Tag Archives: successful brits in toronto

Successful Brits in Toronto: Amanda Briggs

Photo by Darren Goldstein/DSG Photo.

Amanda enjoying a nice cup of Rosy Lee before she sells some houses

It’s been a while since we did a Successful Brits in Toronto because a little thing called a pandemic kind of threw a spanner in the works. Hope everyone is staying healthy and well.

But we’re back with a bang and a well-known face in the British expat community in Toronto: Amanda Briggs. She runs the Toronto Brit Meetup Group that — now virtually — holds a regular fun pub quiz night. Next one will be Saturday, June 6 so stay tuned for details.

And, if that wasn’t enough to keep Amanda busy, she also sells property via her very catchily-named The British Property Agent, so give her a shout if you’re in the market for a new manor.

Amanda is one of the few Successful Brits in Toronto that we’ve met in person — at last year’s amazing Brits in Toronto/TFC event — so it’s nice to finally feature her on the site.

Take it away, Amanda …

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 here with my family in 1999 because it was either a move to Canada or Australia. Yes we planned to stay for a while, as we applied to be Landed Immigrants (now called Permanent Resident) before we arrived here. However three months after I moved here, I met someone who lived back in the UK. About three years later, I moved back to the UK and ended up staying for 10 years. I moved back to Canada in 2011 and I am now a Canadian Citizen.

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

Back then, I just e-mailed my CV to 10 companies that I wanted to work for and waited. Three of them got back to me and invited me for interviews. The lack of Canadian experience didn’t seem to hinder me too much back then; however I didn’t get an equal job here vs. the one I had back home — I had to take a lower level role.

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

Best: Lots of cultural diversity — you can eat pretty much any cuisine you like! I like that there isn’t much a class system here vs. back in the UK where is it more prevalent. It’s great being so close to lots of North American cities, outdoor life in Ontario is very popular and accessible, and the work/ life balance is better than when I was living in London.

Worst: The winters, trying to get people to understand my accent, food has more sugar in everything, not as many old buildings (vs. London), culture is a bit lacking — the country is only about 150+ years’ old, which is about the age of my flat back in London!

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?

Yes I meet Brits all the time, through my job and social events. I have been running the Toronto Brit Meetup Group for about five years, and we host a very popular pub quiz night every three months (150+people attend), and regular pub nights where Brits and people who have a connection to the UK come to network, mingle and chat about all things British.

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

Keep an open mind when moving to Toronto. It is a lot harder to find a job than people think it is, and it is highly likely that you will have to take a job that is not what your career or experience relates to … however, a job is better than no job. You can always get another job that is more what you want to do in the future.

I help a LOT of Brits and other expats find a place to live when they first arrive in Toronto. Landlords are very selective when it comes to choosing tenants, and typically if you don’t have a job lined up when you arrive, it can be a lot harder for a landlord to say yes to you.

However there are ways to get around this, and I have a lot of experience in getting a new home for expats fast.

Winters can be a lot colder than people expect, even if they are forewarned! Your UK winter coat is not going to cut the mustard when it is -30 degrees with a wind chill.

The work/ life balance is better here than in London. Lot of opportunities to get out and about after work in the sun or snow.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Jake Wyatt

Jake Wyatt

If the photographer had moved slightly to the right and crouched down a bit, the ball on the trophy would have fitted exactly over the ball on the logo behind.

If you attended the recent Brits in Toronto and TFC British Heritage Night, you would have spotted a very tall bloke strolling around, looking down and surveying all in his BMO Field kingdom.

That would have been Jake Wyatt who came up with the idea in the first place, roped in all the local Brits in Toronto looking for some free PR on the back of a Championship-winning Toronto football team and the rest is history.

Since then we’ve had about five e-mails from people with the same surname Wyatt, which is really a coincidence, asking us to feature him as our latest 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?

My journey towards living in Canada/Toronto has been interesting. I grew up in England playing basketball. I was a 6’4 lanky teenager and found my way into a local basketball team. Turned out I would fall in love with the game and decided to take it serious and ended up playing at a decent level.

At the age of 18 I left England to move to Iceland and play for FSU basketball team/ youth academy in the Icelandic town of Selfoss.

After spending one year in Iceland, I was offered a position with an American college basketball team in Pennsylvania. I graduated four years later and attended Grad School in Montgomery, AL. It was here that I met my Canadian wife Paige who was a fellow international student studying at a local college.

So yeah, long story short fell in love with a girl and here I am and couldn’t be happier!

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

I was lucky, I found out at an earliest age that I wanted to work in sports and I enjoyed selling; sports sales was a natural fit. I had some great mentors growing up who encouraged me to get as much experience in sports business as possible and I was able to do several internships/entry-level jobs in the industry. Once my wife and I decided Canada/ Toronto was going to be home, I started applying for jobs in my field.

Timing worked out and a job became available at MLSE in sports sales. I had decent experience working in sport business with a few different teams in the states and back in England — I also had a few connections in my network that helped me with references here at MLSE.

I applied for the position, and after a long process, battling with Skype interviews and time zones, I landed the job. I was still in England at the time, so was one of the lucky ones who had a job lined up as soon as I landed in Canada.

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

I love living here in Canada and being in this city. I had been lucky to travel at a young age. For me Canada/ Toronto is the perfect mix of England and USA.

The people here have a genuine friendliness to them. I loved my time in America, and met some great people who are now lifelong friends … the food, big roads, and American dream spoke to me!

However, as time went on I found people/relationships in the States (especially the south) can be service level. At times, when I was in the States I found myself missing the English greeting at a local pub — where you walk in and the bartender starts pouring a pint of Fosters, slams it on the table and sticks their hand out for the four quid you owe them, make some joke about your chosen attire, then proceeds to ask how your day was. Sounds strange I know, but I missed that when I was in the States; I found the “You’re Welcome/My Pleasure” interactions a bit false at times.

Here in Canada, I find the people are genuine and more able to keep up with the English banter, it’s a welcoming country of diverse people, but still has the “Canadian Dream” element. I find Canada welcomes people to be themselves. With such a wide range of cultures I have never felt the need to act or behave “Canadian” … instead, I find the country encourages me to be the best version of myself and add to society that way.

The toughest part of being here is distance from family and friends in the UK. I don’t feel homesick, but it is hard not being able to pop round and see family on weekends and having to allow for the five-hour time difference when communicating with friends and family back in England.

On the plus side it is always nice to visit home during holidays and host friends and family when they want to come out and visit.

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?

Since being here I have been surprised to see how big the “Brits In Toronto” community is. It is always nice to bump into fellow Brits and talk all things from pubs to English fry ups!

I recently worked with this blog and a number of the other English social groups to plan a Brits In Toronto event at a Toronto FC game. The event was great, and lots of people at the event were surprised with the standard of football this side of the pond.

Sorry, the salesman in me is coming out here … but attending TFC, Raptors and Leafs games is a great way to feel connected with the city and meet people; I have bumped into several Brits, especially at TFC games.

I am in a lucky position to sell a product I believe in. If anyone is interested in Toronto FC ticket packages or wants to meet up at a game please do reach out and contact me at jake.wyatt@mlse.com or 416-815-5400, ext. 3072. We have also set up a discount code with Brits in Toronto: click HERE and use the promo code “BritsInToronto” — this will get you up to a 25% discount on TFC tickets.

Okay sales pitch over! But to answer the question, yes I have made an effort to connect with fellow Brits and I am looking forward to continuing to do so in the future!

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

My advice would be to embrace your British roots but also accept that this is Canada and this is your home. This website and other groups on social media are a great way to stay connected with the British community.

But get involved in living in Canada — meet people, explore, and learn from different cultures. This city has so much to offer, from food, to festivals and professional sports teams. I still get the buzz when driving into the city, especially at night.

This is a special place and be sure to not become numb to the city. Remember the feeling of first being here and make a conscious effort to hold onto that feeling.

Oh and wear as many layers as possible in the winter, it is bloody freezing!

Thanks Jake. Didn’t notice the sales pitch at all, mate. If anyone wants to connect, here’s his LinkedIn profile.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Andrew Mcloughlin

Andrew Mcloughlin

Locked himself out yet again

They say an Englishman’s home is his castle but unless you own Casa Loma that’s not entirely true. So today’s Successful Brit in Toronto — Andrew Mcloughlin — is here to set the record straight as a real estate professional.

“Our house, it has a crowd,” explains Andrew. “There’s always something happening and it’s usually quite loud. Our house, in the middle of our street.”

That doesn’t really narrow it down much in a city the size of 630 square kilometres, so we need to find out more about Andrew’s passion for real estate, what brought him here to Toronto, what he’s up to and so on.

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?

Growing up in the North-West of England had a lasting impact on me. It taught me that I needed to strive and plan for my goals if I ever want to achieve them. St. Helens is a great town with some amazingly talented people, but there was a point in my life, when I was around 18 years old that that travel bug bit me … and it bit hard.

A friend and I decided to travel throughout Europe for three months. This experience was transformative. It opened our minds and expanded our world view in the most impactful of ways.

Following that trip, we were hooked and knew we needed to travel more — so, on a whim, we decided that we wanted to work in Canada. We applied for work permits, packed our bags, and off we went!

At that age, everything is an adventure and this was no different. I eventually got a permanent work permit and then, over time pursued Canadian citizenship.

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

It wasn’t the smoothest transition for me. I had some experience in software development and web design but initially I was prepared to work anywhere, doing almost anything; from working at a clothing store in the Eaton Centre to an industrial metal bending factory in Vaughan.

At the time, I thought nothing of waking up at 4:00 a.m. to take the subway and two buses north of the city, because it was all part of the experience! Through these opportunities, I was afforded the chance to meet new people and really getting to know my new city.

I eventually landed permanent roles in web development for marketing agencies and then earned the opportunity to work for a multi-national financial firm in their marketing and analytics department for the last nine years.

I always knew that my passion was in real estate and during my time working in the financial industry, I pursued my real estate goals and became a licensed realtor. As a realtor, I am inspired by the families and investors I am fortunate to partner with.

I am inspired everyday as I introduce clients to their dream homes and support them in turning those dreams into a reality!

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

Culture, diversity, great food — Toronto has it all. I really love this city! I met my wife here — over 10 years ago — and I am not afraid to say that I was punching above my weight when I first asked her out … but this is Toronto … and anything can happen!

The sights also get me every time. Coming from a small town in the UK, I wasn’t used to big cities and I still get a feeling of excitement in my stomach when I drive south on the DVP, on to the Gardiner into the downtown core. It’s great!

I don’t love the traffic, but for a world class city, Toronto feels smaller and more intimate than other big cities.

I feel as though there are so many opportunities here if you are willing to work for them.

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?

It’s by no mistake that my wife, son and I chose a neighbourhood that has one of the largest British demographics in the city!

One of my favourite local spots that has THE BEST fish and chips in Toronto is only a few blocks from our house. If you take anything from this article you must go to the Olde Yorke Fish and Chips in Leaside. Do it now … you won’t regret it!

