Local History

At the Library
Ivey Family London Room

The Ivey Family London Room is a research facility for genealogy and local history located at the Central Library. It contains a wealth of secondary source materials on the city of London and the counties of Elgin, Middlesex, Norfolk and Oxford as well as original materials on the city of London and Middlesex County, such as:

  • books
  • diaries & manuscripts
  • minutes
  • maps
  • photographs and other memorabilia
  • selected municipal documents
The London Room collection does not circulate. 

The London Room is open when the Central Library is open. Click HERE to get Central Library Hours & Location Information.

Ivey Family London Room Digital Collections

We provide online access to images and indexes from the local history collection.  This is an ongoing project and new resources are always being uploaded.  You can search the collection from here.

Archives and Historical Societies

In My Community

Glencoe and District Historical Society
Located in the town of Glencoe Ontario, the Glencoe & District Historical Society was formed in 1978 and has been an intricate part of the community these many years. The promotion of local history, genealogy, and the preservation of historical documents are among the primary objectives of the society.  

Archives and Research Collections, Western Archives
The Archives and Research Collections Centre contains primary and secondary sources pertaining to London and Middlesex County and the surrounding counties in southwestern Ontario especially Elgin, Huron, Lambton and Oxford. An in-house catalogue provides access to manuscript collections, many of which have finding aids.

London and Middlesex Historical Society
The Society has been promoting the awareness of local history and encouraging historical research since 1901.  Their website includes information on upcoming programmes and a list of heritage articles written by Society members.

Middlesex Centre Archives

The mandate of this archives is to acquire, preserve and make available to the public, records of enduring value to Middlesex Centre and  to the former townships of Delaware, Lobo and London. 

Strathroy and District Historical Society
The Strathroy and District Historical Society was formed in 2008.  The Society primarily focuses on local history in Strathroy-Caradoc and surrounding areas including Adelaide-Metcalfe.   

The Society's mandate is to promote the local history and preserve the historical documents of Westminster Township.
In My Region

Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre

This centre houses the archives for Bruce County.

County of Oxford Archives
The official repository for the municipal Corporation of the County of Oxford, including historical records of the County of Oxford,1850 to the present, and its predecessor, the District of Brock, 1842 to 1849. Included on this site are a list of services provided by the archives, research tips and information about Oxford County's digitization project.

Dufferin County Museum and Archives

This is the archival centre for Dufferin County.

Elgin County Archives
The Archives is the official repository of records of the County of Elgin since its incorporation in 1852 as well as those of its current and former constituent municipalities. The Archives also houses a wide array of archival fonds and private historical collection. The Archives has made available a descriptive database that can be searched and additions are being made on a regular basis. Records are also described on-line through ARCHEION, Ontario's Archival Information Network.

Grey Roots

Estsblished in 2000, Grey Roots Museum and Archives promotes the preservation, understanding and communication of the unique heritage of Grey County. 

Lambton County Archives

Lambton County Archives is the archival centre for genealogical and local history research in Lambton County. 

Oxford County Historical Society
Contains Historic Oxford Photos, What We Are, What We Do amd Weekly History Quiz and Related Links

Stratford Perth Archives

The archives' mandate is to act as the offical repository for archival records created by the City of Stratford, the County of Perth and the Municipalities of North Perth, Perth East, Perth South and West Perth, their predecessors and their agencies, boards and commissions.  To see the holdings of the archives, click on Archives-Resources on the left sidebar. 

Wellington County Museum and Archives

Located in a building that stands as the oldest remaining House of Industry in Canada (built in 1877), the Wellington County Museum and Archives was organized in 1974.  A new archives wing opened in 2010.  Its mandate is to serve as a cultural centre, providing exhibits, programmes, resources, services and support for the artistic, educational and historical interests of the communities of Wellington County.  ,

Find out more about Who Lived in your House

Here are the steps to finding out more about the people who lived in your house in the past or ran a business in your place of business.

Vernon's City Directories
Published annually, City Directories are a fantastic place to start for finding out which businesses were in your building or who lived in your house. Look up by address will tell  you the name of the occupant then look up that name in the personal names section to find their occupation. Microfilm 1856-1980.

London Room Card Indexes
These catalogue card indexes have been created by librarians over the years. Search by name to find out whether they have been mentioned in a book, local newspaper or magazine. Then we can help you find that book or article.

Published Local Histories
Local histories include many stories and mentions of residents at the time.

Goodspeed's History of Middlesex County
Published in 1889, this book has over 300 pages of individual and family histories indexed by surname.

Census
Census returns often included in the occupation of every adult in the home.

Library Catalogue
Books about the history of various London individuals and families.

Photographs
The London Room has printed photographs of Londoners, buildings, houses and streetscenes. Ask at the Reference Desk for staff assistance. Some of these photographs may also be viewed online on the Historic Images Gallery.

Find the History of Your House

Researching the History of Your House

Here are the steps to go through to find the history of your house or building at the Library. 

Buildings, Places and Landmarks Index
The first place to start at the library, this is a card catalogue index that has been maintained by librarians for more than 40 years. Look up an address and find out if that house or building has a City of London heritage designation or has been mentioned in some key resources, including:

  • Annual Geranium Heritage House Tour booklets
  • Local newspapers and magazines
  • Local architectural books

If it has been mentioned, we will then help you find that article or book at the library.

Inventory of Heritage Resources for London
Created by the City, this book lists over 2500 houses and buildings with their construction date, architectural style and rank by heritage value.

Vernon's City Directories
Published annually, City Directories are a fantastic place to start for discovering out which businesses were in your building or who lived in your house. Search by address to find out the name of the occupant. Then look up that name in the personal names section to find their occupation. Microfilm: 1856-1980. Paper: 1981-2013.  The final edition of the city directory was 2013. 

Fire Insurance Plans

These city maps, produced approminately every 10 years, show the property lines, outlines of buildings and are colour-coded to indicate the building materials used. You may even find out the number of stories and location of doors and windows. Microfilm: 1881 - 1970. Paper:  1892, 1912, 1958.

Fire insurance plans for the city of London - 1881(revised 1888), 1892 (revised 1907) and 1912 (revised 1915, 1922) - are also available online and in paper form at the Map and Data Centre located in the basement of the D.B. Weldon Library at Western University 

There are also over 900 fire insurance plans housed in the Western Archives.

Maps
A large collection of neighbourhood and city maps, including annexation maps.

Assessment Rolls
Created by the municipality.  Look up an address in the assessment rolls to find the name of the occupant, their occupation, a description of the property and its assessed value. Microfilm: 1905-1930.  Paper:  1895, 1910, 1916, 1927, 1939, 1953, 1959, 1966.  Microfiche:  1984, 1986, 1990

Area Clippings File
These paper files contain clippings from the London Free Press on various neighbourhoods in London from the 1950's to 1993.

Library Catalogue
Books about the history of various London buildings.

Photographs
The London Room has print photographs of Londoners, buildings, houses and streetscenes. Ask at the Reference Desk for staff assistance. Some of these photographs may also be viewed online on the Historic Images Gallery.

Who Lived in Your House?

Here are the steps to finding out more about the people who lived in your house in the past or ran a business in your place of business.

Vernon's City Directories
Published annually, City Directories are a fantastic place to start for finding out which businesses were in your building or who lived in your house. Look up by address will tell  you the name of the occupant then look up that name in the personal names section to find their occupation. Microfilm 1856-1980; paper - 1981-2013.  The final edition of the city directory was 2013. 

London Room Card Indexes
These catalogue card indexes have been created by librarians over the years. Search by name to find out whether they have been mentioned in a book, local newspaper or magazine. Then we can help you find that book or article.

Published Local Histories
Local histories include many stories and mentions of residents at the time.

Goodspeed's History of Middlesex County
Published in 1889, this book has over 300 pages of individual and family histories indexed by surname.

Census
Census returns often included in the occupation of every adult in the home.

Library Catalogue
Books about the history of various London individuals and families.

Photographs
The London Room has printed photographs of Londoners, buildings, houses and streetscenes. Ask at the Reference Desk for staff assistance. Some of these photographs may also be viewed online on the Historic Images Gallery.

Community Resources

Neighbourhood Associations often have members who have lived in the area for many years and may have memories of the property you are researching. 

The organizations listed below have amazing resources for the history of your house. 

ACO – London   Branch

LACH – London Advisory Committee on Heritage

Planning and Development Department at the City of London

How to find out more about who lived in your house

Historic London Photographs

Ivey Family London Room Digital Collections
London Public Library (Ontario) provides access to images and indexes from its local history collection, including those housed in the Ivey Family London Room.

The Ivey Family London Room Digital Collections contains hundreds of photographs of local buildings, businesses, and landscapes taken in the 1800s and early 1900s that were formerly tucked away in our archives.  It also provides access to many of our indexes.

Made possible thanks to the generous donation from Friends of the London Public Library.

Printing Low-Resolution Images
  • print images directly from the website, for research or private use, at no charge (there are no facilities for making hard copy prints at the library)
  • browse the images by date, subject or location OR search for particular buildings, businesses or people
Purchasing High-Resolution Images
  • purchase high resolution images, 600 dpi (jpg)
  • delivery of images via temporary download only (no burning to CD, DVD available)

  • rates are $25.00 per image, for personal and publication use, according to Create Commons Licensing. HST is included

  • for requests of five images or more, a rate $20.00 per image is applied

  • quality of the reproduction is dependent on the original scanned
To Order
  1. Select image(s)
  2. Make note of Local Identifier number  - how to find it?
  3. Complete Image Request Form online and submit.
  4. Requests are handled in the order in which they are received.
  5. You will receive an email confirming your final cost.
  6. Orders are processed upon receipt of payment in full.
  7. You may choose to pick up your CD in person or have it mailed to you.
  8. All customers must agree to the Licensing Agreement.
  9. Payment can be made in person (cash, money order, debit, VISA, MASTERCARD) or by phone (VISA, MASTERCARD)

London Public Library
attn: London Room
251 Dundas Street,
London, ON N6A 6H9


Tel: 519.661.4600 ask for London Room; Fax: 519.663.5396

Historic London Images on Historypin
View a collection or take a walking tour from your chair through historic London from the 1860's onwards.
Take the walking tour while strolling London's downtown by downloading the Historypin app from the app store for your iPhone, iPad, Android or Windows OS smartphone. You will be able to see the historic images layered over the current location using the app.

Hint: After clicking on the image below, click on Slideshow then sit back and enjoy your travel through time.

 

Image Reproduction Request Form

Prior to completing this form, please read the Licensing Agreement.

Date form is being submitted
Your name
Apt, # Street Name
City of Residence
Name of the first image
Local Identifier # for the image
Name of second image (if required)

Historic Sites Committee

Unveiling the Historic Sites plaque at the site of the London Hydro Shop
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Unveiling the Historic Sites plaque at the site of the London Hydro Shop

Rogers video of Gina Barber discussing its significance

Since 1970, the Historic Sites Committee has erected plaques commemorating buildings and sites of historical and architectural merit in London. The purpose of the plaques is to inform Londoners and visitors about the city's history and, by extension, to interest Londoners in the preservation and appreciation of their heritage.

For additional information, contact Arthur McClelland at the Central Library, 519-661-4600.

122 Carling Street

122 Carling Street

Find location on Google Maps: 122 Carling Street, London (Marienbad Restaurant)

Take a tour of the 122 Carling Street on Historypin

Plaque installed on October 2, 1990

Mareinbad Restaurant photograph

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG C-14, John Ross Robertson, 1870

History

122 Carling Street was one of many commercial structures built in the 1850s in London.

The coming of the railway had turned the village into a city almost overnight. A major land speculation boom followed, with some predicting the city’s population would reach one million by 1900. The 1870 financial panic of 1857 destroyed these hopes, and three-quarters of the city’s businesses went bankrupt over the next three years.

