Tag Archives: successful brits in toronto

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.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Nick Drew

Nick Drew forgot to send a photo of himself, so here's E.T. auditioning for the next A-Team film (E-Team?)

Nick Drew forgot to send a photo of himself, so here’s E.T. auditioning for the next A-Team film (Mr. E.T.? The E-Team?)*

We have a LOT to thank Robin Brown for. A lot. Not enough to reward him financially in any way, but just enough to link to him again.

You see, a while ago, by the wizardry that is Twitter, we put out a call for more Successful Brits in Toronto volunteers. Tumbleweeds and chirping crickets.

Was just about to press “Delete Blog” and go for a pint, but … like a last-minute strike from Rooney to win the upcoming June 14 England vs. Italy World Cup game … Robin e-mailed us a tip. And that tip was Nick Drew.

Thank you Robin, and take it away Nick …

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 guess I kind of fell into it. After 10 years of living in London my girlfriend and I had a general feeling of, “There must be more out there than this.” She was offered a transfer to Toronto within her company, so we thought why not?!

“Permanent” sounds quite final, though; I think after four years we’re still in the “trying it and seeing how it goes” stage.

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

It was actually relatively straightforward: I worked out pretty quickly that multinationals are more amenable to hiring expats than domestic firms, and went for a few interviews. I’m lucky to work in a role in which international experience is a valuable asset — and an industry where an English accent is still regarded as a desirable trait!

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

For me, the quality of life is far and away the biggest difference from the U.K. It’s a combination of so many things … but hot sunny summers and cold sunny winters are a big factor. Cost of living can be more expensive here (i.e. mobile phone, groceries), but being able to live three miles from the downtown core in a house with a garden is something you could only dream of in London!

As for the worst aspects, Toronto infrastructure has to be up there on the list. Construction on the Gardiner and across the city; TTC reliability apart from the subway; even the waste water system is in desperate need of overhaul. It’s such a shame, because I think it’s what keeps Toronto from being among the absolute best cities to live in.

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?

A lot of my best friends here are Brits, but it’s really not intentional — I just keep kinda running into them. It’s probably something to do with a worldview, and having similar context and experiences. For pubs, The Queen and Beaver and The Oxley are excellent tastes of home: they even have cask ales!

Amaya comes closest to a British curry that I’ve found, although I’m always keen to try others (any suggestions?). And for meeting other Brits, we’ve found the sports leagues to be a good starting point: the football (soccer) leagues are great, and for the younger crowd (20s and 30s), the ski club is a great way to meet expats.

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

One of those clichĂ©d inspirational quotes comes to mind: “It’s not the destination that’s important, it’s the journey” — and when it comes to deciding where to live, that’s so true. Spending even a few years in Toronto is excellent, just to experience the change.

And for sheer excitement, seeing someone you don’t know in the office, or on your street, or just in a cafĂ©, and having them give you a cheery, “Hello, where are you from?” can’t be beaten!

Thanks Nick! If any other Brits out there want to connect or recommend a good portrait photographer to Nick, here’s his LinkedIn profile.

*Update: Nick e-mailed us today and apologized for forgetting to send a photo of himself, and included the one below of him and the famous pug from Men In Black, the one that the special effects guys made say, “Kiss my furry little butt!”

Nick Drew

Looking for more Successful Brits in Toronto

Are you British? In Toronto? Are you successful? Call us!

Are you British? In Toronto? Are you successful? Call us!

We love to highlight successful Brits coming to Toronto and doing well for themselves. Good for them … and good for the city.

It’s also one of our most popular features, so we’re looking for more Brits to feature. You’re in good company. Here’s who we have featured so far. Brits one and all.

Eric Gruber
Robin Brown
Jessica Napier
Sarah Doucette
David Miller
Paulo Antunes
Andy Byford
Michael Cooke
Karin and Kieran Ronde
Catherine Mayled
Dave Fleet
Fiona Knight
Ed Lee

Or just lazily click here to see all the links in a pre-search format.

So, pass the word on … we want MORE Successful Brits in Toronto!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Eric Gruber

A smiling Morrissey in a parallel unbiverse

Form a line, Canadian lasses

Just by coming to Toronto — leaving your friends, family and decent Baked Beans behind — and trying to make a new life already makes you successful in our eyes. It’s a bold step.

Good job too as Eric Gruber’s only been here about two months and the ratio of Successful Brits in Toronto to Totally Biased Product Review By Me blog posts was a bit lopsided, so we took what we could get for this one.

Only joking, Eric! In fact, it’s nice to hear the thoughts of someone newly-arrived in the city, so 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?