Andrew very kindly sent along a ton of links at that point, but we countered back and knocked him down a few, thus we shook hands on the deal at that point and here is the piece of Brits in Toronto website real estate he now lauds over forever. Pay him a visit!

https://realestatewithandrew.ca

https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-mcloughlin-969637176/https://twitter.com/myagentandrew

https://twitter.com/myagentandrew

https://www.instagram.com/mytorontorealtor

https://www.facebook.com/realestatewithandrew

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.

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.

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

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: Ed and Sherille Layton

Ed and Sherille Layton

Was a struggle, but managed to get this caption under 140 characters or less

You asked for more Successful Brits in Toronto and we heard you. Why not do two at once to save precious bandwidth?

In fact, even better, why not feature a successful husband and wife team!

Ed Layton works at Twitter Canada and has been there for three years when there were only a few staff in the Canadian office. Sherille Layton has been in real estate for about 12 years and is currently at Sotheby’s International.

We caught up with the busy pair to ask them about their experiences of being Brits in Toronto.

(Ed, can you please RT this, cheers mate.)

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?

We came to Canada on vacation a couple of times. We have cousins in and around Toronto and we came to visit them. We always had such a great time.

There came a point where we realized that we were going to be together for a while and were in a life phase where we were making some pretty big choices. At the time we found London extremely expensive and incompatible with the way we saw our future going.

Within months of being in Canada we bought our first house. I guess you would say that our intentions when we came to Canada — and specifically Toronto — were to enjoy ourselves, be close to our extended family … and for sure we saw it as a permanent move.

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

We had an interesting start to our careers here. One of us came from a media background in London. It took about six months — although it was an amazing summer so we didn’t exactly rush — to find work.

The pathway to doing this was through networking and getting people to take coffees and generally hustling … and slowly those people introduced us to other people who needed people like us.

Sherille quickly however decided that she wanted to work for herself and so qualified as a real estate agent — and the rest from there is history.

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

There are so many great things about Toronto, but the big picture things, and not in this order are:

The seasons (there are few places in world where you can ski part of the year, bike most of the year round and almost guarantee a great summer and snowy winter).

The people are by and large friendly, open and kind, the culture is inherently liberal, fair and not completely self-interested. Canadians are genuinely concerned about the well-being of their communities and neighbours and support them in the way they vote and behave.

Other great things are chicken wings, Creemore beer, meat and corn.

There are a few sacrifices you make to be here and most of them are rooted in not being near family or being culturally isolated. But these things diminish over time and replaced by other things.

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 don’t really, although are always happy to find a fellow Brit when chance happens. We would like to know more.

We were lucky to find a great network of Canadian friends. One thing about Canadians is that if you make the effort to be part of what they are interested in, they always welcome and include you (although you will get some stick for your accent).

Occasionally we go to The Oxley to see some Aston Villa games with other Villa fans but don’t reach out as much as we probably should.

Great pubs and eateries for homesick Brits are the aforementioned The Oxley, The Queen and Beaver and Scallywags at St. Clair and Yonge.

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

Overall the best advice we can offer anyone moving here, is within reason, do your best to enjoy Canada for the amazing things it offers. There are things to do and see that you can’t get in England.

Keep an open mind, involve yourself, enjoy the winter (learn how to ski or skate) and drink plenty of Ontario’s amazing variety of craft beers. It is always important to keep hydrated !

Successful Brits in Toronto: Danny Dichio

Danny Dichio

Yep, got the first-ever goal for Toronto FC. *Drops mic*

Picture the scene. You’re a professional footballer. You take a chance and leave your home country and move to Toronto to play for the city’s new MLS team, Toronto FC. You score TFC’s first-ever goal (in front of home fans). You get TFC’s first-ever red card. Seat cushions have rained down on your head and you now have a chant dedicated to you.

Just another tick box on the career achievements of today’s Successful Brit in Toronto: Danny Dichio, Head Coach of Juniors at the Toronto FC Academy and Club Ambassador for Toronto FC.

Brits in Toronto caught up with this very busy bloke to hear about how he came to Toronto, some on-the-pitch memories and where he likes to spend his free time when not coaching the footballing stars of tomorrow …

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city/club 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? Guessing that TFC played a massive part in that decision — what influence did you have in the choice as a player to come here?

We had always intended to move to North America as a family when my playing career had ended. Fortunately, I had the opportunity from a few clubs in the MLS to finish my playing days here in North America.

I came to an agreement with Preston North End in England to end my contract early as Toronto FC had already began their inaugural season and wanted me to join them ASAP.

I had never been to Toronto before and was little bit worried for my family as we were venturing into the unknown, but I was excited to join a newly formed expansion team in their first-ever season.

It did not take us long to fall in love with the city and we immediately knew that this was a place we felt very comfortable in … and now call our home.

What steps did you — or a manager/rep — take to land your first Toronto role? What is your responsibility now at TFC?

Toronto FC made first contact me with as they knew there was interest from other clubs in the MLS to bring me over from England. I had spent some time with Chicago Fire who wanted to discuss a deal, but there were problems involving obtaining a work visa.

Toronto FC proposed a deal for me to come over ASAP if I could get an early release from my contract in England.

The position I hold now at Toronto FC is the Academy Head Coach with the U17 team and I am also the Club Ambassador. My role is to develop younger players at Toronto FC and help them in their pathway to hopefully making it as a professional one day.

Standout memory as a TFC player?

Obviously the game against Chicago Fire where we scored our first ever goal in MLS history. It was a very emotional day for all involved as we had not scored a single goal in our first five games of the season.

I was lucky enough to get on the end of a cross to tap home the opening goal. I will never forget the celebrations that day in the stadium after the goal went in.

The club had given out foam seat cushions to every fan and as we celebrated the goal … these seat cushions rained down from every section of the stands onto the pitch. We had to wait 10 minutes or so for the pitch to be cleared!

To add to this crazy day, I unfortunately got myself sent off later in the game after an altercation with a Chicago player, but amazingly for the first time in my career, I received a rousing applause from our home fans as I left the field.

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

Best aspects of living in Toronto are the people are very friendly and we feel that it is a very safe city to bring our young family up. Toronto also has an amazing mix of different cultures from around the world that all respect and abide by the country they are living in.

I love that there is so much in the GTA that you can do, whether it’s sports orientated with all our various teams to support. There are excellent museums and parks to wander through as well as the small beaches you can sit and relax at.

I really like how there are different little pockets of the city that have their own individual character — whether it’s due to the cultural background of that area or the historic architecture.

Worst aspects has to be the cold in the winter months! I am not too bothered about the snow as I like the changes with the seasons … and I love getting out in the snow with the kids … but when that wind chill hits -30 or -40 then that’s a problem.

Also the distance to England is obviously not a short trip, so its hard at times to only see our parents/grandparents once a year.

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 always running into Brits all over the city. A lot of them are big football fans and watch the Premier League on TV which I cover at the weekends with Sportsnet TV.

If I am going out for a drink and listening to live music, then I like to go to The Orbit Room on College Street. It has a great atmosphere with some quality live bands. The only problem is the owner/manager “Tim” is a massive Spurs fan!

There are a lot of good eateries around the city, but I have yet to find a good pie and mash cafe.

I miss my curry a lot and have just recently found an excellent small family-run restaurant in The Junction called Curry Twist.

There are a couple of nice fish and chip shops around the city with my favourite being Chippy’s on Queen Street West.

Another thing I really miss is the traditional Sunday roast carvery which you would find at your local pub.

Your pick for the Euros?

I have a sneaky feeling that England are going to surprise a few people! As long as they can stay injury free and keep faith with the younger core of players that we have.

Other than that, I feel France will have a decent tournament at home in front of their own fans.

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

Do your homework on the different areas in the city that suit your living needs. If you have a young family then there are some great pockets to live and bring up a young family.

If you are young and want to live in a vibrant up-and-coming area, then there are so many popping up now instead of going for the standard expensive downtown condo.

Good luck with the rest of the season and thank you Danny for sharing those TFC memories and passing on the good eating tips!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Peter Reitano

Peter Reitano

Peter’s answers were so long we couldn’t afford the extra bandwidth for a colour photo

It’s high time we featured another Successful Brit in Toronto. We asked Peter via Twitter, and he was only too happy to give us his take on life for a Brit in Toronto.

This has to be one of the longest ones we’ve done!

(And, yes, we agree with him on the Indian food. Can’t beat a good English curry.)

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?

Long story. I actually moved for my girlfriend (at the time). I had been living in Australia just prior, working for a company in the UK setting them up with a satellite office to target the APAC region.

After that, I moved to Canada — first to Oakville — then to Toronto, where I’ve lived ever since.

The girlfriend didn’t work out … but everything else did. It’s been great from a business and personal perspective and I love the city.

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

It was pretty simple for me. I was under 30 when I came over, so I came on a WHP (working holiday permit). When I arrived I applied for very specific senior roles in small agencies that I knew I could help grow into larger businesses.

The WHP lasted two years. I then got a standard work permit for three more years — the LMO was completed by the same company — and then I applied for permanent residency, which I got in January 2016.

One piece of advice: use a lawyer. Mine did a great job and saved me lots of headaches. If anyone needs a hook up, I’d be happy to make an introduction.

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

Best …

The food selection is incredible; it’s really world class. I do miss a good curry from England though — Toronto can’t compete on Indian food.
The people are very friendly. I’ve found it pretty easy to make friends.
The music and art scene is great; lots happening all over the city.
I love the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s similar to the US in a lot of ways. At home in England it still feels class dominated to a certain extent. Here it’s just about the hustle/skills. The market seems strong too, especially in tech, which is what I do a lot of work in.
Loads of places to play pick up sport. I play five-a-side football and tennis regularly

Worst …

The public transport system could be better. The subway system is tiny, especially compared with other big cities our size around the world.
The winter is brutal. Anything below minus 10 makes going outside a chore to say the least. Definitely invest in a proper winter jacket if you move. You soon learn why people drop $1,000 on a Canada Goose.
I can’t get into the sports: baseball, hockey and basketball. I just can’t. I still tune into the English Premier League to watch some real sport at the weekend.
Way too many Irish people!

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 haven’t made any effort to connect with other Brits. Though I have bumped into a few and enjoy having a chat. I always make sure I have Marmite at home, and Cadbury’s chocolate. Keeps the homesickness at bay.

I also have some family who live outside the city (aunty, uncle and three cousins). They moved over from England quite a while ago.

Two great British pubs: The Oxley and The Queen and Beaver; both gastro pub type places. There’s all the Firkins scattered around the city too.

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

Research the neighbourhoods in the city. They all have a different vibe and where you live will have a big impact on your quality of life.

I like areas like the Annex, Ossington and Bloor West for example. Living in Yorkville, City Place or The Beaches would be hell for me.