Of the several newspapers published in London in 1855, only the London Free Press had survived by 1859.

The American Civil War had a major impact on the city and the newspaper. Spies, foreign journalists, and Pinkerton’s agents moved in and out of the city’s hotels. British soldiers were ever present, as the local garrison had been reinforced in case of possible invasion by Union troops seeking retribution for perceived British support of the Confederacy. Several Free Press reporters were dispatched to cover the conflict and later reported on the battles of the Fenian Raids. Free Press reporter Malcolm Bremner slept in the field before the Battle of Ridgeway in 1866, to be sure not to miss the action.

By 1871, the Free Press moved to Richmond Street and 122 Carling Street became the Queen’s Hotel, later one of London’s leading hostelries, with 28 neatly furnished guest rooms and an elegant dining room.

In 1921, this building housed the Farmer’s Advocate, an agricultural journal founded by William Weld in 1866. It was the country’s longest published agricultural paper, circulating throughout Canada and the U. S. for 99 years. One of its editors, Watson Porter, also became broadcast chairman for the influential radio program, National Farm Radio Forum.

In 1974, the Marienbad Restaurant opened in the building.

Farmer's Advocate

Click on image for details

A black and white print of an original photograph of the brick building at 122 Carling Street which housed the Farmer's Advocate.

African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1848-1869

African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1848-1869

Find location on Google Maps: 275 Thames Street, London

This building was moved from 275 Thames Street to 432 Grey Street next to Beth Emmanuel Church, 430 Grey Street, London on November 12, 2014.

Take a tour of the African Methodist Episcopal Church on Historypin

Plaque installed on August 11, 1986

photograph of African Methodist Episcopal church

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG F-358, Glen Curnoe, 1988

History

This is the site of the first church of the Black community in London, Upper Canada (now Ontario). This church, however, existed in a much wider historical context.

All European empires which began their expansion in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries used some kind of slavery in their imperial territories, with most slaves shipped from the west coast of Africa. The British Empire shipped hundreds of thousands of slaves to labour in the British American colonies.

The first legislature of Upper Canada, under Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe, passed a statute on July 9, 1793, that ended the importation of further slaves into the province. The abolition of slavery throughout the Empire received Royal Assent from King William IV on August 28, 1833 , after passage by the Imperial Parliament.

Subsequently, Upper Canada became a sanctuary for Black slaves from the U.S., and the London area had a sizeable colony of Black refugees by the 1840s.

In 1847, land was bought for the African Methodist Episcopal Church (also referred to as the Fugitive Slave Chapel). It became the British Methodist Episcopal Church in 1856.

It is believed that the American orator and Harper’s Ferry revolt leader John Brown spoke at the church in the summer of 1858, a gathering to which only those who knew the password were admitted. Reports suggest that Brown’s plan was the formation of a Black military company which would join with other units in St. Catharines, Chatham, and Windsor to aid in his planned revolution. This objective was never realized.

In 1869, the congregation moved to Grey Street where it built a new church, Beth Emmanuel, which remains today at No. 430. The congregation’s tenure here is a testament to the importance of religion to Black settlers and the deep faith which gave them hope during a long period of oppression.

Fugitive Slave Chapel

Click on image for details

Inscription: "Fugitive Slave Chapel of London. Above is the original African Methodist Episcopal Church at No. 275 Thames street as it appears today. The little frame building played an interesting role in the fight to relase from slavery the negroes of Southern United States."

This is a grainy print of the picture and caption that appeared in the London Advertiser May 8, 1926.

Arthur Stringer House

Arthur Stringer House

Find location on Google Maps: 64 Elmwood Avenue East, London

Take a tour of the Arthur Stringer House on Historypin

Plaque installed on October 1, 2000
This plaque was erected in November 1975 but not unveiled until 2000.

Arthur Stringer House London

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG F-354, Glen Curnoe, 1988

History

Future writer Arthur Stringer was born in Chatham, Ontario, in 1874, a descendant of a fugitive of the 1837 Rebellion.

The Stringer family moved to this house in 1884, and Arthur attended London Collegiate Institute. He later studied at the University of Toronto and briefly at Oxford University.

During these years, his poems were published in Toronto’s Saturday Night and Canadian Magazine. In 1895, he took a position at the Montreal Herald. He later moved to New York where he became friends with such literary figures as Bliss Carman and Charles G. D. Roberts and wrote for Atlantic Monthly and Harper’s Magazine.

In 1903 his first novel, The Silver Poppy, was published and he married Jobyna Howland, an actress. They spent several summers at a fruit farm on Lake Erie and wintered in Europe and North Africa. After they divorced in 1914, Stringer married his cousin, Margaret Arbuthnott.

By this time, he had published several other books, including The Wire Tappers and The Prairie Wife. In 1918, Stringer spent a year in Hollywood, where he wrote screenplays. Some thirty of his stories were made into films.

In 1921, he and his wife moved to Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, where he continued to write. He spent time leading camping expeditions in the woods, and traveled extensively in Canada, the United States, and Europe. An eclectic personality, Stringer was equally comfortable as journalist, poet, novelist, screen-writer, bohemian, and backwoodsman. Actress Mary Pickford (about whom he had written a book) once aptly called him “Chameleon Arthur.”

Stringer published fifteen volumes of poetry, 45 works of fiction, and countless articles. He died at Mountain Lakes in 1950.

 Forest City Bicycle Club in Photographer's Studio, London, Ontario

Click on image for details

A black and white print taken from an original card mounted photograph showing the Forest City Bicycle Club posing formally in an unidentified photographer's studio.

Handwritten on the reverse of original photograph: Presented to the London & Middlesex by Forest City Bicycle Club, April 24th 1942. R.M. Burns. [A handwritten list identifying most of the members are then listed in numerical order]:  4. Arthur Stringer - Author

Banting House

Banting House

Find location on Google Maps: 442 Adelaide Street North, London

Take a tour of the Banting House on Historypin

Plaque installed on October 30, 1970
A new plaque with the corrected date of October 31 was unveiled on October 31, 2000.

Banting House photograph

Photo credit: John Lutman, 2005

History

The son of a Methodist farmer, Frederick Banting was born on November 14, 1891, in Alliston, Ontario. He developed an interest in diabetes at a young age after witnessing a friend’s lingering death from the disease.

In 1916, Banting received his medical degree from the University of Toronto. He then served as a doctor during the First World War and was awarded the Military Cross for tending patients in the field, while himself wounded.

Upon returning to Canada, Banting moved to London and opened a small practice at 442 Adelaide Street while continuing to study diabetes. In October 1920, he was asked to lecture at Western University’s Medical School on the subject of the pancreas.

On the night of October 30, he had gone to bed thinking about pancreatic spots which he had been investigating. At 2:30 a.m. he got up and wrote, “Ligate pancreatic ducts of dogs. Wait 6 - 8 weeks.... Remove residue and extract.” 

He appealed unsuccessfully to the Western University of London, Ontario to grant him research facilities, but obtained a lab and an assistant, Dr. Charles H. Best, at the University of Toronto.

After much research, on July 30, 1921, Banting achieved a medical breakthrough by bringing a dog out of a diabetic coma with his pancreatic extract, insulin. On July 11, 1922, it was first used on a person with diabetes, resuscitating him from near death to health. Insulin became a universal treatment for diabetes.

Sir Frederick Banting, who won the Nobel Prize in 1923 and received more honours than any Canadian before him, remained extremely humble, giving away much of his prize money to research.

During the Second World War, he was involved in many areas of research including cancer, seasickness, and silicosis. In 1941 Banting died in an airplane crash in Newfoundland while on his way to Britain.

Beechwood

Beechwood

Find location on Google Maps: 80 Ridout Street South, London

Take a tour of the Beechwood on Historypin

Plaque installed on December 10, 1970
This building was demolished in 1972 and the plaque was reinstalled in the Ivey Family London Room, Central Library, 251 Dundas Street, London.

photograph of Beechwood

Photo credit: Western Archives, London Free Press Collection of Photographic Negatives, Jeanne Graham, December 10, 1970

History

One of London’s finest nineteenth century estates, Beechwood once contained a fine grove of beech and sugar maples.

John Birrell, who built the house in 1854, was born in the Shetland Islands in 1815. He arrived in London in 1840 and became a leading dry goods wholesaler (his business being valued at $150,000 at his death in 1875). He was a director of the London and Port Stanley Railway, president of the London, Huron, and Bruce Railway, and founder of the Board of Trade. He helped in the construction of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, was president of the local Conservative Association, and a founder of the Huron and Erie Savings and Loan Society.

With his wife, Maria Louisa Sunley, he raised ten children. Birrell died of heart disease in 1875. As evidence of his popularity, there were 167 carriages in the funeral procession.

In 1891, the house was purchased by Colonel William Moir Gartshore, who came to London in 1873 as manager of the London Car Wheel Company. In 1876, he married Catharine McClary, whose family’s stove company played a major role in London’s development as a manufacturing centre. Gartshore was the longtime manager and later president of the McClary Manufacturing 1970 Company.

Gartshore was also an officer in the Queen’s Own Regiment, served in the Northwest Rebellion in 1885, and was later Commander of the First Regiment of Cavalry (later the First Hussars). A director of the Western Fair and chairman of the Victoria Hospital Trust, Gartshore was also briefly mayor of London in 1916, until a vote recount indicated a tie, which was broken in his opponent’s favour.

In 1951, Beechwood passed to Gartshore’s widowed daughter, Edna Cleghorn, and in 1967 the property was left to Victoria Hospital. The house was demolished in 1972.

The Gartshore Estate Apartments now occupy the site.

Colonel William Moir Gartshore,

Click on image for more details

Portrait of Lieutenant-Colonel William Moir Gartshore

Lieutenant Colonel William Moir Gartshore became president of the McClary Manufacturing Company of London, Ontario after the death of his father-in-law, John McClary in 1921.

Bleak House

Bleak House

Find location on Google Maps: 440 Princess Avenue, London (North-west corner of Princess and Maitland Streets; Present site of Lord Roberts Public School)

Take a tour of the Bleak House on Historypin

Plaque installed on May 5, 2000

photograph of Bleak House

Photo credit: courtesy of Glen Curnoe, London Advertiser, Henry G. Hines, January 28, 1914

History

The Bleak House property remained in the Macbeth family until the London Board of Education purchased it in 1914 to make way for the Lord Roberts Public School, which opened in 1915.

Bleak House was built around 1851.  George Macbeth, who named it, was born in 1825 to Scottish crofters evicted in the Highland clearances who had emigrated in 1813 to Lord Selkirk’s Red River Settlement.  The family moved to Dunwich Township, Upper Canada, in 1838. The next year, George went to work for Colonel Thomas Talbot.

Talbot was then aged and lonely.  After serving in the British army as private secretary to John Graves Simcoe, Talbot was granted land in Dunwich and Aldborough Townships in 1801.  He administered land settlement in much of what is now Middlesex, Elgin, Kent, Norfolk, and Essex counties.

George Macbeth became Talbot’s servant, business manager, and companion, travelling twice with him to England and Europe.  In 1847, Talbot’s nephew, Richard Airey, emigrated with his family to manage Talbot’s properties.  Talbot gave half his estate to Airey, and willed most of the remainder to the faithful Macbeth, who moved to London in 1852.

He and his wife, Anne Gilbert Saunders, rented a fine home on Princess Street, naming it Bleak House in honour of the Charles Dickens novel. It may have been there that Talbot died, aged 81, in 1853. Macbeth ran successfully for the Conservatives in 1854, 1857, 1914, and 1861 in the riding of West Elgin.  Unseated in 1863 for political corruption, he was next elected in 1867 and 1869 as alderman for Ward 6 in the City of London.