I must admit, I have only been in Canada for little over two months, so I am a little “fresh off the boat,” as it were. I originally came over for a holiday to visit my family in Oakville* after I had finished my contract at my old job back in the U.K. and I just decided to take a quick look at what opportunities there were available here. One thing led to another and, well, here I am …

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

I had a very fortunate experience when I was applying to marketing agencies here in Toronto. Back in the U.K. when you applied to a marketing agency, you would have to fill out a 3,000-word application form, after which you may hear nothing back — or if you do get invited for an interview you have to do two days of jumping through hoops in a group interview setting and have very little chance of actually getting the role.

Where as here in Canada I have been incredibly lucky. I applied to the Mint Agency on the Monday, heard back on the Wednesday, and had an interview on the Friday during which I was offered the role on the spot! Mint have since taken me under their wing and is an incredible place to work.

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

I think the people are definitely the best aspect of Toronto. I know by Canadian standards Torontonians are considered a little unfriendly, but by London standards, everyone treats you like a good friend. The fact there is real weather is pretty good too!

Obviously I miss my family and friends back home in London, but I think the worst thing about Toronto is that you can’t watch the incredible sunrise over the River Thames in the morning on your way to work. That and the lack of “Sure” spray deodorant. I’m still not convinced by this roll on nonsense.

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 will admit I haven’t made any specific steps to seek out my fellow Brits, though I have met one or two through work events.

In terms of pubs/eateries, although it doesn’t feel very authentic I would recommend the Duke of Somerset on Bay. Their fish and chips are rather good and the staff there didn’t look at me like I had dropped from another planet when I asked if they serve Pimm’s!

However, for more of an authentic feel I would go for The Pour House on Dupont. They have a good selection of beers and ciders, and have genuinely old furniture as decor, helping it feel more like a real pub.

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

In terms of advice, I would say a smile goes a long way here. EVERYONE will comment on your accent (don’t speak too fast or they won’t understand you) and it may take a little time … but you will eventually get used to strangers talking to you in the elevator (that’s lift to you and me).

Oh! And there is no ground floor here, it’s the first floor. That has caused a couple of issues to date.

Thanks Eric, excellent stuff! Good luck in your time in Toronto and your future career.

*Posh version of Burlington

Successful Brits in Toronto: Robin Brown

The name's Brown. Robin Brown

The name’s Brown. Robin Brown

Brits are a modest lot. Even though we’re the funniest, make the best tea and once owned the world, we’re still very modest.

Robin Brown is modest. His tweet accepting our invitation to be the next featured Successful Brit in Toronto attests to that. He moved to Toronto in 2003 and is now Environics’ Senior Vice President of Consumer Insights and Cultural Markets (the SVPCICM for short).

He is also the co-author of Migration Nation about Canada’s multicultural markets. Here’s the trailer.

Apart from plugging his book to a worldwide audience of information-hungry British immigrants with money to burn who read Brits in Toronto, we also had some questions for 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 had moved from the U.K. to Asia when I was in my mid-twenties and I ended up living there 10 years, meeting my wife and starting a family. The company I was working for was acquired by a global company and I approached them for a new role. I guess I shouldn’t say this here but I asked if there were any positions in the U.S. — but there weren’t. There was the position managing the Toronto office.

So you could say I did not choose Toronto. It chose me. And I am very glad it did. I love living here.

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

I was fortunate. I had a job here and came here on a work permit. I have acted as a mentor for newcomers seeking employment on behalf of Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC)’s Mentoring for Change program and I am well aware of the challenges and the infamous “Canadian experience.” I believe it is often another way of saying, “I’m not really sure about you.”

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

I love Toronto. It’s a clichĂ© but I love the diversity. My wife is Chinese and we agree that this is probably the best city in the world to raise our kids where they can feel entirely comfortable and be so connected to their twin identities. I like the values, the fact that basically if you’re nice and behave yourself you can do and be what you want. I think it is very respectful.

Also, I live near the waterfront and sometimes when I walk my dog on the beach I stop and wonder at how fortunate I am to live in a place like this.

The worst? Well you’re asking me on a day when it snowed in April so there’s that. I arrived in February and I remember in my early days eating lunch alone, sitting in a food court with my winter coat on, the floor grey with slushy footprints and thinking, “What have I done?”

And restaurants giving me a cup of lukewarm water with a tea bag on the side.

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. I was coming here from Asia so I’d already been away from home for 10 years. My neighbourhood (the Beaches) is very British. Places to meet? Not many. I remember a British colleague of mine complaining that if England won the World Cup (big if) we’d have nowhere like Little Italy to congregate and celebrate. The largest concentration of Brits I have come across would be Scallywags pub during any international rugby or football match.

A very active networking organization for ex-pats from all countries is InterNations.

Finally, I never fail to hear a British accent when I go to Cinamon Indian Bistro and I would advise any Brits nearby to go there. You may not meet anyone but they’ve got great food.