Cheers Peter! Tons of great information for fellow Brits. If anyone out there would like to contact him, here’s his LinkedIn profile.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Rory Petty

Rory Petty

Exclusive early promo still from Kingsman: The Secret Service 2

Like a well-aged wine, fine cigar, roasting a turkey or being stuck behind a Sunday driver on the way to the seaside, some things you just can’t rush. Such is the case with Rory Petty.

We first contacted him on January 22 to be our next Successful Brit in Toronto. Today is February 22. That makes it exactly a month. But his answers are good. Very good. Worth the wait, we think you’ll agree.

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 better half is from Toronto, and having been on the London treadmill for a number of years, I was keen to try a different style of life in Toronto. I’m a Permanent Resident legally, but my mindset is this could be permanent or temporary still — citizenship is the next goal.

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

I work in advertising, and luckily for me, the UK is seen as a leading practitioner of this internationally. A lot of what I do is transferable, but I also had to sell myself aggressively (being in advertising probably helped me in that respect).

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

The best thing is the sheer livability — those global surveys don’t lie when Toronto makes the Top 5 … especially when you’re coming from an expensive city like London.

But people make a place, and Torontans (Torontonians is so long) are so damn likeable; the small town friendliness in a big city is great.

Worst? Property prices.

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 meet them through happenstance, but love when I do.

An Sibin Pub in Riverdale is an Irish pub, but the drunken hubbub there really reminds me of British pubs. Canadian pubs/bars tend to be too genteel.

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

The Numbeo Cost of Living Comparison was a great tool to see how our finances would stack up here vs. London.

I also sampled Toronto in both summer and winter to make sure I really wanted to come!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Ted Clark

Ted Clark

“Pork scratchings? Yer ‘aving a larf ain’t ya, geezer?! This is Toronto!”

Ted Clark was a little unsure as to whether he was “successful” enough to earn a coveted spot on Brits in Toronto. This man co-founded a brewery. With an ale called Across the Pond.

Nuff said.

“I actually started this business because I was still drinking my favourite English ales, like ESB, Lancaster Bomber, Abbot Ale and Old Speckled Hen about five years ago,” explains Ted. “But I thought I could brew something similar that I would want to drink with local ingredients.

“Hence Across the Pond, English Special Ale, a bitter and our flagship beer, which is reminiscent of the excellent ales around Cambridge from my youth.  This current Canadian craft beer movement reminds me of the CAMRA movement that I experienced in the UK during the 1970s and early 1980s,” he adds.

Case nicely made.

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 came here in 1981 from a tiny village near Cambridge on a gap year after ‘A’ levels. I planned to travel and see if I liked the city, and I am still trying to decide whether to stay … although with two children in university, a house, a dog and a beer business, this decision has probably already been made.

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

I thought I had landed a dream job at Sunshine Village in Banff, Alberta but the year I was hired it did not snow; resorts only started paying salaries when there was skiing, and I ran out of money and had to come back to Toronto to find other (real) work in a sporting goods store.

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

Best: I actually like the weather here and appreciate the change in the seasons. Since moving I have taken up ice hockey and skiing, and developed a strong network of like-minded friends. We play hockey, drink beer, and then ski, and drink more beer.

Worst: Initially I missed my family and friends, and in particular the beer and banter in a good pub.

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 seek out other Brits, but I have found a lot of good pubs/bars around High Park where there is great live music and craft beer.

3030 Dundas West, The Hole in the Wall and The Mugshot Tavern are fine examples.

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

Canada is an amazing country with lots to offer on both a personal and professional level. Travel, meet people, try new activities and enjoy your life!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Katie Bridges

Caption

An excited Katie heads off to another British pub quiz to win some Curly Wurlys

14 Things A British Person Notices When They Move To Toronto.

Yes, one of the most popular posts we’ve linked to on Brits in Toronto. It was written by Katie Bridges, whose bio states that, “Katie is fuelled by tea, terrible puns and a healthy dose of sarcasm.”

Katie has moved to Toronto and is giving it five years to live the lifestyle and decide if it will become permanent. That’s how most of us do it so we can relate.

We caught up with this busy Brit to 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?

My boyfriend is Canadian and after living in my native London (England) for a couple of years we decided to come over and try things over here. We’ll be here for the next five years at least and then we’ll look at our pro’s and con’s list and makes a decision at some point!

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

I took an internship at Maple Media as an editorial intern. From there I applied for lots of journalist positions and eventually got a position as junior writer at Notable.ca which I love!

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

I love the sport — I’m totally converted to baseball after this summer! I hate the streetcars … and I suspect I will hate winter but thanks to El Nino I can neither confirm nor deny that just yet.

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 love the British pub quiz every month or so at the Duke of Somerset, where I’ve met lots of lovely people. It’s a great place to catch up and a great opportunity to win Curly Wurlys.

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

There are tons of sunny days here and beautiful summers, so don’t be fooled that it’s cold all year round! The culture and shopping is fantastic, so bring an empty suitcase!

Cheers Katie and best of luck in Toronto.

p.s. Looking forward to Notable.ca’s upcoming article, The Best Brit Blog In Toronto That Hasn’t Made BuzzFeed Yet.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Kate Blair

Caption

This could be the next famous Blair

We know a few Blairs that are already very famous.

There’s Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister; Linda Blair, green-puke-spewing devil’s abomination and hell spawn; Lionel Blair, excellent tap dancer and star of the riotous game show Give Us A Clue.

Author Kate Blair could be the Next Big Thing In Famous Blairs. You heard it here first.

Kate is from Hayling Island in Hampshire (although as an adult she lived in Portsmouth, Newcastle, Cardiff, Oxford and London).

Her debut novel is coming out through DCB (an imprint of Toronto publisher Cormorant Books) next month — Transferral — a YA novel set in London. It’s up for pre-order at Chapters/Indigo and Amazon, as well as through local independent bookstores across Canada.

Kate has a website/blog and will be on a panel at The Word on the Street Toronto at Harbourfront on September 27, and signing books there. She is finishing up her second novel now.

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 2001, I came to Toronto on a student working visa as an intern at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) as part of my MA in Museum Studies. I was only meant to be here for eight weeks, but had such a good time I stayed for a year, getting some part-time contract work at the ROM and part-time work at Spadina Museum.

After a few years back in the UK as a curator, I kept having vivid and happy dreams where I found myself back in Toronto. So I quit my job and came back in 2005 for a few months and discovered I loved Toronto just as much as I remembered. I also met a guy (as so many of us do).

I emigrated through the Skilled Worker Program, moving here permanently in 2008. I married my boyfriend in 2010, and we have two children. I became a citizen in November 2014.

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

Because I came as an intern, the “Canadian experience” problem wasn’t such an issue for me.

The bigger problem was the relative lack of museum jobs compared to the UK. So now I work in a different field — for a nursing union — which I really enjoy.

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

What I love most about Toronto is the sense of optimism and ambition. My friends were mostly students when I first arrived, but they all worked unbelievably hard through their 20s and early 30s, and now many are filmmakers, comedians, actors and writers. That inspired me to chase my own dream of becoming a writer.

Sometimes it can feel like the UK has a more cynical (and often realistic) attitude towards aiming high. I’ve also found it easier to become a part of creative communities in Toronto.

London can be quite exclusive, and without an “in” certain doors are shut that I found wide open here. The accent doesn’t hurt, either.

I didn’t mind the winters at first, because they’re bright and sunny. But then I had children. Double buggies and snow drifts are not a happy combination. My children learned some very bad words last February.

The lack of beer gardens with play areas is another personal gripe, although they’re getting harder to find back home, too.

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 have a lot of British friends in Toronto; almost all are Canadian-born or immigrants from other countries. I visit home a couple of times a year, and stay in close contact with friends there, so I don’t seek out Brits here.

There’s such an amazing range of food in Toronto that I rarely find myself missing roasts and chip butties. I fill up on those when I go home.

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

My advice to Brits in Toronto is to throw yourself into everything that excites you, and to become close friends with someone who has a cottage.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Stewart and Emma Langham

Caption this

Stewart and Emma Langham master the art of the selfie stick using just their double-jointed toes

Emma Langham always wanted to do some travelling, so left Cambridge, UK in September 2014 and coaxed along Stewart too. Unfortunately they had to leave behind their two gerbils.

The good news, though, is that they have a travelling companion … a brown bear called Boris. That leads us nicely into the fact that these travelling threesome have set up a blog called Brown Bear Travels where their friends and family — and now you, complete British strangers — can follow their fun adventures around Canada!

We asked Emma to spill the beans on 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?

We didn’t initially choose Toronto. It was just meant to be the place we spent a few days on our initial trip across Canada to Vancouver, where we planned to set up home.

In the end we didn’t love Vancouver as much as we thought we would and when Stewart was offered a second interview for a job in Toronto we didn’t hesitate to fly across the country for it.

We’ve not looked back!

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

Stewart and I have had very different experiences …

Stewart applied for a job just before we left, didn’t hear back for three months and then just days after we had activated our work permits he got a call offering him an interview. So whilst he got the first job he applied for, it took me nine months to get a job related to my career.

I think the main hindrance has been the sheer number of job hunters in Toronto at the moment — you really need something that makes you stand out.

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

The best thing is the diversity and the sheer size of the city means there is always something to do. I love that we can sample food from across the world, go paddling on the lake or relax on a beach without leaving the city.

The one thing that annoys me is how much everyone moans about the TTC. True, it might not be up to London standards in terms of subway coverage but good luck getting anywhere in London for the equivalent of $3!

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?

Not really, although we did run into a couple who were from the same home town as me which was pretty exciting — normally no one has a clue where it is. They told us about the Toronto Brit Meetup Group on meetup.com who host regular pub quizzes with British food as prizes so we plan to check that out at some point.

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

Volunteering is a great way to keep up your skills, network and get some Canadian experience, especially if you’re struggling to find work.

Otherwise, get out and enjoy it! Toronto is an amazing city!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Julian Richings

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You may have seen him in films and television shows, but not in pubs where the servers wear kilts

We love Death. Not the kind where you kick the bucket, pop your clogs, shuffle off this mortal coil, snuff it, croak or sleep with the fishes.

No, silly! Brits in Toronto loves Death, the character in Supernatural, as played by the versatile Julian Richings.

He’s also appeared in over 50 films and TV shows such as Orphan Black, Hannibal, Man of Steel, X-Men: The Last Stand, Cube and The Colony.

Julian was born in Oxford, England and moved to Toronto in 1984 … which is perfect for us and this blog post entitled Successful Brits in Toronto.

So, what’s life like around this fair city? We called the Winchester Brothers for back-up and asked him …

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 toured with a British theatre company in 1980. We slept on couches and floors and relied on the hospitality of other artists. It was a frugal existence but we gained a hands-on insight into the daily struggle of other performers. We had gigs in Toronto, Chicago and New York.

I fell in love with Toronto. Its vigour, its lack of pretension and its clear sense of an emerging voice.

It has remained an exciting and challenging place for me, and on a personal level, I fell in love with a gal from the city. We’ve been married for 30 years and raised two children here.