George died in June 1870 and was buried near his father and Colonel Talbot in Tyrconnell Cemetery near Port Talbot.

Brick Street Methodist Church

Brick Street Methodist Church

Find location on Google Maps: 362 Commissioners Road West, London

Take a tour of the Brick Street Methodist Church on Historypin

Plaque installed August 16, 1977

Brick Street Methodist Church

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG F-377, Glen Curnoe, January 1989

History

The northern concessions of Westminster Township, through which Commissioners Road passes, were first surveyed in 1809 by an American, Simon Zelotes Watson. After a land dispute with Colonel Thomas Talbot, during which Watson challenged Talbot to a duel (a challenge which Talbot contemptuously rejected), Watson returned to the United States.

In preparation for war with the U. S., a road was driven through the bush from Burlington Bay to the Detroit River. Locally, Commissioners Road soon served its purpose as a retreat route for British General Henry Proctor after his defeat at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813. The retreating column is thought to have engaged in a skirmish with pursuing Kentucky riflemen on what is now Reservoir Hill. During the engagement, local settler Phoebe McNames is said to have passed out ammunition and assisted with the wounded under fire.

Early settlers, Phoebe McNames and her husband Peter, once owned Lot 34, Concession 1, Westminster Township on which this church and its cemetery are now located.

The first burials occurred about 1813, making this one of the oldest cemeteries in the area.

American Methodist circuit riders travelling along Commissioners Road preached to local settlers, and a Methodist Episcopal church was organized in 1816. The congregation erected their first church on this site shortly thereafter.

They replaced it in 1852 with the present church using brick supplied by one of the many brickyards that gave Commissioners Road its local name, Brick Street.

In 1925, the congregation became part of the United Church of Canada. The church was stuccoed in the early 1930’s, and was sold in 1962 to the Free Christian Reformed Church.

It is the second oldest church building in London, and currently houses a Montessori School.

Buchan House

Buchan House

Find location on Google Maps: 566 Dundas Street, London

Take a tour of the Buchan House on Historypin

Plaque installed June 2, 1973

Buchan House photograph

Photo credit: Western Archives, ca 1900

History

The area to the west of Adelaide Street was once the eastern outskirts of London and a residential location for the well-to-do.

Buchan House, formerly Oakhurst, was built in 1871 of white brick in the Italianate style for Thomas Aspden.

In 1887, Thomas Baker Escott bought the house and added the magnificent towered front. Escott established a major grocery wholesale company, with his local operation in a warehouse on York Street where he sold a large variety of foods and spices.

In 1919, the house was sold to Albert D. Jordan and became the London Institute of Musical Arts (later the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music). The attic was transformed into an assembly hall, with a platform for piano and instruments which were played at weekly recitals. Jordan was the organist and choir master at First Methodist Church and a major figure in the Musical Arts Society. In this capacity he also organized concerts. One such event in 1916 was a performance of Handel's "Messiah" by a chorus of 400 and a symphony orchestra which included Guy Lombardo. Other concerts featured such groups as the New York Symphony and the Russian Symphony Orchestra.

In 1945, Branch 279 of the Canadian Legion purchased the building. The branch had been founded in 1936 by a group of First World War veterans.

While preliminary meetings were being held it was learned that John Buchan, the first Baron Tweedsmuir, had been appointed Governor General of Canada. Buchan allowed the use of his name for the branch and became its Honorary President. His coat of arms and his sunflower crest were also adopted by the branch.

The building has since been renovated many times, and has one of the finest clubrooms in Canada. The Tweedsmuir Branch was active in aiding veterans, and contributed to many organizations such as the Red Cross and the United Appeal.

Carling Breweries

 

Carling Breweries

Find location on Google Maps: At the bottom of Ann Street, near the banks of the Thames River, London

Take a tour of the Carling Breweries on Historypin

Plaque installed on October 7, 1995

Carling Breweries photograph

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG L-18, James Egan, ca 1890

Click on image for details

History

Carling Breweries was established in London in 1843 by Thomas Carling, a native of Yorkshire, England, who had settled in London Township in 1819.

He married Margaret Routledge in 1820, and they moved to London in 1843 with their sons William, Isaac, and John. Thomas established a small brewery on Waterloo Street, an ideal location directly c. 1875 opposite the British military garrison, which quartered thirsty soldiers.

In 1850, Thomas passed control of the brewery to his son William, and John was made a partner. John Carling later served in Prime Minister Macdonald’s cabinet, was knighted, and appointed to the Senate.

The business expanded rapidly, with a new brewery in Montreal and agencies across the country. Products were shipped throughout Canada and the United States.

Between 1873 and 1875, a new brewery was built on Ann Street near the Thames River, the site having been chosen for its proximity to a large spring-water pond. In 1879, a spectacular fire destroyed the building and seriously wounded William Carling, who had attempted to save some files from the burning building. Weakened by exhaustion and exposure, he died of pneumonia two weeks later.

The Carlings rebuilt the brewery which was 300 feet long and five and a half stories high, with a seven-story malting tower, and surrounded by a complex of outbuildings and warehouses.

After John Carling’s death in 1911, his son T. Harry Carling assumed the company presidency. Wartime restrictions and prohibition reduced the brewery’s output and it closed temporarily in 1920.

In 1924, the business became a joint stock company, Carling Breweries Limited. In 1930 it was purchased by E.P. Taylor and closed in 1936 when amalgamated with the Kuntz Brewery of Waterloo.

The building was demolished in 1941.


Doidge Park

Doidge Park

Find location on Google Maps: Down the hill from 300 Cromwell Street entrance, southeast corner of Cheapside and Wellington Streets, London

Plaque installed on May 27, 2000

Doidge Park

Photo credit: John Lutman, 2005

History

Thousands of years ago retreating glaciers deposited gravel in the area now bounded by Cheapside, Waterloo, Grosvenor and Wellington streets, including the present Doidge Park. Two early settlers, Richard Jones Evans and John Anthistle, established lime kilns nearby, burning deposits of limestone into lime, which was used in mortar and cement.  Evans, with David Margrave Thompson, a local lawyer, subdivided this block of land into building lots in 1856.

John’s son, William J. Anthistle, expanded his father’s business and mined the pit for gravel, sand, and cobblestones for home building c. 1874-1875. He manufactured cement blocks and sewer pipes, and laid some of north London’s first sidewalks. Many of the cobblestone-clad houses he built still stand, including his own home on Cromwell Street. For many years he operated a skating rink nearby.

Following Anthistle’s death in 1929, his widow, Annie, carried on the business of making cement burial vaults.

During the Great Depression the gravel pit property was taken over by the city. It became overgrown with weeds and was used as a parking area for city machinery. Local children enjoyed tobogganing on the steep hillsides.

In 1949, local citizens formed the North London Community Association and lobbied to have Anthistle’s old gravel pits converted into a playground. Among the major supporters of this plan was Dr. Edward Pleva, a planner and member of the Department of Geography at the University of Western Ontario.

Doidge Park, named after John C. Doidge, chair of the playground committee of the Public Utilities Commission, was opened in 1958 with financial help from the Kiwanis Club.


Duffield Block

Duffield Block

Find location on Google Maps: 215 Dundas Street, London

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Plaque installed May 3, 1984

Duffield Block photograph

Photo credit: Western Archives, Joshua Garnier, ca. 1874-1875

Click on image for details

History

Joseph Spettigue, a native of Cornwall, England, came to the Canadas in the 1840s and opened a store on the corner of Dundas and Clarence Streets in 1855.

In 1871, he built Spettigue Hall (later the Duffield Block) which contained an elegant 663-seat concert hall on the second floor. Designed in the Second Empire Style, the structure was 197 feet long, 63 feet high, and cost $12,000 to construct.

On September 19, 1871, the London Philharmonic Society gave the first concert in the hall, a cantata entitled “The May Queen” , featuring several vocalists and a lead singer from Detroit. For the performance the stage was decorated with a May tree, flags, Corinthian pillars, evergreens, and flowers. According to the London Free Press, the occasion “was a source of great gratification”, and the hall was “crammed” for the concert.

By 1878, the building had several occupants, one of whom was art teacher William Lees Judson. It is believed that artist Paul Peel received his first art lesson in a room on the building’s first floor.

James Duffield bought the building in 1891. He closed the theatre, dividing its space into a third storey, thereby altering the facade. Among the many tenants were J. Gammage and Sons, florists; Arthur Wismer, jeweller; Charles Wismer, druggist; and the Knights of Pythias.

The building also housed the Women’s Morning Music Club. Its president was Mrs. John Labatt (Sophia Amelia Browne) and its secretary, Mrs. T. H. Carling (Nina M. Innes).

Elson Homestead

Elson Homestead

Find location on Google Maps: 1057 Oxford Street West, London

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Plaque installed on October 14, 1972

Elson Homestead photograph

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG F-357, Glen Curnoe, 1988

History

Joseph Elson was born in 1804 in Markham Township, the son of a Hessian soldier who had come to Canada after the American Revolution. His parents died when he was a small boy and he was raised by various relatives.

After working at farming, milling, whiskey- making, and pottery, Elson was granted 200 acres of land in the 1820’s in London Township by Colonel Thomas Talbot. He also bought 100 acres from the Canada Company on the north-east corner of Oxford Street and Hyde Park Sideroad in 1834. Elson is thought to have cleared single-handedly 81 acres of this land and to have built a log house and a pottery.

In the early years there was no church in the settlement. Neighbours would congregate here to sing hymns, accompanied by Mrs. Elson on the piano, and to listen to itinerant preachers.

In 1855, Elson built the present brick house in which his descendants lived for generations.

Peter Elson (son of Joseph and his wife, Samantha Hart) inherited the farm in 1860 and added another 180 acres. He served as a school trustee, Reeve of London Township, Warden of the County of Middlesex, and Member of Parliament for East Middlesex from 1904 to 1913.

His son, Paul, assumed ownership of the farm in 1903, built a new barn, and enlarged the house. Paul’s brother, Reverend Albert J. Elson, B.A., B.D., was educated at the Western University of London, Ontario and the University of Toronto. He spent 17 years as a missionary in China, and 23 years as a Presbyterian minister in Middlesex County.

Howard B. Elson, son of Paul, acquired the farm in 1936 and added two more farms to the property. He also served as a township councillor, Reeve of London Township, Warden of Middlesex County, Chairman of the London Township Planning Board, member of the London Township Police Commission, and of the East Middlesex High School Board.

Robert Elson, son of Howard, represented the fifth generation to live on this property.

Engine 86

Engine 86

Find location on Google Maps: Western Fairgrounds, Queen's Park, 925 Dundas Street, London

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Plaque installed on October 18, 2000

Engine 86 photograph

Photo credit: John Lutman, 2005

History

Engine 86 was manufactured by the Canadian Locomotive Company in 1910. After 48 years of service with the Grand Trunk Railway and the Canadian National Railway, it was donated to the city in 1958, commemorating London’s 100 year history as a railway centre.

At the peak of operations in the 1940s, nearly 4,000 Londoners worked for the CNR, the CPR, and the London and Port Stanley Railway. Most of these workers were employed in the massive repair shops near the Western Fair Grounds.

By the 1960s, however, consolidation of operations in cities such as Toronto and the advent of diesel engines ended London’s role as a railway centre. Although many railway jobs were lost, General Motors of Canada later came to employ thousands of Londoners manufacturing diesel engines. This Mogul 2-6-0 locomotive was originally numbered GTR 1006, became CNR 908 in 1923, and 86 in 1952. In its last years, Engine 86 was used on a mixed passenger-freight line from Owen Sound to Palmerston.

After its donation to the city in 1958, it was necessary to move Engine 86 one mile from the CNR shops to Queen’s Park. This was achieved by using 60-foot sections of rail, which were moved from the rear to the front as the locomotive was pulled along with a winch. It was estimated that the move would take twelve hours. But the locomotive, once capable of travelling at 60 m.p.h., took four days to reach its destination.