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

They’ve probably heard it already but my advice to those newcomers seeking employment is to network like crazy. Personal connection is important here. And while it is important to reach out beyond your community, do not be afraid to leverage connections with your fellow immigrants from the U.K. or wherever you are from.

Most of us here in Toronto are immigrants and I am always impressed with how willing people are to help those who have newly arrived if they can.

Fantastic — thank you Robin. Curries, pubs, lukewarm tea and a budget-conscious trailer for your book … this Successful Brits in Toronto post had it all!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Jessica Napier

"What's that? Toronto has polar vortexes, -30 wind chill and power blackouts at Christmas? Ha ha! Yeah, right."

“What’s that? Toronto has polar vortexes, -30 wind chill and power blackouts at Christmas? Ha ha! Yeah, right”

New York City has Carrie Bradshaw. But she’s made up; a fictional character forever doing lunch with her gal pals, drinking Cosmos and getting soaked by passing buses as they splash through puddles.

Toronto has Jessica Napier. She’s the real deal. Grabbing Subways to go, sipping Double Doubles and being sensible by taking the TTC (that mostly runs on time thanks to this bloke).

Both Carrie and Jessica have one thing in common: they both write a weekly newspaper column about their busy lives in their respective city they call home. Jessica’s is called “She Says” and appears every Tuesday in Metro.

She took some time out from her crazy media lifestyle to offer her thoughts on being 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?

I first moved here in 1997 with my family and after two university degrees and an untold amount of poutine, I’ve decided to make this my permanent home (for now). I do dream of relocating back to London one day but the property prices just seem so ludicrous!

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

After graduating from Ryerson I was able to secure a magazine internship and from there moved on to freelance writing, before landing my weekly column at Metro. That said, I did a lot (a LOT) of writing for free before ever seeing a paycheque. Persistence and networking definitely paid off — but it took time.

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

The weather is both one of the best and worst things about living in Toronto. I love the extreme heat but absolutely loathe the extreme cold. Even after 16 winters I still can’t get used to minus 30 wind chill.

I miss being able to hop on a plane for a short European getaway; Canada is so big which makes it very expensive and time consuming for any sort of travel. That said, Toronto has so many diverse residents and interesting neighbourhoods that there’s plenty of things to do in the city itself.

I love exploring new areas and discovering all of the hidden gems the city has to offer — preferably on foot if the weather permits. Although, in all my hunting, I still haven’t found somewhere that sells a decent sausage roll … any ideas? [Brits in Toronto readers – there’s a challenge if ever we saw one!]

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 bumping in to fellow Brits in the city, especially when it’s over food. The Bristol Yard in Christie Pitts is a great neighbourhood cafe that does a proper British breakfast and comfort food. The Queen and Beaver is my favourite spot for an authentic and delicious Sunday roast and Chippy’s in Trinity Bellwoods is a great place for takeaway fish and chips with mushy peas.

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

Empire the Collection in Leslieville is a charming retail shop and a great resource if you’re feeling a little homesick. They carry all sorts of imported foodstuffs and housewares from the U.K. that’ll make you nostalgic for all things English. I pop in every once in a while to pick up Jelly Babies and Walkers crisps.

Thank you Jessica! We’re sure you agree, there’s some great tips there. You can contact her via her personal homepage, Twitter account or She Says account.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Sarah Doucette

Caption

Councillor Sarah Doucette reminisces about double decker buses and the smell of seaweed

Cast your mind back. It’s April 29, 2011. 4:00 a.m. Not a soul is stirring across the City of Toronto.

Not unless you’re one of Ward 13 City Councillor Sarah Doucette’s constituents, who were invited to a live Royal Wedding party she hosted to celebrate the marriage of the future King William and Kate Middleton.

But that’s what Successful Brits in Toronto do. Like Councillor Doucette, they leave family and friends behind in Old Blighty, carve out great lives for themselves in Toronto — but never forget their roots.

Let’s grab a cup of tea, turn off Downton Abbey, and read Sarah’s thoughts on 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?

I came to Toronto on October 20, 1980 to work. I had relatives living in Pickering and a friend of my late brother at York University, so at least I would know someone here. I arrived on a one-year return ticket but used it to return to England on holiday before returning to Toronto to stay as I had met my husband-to-be.

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 job through The Lady magazine while still in England. I wanted to travel the world one year at a time, work for 10 months and explore the country for two months. But as I mentioned I met my husband within four months of arriving, have now been married for 26 years and been in Toronto for 33 years. The world tour will have to wait.

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

The opportunities are amazing — far more than I would have had if I had stayed on the Isle of Wight, England. Toronto is a great place to live, work and play. You can travel the world by just visiting different neighbourhoods. I love living in such a diverse city.