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

My first gig was at the (then) Burton auditorium at York University. Staff at Theatre Passe Muraille saw it and invited us to perform downtown in their space before returning to the UK.

From there we were invited back to a Toronto theatre festival the following year.

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

The worst? Not the winter. [First person that’s said that! ~ Editor.]

I like all the seasons except high summer. The humidity in August is pretty dire, coupled with the over-compensating air conditioning in shops and cinemas. You wilt then you freeze.

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 a special effort. Sometimes I get categorized together with other Brits in casting sessions, where we all have a natter and talk about football and other important topics.

We tell each other to “break a leg” then go on our merry way.

I steer clear of pubs with faux British names or where servers wear kilts. And I like cold beer!

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

Enjoy. Explore. It’s a truly magnificent city.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Caitlin King

Caitlin King

Computer says “no”

It’s been absolutely yonks since we featured a Successful Brit in Toronto, maybe because we’ve all been caught up in the excitement of the Pan Am Games or something.

Let’s go!

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 decision to move here came at a time when I was searching for “more” — more from my career, more ways to see the world, and more opportunities for myself that I knew wouldn’t be possible from my relatively small Scottish hometown.

It’s been nearly two years now and I’m excited to see what’s next!

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

I’m extremely lucky in that I came to Toronto with a job already in place. I had been working with Uteach Recruitment for nearly two years in our Scottish office when it was decided that we were opening an office in Canada … and that I could be a part of that! I’m now the Resourcing Manager in our office.

We help teachers from overseas find full-time teaching positions in the UK, then we train them for free so that they can begin their international careers with the best chance of success.

There are so many opportunities for Canadian teachers in the UK, and being able to use my own experience of moving halfway across the world for work to help bright, enthusiastic teachers do the same thing is definitely one of the reasons why I enjoy my job so much.

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

One of the best things is how friendly people are; I moved to Toronto alone and I can’t imagine how different my experience would have been if I hadn’t been welcomed into my office, my apartment building, and even my local coffee shop by some of the loveliest people I have ever met.

A year ago, my best friend from home was visiting and we asked two girls in a bar if they wanted to play pool with us — those two girls are now my closest friends here and I couldn’t be happier about that.

Also, patio season. Obviously.

The worst thing? Thinking I could survive my first winter here in a parka that I brought from home. I have learned from my mistakes.

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 are all over the place in Toronto, so it’s not difficult to meet other Brits when you’re out and about. I go to The Caledonian for my haggis fix and I go to The Football Factory to shout at men kicking a ball on television.

I’m doing absolutely nothing to help break the stereotype … but eating unhealthy food and loudly denouncing football teams in public does make me feel a lot closer to home!

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

Do not trust a streetcar to get you anywhere on time. Walk around and get lost as often as you possibly can. You might as well, the streetcar’s going to make you late anyway.

Be unapologetic and unrelenting in your search for the perfect poutine.

Enjoy yourself and everything this city has to offer you.

Great advice, Caitlin, especially about the parka! She also has a blog and Twitter account for those who want to follow the adventures of a Scot having fun in Toronto.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Ahmed El-Etriby

Ahmed (far left) visits the Brits in Toronto office to chat about his interview with Keith (office intern), Barbara (office manager) and Madge (advertising accounts). Madge needs some work, readers ...

Ahmed (far left) visits the Brits in Toronto office to chat about his interview with Keith (office intern), Essex Babs (office manager) and Auntie Madge (accounts)*

We were trolling the Internet looking for some successful Brits to feature, no luck. Called in some favours from our spies strategically placed at pubs, curry houses and greasy spoons across Toronto. Zilch.

But wait! Didn’t we just chat to a Brit a few days ago about his sports team? Why yes. Yes, we did.

Two seconds later we had Ahmed El-Etriby on the e-mail dog and bone, gave it a little chin wag and bob’s your uncle … here we go:

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?

About six years ago I made a decision that I needed to change my life up. I had just graduated from university in Manchester and got a job and started living back at my mum’s. I wasn’t feeling too great about what I was achieving so made a plan to move and live in NYC (one of my lifelong dreams).

But as it turns out, it’s pretty much impossible for British passport holders to get an open visa to the States.

Canada seemed a logical back-up plan and the visa (working holiday visa) was easy to get, so decided to come to Toronto.

I’ve been here for four years now and it definitely wasn’t in my planning, but have made a decent life here and got my Permanent Residency last year so will probably be here for few more.

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

I came here with limited planning and just two goals: find a job and a place to live. When I landed I didn’t know anyone here and was living in an eight-man room in a hostel.

I was amazed by how many people from England/Ireland were in the hostel and doing exactly the same thing as me, coming for the year, searching for a job and place to live.

It was a very hard six weeks at the beginning. To get extra cash was handing out newspapers on King and Bay. But then got a break on a house, moved in with another English fella and then two weeks later got a job — and the rest is history.

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

A lot of people talk about the multicultural aspect of Toronto or the great food but I love how safe it is. People here are very nice and polite compared to other North American cities and compared to back home, it’s a no-contest.

It’s a great sports city as well — not success wise! — but you can find pretty much any sport you want to play and there’s a league setup or some structure in place to play it. Football (soccer) is big over here and it good to watch a game at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday.

Worst is the winter and general living expenses. It’s a deceptively expensive place to live. Rent is borderline extortion and general living costs, TTC, food etc. takes its toll on your bank account.

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?

The vast majority of people I know here are English or Irish. The Irish outnumbering the Brits by a large amount but they’re just as much fun.

My favorite place in Toronto is Queen West. The Dog & Bear (my favourite bar) is down there along with the Bristol Yard across the road, a kind of little Britain.

There are also British food shops across the city, so if you do feel homesick, nothing like a cold glass of thick Ribena to wipe away those tears.

I do feel sometimes Brits are suspicious of other Brits that are here. I think it’s down to Canadians’ perception of us as big drinkers and hooligans and a lot of people like to play up to that. Tends to happen in football bars … can be very cringeworthy to watch.

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

Try and stay here long enough for the Leafs, Raptors or Blue Jays to win a title — the city will be bouncing for months after!

*Shortly after posting this interview, we were alerted to the fact that the man seen in the above photo is, in fact, NOT Ahmed but an imposter. The real Ahmed is below and the authorities have been alerted. We apologize for any confusion.

Caption here

The real Ahmed, and not an imposter

Successful Brits in Toronto: Patrick O’Donoghue

Lottery winner Patrick hides his face as he muses on how to spend the $800

Lottery winner Patrick hides his face as he muses on how to spend the $800 windfall

Successful Brits in Toronto are like the buses in the city: every-bloody-where! And you thought we were going to riff on this tweet, right?

OK, enough with the throwaway banter. Tonight we feature Patrick O’Donoghue who originally hails from Bristol. The Bristol tourism website proudly states, “Want to know what makes Bristol so special? It’s more than just boats, bridges and balloons, you know …”

So now we do know why Patrick decided to leave Bristol, let’s find out a bit more about him …

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 met my Canadian fiancée in London near the end of her working holiday. When her visa ran out I decided to come back with her, in 2011, and now we’re getting married in May so that worked out pretty well! [Didn’t work out so well for Bristol: one less taxpayer to fund its boats, bridges and balloons. ~ Editor]

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

Monster, Workopolis, Charity Village, agencies — you name it! Endless sending of CVs with no reply. It took around four months to get a proper job, and when I did, the manager loved England so it helped me on the experience side I think.

A few years on and I’m at Ryerson and it’s a great place to work.

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

Best: So many restaurants from all cuisines and poutine! The summers are great, and I don’t really mind the winters as you can ski and skate. Also, travelling to Muskoka in the autumn.

Worst: Tipping and the cost of going out. The TTC network should be better for a major city — who wants to take a subway, a streetcar and a bus in one journey?!

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 wouldn’t say I’ve made the effort; I’ve found that initially Brits are suspicious of other Brits over here, but once you get chatting you can bond over the weird bits of Canadian life.

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

Buy a proper winter coat. I only bought mine to stop people asking me, “OMG, is that your winter coat?” … but it was a good decision.

Get involved in Canadian pasttimes: hockey, skating, pumpkin picking — if you’re going to live here, you may as well embrace it!

Thanks Patrick. (He didn’t include any contact details in case scammers start to try and get a slice of his $800 lottery windfall.)

Successful Brits in Toronto: Gail McInnes

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Fashion! Turn to the left. Fashion! Turn to the right. Oooh, fashion! We are the goon squad and we’re coming to town. Beep-beep

Peruse this famous list and see if you can work out what they all have in common: Simple Minds. John Logie Baird. Kenny Dalglish. Sir Alex Ferguson. Billy Connolly. James McAvoy. Gordon Brown. Groundskeeper Willie.

Yes, that’s correct — they all hail from Glasgow, Scotland.

Now you can add Gail McInnes to that exclusive club, because she has finally peaked in her long career and made it on our site as a Successful Brit in Toronto!

In our opinion that’s a real peacock feather in her haute couture cap, but Gail is also the owner of publicity agency Magnet Creative Management and co-owner of the exclusive fashion showroom Stylist Box.

Prior to launching her own successful businesses, Gail founded the groundbreaking The Style Box, Canada’s first-ever Canadian fashion designer rental showroom which catered exclusively to high-profile celebrities, dressing them for the Toronto International Film Festival, Emmy Awards, Gemini Awards and Toronto Fashion Week.

We wanted to ask her “who she was wearing,” but quite frankly that doesn’t make sense, because you usually wear the clothes physically made by the designer rather than the person themselves, which would look really stupid, so we didn’t ask her that.

Instead, we asked her about what makes Toronto her home …

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 Oshawa from Glasgow in 1989. Fashion Television was the main motivation for me to move to Toronto; it showed me that Canada had a vibrant and growing fashion industry.

I moved to Toronto when I was 18 to attend Humber College’s Fashion Arts Program in the mid-’90s and started my career in fashion.

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

Toronto welcomed me with open arms. I had two goals when I moved to the city to start my career: become a model agent or a fashion show co-ordinator.

Within my first year of school I was offered — and accepted — the position of assistant model agent at one of the country’s top agencies and was also assisting and dressing fashion shows with the city’s top fashion show co-ordinators.

The simplicity of telling people what my goals were helped me get to where I wanted to be.

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

I cannot rave enough about how many talented people there are in the fashion and arts scenes in Toronto.

Everyone comes from different backgrounds and upbringings which makes for a very open-minded and creative mindset. Those passionate and driven are the ones who are pushing this city forward and showing how progressive we are as a city.

It has been exciting to see how far even our own fashion community has grown and expanded over the past two decades; and there is still so much more room for even more growth.

The worst aspect of living in Toronto is the winter. Those last weeks seems to drag out and by early March you almost feel like giving up and just staying home forever … but then spring comes and the city suddenly becomes alive and active.

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?

When I first came to the city, it was hard for me to even find treats from back home. (I can never resist a Cadbury’s Double Decker or an Irn-Bru.)

