a sunny minus eight degrees day is really warm and might not even close your jacket or put a hat on when you head outside!!!

Some great insight and tips there, Andy — cheers mate. Check out Dead Fly Media too if you get a chance.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Josh Bill

josh-bill

“Alright mate, I’m Josh and we can teach you to knock a ball about, not for a larf, mind you, but to earn some good wedge doing it for real, like, maybe in the Prem or MLS, who knows mate?”

Josh Bill is a special Successful Brit in Toronto on two counts:

  1. He has two first names and we’ve never had that before, and;
  2. He will have the honour of holding this coveted spot as the last interview of 2016.

If he looks familiar it’s because we recently featured a job posting from his football academy looking to hire a full-time coach. Great opportunity.

A man of few words, we caught up with Josh to get his tweet-friendly answers to the following questions …

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?

When I first moved to Toronto I was only 19-years-old; after my dreams of being a football player came to a halt in the UK I wanted to become a football coach. My passion was always to set up my own academy and I knew this could be possible in Canada.

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

I was scouted by a Canadian company in the UK, they offered me the job and I couldn’t turn the opportunity down.

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

Leaving family behind was the worse experience. That’s always hard to do. But to pursue your dreams I felt I had to take the plunge.

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 my friends/employees are English and we have met other English people from playing football over here in Toronto or bumping into them in the pubs.

Me and my girlfriend always go to a British store based in downtown Oakville to buy home comfort foods such as Walkers Crisps, Branston Pickle etc!

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

It’s the best thing I have done moving to this country — the Canadian people are so friendly and helpful to make you feel comfortable living in their country.

Also it’s given me a great opportunity to run a successful business and employ my fellow Englishmen giving them the same opportunity that I had.

Thanks Josh! If you want to give him a shout, here’s his Twitter account.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Alysa Kim

alysa-kim

“Hello fellow Brit just arriving in Toronto! Need a house in a decent hood? No probs. $1.2 million please!”

A recent study discovered that there are more Successful Brits popping up in Toronto than condos being built, an average increase 27% year on year.

That statistic is absolutely astounding, totally made up by us but a convenient segue for today’s profile: a realtor (North America) or estate agent (Rest of the World).

Apart from discovering Toronto and dealing in real estate, Alysa Kim also likes to blog about great tea finds. So that’s a bonus!

Here’s her thoughts on Toronto … and also a nice “Best of” list further down the page.

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 family moved to Toronto for work. My dad was a psychologist at the Hospital for Sick Children and my mum was an art director at Maclean Hunter.

I had a VERY British upbringing. There are so many British Torontonians that there are many things you can find that make it feel like home.

I grew up on toast soldiers with boiled eggs in Bunnykins bowls, and watching All Creatures Great and Small, Doctor Who and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy over fish and chips for tea with my dad. I learned the rules of cricket and how to bake a proper scone.

I feel like Britain is my second home and am looking forward to taking my children next year to introduce them to where their grandparents came from.

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

The best aspects of Toronto are the friendly people and the multiculturalism. My husband is also a first generation Canadian (Korean) and no one has ever asked our three children, “What are you, anyway?” The idea of discrimination is completely foreign to them. That is a beautiful thing.

The worst aspect of Toronto is definitely the cold. The rest of Canada think Torontonians are babies for whinging about the cold when they get -50˚C with the wind chill — Manitoba, and yes that is as cold as Mars — and 222 cm high snow drifts (Charlottetown).

We are definitely not the toughest Canadians but I reserve my right to complain when I clean all the snow from my car only to discover that I just cleaned my neighbour’s SUV because it was so deep in snow and ice I couldn’t tell whose it was.

Also, very few others share my joy and sorrow over Great British Bake Off but that is what Twitter is for.

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 live in Lawrence Park where a lot of Brits seem to settle so I’ve made some lovely friends that way. I also work with the University of Toronto and their relocation services for professors moving to Canada and I’ve met some wonderful families that I just love there too.

The city is so big and has so many wonderful pockets to choose from so it is impossible to pick the best anything … but I’ll do places I love in my neck of the woods or that I’ve stumbled upon and can’t do without.

Best pub: The Caledonian (856 College St.)
Scottish, perfect for Robbie Burns night.

Best afternoon tea: The Old Mill (21 Old Mill Road) I grew up in High Park and we’ve been going here for special treats as long as I can remember. Lovely hotel too.

Best fish and chips: Olde York (96 Laird Dr.)
Go for a late lunch to avoid the lines.

Best curry: Banjara (164 Eglinton Ave. East)
The best veggie curry!

Best British product shop: Uncle John’s Candy Shack (635 Mount Pleasant Rd.)
For Jaffa Cakes and those missing Marks and Sparks.

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

As a realtor, I’d say there are so many great neighbourhoods in Toronto (the city recognizes 140) and the market moves so fast, perhaps consider renting for your first year to get to know the city and where you want to be, before you buy.