I miss being so far away from my family. I miss the open rolling hills, being able to walk up onto the Downs with the wind in your face … it gives you space to think away from the hustle and bustle of life. I miss the sound of the sea and the smell of the seaweed thrown up onto the beach after a storm.

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?

One of my best friends — who I met here in Toronto 24 years ago — is British. This really helps as when I get tired I speak English and she can translate so others can understand. I have met a lot of British people living in my neighbourhood or others with connections of past generations from England. A great place to meet people from Britain is at the local football (soccer) club while our children are playing.

When I first came to Toronto I would spend time at the Duke of Gloucester and Scotland Yard pubs; both were great places to meet Brits.

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

I think your website is a great place for people to visit when they arrive in Toronto. [WHY THANK YOU, SARAH!] Two biggest things to remember are which side of the road do you drive on and which way to look when crossing the street. Oh yes and I miss double decker buses — you get an amazing view from the front window on the upper deck.

Much appreciation to Councillor Doucette for keeping it real at Council and finding the time to bring a little bit of home to Brits in Toronto!

Successful Brits in Toronto: David Miller

Caption here

Toronto’s very own Ipswich Town FC supporter recalls 1978

The Brits in Toronto crew are very honoured to have a former Mayor of Toronto agree to be our latest Successful Brit in Toronto: David Miller.

Now the President and CEO of WWF-Canada, all it took was a single, firm, modest “sure” via Twitter and the deal was done.

So 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?

I chose Toronto but my mum chose Canada. We emigrated in 1967 originally, and came to Ottawa for her job as a teacher. I chose to come to Toronto for law school, because I loved the fact it had a subway and streetcars. And I knew that if I worked hard, I could get a good job.

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

My first real job was paving roads in Calgary, to pay for university. They were happy, as long as you had an Alberta address and were fit. My mum, though, had a different experience. She was recruited as a teacher by immigration, then, once we emigrated, told by the Ottawa School Board that she wasn’t qualified in Canada. She was livid. And sorted them out …

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

The best aspect of living in Toronto is the green space — the waterfront, the parks, and the river valleys. The worst is the winter weather. It never stays fully winter and the city turns brown. In Ottawa, it’s cold enough that the snow stays as snow.

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 to join British events in Toronto, although I have gone to some formal ones, like with the Canada/UK and with the Consul General. I see other Brits when I go to a suitable pub to watch the football — I proudly wear my England shirt, and watch them break our hearts. Again.

Ipswich Town is my home club. Remember ’78!

Best pub to just enjoy: Allen’s on the Danforth. John Maxwell pours a great pint, food is excellent, and a terrific patio.

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

I seem to connect with others from the British Isles through sports — rugby, which I played for over 20 years, football, and cricket primarily. But there are some great formal organizations, like the Chamber of Commerce, and the accounting organization CIMA, that can help meet people from a business perspective and often host events with interesting UK speakers. Cheers!

Thank you, sir!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Paulo Antunes

"Nah, stop it mate. Yer cracking me up, seriously."

“Nah, stop it mate. Yer cracking me up, seriously. Ya silly old sod.”

We’re a little bit confused about Paulo Antunes. A little perturbed. His Twitter profile shows a proud photo of Winston Churchill; he’s a Londoner living in Toronto; Lisbon is randomly thrown in there; and he appears to support Arsenal.

Yes — most perplexed.

Anyway, on with the show:

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’s actually something of a fairy tale, how I have ended up in Toronto. In 2000, whilst on a family holiday to Portugal, I met a very pretty girl with an “American accent.” We spent lots of time together and had lots of fun; however, as with all good things, our time came to an end.

Turns out she was from a place called Mississauga, which I had never heard of before. Arrrhhh, young love. We exchanged letters as well as kept in touch through Yahoo messenger, before eventually losing contact.

Fast forward almost a decade, I found one of the letters she had sent me, at my parents’ house, and I decided to look her up on Facebook (the gems of modern technology). After hours upon hours spent on Skype and x number of long-haul flights, I took the decision to up sticks from my beloved London, to move to this side of the pond … and what a decision it was … as I now call this girl in question my wife! Love you Ashley!

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

I knew I was coming to Toronto well in advance of actually landing on these shores — I initially applied through a BUNAC working holiday visa which enables you to work for up to two years — so it took a lot of pre-planning. I was fortunate to pre-arrange some interviews, landing myself a retail job in Dufferin Mall within the first two weeks of being here.

This was always going to be temporary for me. I spent most of my spare time learning to cross the road — they are huuugggee — pay for items in shops using cash — loonies/toonies etc., my oh my — and generally just familiarizing (see what I did there? “z”) myself with Canadian culture, as well as applying for a minimum of 10 jobs a day … a lot more difficult then it seems.

Once again, I was blessed by the Big Man above, and in just over a month I was employed at a great organisation, which reports directly to the government — and helps save the environment. Hard work and perseverance pays off in the end!