The Caledonian on College has been my home away from home for the past five years and I’ve since been introduced to so many ex-pats simply by sitting at the bar there. They also serve the most delicious haggis.

I would also recommend The Bristol at Queen and Dovercourt — my inner Whovian just loves that they have a Tardis as their phone booth.

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

Toronto is one of those cities where from the outside, it just seems like any other city, but once you open a few secret doors you will discover so many areas that you never knew existed … from art gallery openings, fundraisers, fashion events, great restaurants, shopping, etc.

Getting out there and talking to people about where they go is the best way to unlock the city — and everyone is open to sharing their favourite places to go.

Cheers Gail! For those who want to know if that dress is really blue and black, or white and gold, you can contact her via her website, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Graham Connaughton

Graham Connaughton

“I can help find the manor that’s right for you! Just call 1-800-GUVNOR and ask for Big G.”

We keep telling potential advertisers that Brits in Toronto is “prime real estate” but now have the chance to meet an expert in that field.

If you pick up the old dog and bone and have a chinwag with Graham Connaughton about prime real estate, he will definitely be ready to chat. He’s been in the business for the past 30 years and is, therefore, a Successful Brit in Toronto.

You can check him out here [insert blatant plug HTML code] at this website [/end free ad.]

So we invited Graham into our house, in the middle of our street, our house (there’s always something happening, and it’s usually quite loud) to tell us about his 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?

My father actually chose Canada as I was a boy when we arrived in Sault Ste. Marie 1965, followed by a move to Windsor.

I chose Toronto for the economic opportunity that a growing city brings. I attended York University in the mid ’70s; watching the CN Tower being built was somewhat of an indicator of where the city was headed … up, up and away.

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

Fortunately for me I was well integrated into Canadian society prior to my arrival in Toronto as I had at that point lived in Canada for over 10 years. My first job like many in Windsor was in the auto industry, however the opportunity to sell real estate trumped the auto industry.

My first real estate sales position in Toronto was with K. See Real Estate selling condos at One Park Lane.

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

The best part of living in Toronto is that it is a multiethnic international city. The restaurant scene offers every cuisine imaginable and being the fourth largest city in North America, most major musical acts stop by when touring.

We have our own Broadway on King Street which features many of the Broadway shows either in preview or on tour, to say nothing of the galleries and club scene.

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 connect with Brits in the city, but living close to the The Caledonian on College I can usually drop in for a pint once a week.

Donna the pub owner makes you feel at home and there’s quite a group of regulars to commiserate with, beside which my brother-in-law who lives in Kingsville, Ontario is from Liverpool, 20 miles from my hometown. We visit often and frequent.

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

I’ve noticed more young Brits in Toronto lately. It’s a great city and the British heritage makes us all feel less a stranger in a strange land.

Being a Realtor I track trends and Canada is number two after Australia for British expats. For those who are arriving, it’s a great ride that only a youthful country can bring.

I arrived just prior to the Centennial and the 150th is right around the corner. Canada rocks!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Mark Newell

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Has to be the most laid-back, chilled out, pipe-smoking Brit we’ve featured on the site so far*

Let’s all murmur, “Good day old chap!” to Mark Newell, the stylish gent pictured above.*

Mark is the co-owner and operator of Toronto’s first bohemian tea house, board game room and hookah lounge called Bampot.

Our eagle-eyed Google search engine alerted us to Bampot when we heard two words: Poutine Soup. “We have transformed this classic French-Canadian dish to make it just as hearty but not as heavy — and it’s even better than it sounds! Our delicately spiced broth, reminiscent of a really good gravy, is poured over oven-roasted potatoes and locally produced cheese curds to create a dish you’ll keep coming back for.”

The website also mentions that all of the food at Bampot is vegetarian, much of it is vegan, and there are plenty of gluten-free options on offer as well.

So, how could we resist finding out more about this enterprising Brit? We contacted him, sent a few questions and in two puffs on your dad’s pipe, had these answers …

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 and I had aspirations of starting a tea shop. The economy back in Scotland is awful and felt it would have been too difficult; always wanted to go to Canada! Decided I would travel across this fine country in a 1984 Westfalia, starting in Halifax — but the damn thing broke down so often I only made it as far as Toronto.

So it chose me in a way. Decided to set up shop here. You are the place. The place is not you.

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

I did not want to work for anyone else, so started my own business, build it and now operate the job that I love.

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

Winter in this city is awful. Total buzzkill.

Summer in this city however … It brings out the best in the place and the people.

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 go to The Caledonian at least once a month to get my haggis and banter fix and hear the Scots brogue. Also a lot of Scottish, Irish and English come to my place (it’s a bit of a joke around here).

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

If you’re looking for banter, come find me! I’ve been missing it!

*Disclaimer: Brits in Toronto has no idea if the photos people send us accurately portray them or are simply swiped from the Internet as a dare. We are not legally liable for your utter disappointment if you bump into a pipe-smoking, foppish-haired male model in a Toronto street and they have no idea what you are talking about when you start inquiring about how much they charge for hookahs.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Steve Adams

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This legendary salesman you see before you is the founder of the Ex-Pat Xmas pub crawl

We know that Steve is a born and raised Londoner who met and married a Canadian. Been here for 11 years and in Toronto for eight.

By what wizardry do we deduce this factoid? Here.

We went back and forth a little in some top notch cyberbanter, and then Steve sent us his insight on being a Successful Brit in Toronto.

After working in IT sales in the U.K. and staying in the industry since, Steve formed two companies that work on areas he’s long been involved in. The two sites are www.pcproshop.ca and www.thamestech.ca. [The free advertising siren just started blaring! ~ Editor.]

The first is in partnership with a good friend from London, Ontario, while the second is his own project. PC Pro Shop focuses on IT hardware and supplies, while Thames Technology is driven by the demand for managed print services. [$250 right there in potential pay per click. ~ Editor.]

So, on to the good stuff …

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?

After a holiday romance and a distance relationship with a wonderful Canadian lady, it came down to either living in London or Toronto. It was possibly the biggest, yet easiest decision to make. Toronto has the vibrancy of a major city, yet is small enough to be intimate and welcoming.

There was some initial “what the hell have I done” moments … but they quickly faded and I now know that the decision to make Toronto home was the best I could I have made. It’s home.

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

For my first Canadian job, I took a role selling advertising for a start-up firm in downtown Toronto. The money was less that I had originally earned at my first-ever job in London, but it was a case of gaining the infamous “Canadian experience.”

I do understand some of the ways you need Canadian experience, but at the same time it is frustrating as hell.

But the sales style and way of doing business in Toronto, I found completely different to the U.K. Selling — especially in London — is more of a social skill, whereas in Toronto, it’s definitely more professional.

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

The best aspect of living in Toronto is definitely the multicultural side. I love the fact that one of my daughters, at aged nine, asked me what racism meant after hearing it on the TV.

To a much lesser extent, I do enjoy that the soccer/football starts at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday and finishes around noon. Get my football fix without interfering too much with the weekend.

The worst part is the price of a night out. Why is beer/wine so expensive here? Great beers, but very expensive! (Especially my beloved Guinness!)

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 do keep in touch with quite a few ex-pats and manage to get out every now and again for a few social events.

One of the main yearly events is the Ex-Pat Xmas pub crawl which seems to get bigger year after year. Usually on the first Saturday in December, we start off at a bar somewhere south of the city on Yonge Street and work our merry way north up to Bloor.

Otherwise, the Dog and Bear, The Rhino, The Football Factory or the recently opened Bristol tend to be the places I’ll head to. Recommend them all!

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

One piece of advice I would give any newcomer to Toronto would be to join a sports/football/soccer team. It was the best thing I done once I moved here as it opened me up to good people from back home as well as Canadians and other nationalities.

Whatever your passion is, there is definitely others in Toronto that love it too.

Thanks Steve, successful in life and very adept at getting some free advertising!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Callum Bramley

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In Australia you wouldn’t have to hide your tinny of Stella in a pineapple, mate. Just saying …

Callum is a perfect example of a Successful Brit in Toronto. He chose his country of residence based on what time they show the football, likes long bike rides around the city and also thinks it’s ridiculous you can’t buy your groceries and pop along to the next aisle to get your booze too.

So, what else does he think about living 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?

A mate and I decided to spend a year working abroad after finishing University back in 2011. There are a few options open to Brits wishing to work abroad, including Australia, but Canada just seemed the best fit and we chose Toronto primarily so we wouldn’t be getting up too early in the morning to watch Leeds United games!

Almost four years on and I’m a permanent resident and living with a Canadian girl.

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

Maybe five or six weeks after moving over and applying for what seemed like hundreds of jobs I got a call out of the blue from someone who found my CV on Kijiji. They hired me for a management position and I’m still with the same employer now, albeit in a different role.

I got lucky in the sense that my job allowed me to apply for residency once the relevant “experience” time had elapsed.

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

I’ll try to answer this question without mentioning diversity or bad weather! [Oooh, we’ll see, you cheeky bugger! ~ Editor.]

Best — It’s never boring. There’s always something happening, whatever the weather. [Fail. ~ Editor.] Whatever you want to eat, whatever you want to drink, whatever you want to do on any day of the week … you can do it.

Moving from a small town in England (Doncaster) to a huge city like this is a surreal experience. I still feel like a tourist in my own city; every time I speak to my dad he asks, “How many bloody pictures of the bloody CN Tower can you take?”.

Worst — LCBO and The Beer Store. I don’t think any Brit can get along with this idea. Gone are the days when I can walk out of ASDA with a case of 24 bottles of Stella.

Another bad thing is having to “dumb down” my accent to speak to Canadians. They seem to think the “British accent” is people basically speaking like the Queen. You wouldn’t believe the amount of times I’ve been asked what part of Ireland/Scotland/Australia I’m from.

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 try to avoid other Brits but I don’t seek them out either. Maybe I’m worried I’ll get along with a bloke from back home only for him to tell me an hour later he’s a Man United fan? I’ve got a mate here from Yorkshire who I met watching football at Scallywags a few years ago, that’s about it.

As for pubs, the best for me undoubtedly is The Bristol. I spent the first few years here craving a British-style curry and a Sunday Roast. All my prayers were answered at once when they opened up. It’s very authentic — they don’t just stick a few Union Jacks up and put Fish & Chips on the menu and call themselves British-themed.

The Queen and Beaver is a bit fancy but does very good grub too.

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

In England we tend to put down roots and stick to what’s local. Local boozer, local curry house, local shops etc.

In Toronto it’s best to explore the city whenever possible. Try different neighborhoods for nightlife … there’s dozens of them, all offering a different vibe.

The best advice I can give to someone fresh off the boat is buy a bike. Even if it’s a cheap bike from Kijiji. The city is easy to navigate on two wheels and it beats paying so much to ride a sweaty streetcar.

Riding the Lakeshore path to the Islands or Ashbridges Bay is the best way to spend a day in the summer.