Thanks Alysa! For anyone wishing to sell their gaff or purchase a place in their favourite manor, here’s her website.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Alexander Nathan

alexander-nathan

This bloke used to make macarons in primary school. Could have made a fortune in Toronto!

The chap above may look a tad familiar. (No, he’s not the ruthless sleeper in Paris you call when Jason Bourne is in town.)

Cast your minds all the way back, if you will, to October 13, 2016. We featured a profile of Under The Cosh, a football blog and podcast.

Alexander Nathan is one-fourth of the brains behind that venture — and he’s a Brit to boot — so we wanted to delve deeper and find out his thoughts on Toronto.

And he also does some good work with a sporting not-for-profit, so grab a nice cup of tea and enjoy …

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 actually born in Toronto, and my mum is from here. My dad is English and we moved to London when I was a baby, but we’d come back to Toronto for family holidays and to visit my grandparents. It was always in the summer, of course, but I loved it and felt that I might return at some point.

When I was 18 and it came time to apply for universities I applied for five or six in the UK and one here, the University of Toronto (UofT). Once I was accepted here I made up my mind pretty quickly. It felt time for a change.

I didn’t plan a permanent move, but I also quickly took to Toronto and after a couple of years the thought of moving back to the UK didn’t seem as attractive. Especially once Cameron and his lot got into power.

But during my fourth year in university I also met my partner, who is Canadian. If there were any doubts, meeting her put an end to them — and having dual citizenship made staying here very easy.

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

I now work at UofT, but the very first job I had in Toronto was at a bricks and mortar audiobook store. Obviously they don’t exist any more because, you know, the Internet … but I had a little bookstore experience, the interview was pleasant and informal and I got the gig.

They promptly asked me to try and sell their small collection of BBC audiobooks, thinking that people would buy them if they were recommended in a British accent. It didn’t work, often. Their customers were very set in their ways!

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

It’s a cliche response I know, but Toronto’s diversity is fantastic. It’s not as if London isn’t also extremely diverse, but it feels different here.

To me London always felt on edge, as if multiculturalism was fine as long as everything was going well. As soon as problems arise, fingers start being pointed. The same is true in many places, I’m sure, but in Toronto tolerance and multiculturalism feel innate and are points of pride rather than simply tolerated.

I run a football website and podcast with three mates who are Nigerian, Egyptian and Indian Canadians. There aren’t many places in the world where the four of us would have come together, but this is one of them.

I also love how manageable the city is in terms of getting around. It doesn’t take long to get anywhere, despite people’s complaints about the TTC who I think do a largely excellent job despite being ridiculously underfunded.

The worst: Snow is rubbish, as is city governance of late. One less serious thing that annoys me is that Toronto is a bugger for a culinary fad, no questions asked, especially if it’s “artisanal.”

For example, recently macarons got really popular for some reason and a number of places started selling them in a variety of colours and flavours at silly prices, and people got really excited. Bit bizarre. I just thought, “Mate, we used to make these in primary school.”

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, really. I’m always happy to meet other Brits and it tends to happen mostly when I go to a pub to watch football.

Actually, I’m doing some work with a not-for-profit called NUTMEG. We provide free football coaching for 6-12 year-olds, but one of the founders is British and a Norwich fan. The first top flight game I ever went to was Norwich vs. Spurs at Carrow Road so it was fun to chat about that.

In terms of a recommendation, I’d say follow Davy Love. He’s the chef who owned The Bristol for years and recently made a short-lived attempt at an English pub on College Street called The Old Laurel. It was brilliant in there — dark, great food, sold Twiglets, showed football — but maybe the location wasn’t perfect for it.

I haven’t been yet but Davy is now the chef at a place called Janie Jones, so I’m looking forward to trying it out.

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

I would suggest listening to a fair bit of BBC radio to keep your accent in shape, leave your weekend mornings free for watching football, and switch your English driver’s licence for an Ontario one soon after moving here.

I’ve quite literally never used mine, but it’s good to have especially as most places don’t accept a health card as ID.

Other than that, I suppose try to wean yourself off Marmite because that looks like it’s about to become even more problematic to get hold of.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Jordan Thelen

jordan-thelen

Next time you see this man, whisper: “Pssst, are you a Trickie?” and get access to a very exclusive group in Toronto

“I wouldn’t say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one.” Ahhh, you gotta love the late Brian Clough, one of the best football managers to grace the beautiful game.

So Brits in Toronto was pleasantly surprised to learn that there’s a small but burgeoning Nottingham Forest fan base in Toronto. They call themselves “Trickies” and Jordan Thelen is one of those. (Not to be confused with “Trekkies” who hang out at science fiction conventions and such.)

Luckily for us, Jordan is also a Brit, so thus, by deduction, is eligible to be featured as today’s Successful Brit in Toronto.