The engine became an attraction for children. The Public Utilities Commission disabled its bell after late-night ringing awakened the neighbourhood, and sealed its smoke stack after a youngster was found sitting in it.

Engine 86 was almost moved to St. Thomas in 1980, but public opposition to this plan has kept it here. G. M. Diesel of Canada and other local partners, restored Engine 86 during the years 1996-99.

First Baptist Church

First Baptist Church

Find location on Google Maps: 586 Richmond Street, London

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Plaque installed on December 10, 1995

This church was formerly known as the Talbot Street Baptist Church, 507 Talbot Street, London and moved to 568 Richmond Street as First Baptist Church in 1953.

First Baptist Church photograph

Photo credit: from Century of Service:  A History of the Talbot Street Baptist Church, 1845-1945 by William Sherwood Fox (London, 1945), p. 45

History

The earliest Baptist congregations in Upper Canada date from the early 1800s and developed through connections to congregations in the United States, particularly in New York State.

The first concerted effort to establish a Baptist congregation in London was at a meeting led by the American Reverend Eleazar Savage and William Wilkinson of St. Thomas in 1845 at the house of Duncan Bell of London.

In its early years the new congregation held its services in the school room of the Mechanics’ Institute building on Court House Square. The congregation first partook of the Lord’s Supper in December 1845. There was some controversy as to whether the presiding minister was an adherent of the same doctrine as the members of the new church.

Two years after its establishment the congregation appointed its first pastor, Reverend James Inglis of Detroit. He moved the congregation to a former Methodist chapel on the corner of King and Talbot Streets, which rented for 30£ a year. Rev. Inglis is also credited with publishing the first Baptist newspaper in Canada West, The Evangelical Pioneer.

In 1850, the congregation erected its own church on the corner of York and Talbot streets. For several years church expenses posed a major problem. Several measures were used to address this dilemma, including pew rentals.

In 1881, a larger church designed by London architect George F. Durand was built at 507 Talbot Street, at a cost of roughly $17,500. Its design was consistent with period evangelical churches in the width of the nave, which allowed a good view of the preacher.

By the 1950s, the congregation had again outgrown its quarters. The present First Baptist Church was built in 1953 at the gore formed by Richmond, Clarence, and Kent streets.

507 Talbot Street is now occupied by the First Christian Reformed Church.

Gates on the Proof Line Road

Gates on the Proof Line Road

Find location on Google Maps: 1110 Richmond Street, London

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photo of last road toll on  the Proof Line Road

Click on image for details

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG F-99, Henry G. Hines, July 30, 1907

History

The first settlers to move into this area made their way north along the stakes and blazes of Mahlon Burwell’s proof line through the middle of London Township. Laid out as a road allowance, it followed Wharncliffe Road northward, bypassing the riverlands of the Medway and North Thames, and following the present Western Road and Richmond Street route before continuing northward.

Early settlers were quick to demand road improvements. Many roads were mere dirt trails through forests and bogs. In swampy areas it was necessary to lay down layers of logs to keep horses and carriages from sinking. Tree stumps and ruts from wagon wheels were further obstacles, and in wet weather roads became rivers of mud. To deal with this situation, the Legislature of Upper Canada in 1810 delegated local justices of the peace to appoint surveyors to lay out and regulate proper roads. Roads were to be constructed and maintained with the costs assessed to local landowners.

In 1849, the Provincial Legislature passed legislation permitting private companies to build toll roads. That same year, a local group formed the "Proof Line Road Joint Stock Company" to grade, macadamize, and bridge the Proof Line Road. The completed road had three toll gates and followed the Richmond Street route north through Arva, Birr, and Elginfield. Several hotels and taverns opened along the road, an indication of its heavy use.

By 1882, however, all publicly owned county roads had been declared free of tolls. The Proof Line Road came to be seen as an anachronism, and citizens often detoured to avoid the toll gates. In 1907, local councils and the province bought the Proof Line Road for $11,000. The occasion was marked by a huge celebration in Arva, during which the collected toll gates were burned in a large bonfire.

George "Mooney" Gibson, 1880-1967

George "Mooney" Gibson, 1880-1967

Find location on Google Maps: Labatt Memorial Park, 25 Wilson Avenue, London

Plaque installed on August 19, 1989

George "Mooney" Gibson

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG M-31, from Sporting News, 1910, reproduced in London Free Press, June 2, 1953

History

George “Mooney” Gibson, a native Londoner, played fourteen seasons as a catcher in the major leagues and was considered Canada’s best baseball player of the first half of the twentieth century. He spent twelve seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and two with the New York Giants, playing 1,213 games. Later, he twice managed the Pittsburgh team, and once the Chicago Cubs.

It is notable that in 1877 Gibson’s uncle managed the London Tecumsehs in the first game ever played in this park. As a youth, “Mooney” Gibson (the nickname was derived from his round face) played on local church and city teams in Tecumseh (now Labatt) Park. In 1903, he tried out with Buffalo of the Eastern League, played the 1904 season with Montreal in the same league, and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1905.

Gibson was known for his ability to catch foul balls and to throw out base stealers (of which there were many more than in today’s game). In 1909, he set an endurance record by catching 150 games in a row. That same year, Gibson played in all seven games of the World Series in which the Pittsburgh Pirates, including players such as Honus Wagner, defeated the Detroit Tigers led by Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford. Returning to London, Gibson was celebrated with speeches and a parade. Among those in attendance was Gibson’s friend, Hughie Jennings, the Detroit Tigers manager.

In 1921, manager George “Mooney” Gibson brought his Pirates here to play an exhibition match against the London Tecumsehs of the Michigan-Ontario League. Gibson, aged 41, agreed to catch one inning of the game while a teammate from the 1909 World Series pitched.

London Tecumsehs Baseball Team

Click on image for details Black and white photograph of the London Tecumsehs Baseball Team posing in Tecumseh Park (now Labatt Park).

Grace and Susan Blackburn

Grace and Susan Blackburn

Find location on Google Maps: 652 Talbot Street, London

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Plaque installed on October 2, 1974

photograph of house where Grace and Susan Blackburn lived

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG F-355, Glen Curnoe, 1988

History

Josiah Blackburn (1823- 1890) emigrated to Upper Canada in 1851 and the following year purchased a London newspaper, the Canadian Free Press, for $500, renaming it the London Free Press.

Of the eight children of Josiah and his wife, Emma Jane, four served at the newspaper: Walter and Arthur as publishers; and Grace and Susan as writers.

Grace and Susan were born in 1865 and 1871 respectively. They attended public and high schools in London, and Grace went on to Hellmuth Ladies College. Susan attended the Western University of London, Ontario and in 1900 was its first woman graduate.In 1894, Grace went to Minnesota to teach dramatic reading and English, later becoming principal of a school in Indiana, while continuing to send home articles. In 1903, the sisters were sent by the Free Press to New York as art and drama critics. During this period, Grace became one of Canada’s best theatre critics.

In 1906, they went overseas. Susan spent a year in both Germany and Japan, teaching and writing travel articles, while Grace furthered her theatrical education in Europe. Grace wrote much poetry, and her novel set during the First World War, The Man Child, was published in 1930. She helped establish the London Drama League, and was president of the London Women’s Mess Club and the Women’s Canadian Club. Susan was a director of both the Community Concert Association and the Women’s Music Club. She was active in the Western Art League and the London Drama League.

 From 1894 until 1928, Grace, under the penname Fanfan, wrote a weekend column of travel narratives, poetry, and essays. Susan wrote editorials and some travel narratives. They were so well regarded as journalists that notables in the world of art, music, and drama would visit them while in London.

Both sisters died in this house, Grace in 1928, and Susan in 1946.

Portrait of Josiah Blackburn

Click on image for details

A black and white, head and shoulders portrait of Josiah Blackburn.

Grand Opera House

Grand Opera House

Find location on Google Maps: 471 Richmond Street,  London (now Grand Theatre)

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Plaque installed April 11, 1975

Grand Opera Theatre photograph

Photo credit: Western Archives, Chamber of Commerce Collection, 1921

History

The first Grand Opera House was built in 1880 at King and Richmond streets. Destroyed by fire on February 23, 1900, a new opera house was built at 471 Richmond Street and opened on September 9, 1901 under the partnership of Ambrose J. Small of Toronto and Col. Clark J. Whitney of Detroit, Michigan.

This theatre hosted great actors such as Sarah Bernhardt, Sir John Gielgud, Hume Cronyn, and Jessica Tandy. It was built on part of the cemetery of St. Lawrence Church, the first Roman Catholic church in London, dating from 1833 . During the theatre’s construction workers found bones, including a skull that the newspapers appropriately named "Yorick".

Ambrose Small began his career as a bartender and usher, and through hard work and business acumen acquired more than 90 theatres in Canada and the U.S.

The Grand incorporated advanced design ideas and had one of the largest stages in North America, capable of mounting a full-scale production of Ben Hur, complete with horses. The theatre had superb acoustics, three balconies, and seated 1,800.

In December 1919, sensing the future impact of motion pictures, Small sold his chain of theatres for $2,000,000. That same day, he left his Toronto office and was never seen again. Many searches were conducted in Toronto’s Rosedale Ravine and London’s Grand Theatre. Several theories for his disappearance were advanced, for example that he had been murdered and his body burnt in the theatre’s furnace. Over the years many strange occurrences such as falling props and collapsing sets have been reported. During a Noel Coward play a huge arc light inexplicably fell from high above the stage, narrowly missing the cast.

The ghost of Ambrose Small is said to haunt the Grand Theatre to this day.

Green Gables

Green Gables

Find location on Google Maps: 1148 Richmond Street, London

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Plaque installed on May 17, 1983

green gables photograph

Photo credit: John Lutman, 2005

History

The Green Gables neighbourhood was once Clergy Reserve land.

Following government policy of freeing these lands for settlement, in 1869 the Diocese of Huron divided and sold lots in what is Broughdale today.

The first settlers on this property were Charles Dickerson and his wife Lydia, who had purchased a lot north of what is now University Drive. In the 1870s, Dickerson, head carpenter at Hellmuth Ladies College, built several houses on both sides of the Proof Line Road (now Richmond Street) between Brough’s Bridge and the present University of Western Ontario gates. Two of these houses are still standing - 1160, and Green Gables at 1148.

Dickerson is also credited with developing what is now Brough Street in the 1880s. His objective was to gain access to the rear of his property without paying the toll at Huron Street levied for use of the Proof Line Road.

In the three decades following the sale of the Clergy Reserve, lands in Broughdale were subdivided and slowly settled. By 1899, around 25 families were living there, but the hamlet had no school, church, or shops. The closest school was in Masonville, and the closest church was St. John’s in Arva. London, sparsely settled north of Oxford Street, seemed distant.

Broughdale’s isolation came to an end in the summer of 1901 when the London Street Railway extended an electric streetcar line into the hamlet, a development that was met with great excitement. Lydia Dickerson, having heard that electricity was good for rheumatism, “intended to ride the cars everyday as a treatment . . . and she did!”

Grosvenor Lodge

Grosvenor Lodge

Find location on Google Maps: 1017 Western Road, London

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Plaque installed on May 8, 1970

Grosvenor Lodge photograph

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, from Reflections on London's Past by F.H. Armstrong (London, 1975), p. 23

History

Samuel Peters and his wife, Ann Philips, the builders of Grosvenor Lodge, left Devon, England, in 1835, and arrived in Quebec City after a six-week crossing.

They traveled to London by riverboat, barge, and wagon. The family first lived on Ridout Street, where Peters built a house and an abattoir. He acted as a surveyor in London and elsewhere for the Canada Company.

In 1850, Peters purchased a brewery west of Blackfriar’s Bridge, in an area he had surveyed and subdivided. It was known as Petersville.

