When a Canadian says he's just bought a photograph of Hong Kong for his flat, one doesn't expect to be taken to a local art gallery down a back alley in Mid-Levels, or to find that it is a picture of a construction site at Victoria Harbour. Where's the archetypal skyline picture? Why should you be interested in a land reclamation project and the immortalisation of buildings labelled for destruction? As it turns out, the constant rebuilding and renewal that Hong Kong has become so famous for is the perfect analogy for Andrew Work's life in the city. He says he flew halfway round the world for love and one expects some clich?d romance story involving a heroine being whisked away to a fairy-tale dreamland, but in the same excited voice he uses to describe and trace the tiniest details of his new purchase, he tells of a very different sort of love affair. After meeting his then wife-to-be in Canada 13 years ago, he followed her over 9,600km to Hong Kong, where he fell in love all over again. This love was no one-sided affair. His passion for the vitality and culture of Hong Kong has been matched by the city's passion for him - and as director at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, some of the other 220,000 expats living in the city he now represents. So has it always been like that? 'You know I have embarrassed myself in this city, but what I love about it is that I've learnt that people really respect you for carrying on.' He has launched an independent economic think-tank, a failed business, and lunched with some of the most respected businessmen and incoming trade ministers in town. It was following the collapse of his doomed enterprise, and the subsequent 'embarrassment', that he recalls a lunch meeting with two prominent entrepreneurs. 'They told me that they had piled large amounts of money into bad investments and that it was nothing to be ashamed off,' he said. 'You don't have to be embarrassed about taking chances and falling down. In Hong Kong all you've got to be embarrassed about is if you don't get back up. This city is extremely forgiving to those taking honest chances.' This sense of picking yourself up off the floor and getting on with life is a theme that runs right through Mr Work's time in Hong Kong. From the Asian financial crisis to recessions and severe acute respiratory syndrome, he has watched the city bounce back. 'There is a saying in accounting, 'last in, first out', and Hong Kong is that city in recessions.' He retains this optimism even though recessions have personally affected him. 'The funny thing about Hong Kong,' he says, 'is that so many people come from all over the world. The size and vitality of the Canadian groups here are amazing.' There are over 40 university alumni groups as well as countless school and community groups all existing within Hong Kong social networks, of which Mr Work is a prominent member. He knuckled down into community life and set up one of the few independent think-tanks in the city. Lion Rock primarily focuses on economic issues, including reducing poverty. 'It wasn't, and isn't, about simply having a stance on single issues; it would be arbitrary and confusing to do that. We set up Lion Rock to have a much more meaningful substance,' he explains. He singles out the organisation's successful campaign against a proposed anti-trust law as its proudest achievement. He believes Hong Kong pays excellent dividends on any investment outsiders choose to make in it. Convincing both locals and expats to think about the city differently is Mr Work's niche. And he has found Hong Kong to be a willing receptacle for his ideas. 'In very few places in the world do you have legislators as responsive to commerce and the grievances and ideas of the people involved in it, as you do in Hong Kong. I don't think that is a bad thing. It's good to listen.' With that, and one last fond look at his photograph, he steps back out into the bustle of Soho and carries on.