Great stuff, Callum! And we miss ASDA too, mate …

Successful Brits in Toronto: Samantha Russell

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Best piloting of a Selfie Drone we’ve ever seen

We have to say Samantha Russell was literally the fastest turnaround we’ve had so far on Successful Brits in Toronto.

From Twitter ask, to following her, DM’ing an e-mail address, sending off the questions, having a cup of tea while we waited, to receiving the answers, to adding them here … literally took 24 hours.

We like that enthusiasm for self-PR and so does the Googlebots that crawl our website daily!

So, Samantha, take it away …

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?

A move from England was never on my radar until 2011 when my boyfriend at the time received a promotion which would take him to Toronto. Long story short, he ended up moving to New York instead and the romance didn’t last.

In the meantime I’d fallen in love with the idea of Toronto and moving away from England, so I packed up and moved anyway in September 2012. At first it was a “try it and see” as I’d never been to Canada and didn’t know anyone here, but I’m happy to call Toronto my home now.

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

I applied for a lot of positions through agencies while I was still in the U.K. but didn’t have much luck. I got my first contract position a month after I arrived, then I had one more contract position before I found the permanent job I have now.

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

The worst has to be the winter weather — I’ll never get used to that.

The best has to be the people, the diversity of the city and the many many things you can do in and around the city, especially in the summer.

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 too much effort anymore unfortunately, however I was a member of a lot of Facebook groups for people coming to Toronto on working holiday permits so I met a lot of people through that. I also went along to a couple of meetup groups for Brits.

My recommendation for best Brit pub has to be the Dog and Bear on Queen West; I instantly feel like I’m back at home there. I’m glad it’s my local!

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

Grin and bear your first winter in Toronto. Yes, it’s brutal … but the summer makes it more than worth it.

Take advantage of all the things you can do in the city like ice skating, cross country skiing, all the amazing bars and restaurants, the green space like High Park, and all the different cultures, just to name a few — you’ll soon fall in love with the city.

Thanks Samantha, seems like you’ve successfully settled in Toronto.

If anyone wants to connect, here’s her Twitter account and LinkedIn profile. Cheers!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Barry Hill

Caption goes here when we can find a decent copywriter good enough to write one. Any leads welcome, thanks

Caption goes here when we can find a decent copywriter good enough to write one. Any leads welcome, thanks

Wow, Brits in Toronto finally made it. Hit the big time. We have a celeb for you! Say hi to Harry Hill, he of the badgers! He is —

What?

Our apologies. Say hi to Barry Hill.

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice?

I returned to Canada a few years ago to be near my parents (who are originally from The Wirral, Cheshire, a wonderful place). Toronto was the nearest ad agency hub to their Canadian home, now in the charming hamlet of Sarnia — the Roman name for Guernsey, by the way. So not much choice for me.

I had just spent 12 years in the former colony of Hong Kong as a copywriter, last at Ogilvy where I wrote ads for The Economist, Dove “Campaign for Real Beauty” and HSBC Bank. (Ads viewable on my website www.hillcopy.com, profile on http://ca.linkedin.com/in/barryhillcopywriter.)

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?

Mainly permanent.

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

Before moving back, I brainstormed a direct mail piece that would (theoretically) impress T.O. creative directors, as I had no Canadian ad experience; then the lovely Mrs. and I hand-crafted and mailed 20 packages from Hong Kong. Miraculously, I landed a great job within six weeks.

Incidentally, I do miss Hong Kong’s amazing U.K.-built subway system, something I’m sure brother Byford has assessed. 😉

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

I met and married a girl from the Empire of India while in Hong Kong, so I’m reminded annually that winters here are the worst aspect — but she truly loves everything British, especially history and sporty cars, so what can I say.

We tease each other a lot about the rich combined “backstory” of our two nations, usually referencing the Kho-i-noor diamond “theft” and Ghandi, so I inevitably lose. But then I remind her she can’t make curry like her mother (sadly for me).

Best of T.O.? I’d say the relative safety and cleanliness for its size. And the fact it grew and prospered on the stability of British rule-of-law, discipline and engineering of course.

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?

Mostly chance, but I’m always up for a chat about the Motherland. Although I’m not averse to a pub, “and now for something completely different,” I suggest good old C of E as a fine place to meet a diverse range of Brits wherever you are in the world, whether Toronto, Hong Kong … or Sarnia?

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

The first stop for my parents was Toronto — in winter. Mum still jokes that someone should’ve warned her to bring more than smooth-soled shoes, as she had a few slips at first. (Again, C of E really helped them fit in initially.)

She’s still fascinated by what the original pioneer women went through … “they’d put most modern men to shame,” she says. Mum is one of those typical charming old feisty-but-loving English gals that melts your heart.

By the way, my parents said coming to Canada was the best decision they ever made!

Not really advice per se, but perhaps of interest, and to pay a bit of homage: my dad was a very young D-Day RAF mechanic — yes, I came very late in his life — and a patriotic U.K. history nut, so as a child I got the tour of seemingly every cathedral, castle, Roman fort and torture chamber in the Kingdom.

Interestingly, he crashed his motorbike after the war and met my wonderful mum as his nurse … good can truly come out of bad! It also means I can trace my ancestry back through a 350cc Ariel.

Although dad was a very reluctant choirboy, through him I eventually came to love King’s College Choir, Christmas carols, and the whole rich British choral tradition (now incl. Libera).

I confess to being a bit of a Royalist since he made me memorize them all back to 1066; I’m also hooked on many Brit TV shows on TVO and PBS.

Last and most importantly, my team(s): as an adopted Wirral-ite,I cheer for Liverpool, Everton or Tranmere Rovers — depending on who’s winning.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Stephanie Bitten

Stephanie Bitten is best known for her work as "Laughing Female Customer Ordering A Bellini" in The Keg's 2011 Christmas TV advert

Stephanie Bitten is best known for her acting work as “Laughing Female Customer Ordering A Bellini” in The Keg’s 2011 Christmas advert

It’s Sunday and we have yet ANOTHER Successful Brit in Toronto willing to lay it on the line and let us know about their life this side of the pond.

Today it is Stephanie Bitten, an actor, performer and playwright who you can read more about on her IMDB profile. Very impressive!

Break a leg, Stephanie …

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 moved to Windsor, Ontario to complete my degree in acting. Poor Windsor, not the prettiest of towns, but the acting program there is one of the best in the country. But of course, Toronto and the GTA is where actors flock to for work … so I just followed the pack up the 401!

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

Acting is never a full-time job (unless you are a Hollywood A-lister, of course … and I’m not there yet … working on it though!). So, it was important to seek out what actors call “Joe-Jobs.” These are actor-friendly jobs, which traditionally means night work, bar work, theatre work — anything that allows you to bugger off for auditions and call-backs during the daytime.

What struck me right away about Canada and employment was the fact that you need “official” qualifications to work ANYWHERE! Bar work was considered a bit of a joke back home — no offense to bar workers, I’ve been one — but here, they want you to have courses and certificates under your belt before they will hire you. Oh, and that “at least three years’ experience” thing.

That sucks hard for those trying to scrape a living having just come from the U.K. where those jobs are so much easier to book. But luckily I did my Smart Serve and used my Cockney accent to charm my way into a few positions to pay the rent during the quiet acting periods.

As for acting, I have to be able to pull out a North American accent for many auditions — but I’ve recently used British accents in small roles in both TV shows “Reign” and “Murdoch Mysteries,” which was lovely!

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

Best: The people. Honestly, it’s lovely to be in a city full of artistic, friendly and progressive Canadians. Alright, there are a few not-so-friendly folk out there, but I try not to bump into them!

I love the way that many parts of the city feel like little villages; for example, Roncesvalles, The Junction, The Danforth … all feel like real community-based areas. All crazy expensive, property wise, but that’s another story.

Oh, and another major thing for me is the lake. I LOVE being close to this massive expanse of water, and yet be in an urban environment too. It’s the best of both worlds!

Worst: Property prices! Seriously, unless you come to Canada with a huge wedge of sterling to convert into $, getting onto the property ladder in Toronto is very, very difficult! Income taxes are a lot steeper than the U.K. too.

Also, from an acting perspective, Toronto is a tiny city, compared to my home town of London, England! Everyone knows everyone — which can be both good AND bad.

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 must admit, I don’t really hang out with many other Brits over here. I guess I’ve been lazy! I did go to a Pub Quiz one night that was hosted by a Brit group, and that was a lot of fun.

I DO miss a “real” British pub, though, you know what I mean? Not the pissed-up bar fights between Chelsea and Millwall fans, but a nice roaring fire, in an old, crumbling Victorian building and a good, proper Sunday roast.

I hear good things about pubs like the Bristol Yard, and some Firkins are not TOO bad — but I’ve yet to find a REAL British pub in Toronto yet. Let me know if you hear of one! (The closest I’ve got was The Poacher in Burlington … although that didn’t have a roaring fire).

Honestly, social media is the way ahead to find out what’s happening. Twitter in particular! That’s how I found you guys!

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

When I first moved to Canada, I converted the cost of everything into the British Pound equivalent. It just made me think that Canada was this terribly expensive, crazily taxed place! It probably still is, but I try not to do the conversions now. It’s just depressing! (No 15p cans of peas from Tesco here, love!).

Just learn to go with the flow. Hard for us Brits a lot of the time, I know.

Enjoy and celebrate the decision to move here! I miss family in England terribly, but moving to Canada was such a great opportunity, I’m glad I didn’t pass up on it.

Excellent stuff, Stephanie. Here’s her official website for those Brits — and hiring agents! — that want to find out more. Cheers!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Adam Straker

"Yeah, I know, couldn't believe it either. Four minutes into stoppage time and he bangs two in."

“Yeah, I know, couldn’t believe it either. Four minutes into stoppage time and he bangs two in.”

It’s a relatively balmy Sunday night in Toronto so we thought it’s time to feature another successful Brit in the city.

Give a warm Brits in Toronto “ello mate” to Adam Straker who is a Relationship Manager at the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

And so off we pop …

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 an easy decision. My Canadian wife and I met while she was living in London, England. After we got married, she expressed an interest in returning to Canada and the rest, really, was a no-brainer.

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

I’m sure that my lack of “Canadian experience” was a factor in some of my job applications but it all worked out brilliantly. I had an entire summer to relax and really think about the type of job that I wanted. In the end, I found exactly what I was looking for — and it’s everything I hoped it would be!

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

Best? Toronto’s diversity, energy, friendliness and spectacular sunrises/sunsets! The grid system and compass needle-like CN Tower are also great for people like me who have a rubbish sense of direction!

Worst? Right now, I can’t see past the winter winds! They are … exhilarating!

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 meet a lot of people through my work and find myself connecting with Brits on an almost daily basis. Some moved here recently while others have been here for decades and we always have a splendid time comparing notes. In all cases there seems to be an instant fellowship of Britishness with the other Brits in Toronto.

There are loads of British-themed places around the city (The Queen and Beaver on Elm Street is great and has a Man United shirt, signed by Ryan Giggs) but it’s impossible to replicate the stickiness of beer-soaked carpets, the stench of stale cigarette smoke or the faint feeling of triumph that you experience every time you get served at a crowded bar.

