As a Canadian in London, I’ve always been struck how isolated we are here. Every other group – Africans, Europeans, Asians – even Americans – who comes to this city brings something of their country with them. They have their own pubs, cafes, newspapers, neighborhoods. They dominate sectors of the economy.
Look at the Aussies. They used to own Earl’s Court, now they’re out in Hammersmith, Shepard’s Bush. They have their own magazine (TNT amongst others). They have their own recruitment agencies, they started the hugely successful Gumtree. They build a home away from home.
There must be tens of thousands of Canadians in London right now, many coming for the two year work visa we’re still entitled to as children of the British Empire, and many more inheriting British citizenship through birth or, like me, through British parents (or grandparents). Yet aside from one pub, the Maple Leaf off Covent Garden (last time I was there a year ago, the clientele was entirely English), a shop, also on the market, selling overpriced Maple Syrup and Cheese Whiz, and a monthly newspaper – The Canada Post (far to the right of even the most right wing Canadian party in recent memory, the Harper Tories) – we ain’t got much presence at all.
In a way this is a good thing. We don’t travel around in packs like the Aussies, or stick to our own. We like to blend into British life and tend to stay away almost instinctively from other Canadians. Problem is, though – this city is brutal on the unconnected stranger. If you haven’t got a network here you’re basically screwed, and based on my very unscientific surveying of the Canadians I encounter here, we have a harder time because of it. We become isolated, even a little crazy – or worse, we become absurdly English and try to forget we’re even Canadian.
So Canadians In London – why do you think we don’t form groups like everyone else who immigrates to this city?