London, Ontario is home to over 30 000 students each year, but how much do you know about the forest city? For all of those thirsting for knowledge about their second (or maybe, first!) home, here’s a brief little history.
London, Ontario is often confused with the famous UK capital, and for good reason! Originally, the current location of London was selected as the site of the future capital of Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) in 1793. It wasn’t until over 30 years later that London was founded, but not as the capital city that was previously envisioned.
London was founded as the administrative seat for the London District after York (now Toronto) won the title of capital. Once the Old Court House (which can still be seen downtown!) was built, government officials followed by merchants and hotelkeepers swarmed to the village.
Over the next decade, London began to grow. The Covent Garden Market was established, and merchants, like John Labatt and Thomas Carling set up permanent brick shops and manufacturing plants.
Then, disaster struck. A fire destroyed the city centre in 1844 to 1845. But, London quickly bounced back and took the opportunity to rebuild in a more elegant fashion, resulting in beautiful buildings, like St. Paul’s Cathedral.
London continued to prosper. A railway built through the city and a Civil War in 1860 meant more business and more money came to London. This new affluence led to the building of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Huron College, and Western University.
As time progressed, the town expanded into the suburbs and more and more businesses came to the downtown core. Nowadays, London is a regional centre of health care and education and hosts a variety of musical and artistic exhibits and festivals. There’s always something going on and tons to explore!
For more history, click here!
Top 10 Things You May Not Know About the Forest City
1. London is affectionately known as the “Forest City” because of its many parks and green spaces. The city features over 200 parks, including the 140-hectare Springbank Park, skateboarding parks, and many off-leash dog areas. There are tons of spaces for walking, running, biking, or just tanning and enjoying the weather!
2. London is home to some of the largest festivals in North America! The London Rib-Fest on Civic Holiday Weekend (August 1st weekend) is the second largest barbecue rib festival in North America and Sunfest (usually held in the second weekend in July), a World music festival, is the second biggest in Canada after Toronto’s Caribana.
3. “The Notebook” movie stars, Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, along with scientist and environmental activist, David Suzuki, Olympic figure skaters, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and hockey player, Eric Lindros, all hail from London! Rumor has it that McAdams was spotted skating in Victoria Park just last year!
4. There are still some heritage-rich, Victorian-era homes for rent in London! You could live in one of the founding homes of London for the year as many of them go up for rent in September! If you want to visit the oldest home in London, you’ll be happy to know that it’s open to the public! Take a tour through Eldon House and have tea in the garden!
5. You can transport yourself back in time to the 1800s with a visit to the Fanshawe Pioneer Village. You can visit this historic site throughout the year for only $7 admission.
6. Booming businesses, such as the Labatt and Carling breweries, London Life Insurance Company, Imperial Oil, and Libro Financial Group, were all founded in London and still maintain large offices – perfect for students looking for internship opportunities or summer jobs!
7. Most of the roads in London are named after streets, cities, and buildings in London, UK as well as the names of some of the important government officials who helped found the city. It’s no wonder people get the two cities mixed up!
8. London is the birthplace of a phenomenon known as “squirrel luck.” To learn more about why one London man is convinced that a black squirrel helped him win the lottery, click here. You can even listen to the official The Black Squirrels Of London song online!
9. Covent Garden Market offers fresh, local, and artisanal products 7-days a week in their historic building all-year round. This is a great place to explore and try some local food while admiring the original Victorian architecture.
10. If you’re tired of the Western Bubble and Richmond Row, Wortley Village (just take bus 4 from downtown) offers a little escape back to the 19th century. With few students and an eclectic array of cafés and shops, London’s Old South neighbourhood offers a little recluse away from the world to study, chat with friends, or just enjoy a cup of coffee and relax.
Photo credit: http://lotterysquirrel.com