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London, Ontario

London is a city in southwestern Ontario, Canada having a population of about 337,318 (2001). It was settled in 1826 and established as a city in 1855. London and the surrounding area (roughly, the territory between Kitchener, Ontario and Chatham, Ontario) are known as Western Ontario. London is known as the "Forest City" due to its large areas of parkland and extensive tree cover.

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Prior to European contact in the 17th century, the present site of London was occupied by numerous Iroquois villages; the village at the forks of Askumessippi (the Thames River) was called Kotequogong. This site was selected as the site of the future capital of Upper Canada by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe in 1793, although the city itself was not founded until 1826 and it never became the capital envisioned by Simcoe. It was part of the Talbot Settlement, overseen by Colonel Thomas Talbot, who surveyed the land and built the first government buildings for the administration of the Western Ontario region. With the rest of southwestern Ontario which was part of this settlement it benefited from Talbot's provisions for building and maintaining roads and for assignment of priority for access to main roads to productive land (rather than to Crown and clergy reserves, which received preference in the rest of Ontario). London remained a centre of strong Tory support during the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837, with a large British garrison stationed there, although Charles Duncombe did lead a group of rebels there.

While other Protestant cities in Ontario (notably Toronto) remained under the sway of the Orange Order well into the twentieth century, London abandoned sectarianism[?] in the nineteenth. In 1877, Catholic and Protestant Irish in London formed the Irish Benevolent Society[?], which was open to both Catholics and Protestants and forbade the discussion of Irish politics. The influence of the Orange Order (and of Catholic organizations) quickly waned. The Society survives to this day.

London continued its role as a military centre during the two world wars, serving as the administrative centre for the Western Ontario district. Today there is still an active Canadian Forces Base in the city.

London continues to grow, having amalgamated many of the surrounding communities in the 1990s. It is currently the 11th largest city in Canada and the 5th largest city in Ontario.

Major Historical Events

On May 24, 1881, the ferry SS Victoria capsized in the Thames River, drowning approximately 200 passengers.

On April 26, 1937, there was a devastating flood that destroyed over 1000 homes and caused millions of dollars in damages. After repeated floods the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority[?] built Fanshawe Dam to control the level of the Thames; it opened in 1952. Financing came from the federal, provincial, and municipal governments.

Law/Government London's mayor is Anne Marie DeCicco. London has 7 councillors who represent each of 7 wards. There is also a Board of Control, consisting of 4 Controllers and the mayor.

Geography London is situated in Middlesex County, at the forks of the non-navigable Thames River, almost exactly halfway between Toronto and Detroit. The area was formed during the retreat of the glaciers during the last ice age, and contains one of the most productive areas of farmland in Ontario. Its major crops are tobacco, soybean, corn (maize), and winter wheat.

Physical geography (area, unique features) The Thames dominates London's geography, with the river's two branches meeting at the centre of the city. The North Branch of the Thames runs through the man-made Lake Fanshawe, located to the north-east of London.

Major Parks

  • Victoria Park, in central London
  • Harris Park, in north London
  • Fanshawe Park

Economy Its economy is dominated by locomotive and military vehicle production, insurance, life sciences/biotechnology, and information technology.

Major industries/products:

  • adhesive tape
  • beer
  • breakfast cereal
  • life insurance
  • locomotives
  • military vehicles
  • biotechnology
  • life sciences

Demographics In 2001, London had a population of 326,539 (2001). Its population is fairly diverse, although there is no significant minority population, with Polish-speakers being the next-largest group after English-speakers at only 1.9%. Seventy-nine per cent of the population was born in Canada, and 81% spoke an official language as a first language.


From StatsCan 2001 Census data:

  • 79.9% English
  • 1.9% Polish
  • 1.7% Arabic
  • 1.7% French
  • 1.5% Portugese
  • 1.4% Spanish
  • 1.1% Italian
  • 9.7% Other languages

Colleges/Universities in city London is the home of the University of Western Ontario (UWO). UWO was founded in 1878 and is Canada's 4th oldest school with approximate enrolment of 26,000 full-time students.

The Richard Ivey School of Business is part of UWO, was formed in 1922 and it often ranks among the best business schools in the world, and the best in Canada.

UWO has three affiliated colleges: Brescia University College, founded in 1919, Canada's only university-level women's college; Huron University College, founed in 1863, pre-dating UWO itself; and King's College, founded in 1957.

London is also the home of Fanshawe College[?], a community college with an enrolment of over 10,000 students.

Sporting teams in the city

The University of Western Ontario teams play under the name Mustangs.

Notable personalities in London's history


  • London Free Press, newspaper, established in 1849; formerly owned by the Blackburn Family, it is now owned by Sun Media
  • CFPL, radio and television station ("The New PL"); the radio network owns some other stations in London, and is itself owned by Corus Entertainment, while the TV station is part of the CHUM network
  • Scene Magazine, newspaper, established in 1989; focusing on local alternative and entertainment news.

Sports and Entertainment

  • Museum London is located at the Forks of the Thames; it includes art by Paul Peel and Greg Curnoe
  • Fanshawe Pioneer Village, a reconstructed 19th century village
  • Museum of Archaeology, owned by the University of Western Ontario, with a reconstructed Iroquois village
  • McIntosh Gallery, an art gallery on the UWO campus
  • Storybook Gardens, an amusement park/zoo for children
  • Home County Folk Festival - Folk music festival
  • London International Children's Festival, held every summer
  • London Fringe Festival[?] -
  • Guy Lombardo Museum
  • Grand Theatre
  • Sunfest - World music and culture festival
  • The Western Fair
  • Western Fair Raceway, a half-mile harness racing track and simulcast centre; despite its name, it operates year-round
  • John Labatt Centre, arena
  • Labatt Park, baseball park
  • TD Waterhouse Stadium, an all-purpose stadium at the University of Western Ontario


  • Major highways include Highway 401 (the Macdonald-Cartier Expressway, connecting Windsor to Montreal), Highway 402 (to Sarnia), Highway 7 (to Kitchener-Waterloo), and Highway 2 (to Hamilton)
  • London is on the Grand Trunk Western Railway[?] main line (GTW is now a division of Canadian National Railway). Via Rail operates passenger service through London; Canadian National Railways and the Canadian Pacific Railway also have freight routes through London
  • London is also an important destination for intercity bus travellers, perhaps because of the cost of Via Rail travel and widespread belief in its unreliability. The express service from Toronto is heavily travelled, and connecting services radiate from London throughout Western Ontario.
  • London International Airport (YXU) is served by airlines such as Air Canada, WestJet and Northwest Airlines
  • The London Transit Commission has 35 bus routes throughout the city

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