He also has a sporting request at the end, so scroll down for the action if you have no patience.*

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 pretty lucky moving to Toronto really. My company has recently launched a new offering in Toronto similar to what I was working on in the UK, a program has been created to send people over on secondments to help build the practice so I managed to get selected to come over for that!

I initially visited at the end of February “for just three months” before going to the Euro 2016 Football Championships in June … but enjoyed my time so much here that I have now transferred as of July until the end of next year before I decide whether to permanently move here or go back to London.

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

Luckily, the “Canadian experience” didn’t hamper me as I simply transferred from the UK firm so I was pretty lucky having a mobility team support the whole visa process etc. and carry on where I left off (despite an interesting encounter at the immigration desk at Pearson).

I simply had a couple of calls with the management in Toronto, then some discussions during my three months, before singing my new Canadian contract.

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

Best:
– How friendly the people are in general around the city
– The diversity of cultures from Chinatown, Little Italy to the Financial District
– The city is as busy as London with less than a third of the population
– Rooftop bars and patios with #viewsfromthe6
– How far the British accent takes you and how my British accent has improved since moving
– Timbits (particularly Salted Caramel)
– Pubs and bars aren’t as crowded as those in the UK
– The support of the same sports team by all in the city whether it be Leafs, Jays, TFC or Raptors
– Watching football all morning in bed at the weekends and still having the afternoons for other activities
– Summer!

Worst:
– Groceries are so expensive
– Phone bills, Internet etc. are really expensive
– Driving through the city on the wrong/opposite side of the road
– Streetcars and lack of coverage of the subway
– Adding tips and tax to basically any price you see
– I’m told that winter isn’t a highlight of the year
– Getting lost on the Path
– The lack of a Sunday Roast (any recommendations, please let me know!)

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?

My work team is around 50 per cent British so naturally had some British friends as a result. But as a Nottingham Forest fan, I reached out to a few fellow reds on Twitter which has resulted in having a group of us that meet up to watch games, grab a drink etc., which is awesome. If there are any more Trickies fans in Toronto, please reach out!

I hear that the British meetup group/forum is really good. They hold quarterly quizzes so definitely looking forward to going to the next one for the first time.

I would say that everyone is really friendly here so there really isn’t a need to seek shelter with fellow Brits; some of my best friends have turned out to be Canadian, including my new flatmate!

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

*If anyone is looking for an extra player on their 5/6-a-side football teams, please let me know!

For anyone who wants to contact Jordan, here are his Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Jaime Randle

jaime-randle

Read on to discover how this profile was nearly called Successful Brits in Montreal. So close …

As well as the “best pubs, curry, jobs and dental care,” we’re always on the lookout for Successful Brits in Toronto to highlight. It only took a Twitter chat of 14 words (count ’em) to snag Jaime Randle. That’s probably our record so far.

[Brian, get Paul to insert a second paragraph here before publishing this morning to beef up the word count a bit. And the printer needs some paper. Thanks mate.]

So let’s hear Jaime’s thoughts on his adopted city …

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 moved to Toronto in 1999 after spending a few years in British Columbia. To be honest I was on my way to Montreal as I craved a European flavour/culture and had stopped-off in Toronto to stay with an English friend. I then decided to stay as the city made me feel most welcome.

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

My first Toronto job was to start an animation studio. I had experience in production and had a deep love for art and animation.

After meeting a talented Canadian animator — and believing in my own abilities — it felt like the right time to start a company. Canada is a country of opportunities which has a clear affinity with the UK; I think that helped.

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

Toronto is the smallest “big city” you’ll ever go to … or at least that’s what I tell my friends in the UK. It has a population of a big city, but is unique in the feel of a smaller city. I think it’s the famous “neighbourhoods” that make the city so special.

The worst aspect has to be the transportation. It looks like Andy Byford is doing a great job in turning it around, but I’m amazed that the city hasn’t addressed the needs as the population has increased.

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 am so busy with work and family that I regretfully admit I don’t make enough of an effort to meet other British people. It’s funny as every time I do meet other Brits, I always have a great time.

As far as places to meet up or get the British vibe, I’d say The Caledonian on College/Ossington is a great pub and Reliable Halibut & Chips in Leslieville is my go-to place for food.

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

I think the biggest thing that struck me when moving to Canada was that, though we speak the same language, we are very different. It sounds obvious in retrospect but I think I came here thinking it would be an easy transition.

Torontonians are very friendly people but there are differences that one takes for granted when growing up in England.

For British people thinking of moving to Toronto, they will find a friendly city with plenty to do — its multiculturalism is fantastic and is maybe Toronto’s best attribute.

The city has changed quite a bit since I moved to Toronto; I think there is a new generation of Torontonians that are sophisticated and are aligning the city as a global leader.

My biggest tip would to make sure you return back home at least once a year. You will miss England but, given time, you will fall for Toronto’s charm.

That’s great, Jaime, cheers. If anyone wants to connect, here’s his LinkedIn profile.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Sophie Keats

sophie-keats

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

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

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

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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