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

Toronto is 3,548 miles (or 5,710 kilometres for those Canadians) from London. That’s quite some distance from my family … therefore, the worst aspect.

The best aspect — after you have taken in the initial, “Wow, this is surreal” after walking out of Dundas subway station in the centre of Toronto for the first time to be greeted with a flurry of lights, and surrounded on all sides by massive skyscrapers — is the true diversity and friendliness of the city.

Personal favourites of mine include the Canadian mentality towards all holidays: I love Christmas, and it is well celebrated here. Another thing is the close proximity from Toronto of many different activities — camping in Algonquin in the summer, wine tasting in Niagara in the autumn and skiing at Blue Mountain in the winter. So much to do. And of course, at the very top of everything, is my beautiful wife and her wonderful family!

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 actually a Toronto representative for an England football supporters initiative (The Official England House on Facebook) which covers the whole of Canada, and as a result, I am meeting a load of new, like-minded people. We are hoping to establish a venue in Toronto as a regular base to watch England games at together, as well as other social events. Plans are in the works. Meanwhile, as a massive football fan, the Fox and Fiddle on Yonge/St. Clair is great to watch games — especially as it is home to the mighty Arsenal!

I am also lucky that a Mancunian friend of mine from university actually spent his second year studying at Ryerson on exchange, and funnily enough, he too was enticed back by a lady friend. He was the best man at my wedding.

I am also part of this group called the Toronto Brit Meetup Group whom send me loads of e-mails to events such as pub quizzes, etc., but I am yet to attend anything. Soon enough I will though!

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

Embrace your British roots, whilst keeping open-minded about Canadian culture. Toronto is especially very multicultural, so much to experience, and they do love their Brits. If ever you are feeling lonely and cold out here … don’t! Plenty of us have taken the plunge also, and we are here for you to help you settle and find your feet!

Excellent stuff, Paulo — thank you. Seems you have a great life here! If anyone wants to connect with an Arsenal fan, you can check out his Facebook page, Little Britain: Toronto.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Andy Byford

"Darn it, think I forgot to get milk"

The new Doctor Who isn’t keen on his Tardis upgrade

“Mind the gap! Mind the gap! Mind the –”

Andy Byford’s ringtone cuts off as he takes the call from Brits in Toronto. “Hold on,” he yells, “I’m just going into a tunnel …”

That scenario above might — OK, probably not — have happened recently. But now, thanks to one of the new initiatives under Mr. Byford’s watch, TTC subway users can now get free Wi-Fi at two stations: Bloor-Yonge and St. George (good choice) so, if you can’t call, you can at least text him to find out what time the next train is, mention it’s called the subway and not the Tube, and that trains drive on the RIGHT.

Brits in Toronto is very excited to put some questions to Andy Byford, Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Transit Commission:

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?

Basically, I couldn’t resist the chance to lead a top-to-bottom transformation of the TTC. It’s a great compan,y but I think everyone would agree it could be much better with sustained funding and a can-do approach.

That plus it gave me instant “most favoured son-in-law” status from my Canadian parents-in-law for bringing their daughter home!

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

The process was pretty bureaucratic and lengthy. At one point, I nearly gave up as I had a great life in Sydney. When I arrived at Pearson, the immigration officer asked if I was mad to exchange the Aussie summer for the Canuck cold!

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

Best: I love the variety and multicultural nature of the city. It also has a lot of great diners. Worst: not being able to see my beloved Plymouth Argyle (lose) every week.

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 know quite a few Brits here but I mainly hang out with TTC colleagues and family-in-law. The Rebel House in Summerhill/Rosedale is my favourite pub and one that I must invite Michael Cooke to sample with me.

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

Eat more poutine. Along with the Canadarm, it’s Canada’s greatest invention.

OK, we can all go home now; when one Successful Brit in Toronto invites another Successful Brit in Toronto out for a pint, then our job is done!

G’night, and thanks Mr. Byford.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Michael Cooke

Toronto Star Editor Michael Cooke just found out you can squint through the paywall if you scroll very slowly

Toronto Star Editor Michael Cooke just found out you can squint through the paywall if you scroll very slowly

As a former journalist, I have been in the trenches and seen the hard work that goes into getting the story, and hopefully the scoop. You do it for the love of the job and not the pay — that’s for sure. Now I work in communications at the Brits in Toronto HQ.

So we’re honoured that Michael Cooke, Editor of the Toronto Star, agreed in a tweet to be our latest Successful Brit in Toronto. He manages Canada’s biggest paper by circulation, employs multiple award-winning journalists and thinks [spoiler alert] “there isn’t a real pub in the entire city.” (That must be a typo, Michael … check out our Booze section.)

In typical Ask Ellie fashion, we put some questions to 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?