Peters was an active and respected citizen. A founding member of London’s first Masonic lodge, he helped lay the cornerstone of St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1844.

In 1853, Peters employed his architect-surveyor nephew, Samuel Peters, Jr., to prepare designs for his house. The Tudor Gothic style of architecture chosen was influenced by a manor house in Merton, Devonshire, England, that Mrs. Peters knew. Among the house’s notable features are its locally crafted stained-glass windows encasing “S.P.” for Samuel Peters, and “A.P.” for his wife Ann Philips, in the design of the sidelights and the entwined “S” (Samuel) and “A” (Ann) in the fanlight.

Also of note is the stonework of the gables and windows. The plaques in the matching front elevation gables encase “S.P.” on one side and the construction date “1853” on the other. Among the interior features are wide-planked pine floors and individually carved marble fireplaces. The Gothic Revival fireplace in the dining room is of particular merit.

Grosvenor Lodge is now home to the London Regional Resource Centre for Heritage and the Environment.

Hall's Mills (Byron)

Hall's Mills (Byron)

Find location on Google Maps: 1295 Commissioners Road West, London

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Plaque installed on June 13, 1975. It is mounted on a grindstone from Hall’s Mills at the rear of the Byron Branch Library.

Hall's Mills photograph

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG E-24, 1905

History

In February 1819, Archibald McMillan received the Crown grant for Lot 45, Concession B of Westminster Township.

Anson Simons and John Preffer built a carding and fulling mill on part of the property, and then McMillan sold the land to Burleigh Hunt in 1831. Hunt built a gristmill and a dam across the Thames to increase his water power. Two years later he sold his whole business to Cyrenius Hall.

Hall was born in New Hampshire in 1788 and came to Upper Canada in 1810. He contracted for the British forces during the War of 1812, and then developed a forwarding and retail business in Fort Erie. Moving to Westminster Township, Hall added a distillery and tannery to the mill complex, and employed three of his sons in the growing business. The small settlement became known as Hall’s Mills owing to his many enterprises, and later became Byron.

Hall sold the gristmill to William Denning in 1848. Severe flooding on the Thames damaged the mill and dam in 1851, and little business was done that summer “owing to a deficient supply of water”.

Local miller William Binn bought the mill in 1852, and sold it in 1858 to Robert Summers.

An Irish settler, Frederick H. Kenney, bought it in 1870. The Middlesex County directory for 1871-1872 describes Kenney’s mill as “a frame two storeys high; his custom work averages 100 bushels daily.”

The Thames flood of 1883 severely damaged Kenney’s mill. It was repaired and sold to William Griffith in 1886. Isaac Crouse, a local builder, bought the mill in 1889 and replaced the millstones with iron rollers.

The gristmill was destroyed by fire in 1907 while owned by Neil Galbraith and Dr. Cecil Clarkson Ross. Ross rebuilt it and operated it well into the twentieth century. Partially dismantled in the 1930s, the remains of the Byron gristmill were carried away in the Thames flood of 1937.

Harriet Anne Boomer 1835-1921, 513 Dundas Street

Harriet Anne Boomer 1835-1921, 513 Dundas Street

Find location on Google Maps: 525 Dundas Street, London (H.B. Beal Secondary School)

Plaque is located near the Dundas Street auditorium entrance of H.B. Beal Secondary School.

Plaque installed on June 3, 1999

photograph of Harriet Anne Boomer

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG E-173, ca 1900

Click image for details

History

Harriet Anne Mills, born in Somerset, England in 1835, came with her mother and sister to Red River, near Winnipeg, in 1851. After returning to England in 1856, Harriet married Alfred Roche, a businessman who was involved with the Hudson’s Bay Company.

In the 1870s, she travelled with her husband to South Africa, but Alfred died on the return voyage in 1876 and was buried at sea. Two years later, Harriet married the Reverend Michael Boomer, Dean of the Anglican Diocese of Huron, Principal of Huron College, and a signer of the charter of the Western University of London, Ontario.

Harriet devoted her life to service for the community and played a major role in establishing a number of women’s societies in London. She helped found the London Local Council of Women in 1893, serving for twenty years as its president.

She was particularly active in the field of education, becoming the first woman trustee on the London Board of Education in 1898, and a tireless advocate of training in business and domestic science for girls and technical training for boys. She helped establish the local Red Cross branch, which was initially set up to assist Canadian soldiers serving in the Boer War and was a member of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE) which later named a chapter in her honour.

In 1903 Harriet became vice-president of the National Council of Women and was the first president of the local Victorian Order of Nurses from 1906 to 1912. She was also active with the Canadian Club, the Mothers’ Union, the St. John Ambulance Association and the Women’s Christian Association.

Upon her death in 1921, the Free Press called her “perhaps London’s most philanthropic and patriotic worker.” Given Harriet’s life-long interest in education, it is perhaps fitting that her home was demolished to make way for H.B. Beal Technical and Commercial High School in 1916. (The plaque is located by the auditorium entrance.)

 

Harriet Anne Mills, born in Somerset, England in 1835, came with her mother and sister to Red River, near Winnipeg, in 1851. After returning to England in 1856, Harriet married Alfred Roche, a businessman who was involved with the Hudson’s Bay Company. In the 1870s, she travelled with her husband to South Africa, but Alfred died on the return voyage in 1876 and was buried at sea. Two years later, Harriet married the Reverend Michael Boomer, Dean of the Anglican Diocese of Huron, Principal of Huron College, and a signer of the charter of the Western University of London, Ontario.

Harriet devoted her life to service for the community and played a major role in establishing a number of women’s societies in London. She helped found the London Local Council of Women in 1893, serving for twenty years as its president. She was particularly active in the field of education, becoming the first woman trustee on the London Board of Education in 1898, and a tireless advocate of training in business and domestic science for girls and technical training for boys. She helped establish the local Red Cross branch, which was initially set up to assist Canadian soldiers serving in the Boer War and was a member of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE) which later named a chapter in her honour. In 1903 Harriet became vice-president of the National Council of Women and was the first president of the local Victorian Order of Nurses from 1906 to 1912. She was also active with the Canadian Club, the Mothers’ Union, the St. John Ambulance Association and the Women’s Christian Association.

Upon her death in 1921, the Free Press called her “perhaps London’s most philanthropic and patriotic worker.” Given Harriet’s life-long interest in education, it is perhaps fitting that her home was demolished to make way for H.B. Beal Technical and Commercial High School in 1916. (The plaque is located by the auditorium entrance.)

Idlewyld

Idlewyld

Find location on Google Maps: 36 Grand Avenue, London

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Plaque installed August 25, 1987

Idlewyld Inn photograph

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG F-365, Glen Curnoe, 1988

History

Charles Smith Hyman, Idlewyld’s builder, was born in London in 1854, son of Ellis Walton Hyman and Annie Maria Niles. Educated at Hellmuth College, Charles worked for John Birrell and Co. until 1874 when he became a junior partner in his father’s tanning business.

In 1876, he married Elizabeth Birrell and built the original Idlewyld, a large brick home, in 1879 on land purchased for $4,000 from Elizabeth’s sister.

Two years later, Hyman commissioned the architectural firm of Tracy and Durand to design an addition and alterations that would cost more than the original house and outbuildings. The architects integrated the picturesque roof line and heavily ornamented gables of the 1879 Queen Anne design with a simpler addition featuring parapet gables at each end. Inside, identical Eastlake molding unified the two early parts of the house. In 1912, a ballroom was added to the eastern wing.

After his father’s death in 1878, Charles took over the tannery, entered municipal politics, and became mayor in 1884.

Elected M.P. for London in 1900, Hyman became Minister of Public Works in 1905. He had close ties with Sir Wilfrid Laurier who stayed at Idlewyld when he visited London.

Charles was also a noted sportsman. Seven times in a row he was the Canadian Men’s Singles tennis champion. He was also captain of the Canadian champion cricket team and a member of the London Tecumsehs baseball team. Hyman was exceedingly generous and loyal to his friends. He was known to have given away $1,000,000, including $100,000 to sporting and social clubs.

After the death of Elizabeth in 1917 he married Alexandra Rechnitzer, becoming stepfather to her four sons, who took over Hyman Tannery when Charles died in 1926. In the last years of his life, Charles took an extensive world tour including several months in China.

Today, Hyman is remembered by the street named after him and this house which later became a luxurious inn.

Kingsmill's Limited

Kingsmill's Limited

Find location on Google Maps: 130 Dundas Street, London

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Plaque installed on July 5, 1988

Kingsmill's department store photograph

Photo credit: John Lutman, 2005

History

Sometime before 1840 in the town of Templemore in Tipperary, Ireland, Thomas Kingsmill opened a dry goods business. It failed ten years later, a casualty of economic hardship, famine, and epidemic. Kingsmill and three of his children died soon after. His oldest son, Thomas Frazer, was apprenticed to a store owned by the family of his mother, Mary Frazer. He married a widow, Anne Ardagh Buriss, and emigrated to New York and then briefly to Georgia.

The poor import trade resulting from the American Civil War forced the Kingsmills to move again, this time to Toronto, where Thomas’ uncle, George Kingsmill, and a niece of Anne’s had settled. After working for a Toronto company and considering various locations, Kingsmill established his store in London in 1865, chosen because of its growing prominence as a military, industrial, and educational centre.

The Kingsmills’ three daughters attended Hellmuth Ladies College, and their eldest son, Thomas Frazer Kingsmill, Jr., graduated from Huron College, but left the ministry to work in the store. Another son was a graduate in medicine from Western University’s Medical School.

In its early years, Kingsmill’s specialized in the sale of imported carpets, linens, and cashmeres as well as embroidered handkerchiefs and gloves. Its range of retail goods was later expanded to include furniture, lamps, china, and housewares. In addition to their role as local merchants, members of the Kingsmill family are well known for their contribution of time and resources to service clubs, community events, church functions, and charities.

Lilley's Corners

Lilley's Corners

Find location on Google Maps: 609 Dundas Street, London (southeast corner of Adelaide and Dundas streets)

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Plaque installed on November 15, 1980.

Lilley's Corners London photograph

Photo credit: Western Archives, Ernie Lee, January 3, 1961

History

Adelaide Street was the eastern boundary of London until 1885. Beyond this lay London East, an industrial community that had its origins in a foundry established in 1856 by Murray Anderson (London’s first mayor). Anderson’s foundry was located on the west side of Adelaide across from Lilley’s Corners, and its presence stimulated further industrial development in the area.

Charles Lilley moved to London as a young man and worked as a telegraph operator before becoming a grocer. Around 1869 he moved his business to the southeast corner of Dundas and Adelaide streets, where he also ran the Crown Hotel. In 1871, he built a two-storey block on the corner, and by 1873, five brick stores on Adelaide Street. It is a mystery that the inscription on the corner of the Lilley Block reads “1867,” since there were no buildings on the site at that date.

The post office took the name “Lilley’s Corners” when it was opened in 1872, with Charles Lilley as postmaster. Two years later, a telegraph office was established in the same building.

Lilley was also active in local politics and was elected a London East councillor in 1875, and a deputy reeve in 1880. In 1884, he became London East’s first mayor and helped negotiate its amalgamation with the City of London in 1885, after which he served as an alderman. In 1886, Lilley retired as postmaster and opened the Crown Livery on Marshall Street at the rear of the building. Charles Lilley died in 1927 at the age of 94 and was buried in Woodland Cemetery.

Locust Mount

Locust Mount

Find location on Google Maps: 661 Talbot Street, London

Plaque installed on September 30, 1971
This building was demolished in 2008 and the plaque was reinstalled in the Ivey Family London Room, Central Library, 251 Dundas Street, London

 

Locust Mount photograph

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG F-353, Glen Curnoe, 1988

History

Locust Mount was one of London’s finest homes, an example of the suburban estates built during the prosperous period between 1849 and the panic of 1857. Its builder, Elijah Leonard, Jr., was a London businessman who became a major figure in southwestern Ontario’s economy in the late nineteenth century.

