London is a city in southwestern Ontario, Canada on the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor with a metropolitan area population of about 447,286; the city proper has a population of about 351,267 (2004). It was settled in 1826 and incorporated as a city in 1855. London and the surrounding area (roughly, the territory between Kitchener and Chatham) are collectively known as Western Ontario. London is known as the "Forest City" due to its large areas of parkland and extensive tree cover.
Prior to European contact in the 17th century, the present site of London was occupied by numerous Algonquin and Iroquois villages; the Algonquin village at the forks of Askunessippi (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, who named it after London, England. However, the choice was rejected by Governor Dorchester, who commented sardonically that access to London would be limited to hot-air balloons. In 1814 there was a skirmish during the War of 1812 in what is now south London. The city itself was not founded until 1826, and 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 there was a brief rebellion led by Charles Duncombe.
In the 1860s, sulphurhot springs were discovered at the forks of the Thames River while industrialists were drilling for oil. The springs became a popular destination for wealthy Ontarians, until the turn of the 20th century when a textile factory was built over them.
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 Garrison Support Unit in the city.
London continues to grow, having amalgamated many of the surrounding communities in 1961 and again in 1993. Intense commercial/residential development is presently occurring in the southwest and northwest areas of the city. Opponents of this development cite urban sprawl and transportation concerns as major issues facing London. The City of London is currently the 11th largest city in Canada and the 5th largest city in Ontario.
April 13, 1845 - a large fire destroyed much of London, which was at the time filled with mostly wooden buildings. One of the first victims of the fire was the town's only fire engine.
May 24, 1881 - the ferry SS Victoria capsized in the Thames River, drowning approximately 200 passengers.
July 12, 1883 - the first of the two most devastating floods in London's history killed seventeen people.
April 26, 1937 - London's second-worst flood destroyed over 1000 homes and caused millions of dollars in damages, particularly in West London. 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.
1961 - London annexed many surrounding communities including Byron and Masonville, adding 60,000 people and more than doubling its size.
1961-1985 - High surburban growth accelerated as London grew outward in all directions creating massive new subdivisions such as Westmount, Oakridge, Whitehills, Pond Mills and White Oaks.
1984 - White Oaks neighbourhood in South London suffered extensive damage caused by a tornado.
1993 - London annexed the entire Town of Westminster, a large, primarily rural municipality directly south of the city. With this massive annexation, London almost doubled in size again, adding several thousand more residents. London now stretches all the way south to the boundary with Elgin County. The 1993 annexation has made London one of the largest urban municipalities in Ontario.
Law and Government
The courthouse and jail for Middlesex County are in London. London's mayor is Anne Marie DeCicco. London has fourteen councillors, two representing each of its seven wards. There is also a Board of Control, consisting of four Controllers, and the mayor. Though London has many ties to Middlesex County, it is now "separated" and the two have no jurisdictional overlap.
The Thames River dominates London's geography, with the North Thames River and Thames River meeting at the centre of the city known as "The Forks." The North Thames runs through the man-made Fanshawe Lake, located in north-east London. Fanshawe Lake was created by the building of Fanshawe Dam, which was constructed to protect the areas down river from catastrophic flooding which has affected the city on two occasions in the past.
The area was formed during the retreat of the glaciers during the last ice age, which produced areas of marshland, notably the Sifton Bog, as well as some of the most productive areas of farmland in Ontario. The eastern half of the city is generally flat, with gently rolling hills in the west and north. London has the most thunder and lightning storms of any area in Canada.
In 2001, London had a population of 326,539. Its population is fairly diverse, although there is no significant minority population, with Chinese-speakers being the next-largest group after English-speakers at only 2.0%. Seventy-nine per cent of the population was born in Canada, and 81% spoke an official language as a first language.
London elementary and secondary schools are part of two school boards, the Thames Valley District School Board and the London District Catholic School Board. See List of schools in London, Ontario.
London is the home of the University of Western Ontario (UWO). UWO was founded in 1878 and is Canada's fourth oldest university. UWO is a vibrant centre of learning with 1,164 faculty members and almost 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
UWO has three affiliated colleges: Brescia University College, founded in 1919, Canada's only university-level women's college; Huron University College, founded in 1863, pre-dating UWO itself; and King's University College, founded in 1957.
London is also the home of Fanshawe College, a community college with an enrolment of approximately 13,000 full-time post-secondary students, including 3,500 apprentices, more than 200 international students from over 34 countries, and almost 40,000 registrants taking part-time continuing education courses each year.
CFPL, radio (CFPL-AM and CFPL-FM) 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, a free biweekly newspaper, established in 1989; focusing on local and entertainment news
The Londoner , a free weekly newspaper founded in 2003, "London's community newspaper"
Arts and culture
Museum London is located at the Forks of the Thames; it includes art by Paul Peel and Greg Curnoe
Lack of an expressway through and/or around the city has contributed to increased traffic problems, particularly with population growth in recent decades. Crossing the city from east to west or north to south can take up to an hour at peak times. London is the largest city in Ontario to not have an internal expressway.
London is an important destination for intercity bus travellers. The express services to and from Toronto are heavily travelled, and connecting services radiate from London throughout southwestern Ontario and through Detroit, Michigan to Chicago, Illinois.