Came on holiday, loved the place — open, big, fresh, different and you can see a bear 50 miles out of the city  … so I stayed … and then quickly learned to love the great extremes in temperature … proper bloody hot in the summer, proper bloody cold in the winter …

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

At the time — 1975 — it was easy for Brits. I just walked in and cheerfully held out the papers to be stamped. No problems. Was made very welcome, especially in the Legion halls (my dad was in the Royal Navy).

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

Best: I love watching the skill and courage and brains it takes to play top-notch hockey. Worst: there isn’t a real pub in the entire city.

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?

No. Big part of the joy of living here is everyone else who came from everywhere else. Who needs to search out Brits ?

So, there you have it. Short, sweet and to the point. Thank you Mr. Cooke, and if any readers know of “real pubs” in the entire city, please post them in the comments section so I can check them out too!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Karin and Kieran Ronde

Karin and Kieran laugh about the uncanny similarity in their names

Karin and Kieran laugh and joke about the uncanny similarity in their names

Brits in Toronto feels a warm affinity to Karin and Kieran Ronde because of their blog — K&K Adventures — that they started in January 2012 “as a way to introduce locals and travellers abroad to Canada and the expat lifestyle they’ve come to love!”

So, in effect we’re copying their idea. Fiddlesticks!

But curious as to what brought them to Toronto, we invited them to be featured in Successful Brits in Toronto … and they were game. Right ho, here we go then and over to you, Karin:

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?

Toronto wasn’t so much of a choice for me; my parents moved to Toronto when I was 17. I was still living in Europe and decided to stay there and go to university in England. Because I was a minor at the time, I was given permanent Canadian residency along with the rest of my family.

At university I met Kieran, who was convinced we should take the opportunity of my residency and move to Canada when I’d finished my studies. Once there, I could sponsor him and he could get residency too. We planned to move permanently … although recently have been talking about looking at other cities in Canada because job opportunities may be better elsewhere.

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

When we both first moved here in April 2011 I was fresh out of university and knew that it was a bad time to be a recent graduate looking for a job. Kieran and I both worked for six months at my parents’ fishing lodge in northern Ontario. It was bliss, totally remote and peaceful.

After we finished for the summer we were both still scared to move to Toronto and look for work. We went travelling round south east Asia for two months instead!

When we came back we jumped right in and I was lucky enough to get an interview with a Canadian who grew up in Bali. We spent the whole interview talking about my recent trip and she gave me a call the next day with a job offer.

Kieran was not so lucky. It took him the best part of a year temping, and looking for work before he found his current job.

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

From a job-hunting perspective we both have had struggles with agencies, and find them beyond frustrating. I moved to another company recently and it took me four months of searching and interviewing before landing a job that I can truly say I love. Every industry here seems very competitive and it can be difficult to get an interview.

That being said, Toronto is a wonderful place to live in. We live in midtown, by Forest hill, and as neither of us have lived in a big city before, we are still struck by how much we love being close to the subway, having a grocery store next to our building, and the speed of which we can get anywhere in the city.

We also love the constant stream of events and activities we can enjoy living in the city. Toronto has a thriving music scene, many quirky bars and tons of beautiful parks to explore.

There are activities for everyone in both winter and summer, and Toronto is close enough to mountains for winter sports, and lakes for summer ones. Really there is no excuse to not be outdoors, and we both really enjoy that aspect.

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 we first arrived we went on Meetup.com and found the Brit Meetup to be a fantastic place to make new friends. We participate in their bi-monthly pub quiz when we can, and really enjoy it. In terms of pubs I would say Scallywags at St Clair and Yonge always has a British crowd as well as the Football Factory on Bathurst.

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

My advice for anyone moving to Toronto is to get out there and experience all that the city and surrounding areas has to offer. The scenery north of Toronto is breathtaking and in any season you can find something to do.

Don’t be afraid to explore all of Toronto’s neighborhoods too as they really are so diverse, and look out for street parties and festivals like Taste of the Danforth or Salsa on St Clair.

Thank you K&K! Here’s their Twitter account if you’d like to connect.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Catherine Mayled

Catherine Mayled in her English country ... garden. In Toronto

No, don’t ask for tomorrow’s lottery numbers

It’s not every day you cross paths with a compassionate intuitive, so Brits in Toronto is honoured to have Catherine Mayled as our newest Successful Brit in Toronto.

Catherine also does psychic readings and past life regressions, so when you next use that phrase “in another life” she knows what you’re talking about.

So how did a compassionate intuitive end up in Toronto? Let’s find out:

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 to Toronto was back in the late ’80s. After no work as a student nurse in York, England, I came over as a nanny and — yes — I do have horror stories about some unpleasant situations . I came over on a visa and stayed longer than I intended to. I did go back a few times but I had changed and wanted more out of life.