The Leonard family emigrated to Massachusetts from Wales in 1652 and became iron founders. After moving to Upper Canada in the 1830s, Elijah established a foundry in St. Thomas in 1834.

During the 1837 Rebellion he fell under suspicion after purchasing some surplus cannon balls to melt down. Leonard moved to London in 1838 and built a foundry on Ridout Street. He converted his industry to coal use and replaced horse power with steam engines, which he eventually produced himself.

In 1853, he purchased three lots on the west side of Talbot Street where he built his home, naming it Locust Mount, for the black locust trees on the property.

Leonard entered municipal politics, serving as an alderman and then as mayor in 1857 during an economic crisis in which he almost went bankrupt. Prosperous times returned during the American Civil War.

In 1861, he was elected to the Malahide Division of the Legislative Council of Canada and became a senator after Confederation in 1867.

In 1884, he was a founder of the Huron and Erie Savings and Loan Society (later Canada Trust) and saw his other businesses flourish.

By 1890, Leonard and his sons employed 140 men.

He died in 1891 and Locust Mount remained the home of his wife, Emmeline Woodman, until her death in 1895.

The house has since been occupied by several residents, most notably George Tyler Brown, of Beddome and Brown General Insurance Agents, for a time one of the largest insurance companies in London.

The building was most recently a fraternity house and suffered a calamitous fire in 2000.

London Armouries

London Armouries

Find location on Google Maps: 325 Dundas Street, London (Deltal London Armouries Hotel)

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Plaque installed on April 7, 1997

london armouries photograph

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG J-91, London Conservation and Environment Project, Summer 1973

History

London Armouries and Victoria Park are reminders of London’s military history.

In response to the Rebellion of 1837-38, the Imperial government stationed a military garrison in London, which was strategically located. Part of the site chosen later became Victoria Park.

It was used until the British withdrew most of their troops from Canada in 1869, leaving the defense of the country to the Canadian militia. When the former garrison building was destroyed by fire, the local militia required a drill shed.

When this became inadequate, an armouries was built at Dundas and Waterloo streets, and opened with great fanfare on February 1, 1905. Attending this event were Sir John Carling, Mayor Adam Beck, and Colonel Peters, militia commandant.

Constructed by Sullivan and Langdon, the Armouries cost about $135,000. Distinctive features included two massive, three-storey, crenelated towers at the entranceway, smaller corner towers, octagonal chimneys, and large, arched windows. 

Architecturally, the London Armouries was similar to others built during this period, such as the Toronto Armouries (now demolished.)

The London Armouries served as the headquarters of militia units from nearly every land forces branch: infantry, artillery, cavalry (later armoured regiments), engineers, and units of the service and medical corps.

In 1976, the Department of National Defence closed the Armouries and its demolition seemed certain. But in 1988, a developer converted it into a luxury hotel, adding a twenty storey tower in the centre of the building, and leaving its exterior walls intact.

London Normal School

London Normal School

Find location on Google Maps: 165 Elmwood Avenue East, London

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Plaque installed on August 5, 1971

London Normal School photograph

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, from Reflections on London's Past by F.H. Armstrong (London, 1975), p. 34

History

On February 1, 1900, the first class of prospective teachers began their studies in the new London Normal School. Coming from diverse backgrounds and communities in southwestern Ontario, they were attending what was considered to be the most modern teacher-training school in Canada. The faculty consisted of Principal Francis Walter Merchant, Vice-Principal John Dearness, and four teachers.

The decision to locate this new school in London was influenced by Premier G.W. Ross, local MPP Colonel F. B. Leys, and chair of the London Board of Education Dr. C.T. Campbell. They had promoted London as a desirable site owing to its location, size, and excellent educational facilities.

In 1898, ground was broken in South London for the third normal school in Ontario. The structure is trimmed with cut stone, and its now weathered brick was once red-orange in colour. A tower dominates its facade. Rising from the roof (originally of slate) are several miniature cupolas, typical of Victorian architecture. The grand staircase is the most striking feature of the building’s interior. Several rare varieties of trees were planted on the grounds, and oaks and maples were later added in memory of deceased members of the faculty, including John Dearness.

By 1958, the London Normal School was no longer adequate, and a new teachers’ college was built on Western Road. The old building functioned briefly as a junior high school. It became the administrative centre of the London Board of Education in 1963, and of the separate school board in 1986. In 2005, the London District Catholic School Board will move to new quarters, and the future of the former London Normal School is uncertain.

London Transportation Commission

London Transportation Commission

Find location on Google Maps: 149 Dundas Street, London (at the southwest corner of Richmond Street, now Market Tower)

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Plaque installed on March 29, 1974

photo of horse pulling streetcar in London Ontario at Dundas and Richmond intersection

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG B-25, Cairncross, ca. 1890-1894

History

Transit service in London was first supplied by the privately-owned London Street Railway Company (LSR), which was incorporated in 1873 and began operation in 1875.

The city’s population of 18,500 was served by horse-drawn cars traveling on three miles of track on Dundas Street, employing six horses and four drivers.

In the first year of operations the line was extended east to Salter’s Grove (now Queen’s Park), and north on Richmond Street from Dundas Street to Oxford Street.

Service continued to expand, and when the system was changed to electric-powered streetcars in 1895 (five years after electric lights came into use), track length totaled almost twenty-four miles.

Electric power was supplied by the General Electric Company until 1896, when the LSR began operating its own steam-powered, electricitygenerating plant on Bathurst Street.

In 1923, the first gasoline-powered bus was introduced on the Quebec Street route. The changeover to an all-bus system was gradual, and was planned so that the final streetcar line (on Dundas Street) would cease operating on December 1, 1940.

A heavy snowstorm that damaged many power lines advanced this date to November 29, 1940.

In 1950, the city acquired the system from the London Street Railway for $1,000,000, after a rate-payers’ referendum had turned down the previous asking price of $1,325,000.

An earlier referendum had rejected the idea of an entirely new system at a cost of $1, 895,000 in favour of purchasing the London Street Railway system. In 1951, the City of London Act, Chapter 107, establishing a city-owned system, was passed by the Ontario Legislature.

The transit system, under the name of the London Transportation Commission, has continued to operate under this Act.

In 1972, municipal and provincial subsidies were implemented to maintain reasonable fares and assist municipalities with urban traffic problems.

McCormick Manufacturing Company

McCormick Manufacturing Company

Find location on Google Maps: 1156 Dundas Street, London

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McCormick Manufacturing Company photograph

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, from London, Canada The Forest City (London, 1919)

History

In 1854, Thomas McCormick established a biscuit and confectionery manufacturing business on Clarence Street. Success attended his enterprise, which soon outgrew the original plant, forcing a move to larger quarters at the southeast corner of Dundas and Wellington streets.

The business gained a reputation for the quality and taste of its biscuits and candies, and increased demand for these products necessitated another move.

To encourage industries to locate in the newly-serviced plots in the east end, City Council offered fixed-rate taxes and temporary tax exemptions. McCormick’s benefited from these incentives and moved to 1156 Dundas Street in 1914.

Years of study had gone into the new factory’s design, and many features were suggested by Thomas McCormick Jr., based on knowledge he had gained from visiting facilities in the United States and other countries. His new plant was one of the largest, most modern and sanitary factories of its kind in North America. The building was constructed of fireproof, reinforced concrete, and covered more than eight acres. The interior was finished with white enamel terra cotta.

Prior to the First World War public concern about the purity of processed food prompted the government to increase its scrutiny of food manufacturing. McCormick’s shiny clean appearance inside and out reflected the company’s hygienic manufacturing process.

This responsible attitude was also extended to labour relations, unusual in an era when sweatshops were common. Employee amenities included large dining rooms, rest rooms, medical facilities, a library, gymnasium, and locker rooms. Outside were tennis courts and a baseball diamond.

In 1926, McCormick’s purchased its competitor, D.S. Perrin and Company Ltd., and in the 1940’s was itself sold to George Weston Ltd. In 1990, the business was acquired by Culinar Foods of Montreal, and in 1997 by Beta Brands Inc.

McCormick Manufacturing Company

Click image for details

Glossy print showing Kelvinator of Canada and McCormick Manufacturing Company on Dundas Street East.

Mechanics Institute

Mechanics' Institute

Find location on Google Maps: 231 Dundas Street, London

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Mechanics Institute London photograph

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG O-83, ca. 1860

History

Mechanics’ Institutes, the forerunners of present-day public libraries, originated in Scotland. Their founder, Dr. George Birbeck, a lecturer at Anderson’s University in Glasgow, was lacking a piece of laboratory equipment and worked with local glass and metal craftsmen to construct the apparatus. He came to realize that, apart from their mechanical skills, these artisans had little exposure to education. He, therefore, began to hold evening lectures for them.

After a period of trial and error, the Glasgow Mechanics’ Institute was founded in 1823, followed by the London (England) Mechanics’ Institute. They proved to be so popular that by 1853 there were more than 700 such institutes with a membership of over 120,000.

Mechanics’ Institutes offered courses of instruction to workers in the scientific principles of their trades, but quickly expanded into many other fields. In addition to lectures, the institutes sponsored concerts and art shows and circulated a wide range of books.

The movement spread to Canada in 1831, first to Toronto and Kingston and, in 1835, to London. The local institute’s premises were originally built on the Court House Square and then were moved to Talbot Street in 1855. When these became inadequate, the directors purchased a lot on Dundas Street for $4,500 as a site for a new building. The cornerstone ceremony was such an occasion that the railways ran special excursions for those attending. The new Mechanics’ Institute was formally opened in September 1877, at a final cost of $24,000.

In 1895, London opened its first public library under the Free Libraries Act of 1882. Under this act, the Mechanics’ Institute was dissolved and its book collection transferred to the public library.

Metropolitan United Church

Metropolitan United Church

Find location on Google Maps: 468 Wellington Road, London

Metropolitan United Church London Ontario photograph

History

In 1823, Rev. Robert Corson, a Wesleyan Methodist circuit rider, came to London Township to conduct worship services in people’s homes. By 1833 , London’s first Methodist church was built at the corner of Ridout and Carling Streets. As the congregation grew, larger churches were built, in 1839 and 1842. In 1854, North Street (later Queens Avenue) Methodist Church, thought to be the largest west of St. James in Montreal, was built on the corner of North (now Queens Avenue) and Clarence streets. In 1895, a disastrous fire reduced this church to a shell.

Undaunted, the Board of Trustees made plans for a new church on Wellington Street. Samuel McBride, who had been a trustee when the North Street Methodist Church was built, agreed to oversee the construction, even though he was 76 years old. During the process, he presided over 96 of the 99 planning meetings.

The church was built in the Romanesque Revival style on a foundation 184 by 96 feet with a bell tower rising 170 feet. It could seat nearly 1,400 worshipers, though the congregation was then half that size. The cost of the site, the building, the furnishings and the organ came to just over $97,000, a substantial sum even for what was then the wealthiest Methodist church in London. At the laying of the cornerstone in 1895 the Free Press called it “Methodism’s Magnificent Temple.”

The new church was known as First Methodist Church until the congregation became part of the new United Church of Canada. This new denomination brought together Congregationalists, Methodists, and Presbyterians on June 10, 1925. The first service under the name Metropolitan United Church was on June 14, only four days after the union of churches had taken place.

No. 4 Fire Station

No. 4 Fire Station

Find location on Google Maps: 807 Colborne Street, London

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No. 4 Fire Station London Ontario photograph

Photo credit: John Lutman, 2005

History

In 1842, two years after London’s incorporation as a village, its citizens organized a volunteer fire department. A by-law required householders to keep fire buckets in their homes. Fires were fought by lines of people who passed water buckets from a nearby source to the fire.