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

You have to get to know your city. Work hard, network (the Board of Trade is a great place to do that), take long walks, read the newspaper and get involved. You’ll be welcomed with open arms!

Thanks Adam, seems like you have a great life in Toronto!

Successful Brits in Toronto: David Hampson

Caption

David can’t WAIT to get down the pub to watch Manchester City. He’s so EXCITED!! But first he’s going to enjoy a few crumbly biccies over a nice cuppa char

Look at that happy face above. Clutching a pack of McVitie’s Digestives like he’s won the lottery.

Which, in fact, David has. Because he is today’s Successful Brit in Toronto. The exposure alone — across Toronto, Canada, the entire Internet and Scunthorpe — is pure gold.

Anyway, before we start taking the biscuit, let’s ask David some 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?

My first experience with Toronto was as a university exchange student. It recently came back on the outgoing destinations after it was cleared of SARS. I had the option to go to Australia where everything I hate (spiders mostly) are poisonous; Hong Kong, I didn’t speak Cantonese; and there was no way at 19 years old, I was going to the U.S. where the drinking age was 21.

Toronto it was! Drinking age of 19 and with my passion for basketball, had the Toronto Raptors in the NBA. After meeting my partner while on exchange at Ryerson University, I decided to move back in 2009 after she had graduated … as when I graduated (2008), there were no jobs in the U.K.

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

When I did not lack “Canadian Experience,” I had “too-little” “Canadian experience” and unfortunately you can’t say, “Well no s**t, I just moved here.”

My first job was with the Toronto District School Board as a sports coach in the Jane/Eglinton area which held me over until I started a “grown-up” job in the solar industry. With very little luck in the job market it got to the point where if no one will give me a job — even after networking at multiple social events a week — I’ll make a job for myself, and by mid-2010 I started my own solar consulting company.

Fortunately the contacts I had made whilst networking became clients over the next few years.

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

Best = It’s probably a cheap answer but the multicultural-ness of the city. The buildup of the city as a patchwork of different countries offering a little taste of home (Little Italy, Malta Village, Portugal Village, etc.), and probably my home away from home, Opera Bob’s Public House, home to the Toronto Blues who never miss a Manchester City game.

Worst = The fickleness of Toronto sports fans. No matter how long it takes the Leafs or Raptors or my beloved TFC to win a cup (or even make the post season), you support your home team through and through. Don’t jump on the bandwagon when they put a string of wins together.

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’m always open to meeting new Brits to Toronto and being able to show off the city. Fortunately, the majority of them are from Manchester and support City so we usually meet at the pub over drinks.

Being involved in Twitter and Facebook allows you to get involved with other Brits.

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

To integrate quickly, I find that by joining sport and social clubs (football, rugby, etc.), you’ll meet expats along the way and are a great support network but it’s also a great way to integrate into a new city, culture and friends.

After being here full-time for almost six years now, I’d say the percentage of friends who are British is less than 10 per cent.

Great stuff, David! And we think too that Sergio Leonel “Kun” Agüero Del Castillo is currently unstoppable.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Lyndon Johnson

Caption

Lyndon’s PR company started from humble beginnings. A chair in a room devoid of colour. But yet … he smiles

“Good morning Sir — how was your weekend?”

Wow, the last time we heard that it was our barber taking a little off the top. Lyndon is a very polite chap indeed. We’re very good, thank you Lyndon.

“I’m not sure I come close to any of the alumni … I’m still building my success in Canada!! I’m two years in to building a new kind of PR company for start-ups and small businesses.”

Modest too. Let’s see how he tackles our five 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?

Logistics. It was halfway between my wife’s family in Windsor and Ottawa. We considered Montreal, but picked lots and we picked Toronto. We didn’t plan to move from the U.K. — my wife is Canadian and we’d talked about moving to Canada as a long-term plan. We made a snap decision on a Friday night over dinner to move permanently to Toronto for a number of personal reasons.

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

I worked as an independent contractor for a number of companies in Europe and a PR agency run by a friend of mine out of the U.S. initially. The idea for THINK DIFFERENT[LY] had been something I’d thought about for a number of years; nobody is providing services that help businesses that can’t afford the expensive PR retainers most agencies charge. In the end I realized that if I didn’t try it I’d never know whether it would work or not.

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

The best part is the diversity: I love listening to the different languages I hear on public transportation (and wish I could speak a few more of them) and love exploring the different neighbourhoods and communities.

The worst part is the traffic congestion. I love driving but that is being tested driving in Toronto!

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 a conscious effort. I know a few expats but that has been more due to chance meetings than anything else. The Duke of Kent is one place that I’ve found fellow football (soccer) fans.

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

I read recently that there are two million ex-pat Brits in Canada, and while it is always great meeting one I’d encourage new British immigrants to immerse themselves in the Canadian cultural experience.

Get outside of the major population centres too — there’s so much to explore and you barely scratch the surface in Toronto.

Great advice, Lyndon … and good luck with your PR company, mate.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Quin Parker

Quin forgot to send us a photo, so here's a little piece of home. (Sorry, got some dust in my eye ...)

Quin forgot to send us a photo, so here’s a little piece of home. (Sorry, got some dust in my eye …)

Quin Parker is the Deputy National Digital Editor at Metro. His Twitter bio explains a few more nuggets of info: “Expat Toronto Brit in the Lagrangian point between journo and tech.”

We asked the Brits in Toronto office intern to look up “Lagrangian” on Wikipedia:

The Lagrangian, L, of a dynamical system is a mathematical function that summarizes the dynamics of the system. For a simple mechanical system, it is the value given by the kinetic energy of the particle minus the potential energy of the particle but it may be generalized to more complex systems. It is used primarily as a key component in the Euler-Lagrange equations to find the path of a particle according to the principle of least action.

So, now you know.

Over to you, Quin …

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?

We planned a permanent move from the beginning — the whole reason my wife (who is Canadian) and I moved here was because it was a place we could put down roots … something difficult in London unless you have six figures in your bank account.

I’m now at the point I could find it difficult to see myself living back in the U.K. I did name my dog Bakerloo, though, and both my children’s names are common in Northumberland.

This is a city I feel I belong in. As for why Toronto? Well, my wife is from Mississauga. She got a job in the city first, and I joined a few months later. Loved it when I first visited, love it now.

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

Planning as far ahead as you can is key, really. When I started as an editor at The Guardian website in 2007, I knew that it would be a step towards our family moving to Toronto. Still, I’ve learned that little counts on paper and you have to network and meet people.

Face time (no, not the app) is even more important here. Otherwise, your applications get caught in automatic filters. It is hard. “Informational interviews,” which to British people are the most awkward concept in the world, are quite important — you can ask to meet people at orgs you want to work for, for coffee. And they often say yes. Weird, huh? But use them.

Hell, if you are in media, just moved to Canada from the U.K., and want to try out the concept, you’re welcome to contact me …

But do permit me a few puffs of Metro’s trumpet here. I’m proud to be part of a diverse newsroom in Toronto that actually reflects the city we live in. Three of the senior editorial staff were born outside Canada.

Given my own perspective, I certainly don’t discount resumes of people settled here but with no Canadian experience.

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

Best: All the big box stores are in malls or out in the suburbs, so Toronto has no problems with the “clone town” epidemic that has taken over the U.K.’s towns and cities. Every neighbourhood is different and characterful.

I particularly like The Junction, with the high street brewery, the optometrist that does evening rock gigs, the Icelandic-Japanese furniture store named after the Swedish word for “milk,” something that seems to be open but just has a single motorcycle in the window, and the tax preparation service with the Commodore Vic-20 proudly on display. That’s a level of eccentricity British people are usually accused of.

Worst: Many people say the traffic. I’m going to say the drivers. Toronto drivers disregard rules, not in an exciting edgy Lena Dunham way but in an obnoxious walrus-crossed-with-a-toddler way. Indicators are magic levers that make the car beside you speed up, and speed limits are literally just a suggestion.

Let me talk to Brits who are non-drivers (particularly those from London): wait till you get here to learn to drive. They give licences to basically anybody. You might even be able to find a local walrus to help you prepare for the test.

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’m in the Meetup group, which is great for reviving e-mails about where all the British people are going to be … but I’ve never actually made it, for some reason. I don’t think there is an actual “British” area in the same way as there are other countries, because there never is really, right?

You will usually find cross-pollination with lots of Toronto hipsters drinking strong tea and eating omelettes at The Bristol Yard on Christie.

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

Learn to love thermal underwear. You will find yourself staring at the sky wondering if it was ever that open, high and blue. High quality tea is available in most supermarkets. High quality Brie is not.

You will feel like a novelty with a different accent and then, somehow, you will forget you talk differently. The pavement is the road, the sidewalk is the pavement, nobody actually says “eh.”

Full stops go inside quotes and everybody understands it makes no sense but they do anyway. You pretty much have to join LinkedIn, sorry.

Camping is not, in fact, sleeping in a field conveniently close to a pub, but actually involves the possibility of bears.

If you are sponsored by your spouse, lean on them but find your own connections — it’s heavy going on a relationship if your partner is your only friend.

There are raccoons! Squirrels are the wrong colour.

You only have to go to one Jays, Leafs or Raptors game — you don’t have to become a fan, but you have to go to one game.

Religion occupies a much more central role in people’s lives here, therefore somehow it matters less.

On a bicycle, don’t undertake a Toronto taxi unless you want to start a new career in the exciting world of purée.

Visit the city’s ravines.  It’s quite alright to go to Google Maps and scroll through the ludicrous vastness of this country and get overwhelmed: Do it every few weeks, so you don’t forget about it.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Marilla Wex

Caption

Here’s actress Marilla Wex playing Marilla Wex. She’s very convincing!

Marilla Wex is an award-winning British actress, voice-artist and comedian who’s lived in Toronto for 11 years. Her one-woman show “Lost and Found” won Best of Fringe this summer at the Toronto Fringe Festival.

She is currently the Reader on the TV show “Reign” (she runs lines with the actors and speaks English at them. It’s kind of a weird job).

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 met and fell in love with a guy in New York one Christmas. He was based in Toronto and couldn’t move to England because of his daughter, so I moved here! It was a major upheaval for me — restarting my career from scratch in another country. Luckily it turned out well!

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

I’m an actress so luckily my skills and qualifications are transferable! I sent my CV to five different agents and the best one picked me. I’ve done TV, film, stand-up, voice-work and theatre and currently work on the show “Reign” which films for nine months of the year in Etobicoke.

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

The best: it’s easy to navigate, you can get good curry (I’m from Birmingham where you are obliged to eat curry at least once a fortnight for health reasons) and there’s always a need for a British accent. I can get away with big swears in my stand-up and Canadians still think I’m adorable.

The worst: the bloody winter. I have to shoot on location and it can be quite uncomfortable!

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 meet lots of Brits through my work. There are quite a few ex-pats working in the business we call show — both in front of and behind the camera.