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

After I did a few years as a nanny I ended up in a government job, in an office. I obtained this position by going on many employment agency assignments, which I really enjoyed as it gave me an idea of what was out there. After going down a few career routes I have been self-employed for the last 20 years, which I love.

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

I really like the people and the social scene here is much better. It is great that people come from all over the world to live in Toronto, the variety of food is amazing and there is something for everyone.

The one thing I don’t really like is the weather; however, we have been getting less snow — thank goodness — and it is not as hot as it used to be. Other than than I love the fall and Halloween. I wish we had Halloween growing up!

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 met too many Brits here. If I meet them in passing I usually try and guess their dialect. When I bump into them, they have an amazing sense of humour and we usually hit it off straight away. I have tried a few networking meetings but not had much luck.

To eat; there is an English tea room I go to in the west end of the city, run by a lady from Liverpool, that is very nice. It is called The Victorian Tearoom, on Burnhamthorpe Road West, west of Kipling.

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

My advice is to join lots of groups, I have met some great people through Meetup.com. What is great is more larger chain stores are bringing more British food products into their stores … but I still do miss Marks & Spencer!

Thank you, Catherine. Here’s her Twitter account if you’d like to follow her.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Dave Fleet

The $1.99 Instagram Mean 'n' Moody filter was money well spent

The $1.99 Instagram Mean ‘n’ Moody photo filter was money well spent

Picture the scene: you’re a successful Brit in Toronto, working away in your PR agency on a Friday afternoon, looking forward to the weekend.

Suddenly a Canadian colleague utters those immortal words: “It’s Random Office Dance Party Friday everyone. Yay!” Brits everywhere hear “dance” and start to sweat, looking for a hasty exit. But no — the intern is blocking the way out with the beer cart.

No problem for Dave Fleet. He purposefully strides from his office, grabs a beverage and leads the fun. As the Senior Vice President at Edelman, blogger, running nut, bookworm, gamer and Brit-nadian, Dave likes to lead by example.

He has a great story of making it in Toronto, and here it 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?

Simply put, I moved here for a girl 🙂 I first came to Canada for school in 2002 — I did a one-semester exchange with the Schulich School of Business in the final year of my business degree. While I was there I started dating someone and decided to move back here at the end of my degree to be with her. That relationship didn’t work out in the end, but in a twist of fate I actually met my now wife on the same day as the first person … so the big picture worked out perfectly.

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

I found it really tough to land my first job here. When I first moved to Toronto I had very little money at the outset, and worked doing door-to-door coupon sales, scrabbling to find enough money for rent each week. That was tough, and the hours were very long for very little money. After a few months of that I realized I was on a path to nowhere fast, so quit and started looking for a different job.

Ultimately I got my break through a temp agency — I did a few jobs with them, then got a short-term gig in the Ontario government. I actually postponed my flight back to England to take that gig … I’d run out of money, and was about to move home.

That temporary job turned into a short-term contract, which turned into another and another, then into a permanent job. I worked my way up in government communications for about five years before I left to work on the agency side.

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

The best aspect for me is the opportunity to get outside. I’m a huge camping junkie — I love to head up north to sit by a lake in Algonquin or Grundy Park with a book in one hand and a beer in the other. The spring and the fall are just magical seasons in Canada; I love every minute of it. If you haven’t seen Algonquin at the end of September/mid-October, you haven’t lived.

I also love the blend of cultures here. I grew up in Cornwall, U.K., which was very homogeneous. Being able to come here and experience other cultures, foods and traditions is exciting for me. Dim sum was a revelation and, after 11 years, I’m still addicted. Blend all of these cultures with the energy in this city, and it’s invigorating.

I’d say the other two seasons are two of the worst aspects of Toronto. Summer is nice in that it’s warm, but it’s too warm and humid for my liking. Meanwhile, I definitely prefer the Canadian winter to the British one; I liken a Toronto winter to a quick blast of cold, then hours of nicely heated buildings … whereas British winters bring non-stop rain that just seeps into you and stays.

On the other hand, I’ve never taken to winter sports so I generally hibernate through the season. I will say, though, that after a few years I got completely hooked on hockey. I still suck at skating though.

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 exposure to Brits tends to be through other activities nowadays — through work, or my hobbies. It’s always great to meet other people who have gone through the same experiences, though. In particular, with the challenges I had getting started here, I enjoy the opportunity to provide advice or a helping hand for people just getting started on this side of the pond.

If you’re a football fan (or soccer, if you prefer), there are pubs around the city that are havens for football fans. I’m an Arsenal guy, and the Fox and Fiddle at Yonge/St. Clair has been a wonderful recent discovery for me.

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

Remember a significant portion of the people in Canada either moved to Canada in their lifetime or had their parents move here not too long ago. You’re not alone, and there IS a solid support network there if you need it.