The Great Fire of London in 1845 destroyed more than 300 buildings and prompted such measures as the placement of water tanks at intersections and the acquisition of a handoperated pump engine. A large fire bell replaced the trumpets used to alert people to fires.

The first fire hall was erected on Carling Street in 1847 and was replaced by one on King Street in 1853. This hall served the entire city until new fire stations were added: No. 2 on Rectory Street in 1885 and No. 3 on Bruce Street in 1891.

A permanent, paid firefighting force had been established in 1871.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Fire Chief John A. Roe requested a new station to serve the north end of the city. In 1909, No. 4 Fire Station was built on the corner of Colborne and St. James streets, and No. 5 was built on Adelaide Street.

Architect Arthur E. Nutter designed both stations in an abstract Italianate style, featuring a simplified Tuscan tower, broad eaves, and pilasters above the fire hall door. These stations complement the residential streetscape.

In 1912, London purchased its first motorized fire truck. By 1925, the fire department was completely motorized with three pump engines, three chemical and hose trucks, two ladder trucks, one aerial ladder truck, and two chiefs’ cars.

In 1999, there were eleven fire stations in London equipped with ten engines, nine special units, six tankers, three aerial ladders, and two chiefs’ cars.

Norton Attawandaron Village

Norton Attawandaron Village

Find location on Google Maps: Kensal Park, London

attawandaran village site  photograph

Photo credit: Western Archives, London Free Press Collection of Photographic Negatives, Sue Reeve, May 18, 1988

History

Since 1939, archaeologists postulated that a native settlement existed here centuries ago. The Norton Attawandaron Village was discovered in 1988 during an environmental assessment for a PUC pipeline. The site is believed to have been occupied in the late Woodland period, from about 1400 to the early 1500s, although Attawandarons are thought to have come to this area more than 1000 years ago.

By 1400, there had been three major settlements in the London area. It is likely that the inhabitants of the Norton site were Attawandarons as were the occupants of the Lawson Prehistoric Village site in northwest London.

Attawandarons were also known as Neutrals because they tried to avoid involvement in the wars prevalent between the Hurons and the Iroquois. Remaining neutral would prove difficult, since the warring factions lay both to the north and south of the Thames River.

This village consisted of nine longhouses sheltering between 500 and 1000 occupants. Artifacts found here have included potsherds, clay pipes, deer antlers, and carbonized corn kernels. These natives were largely agrarian. They surrounded their village with palisades of poles to protect the settlement from periodic attacks, most likely by bands of Iroquois. Competition created by the early fur trade was one factor behind Iroquois attacks on the Hurons and Attawandarons during this period.

After centuries of farming and hunting in the Thames River district, the Neutrals left the area in the sixteenth century, moving east toward present-day Hamilton. There, for a time, they formed part of a powerful Neutral confederacy. This confederacy was dispersed in the mid-seventeenth century, after repeated attacks by the Five Nations Iroquois ( Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas), who had moved north from the present New York State area.

Richard Edwin Crouch, B.A., LL.D., 1894-1962

Richard Edwin Crouch, B.A, LL.D., 1894-1962

Find location on Google Maps: 550 Hamilton Road, London (London Public Library, Crouch Branch)

Plaque installed November 13, 1981
The plaque was originally unveiled on the newly renovated second floor of the Central Library, 305 Queens Avenue, London. It was moved to the Crouch Branch Library on February 1, 2003.

Richard Edwin Crouch

PG E 256, London Room Photographic Collection

History

Richard Edwin Crouch was born in 1894 and studied political economy at the Western University of London, Ontario, interrupting his studies to serve in the First World War with No.10 Stationary Hospital in France.

He returned to Western, and then attended the universities of London and Paris on an Ontario government scholarship.

In 1923, Crouch succeeded Dr. Fred Landon as Chief Librarian at the London Public Library.

His career was marked by vision and innovation. He developed the library as a multimedia institution, lending books, films, film equipment, recordings, and art. By the 1930s the late Victorian library was carrying several times the weight of books it was built to house, and cracks had appeared in the foundations. Once Crouch was in the library basement when the building shifted and the ceiling above him dropped two inches.

Despite the fiscal constraints of the Great Depression, Crouch successfully appealed to the city for funds for a new library. The London Public Library - Elsie Perrin Williams Memorial Art Gallery and Museum opened in 1940 at 305 Queens Avenue.

Crouch was an early advocate of life-long learning, and worked closely with the Canadian Association for Adult Education. Its pioneering work with the radio programs Citizens’ Forum and Farm Forum were copied by governments in Asia and the Middle East.

He believed deeply that learning gave meaning to the freedom of the individual, that libraries informed citizens, and that informed citizens could build a better society.

Siddall House

Siddall House

Find location on Google Maps: 1184 Hamilton Road, London

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Siddall House London Ontario photograph

Photo credit: John Lutman, 2005

History

John Siddall (1782-1870) and his wife, Diana Rowden, natives of London England, moved to the Gore of London Township in 1818, taking up 160 acres of Crown land, lots 7 in Concessions A & B. By 1820, Siddall had built this house which still stands, one of the oldest in the area.

In 1824, Siddall was commissioned in the 4th Division of the Middlesex Militia as a lieutenant.

Westminster Township settlers who had been active Masons before coming to the district petitioned the Kingston Convention on November 4, 1820 to form a new Masonic lodge. Mount Moriah, No. 773, began operating in 1820 under a dispensation granted by the Convention. It was continued in 1822 by warrant of the second Provincial Grand Master, Simon McGillvray, Chief Factor of the North West [fur trading] Company of Montreal.

From 1820 to 1829, Siddall House was the meeting place of Mount Moriah, the first Masonic lodge established in the London District. The first extant minutes from a meeting on May 12, 1829 recorded John Siddall as Worshipful Master.

In 1831, Welsh settlers in northwest London Township persuaded Siddall to relocate to the Lobo/London Township line and operate a mill on Nairn Creek. This mill became a great asset to settlers in the area as the nearest grist mill was in Kilworth, twelve miles to the south.

In addition to the mill, a blacksmith’s shop, distillery, hotels, stores, and a wagon shop were built, forming the hamlet of Siddallsville.

After Siddall moved to Lobo, the Mount Moriah Lodge met in various taverns: Joseph Flanagan’s and Swartz’ on Commissioners Road, Hartwell’s on York Street, and the Mansion House Hotel on Dundas Street.

The lodge was placed under great stress by the Rebellion of 1837, as many members were involved on both sides of the conflict.

Mount Moriah formally disbanded in 1847 after several members, including John Siddall, joined St. John’s Lodge 209 in London.

Site of Woodfield 1846 - 1968, Cronyn Gardens

Site of Woodfield 1846 - 1968, Cronyn Gardens

Find location on Google Maps: 580 Dundas Street, London

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Woodfield London Ontario Cronyn photograph

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, from Huron Church News, June 1, 1955, p. 16

History

The Pines, later known as Woodfield, was one of only two stone houses in the London area in the mid-nineteenth century. Its builder, Reverend Benjamin Cronyn, and his wife, Margaret Anne Bickerstaff, arrived in the area in 1832.

A native of Ireland, he received his M.A. from Trinity College, Dublin. From 1836 to 1842, Cronyn was rector of St. John’s, Arva and St. Paul’s, London. After 1842, he moved his family to York Street in London. In 1845, he purchased land between William and Adelaide Streets, an area wooded with large white pines.

He built his house after 1845, using stone from the Thames River and pine and black walnut for the woodwork. The wall stone was cut into smooth blocks and the windows were fitted with heavy walnut shutters. The house had two large chimneys and twelve fireplaces. Its finished cellar served as sleeping quarters for male servants, and as an area for candle-making and meat-curing.

Verschoyle, one of the seven Cronyn children, later wrote about life at The Pines in his reminiscences of early London, Other Days. He recalled his father’s fireside tales, as well as walking home alone at night while being wary of possible encounters with bears, as the area was still quite wild at the time. Other occasions he described included the funeral of his eldest brother, Tom (a student at King’s College), and the wedding of his sister, Jane, whose nuptial breakfast was served on the verandah.

The Pines was sold in 1853 to J. B. Strathy, the Customs Collector, and in 1884 to Charles Murray, manager of the Federal Bank of London.

In 1887, the property was bought by John Labatt, who gave it to his daughter Amelia in 1892, on her marriage to Hume Cronyn. She renamed the house Woodfield. The house later passed to her daughter, Katherine Harley, who lived there until 1967.

It was demolished the following year. 

St. Peter's Rectory

St. Peter's Rectory

Find location on Google Maps: 196 Dufferin Avenue, London

 

photograph of St. Peter's Rectory London Ontario

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG O-53, O'Connor and Lancaster, 1878

History

St. Peter’s Rectory was built in 1870-72 to serve as the Bishop’s Palace of the Roman Catholic Diocese of London.

Designed by London City Engineer, William Robinson, it was a handsome, white brick building with a Mansard roof, and the classical proportions of the Second French Empire style combined with Gothic window and door details.37 Its construction was supervised by John Walsh, Bishop of London from 1869 to 1889 and Archbishop of Toronto from 1889 to 1898, who also directed the building of the present St. Peter’s Cathedral (1880-1885).

From 1873 until 1913, St. Peter’s Rectory was the residence of four bishops: John Walsh, Dennis O’Connor, Fergus McEvay, and Michael Francis Fallon.

St. Peter’s Seminary was established in the rectory in 1912, and the Bishop and his staff moved to a new residence, Blackfriar’s, a Neo-Georgian mansion overlooking the Thames River and Blackfriar’s Bridge. The rectory then housed the cathedral priests, the seminary’s seven professors, and 31 students.

In 1917, the cathedral priests moved to a house on Talbot Street, and then to one on Kent Street. They returned to the rectory in 1921 when the philosophy (pre-theological) students moved to the old Labatt home on Queens Avenue. The professors and theological students remained at the rectory until 1926 when the present St. Peter’s Seminary was built on Waterloo Street.

Over the years many have contributed to the maintenance and restoration of the rectory. In 1948-49 Monsignor J. Feeney restored and elegantly redecorated the interior. Feeney and Bishop John C. Cody also completed St. Peter’s Cathedral in 1958-59 by adding tops to the towers. The rectory was demolished in 2004. A new parish centre is planned for the site.

Sulphur Spring Bathing House

Sulphur Spring Bathing House

Find location on Google Maps: Forks of the Thames River, London

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Sulphur Spring Bathing House London Ontario  photograph

Photo credit: Western Archives, Photograph RC # 40040, John Cooper, 1892

History

When prospectors were drilling for oil near Dundas Street and the Thames River in the late 1850s, a huge gush of sulphur water shot to a height of 400 feet. Commercial interests quickly became involved, and in 1868 Charles Dunnett opened a Victorian health spa, the Ontario White Sulphur Springs.

Londoners patronized the spring and its healing waters to aid in the treatment of various ailments, and enjoyed drinking water bottled from it. Taking advantage of the city’s excellent railway connections, clients came from as far as the southern U.S. to visit the spa, often staying at the nearby Tecumseh Hotel. American tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt visited in 1869 and, apparently rejuvenated, married his divorced first cousin twice removed, Frank Armstrong Crawford (for such was her unusual name), on August 20th in the Tecumseh Hotel.

The sulphur water originated from a 1000 foot deep aquifer that could supply one million gallons a day. The baths could be taken in a variety of forms, including shower, sitting, and spray. The water issued from the spring at 45 degrees Fahrenheit and was then heated by a furnace, which allowed bathing at any desired temperature.

