Tag Archives: successful brits in toronto

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.

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Successful Brits in Toronto: Lucy Waverman

Lucy Waverman

Lucy Waverman is confident her mum’s Loose Mince is the best you’ve ever had

Brits in Toronto recently went to an event welcoming Scottish-produced haggis to Toronto, and — as to be expected — the place was packed with food experts, sampling and chatting about the tasty treats on offer.

We bumped into Lucy Waverman, Food Columnist for the Globe and Mail and Food Editor, Food & Drink Magazine … among many other achievements.

Skipping the Q&A format this time, here’s Lucy’s story … and a bonus recipe too!

My father was a doctor in Glasgow who thought nationalized medicine was a terrible burden to live under. He decided to emigrate to Canada and my mother, brother and I followed later.

I went into Grade 11 when I was only 14 because the Scottish education system was so much better than here. My parent’s friends were all other Scottish doctors and it was a difficult time for me. I rejected Canada and went back to live in Glasgow.

However I soon realized that the future was here not there and I returned and went into journalism at Ryerson. Taking Radio and TV arts for a year they pummelled my accent out of me so I fit in. If I was going to live here then I was going to be part of the society.

It was not until later years that I realized how much I missed my hometown and my family who lived there. I am always happy to see Scots and bond with them immediately but I have not sought them out.

I love Burns Night and we either have a Burns Supper or we go to one. That way I meet lots of Scots. I have a close Scottish girlfriend here but it was happenstance that she is Scottish.

You can get everything here now but I miss Bendicks Bittermints. Recently Amazon started to carry them and I think I am their best customer.

I go back more frequently now to see family and always love it but my home is here.

Being a food writer I cook everything but one of my favourites is loose mince, a true Scottish dish and only to be made at home. Once a week my mother made loose mince. Everyone loved it. HP Sauce was the secret ingredient to enliven the mince. Serve over mashed potatoes or mashed turnips.

Here is a recipe that serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup sliced onion
½ teaspoon chopped garlic
1 pound lean ground hamburger
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Pinch cayenne
1 cup canned peeled tomatoes, with their juice (chopped)
1 cup beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons HP Sauce
4 ounces mushrooms, coarsely chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
1 cup green peas
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Add oil to a skillet on medium high heat. Stir in the onions and sauté until softened slightly about 2 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and beef , season with salt and pepper and sauté for 2 minutes or until the meat loses its pink colour. Stir in the mustard and cayenne.

Add the tomatoes, stock, bay leaf, Worcestershire and HP Sauce.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and peas and cook uncovered for 20 minutes longer, or until mixture is saucy.

Add parsley and taste for seasoning adding, salt and pepper.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Adam Burwell

Adam Burwell

Archaeologist Adam searches through the ruins of Arsenal’s defence

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

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

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

Here’s his views on what life is like as a Successful Brit in Toronto.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Successful Brits in Toronto: Alison Copeland

Alison Copeland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.