Fantastic advice, Dave — thank you! Here is his personal blog if Brits want to connect.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Fiona Knight

Fiona Knight Photoshopped in front of Niagara Falls

Fiona Knight Photoshopped in front of Niagara Falls

Today’s brave victim to be profiled as a Successful Brit in Toronto is Fiona Knight, Owner/Consultant at Fiona Knight Consulting Services in Toronto. She gave a very non-committal and unsure “ummm” when I asked her on Twitter, but now I have the info there’s no turning back.

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

My family immigrated to Kitchener in 1978 and soon after I found the Big City of Toronto
on a school trip, I have lived here since 1981 — on and off. Raised my family here and started my business here in 1993.

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 the one planning anything; I actually returned to live in Croydon in 1983 and came back to Toronto for a lad … been here ever since! However, I do get to travel a LOT for my special events work and go home to England nearly every year, sometimes twice a year.

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job?

My first official Toronto job was as a backup singer — as I have been in the music and entertainment business most of my life it was not at all difficult to land. However, I was also working as a chambermaid at the Roehampton Hotel while I was singing at the
Chick’N’Deli on Mount Pleasant (and other jazz spots), which worked out well for getting on the job ladder in hospitality.

Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

Not really, although this was the late ’70s = different times!

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

Best – most diverse and wonderful city in the world and great food and local neighbourhoods from all over to discover! Worst – it takes a LOOOOONNNNNGGGG time to really meet people who might become your forever friends here. I took a long time to get used to the reserved nature of the typical Toronto lifestyle; no one invites you out — they are too busy commuting one to two hours each way for work.

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

I made my own networking opportunities with other like-minded folk to meet and hang out with! AND, I must admit, most of my good friendships are still across the pond or with ex-pats here.

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

I am part of a Meetup group for U.K. ex-pats and those who love them (lol) that holds pub nights around town, and pub quizzes are very well-attended. I live in Cabbagetown and was lucky to have two local pubs for most of the 30 years I have lived here, with a darts league and footy teams, so easy to meet folk. I find that pubs will advertise if they have special nights, so easy to track down a variety of activities. More difficult for young parents and those who do not live in the downtown spots. I found it VERY hard when I had a child until
I happened across a bunch (gaggle) of English and Scottish nannies in the local playgroup, then it got easier.

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

FREE ADVICE – BE PREPARED TO NOT FEEL TOO BRITISH WHEN IN ENGLAND AND NOT TOO CANADIAN WHEN IN TORONTO!!! Explore the two sides of your new lives and contact me for anything advice or event wise!!! Twitter and LinkedIn or 416-939-0090.

Thank you Fiona for being a good egg and taking part!

Successful Brits in Toronto: Ed Lee

Ed Lee sits and quietly reflects on the ROI of social media

Ed Lee sits and quietly reflects on the ROI of social media

Ed Lee is a brave chap. I contacted him out of the blue and asked if I could profile him as a successful Brit making it in Toronto. Even though Ed doesn’t know me from Adam, and could have been royally stitched up, he quickly agreed.

Thank you sir — and you have the honour of being the first Successful Brit in Toronto to inspire others who may be living in the city, or contemplating a move here.

Ed is the Senior Director of Social Media at Radar DDB and, in 2009, was named one of Marketing Magazine’s “Ones to Watch” — you can read about that on his Blogging Me, Blogging You blog (do I detect a nod to a certain Alan Partridge there?) and follow his Twitter account.

So, without further ado, here’s Ed’s thoughts on being a 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?

I moved here for a girl. I initially got a one-year working visa with a small PR shop and when it expired, we couldn’t get it renewed and decided to part ways, but I wasn’t ready to break up with the girl. Thankfully I had started doing “stuff” in social media and I was offered another job with a larger agency which had lawyers who were able to get me a work permit. Then the girl and I got married in 2007 and I became a permanent resident — and a citizen last year.

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

I love that the city has the best of what London offered — vibrant night life, sophisticated cultural scene and some beautiful public space and architecture — combined with a smaller footprint, multiculturality (is that a word?) and, well, Canadians. Everyone is so polite.

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 actively seek out other Brits but its always nice to meet a fellow expat — playing footy, at work, at the park with the kid or, like this weekend, at a birthday party. When I moved here I actually spent a lot of time on the Football365 forum in the Toronto thread — that was a big help!

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

When I moved here it was a big shock. I had been here precisely once for two days and then uprooted my life: changing countries, changing jobs and even changing industries. It’s a big change and it takes some time to get used to it. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t feel like you’re getting everything you want all at once. But enjoy this amazing country. My regret is not having done more travelling — I can’t wait to visit the east coast.

Thank you Ed! Here’s his LinkedIn profile if other Brits wanted to connect and get more intel on being a Brit in Toronto.