I actually met my closest British friend Jess in the check-in line at Gatwick airport; she was showing her mum her temporary visa in her passport the day she landed in Toronto as a permanent resident. I butted in like a nosey parker and we’ve been mates ever since.

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

People underestimate the emotional impact moving to Canada is going to have. Make lots of connections as soon as you can because it can be quite lonely and the culture is more different than you probably anticipated.

It’s been brilliant for me professionally because I can do all the accents I couldn’t get arrested for in England. I’ve played a 50-year-old Scottish nanny in a commercial, an alcoholic traveller from Birmingham in a movie, a Mancunian trollop in “Murdoch Mysteries” and a Cockney abortionist in “Reign.”

Gor blimey, luv a duck! Cheers Marilla. Now exit stage left.

You can read more about Marilla at her website www.marillawex.com or on Twitter at @marillawex.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Hannah Perrin-Haynes

Hou's it gaun, Hannah Perrin-Haynes? A'm daein fine, an ye?

Hou’s it gaun, Hannah Perrin-Haynes? A’m daein fine, an ye?

Ahhh, Scotland. Rugged windswept scenery, beautiful castles, bagpipes, fish and chip suppers, haggis, Billy Connolly, deep-fried Mars Bars. What’s not to love?

Hannah Perrin-Haynes certainly agrees. As the Scottish Government’s Diplomatic representative in Toronto, she works as part of Team Scotland which includes Scottish Development International (which has a remit for trade and investment) and Visit Scotland (the tourism body).

“We are based at the British Consulate,” explains Hannah. “I work across the whole country, and have really loved all the different trips around Canada over the last year. Highlights: seeing bears and wolves in the Rockies, and driving around a foggy Cape Breton Island meeting different Gaelic-speaking communities.”

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 transferred to Toronto for my post as the Second Secretary for Scottish Affairs in Canada. I have been here for a year so far, and I’m loving every minute. My job — promoting Scotland in Canada — is made so much easier given the extraordinary affinity Canadians feel with all things Scottish.

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

What’s the infamous Canadian experience?! It was smooth sailing for me, and I felt right at home from day one.

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

The best: the diversity of Torontonians … and the best thing about that is the fantastic array of authentic cuisine.

The worst: ice quakes.

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?

There are lots of really fun Brits at the Consulate, and it’s amazing how often I hear the familiar accent when out and about in the city. I’m a big fan of the menu at the Queen and Beaver, and The Caledonian is a great place to enjoy a Scottish beer.

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

If you’re a Scot in Toronto, or you have an interest in Scotland, then please do get in touch, we would love to meet you! You can find me on twitter @HPerrinHaynes or e-mail me at Hannah.Perrin-Haynes AT scotent.co.uk.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Roger Lyne

COME ON YOUUU SPUUURSSS!

COME ON YOOOUUU SPUUURSSS!

See you next Tuesday, we said, and here we are. Yet another Successful Brit in Toronto. The city’s just teeming with ’em!

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 most of the big cities in Canada before and Toronto seemed the most multicultural and trendy. My Canadian girlfriend (now wife) got fed up with London after three years so we upped sticks and went to Toronto.

I got a one-year visa but six months in I decided to apply for permanent residency as I loved it so much. I guess the cold winter novelty will wear off over the years mind you …

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

I signed up with job agencies, job sites and went into shops with my resume. I worked in Golf Town while trying to get a job based on my experience and skills and ended up at Microsoft Advertising after six months. Plenty of jobs out there if you are persistent.

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

Best: Amazing places to see just a few hours’ drive outside the city, great for weekend getaways when you don’t get five weeks’ holiday. I love the local beer so the rise of the microbreweries has been awesome … and of course the Blue Jays regardless of their failings.

Worst: Traffic in and around the GTA is a bloody nightmare.

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 like embracing the Canadian lifestyle so I don’t aim to seek out the Brits, but being the Toronto chapter leader for Spurs Canada, I get to meet a lot of English and Canadian supporters at our supporters’ pubs Real Sports and The Duke Of Gloucester. COYS!

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

It’s a great place to have fun.

Roger. Over and out.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Ian MacDonald

"Snow way I'm gonna get board with this!"

“Snow way I’m gonna get board with this!”

“Shameless self-promotion” was actually uttered by a Brit. Yes, the heavens roiled, old men playing at the pool table in a pub on the moors stopped their game and looked up, and things were never the same again.

But, then again, Ian MacDonald has the talent to create work like this so we’ll let him off.

What, we wondered, brought Ian to Toronto? That’s not a rhetorical question because we asked him in an e-mail and he told us.

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 working for Auto Trader UK when our owners bought Auto Trader Canada from YPG. They wanted to bring over some experience to help grow the business and I was fortunate to be offered a role. I really wanted to have an adventure at that stage in life and I’ve always had huge respect for Canada and heard great things, so I decided to make the move and give it a try.

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

Well, as I mentioned, I had a job lined up but my wife had to find work in her field which is recruitment. She found most employers saw having experience from a major market like London was a big bonus if anything.

From speaking to friends I don’t think not having “Canadian experience” is as much of a hindrance as it once was perhaps. That is a sign of a city becoming more global and multicultural … which is a good thing.

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

The best is the size of the city — it has a big city feel, but is easier to navigate and get around than the likes of New York or London, especially on foot. I love how whether I’m meeting with an ad agency, recording audio in a studio, or attending a media conference, wherever I need to get to it’s almost all walkable within the downtown core. Being a Londoner and having spent hours of my previous life commuting, I hate the tube and by extension, any time spent on any subway system!

The worst is the roads downtown and the streetcars if you do have to actually get somewhere fast — the increasing strain of more and more people living downtown with no new transport options is turning it into a bit of a nightmare. Road construction seems to be endless and always poorly planned, and traffic is becoming so bad that I don’t bother to drive into the core anymore, I just walk.

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?

Although it’s nice to be around British people, I am a believer that to really integrate here I need to be open-minded and make friends with new types of people, especially Canadians given I am new to the country.

One of the reasons I moved here was to meet new people and gain new perspectives and experiences, so if all my friends were British I think my overall experience here would be lacking something.

That said, I do enjoy the odd pub quiz organized by Brit groups; it’s nice to indulge in some memories of home for a few hours every now and then. The best place to meet Brits I’ve found is anywhere showing the Premier League soccer games. That’s where many Brits (including myself) can be found on Saturday and Sunday mornings!

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

Like anything, it is what you make it. Embrace all aspects of your new life, good and bad, as experiences. I find a lot of people struggle with the cold in the winter but I find it interesting and exciting to have so much snow and live with those temperatures for a few weeks — it’s so different to home and, after all, I moved to find something different.

For example, I have made the snow a positive. I have really got into snowboarding since I moved here so I make the best of the snow at Blue Mountain or take a flight out west.

My final tip is don’t be reluctant to modify your pronunciation when needed — I have given up on trying to ask for “water” in my accent and now ask for “warder” which people seem to understand better! This can save you a lot of time and confusion when you learn what the “problem” words are!

Thank you, Ian — great stuff. We’d like to help him with his shameless self-promotion just a tad more, so here’s Ian’s LinkedIn profile if anyone wants to connect on a professional basis, or needs a new motor.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Ian Sandusky

Ian Sandusky and a "mystery stunner" according to The Sun

Ian Sandusky and a “mystery stunner” according to The Sun tabloid

Ian Sandusky has only been in the city for six months. But it still qualifies because he’s a BRIT in TORONTO. And we liked the cut of his jib.

Now, let’s see how SUCCESSFUL 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?

Years ago I had planned to move downtown for a job in advertising, but when the recession hit and I was laid off, those plans got put on hold. Earlier this year I met someone special in the city, and that was the catalyst to pack my bags and move to West Queen West. It was a snap decision, but I consider it to be one of the best choices I’ve made thus far.

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

I used the shotgun approach to get my first interviews, which in turn led to my first job in sales at Front and Spadina. I responded to every employment listing that sounded even remotely plausible — and many that I was completely unqualified for. I figured that if my name crossed enough desks, eventually something would stick … and it did!

Much like everything else, it comes down to persistence. It only takes one “yes” to make all the rejections irrelevant.

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

The best aspect in my opinion is living in the midst of such a hotbed of culture. There are so many people doing so many innovative things with so much unbridled passion — it’s incredibly inspiring to have that all around you.

The worst is the traffic — driving three blocks can take the better part of an hour, some days … but that’s a minor price to pay for all the benefits living down here provides.

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 personally have not made an effort specifically – I’ve only been in the city for six months, so I’m just happy to meet people of any heritage at the moment!

My favourite is the Dog & Bear by Queen West and Dovercourt. Ask Richie for a pint of Beau’s Lugtread, and I’m sure you’ll be hooked.

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

This city is what you make it. If you focus on the negative, you’ll notice it all around you. If you choose to constantly be curious about Toronto and amazed by what it has to offer, you’ll never want to leave.

Take walks, talk to strangers, try new things — and before you know it, this will be home.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Andrew Davies

Not sure where Andrew Davies is, but it looks very "cool" (hee hee)

Not sure where Andrew Davies is, but it looks very “cool” (hee hee)

“Sure, why the hell not.”

With those enthusiastic, committed and determined words, we managed to line up yet another Successful Brit in Toronto. There are so many — the city is truly spoilt by the sheer number of talented Brits willing to give up their cushy lives over the pond, and come here to make a go of it.

Andrew Davies … the stage is yours:

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 then Canadian girlfriend, now wife, lives in Toronto so it was inevitable that ultimately I would end up in Toronto, especially as my skill set (civil engineering estimator) is in such demand here.

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

Arrived on Saturday, CNE on Sunday, interview on Monday and a job offer arrived on Tuesday. It was all very Solomon Grundy apart from the bit about being buried on Sunday. I have been buried in work since I arrived. The lack of “Canadian experience” fortunately hasn’t really been an issue — and if anything, being British has opened a few doors for me. Cool Britannia. 🙂

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

Traffic and commuting in Toronto is a nightmare. My first two months of commuting was probably the most stressful and painful thing I have ever had to do, other than leaving family and friends back in Yorkshire.

However once you get to where you are going though, you will find that people are welcoming, open, understanding, friendly and great fun. The city has so much to offer that there is never a dull moment. If you want it, Toronto has it.

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 British friends and, yes, I enjoy getting together with them. However, I don’t go to meet homesick Brits pining for Coronation Street, Heinz tomato soup or Curly Wurlys as that’s not me. I go to have a laugh with a fellow Brit who “gets” the humour and doesn’t get offended if you tell them to f**k off.

Don’t get me wrong though, I miss a decent pie and pint like the next guy.

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

If you are moving to Toronto, don’t hesitate, do it. I did, I don’t regret it and I wish I had done it 20 years ago. I would urge you though, to network with friends who are already here and get advice on locations before you do it.

That’s great advice, Andrew. Thanks mate! If anyone is curious where the photo was taken you can connect via LinkedIn.