The 1892 Guide to the City of London describes how “the bathing house and lovely park surrounding it . . . have been fitted up in a way to commend ‘The Springs’ to both sexes. The women’s baths are entirely secluded and a matron is constantly in attendance. The men are also cared for by a competent superintendent. The large swimming tank is admirably adapted not only to the needs of the expert swimmer, but also to the beginner, the depth of the water being regulated by means of a graded floor, from a few inches to several feet. Gymnastic appliances are at hand, and these with convenient dressing rooms and courteous attendants make up all that is required.”

The bathing house operated for 38 years, closing in 1906. 

Talbot Street School

Talbot Street School

Find location on Google Maps: 600 Talbot Street, London

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Plaque installed on May 18, 1973

photograph of Talbot Street School London Ontario

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG F-352, London Historical Museums, ca 1900

History

In June 1858, Common School trustees purchased a lot on Talbot Street for a new school from pioneer London resident, William Kent. Later the same year, a two-room frame school was built to accommodate the overflow of children from the old Union School on King Street. In 1865, 114 boys and 95 girls were in attendance.

By 1882, the old school was seen as grossly inadequate and was replaced by a two-storey brick building with four large classrooms. On a wintry school day in 1892, the building caught fire. According to the firehall diary, problems arose when the fire hydrant was found frozen. A second fire wagon arrived, but by this time the roof had fallen in and two firemen were injured. The evening London Free Press reported that although the school had been gutted, all 500 children had escaped, thanks to fire drill training.

Even before the fire was extinguished, the school board had met and arranged for students to attend class in the London Collegiate Institute, the Park Avenue Presbyterian Church, and the First Methodist Church. The rebuilding of the school was finished in time for September classes.

Talbot Street School housed London’s first kindergarten, and also its first Mothers’ Club in 1905. This club aided the establishment of nursing services and welfare projects in the schools.

For many years this school served the finest residential area of London. Among its pupils were children of well-known London families such as Calder, Carling, Gillespie, Gunn, Harris, Ivey, Kingsmill, Labatt, Meredith, Reid, and Westervelt. One pupil, Benny Wilson, became a Rhodes Scholar; Frank Gahan was later Magistrate for the Channel Island of Guernsey; and Floy Lawson married Duncan MacArthur, Minister of Education in the Hepburn government. Twenty Talbot students gave their lives in the First World War and eleven in the Second World War.

Talbot Street School was demolished in 1981. Condominiums now occupy the site.

Thames River

Thames River

Find location on Google Maps: Thames River, London

London Rowing Club Regatta on the Thames River photograph

History

The history of the Thames River can be traced back more than 15,000 years to its origins as a spillway for water melting from retreating glaciers.

Around 7,500 B.C., aboriginal peoples migrated to this area, attracted by abundant fish and game. Centuries later, Neutral tribes lived along this river they called Askunessippi, (antlered river).

French fur traders called it LaTranche (the ditch), and Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe renamed it the Thames. In 1793, he designated the forks of the Thames as the future site of the capital of Upper Canada.

It was not until the 1820s that substantial settlement began along the river. The Thames became a transportation route, source of power for mills, and provided water for domestic and industrial use. The picturesque shoreline attracted prominent Londoners to build large estates along the Thames, such as Eldon House and Thornwood.

The river was popular for boating, from competitive rowing to steamboat excursions. The most tragic incident on the Thames was the sinking of the steamer “Victoria” on May 24, 1881, which claimed 182 lives.

The Thames has long been a subject for artists, from early British topographers such as James Hamilton, to later painters like William Lees Judson and Jack Chambers.

By the mid-twentieth century, industrial development along the river had rendered the area polluted and unsightly. In the 1960s, a civic renewal program was begun to convert the river lands to recreational areas with parks, gardens, walking trails, and bicycle paths.

Today, most of London’s 2,800 acres of parkland is along the Thames River.

The Church of St. John the Evangelist

The Church of St. John the Evangelist

Find location on Google Maps: 280 St. James Street, London

Plaque installed on January 3, 1988

St. John the Evangelist Drawing of Exterior

Photo credit: Western Archives, Charles Fox, 1873

History

The history of the Church of St. John the Evangelist goes back to 1864 when a chapel by the same name was consecrated at the old Huron College on St. George Street. The chapel was a gift of Huron’s first principal, Archdeacon Isaac Hellmuth, and his wife, Catherine, in memory of her father General Thomas Evans, C.B.

This chapel was used until 1884, when the congregation moved to the chapter house of the proposed Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

In 1887, property on St. James Street was purchased for a new Gothic-style church, to be designed by Charles F. Cox, a member of the congregation. The foundation stone was laid on March 8, 1888, by the Reverend Richard G. Fowell, Principal of Huron College. The church cost around $13,000, and opened on November 11, 1888.

Many additions have been made over the years, including a school building in 1895, a spire in 1897, and a chancel screen in 1905.

In 1955, a new baptistry, a north aisle, a narthex and cloister on the north side of the church were added.

Several memorial windows have been dedicated over the years. Many of the earlier windows are the work of the distinguished firm of McCausland & Co. of Toronto, including three in the chancel: “The Good Shepherd,” “St. John the Baptist,” and “Virgin Mary.” In the cloister is the “Priscilla Window”, the only London example of the work of notable Canadian artist Yvonne Williams. The church also has several works by Londoner, Christopher Wallis, including “The Lamb of Resurrection” and “The Creation” windows, as well as a large stained-glass window commemorating those who served in both world wars.

Other distinctive features are the unique rood screen, stone font, soaring arches, and “inverted ship” ceiling. Also of note are terra cotta panels depicting the apostles around the 1953 cross, designed by Londoner Ray Robinson.

The East London Town Hall

The East London Town Hall

Find location on Google Maps: 795 Dundas Street, London (Aeolian Hall)

Plaque installed on October 12, 1972. This plaque was rededicated on September 10, 1999 in honour of the 125th anniversary of the incorporation of East London as a village.

The London East Town Hall photograph

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG F-364, Glen Curnoe, 1988

History

The beginnings of London East can be traced to 1856 when Murray Anderson built a foundry at the city limits of London, which stimulated the development of a new industrial community.

After the discovery of oil in Lambton County in 1858, oil refineries were constructed east of Adelaide Street.

London East was incorporated as a village in 1874, and as a town in 1883. $40,000 was spent on waterworks, and construction began on a town hall.

Designed by architect George F. Durand, the building’s distinctive features include its central tower, mansard roof, and Second Empire Italianate windows. Since the town hall cost twice the original $7,000 estimate to build, London East could not afford to complete its waterworks.

In 1884, the Great Western Railway carshops were destroyed by fire, and the railway refused to rebuild until fire protection was guaranteed. Fearing the loss of industry and facing fiscal disaster, London East citizens, led by Mayor Charles Lilley, voted to amalgamate with London, thus making the new town hall redundant.

Over the years the building has served as a cigar factory, fire hall, Odd Fellows lodge, and school. Its auditorium has seen many musical performances. Around 1900 outdoor evening concerts and plays were held on stages and in tents set up behind the building. Travelling herb doctors promoting panaceas sponsored these events.

The first branch library of the London Public Library was located in this building from 1915 to 1926.

In 1969 the building was refurbished as the new site of Aeolian Hall. Today it is home to the Canadian National Conservatory of Music, and is used for arts-related events.

The First London Public Library

The First London Public Library

Find location on Google Maps: 447 Wellington Street, London (southwest corner of Queens Avenue and Wellington Street)

Plaque installed on December 3, 1971.
This building was demolished in 1954 and the plaque was reinstalled in the Ivey Family London Room, Central Library, 251 Dundas Street, London in January 1983.

photo of first London Public Library

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, London Public Library's Institutional Archives, Photograph Box # 1, ca. 1895

History

The Ontario Legislature passed the Free Libraries Act in 1882, providing for the establishment of libraries financed through public taxes.

In 1884, London attempted to establish its first public library.

On municipal election day a free library by-law was passed, and a Board of Management established. The Board negotiated with the trustees of the Mechanics’ Institute for the transferral of assets according to the Act. The deal fell apart when the City refused to accept the Institute’s liabilities.

In 1888, the London Trades and Labour Council petitioned the City Council to implement the 1884 by-law. A new Library Board was appointed, but when Council realized the cost of converting the Mechanics’ Institute into a public library it referred the question to a public vote. On June 11, 1888, the citizens of London repealed the 1884 by-law.

Concerned that London lagged behind other Ontario communities which had already established public library service, City Council granted funds to the Mechanics’ Institute on condition that they provide free public access to their library and reading room until Christmas 1892. In November a petition signed by 100 ratepayers as required by the Act was presented to City Council.

On January 2, 1893, the people of London voted for the third time on a library by-law. The vote was favourable, and a Library Board was re-established. In April 1894, City Council issued debentures for $20,000 to erect a library.

On November 26, 1895, a fine new red brick library building at Queens and Wellington was opened, with Robert J. Blackwell as the first librarian.

This site presently houses One London Place.

The Union School

The Union School

Find location on Google Maps: South side of King Street between Waterloo and Colborne Streets, London

Take a tour of the The Union School on Historypin

Plaque installed on August 12, 1971

The Union School London Ontario photograph

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG L-15, James Egan, ca 1875

History

Prior to 1849, each of the city’s four wards had its own small school. The incorporation of London as a town in 1848 enabled the municipality to replace these with a union school. To mark the laying of the foundation stone, students and teachers of the ward schools marched from the market square to the new site where a ceremony was held.

The school opened in 1850 with three teachers and some 300 pupils, the ward students occupying separate classrooms. This arrangement was short lived as rivalries between groups resulted in many playground fights, and trustees directed that girls be dismissed early to allow them to get home safely. Later that year three women teachers joined the staff in the hope that they would be more effective at student discipline.

The school’s first headmaster, Nicholas Wilson, was chosen after a two-day oral interview attended by the trustees and interested citizens. Wilson taught for almost sixty years until his retirement in 1909 at the age of 76.

Examinations were held in mid-summer, and were public occasions where citizens could watch the exercises and listen to the performance of the students. When the Common and Grammar School Boards were amalgamated in 1865, the Union School was renamed the Central School and placed under the direction of Principal Benjamin Bayly.

In 1890, the now obsolete building was demolished and part of the site was subdivided into building lots. The London Free Press later said of the Union School that “the bricks that made up its walls are now the under layer of the walls of more than one fine residence in the city.” Alexandra Public School opened on the site in 1911-12.

The White Ox Inn

The White Ox Inn

Find location on Google Maps: 495 Hamilton Road, London

Plaque installed on September 29, 1976

The White Ox Inn

Image credit: original drawing by Stanley Dale, 1938, reproduced in The March of Medicine in Western Ontario by Edwin Seaborn (Toronto, 1944), p. 57

History

In 1819, Colonel Thomas Talbot located Tilley Hubbard and his family on the future site of the White Ox Inn. Settlement duties required Hubbard to build a dwelling within a year of receiving his property.

When London suffered the first of three cholera epidemics in 1832, Hubbard`s house was appropriated as a hospital. Most of its patients were poor immigrants since persons of means were treated in private homes. As many as 25 deaths may have occurred out of a population of 300. The victims were buried in the cemetery on the northwest corner of Dundas and Ridout streets.

In 1838, Samuel Parke bought this property and sold a two-acre lot in 1851 to George Pegler who “built” the White Ox Inn three years later.

It is not known whether Pegler’s building was a completely new structure or an expansion of the Hubbard home. Apparently the Inn was named for an ox that had collapsed in front of it. The location of the hotel was ideal, since Hamilton Road was a main thoroughfare into London. Legend has it that British troops from the London garrison stopped here in 1854 on their way to serve in the Crimean War.

In 1868, the hotel was sold to John Wilson, who had previously kept a hotel in the old Orange Hall at 267 Wellington Street. John Pegler (brother of George) operated a pottery business at the rear of the inn, and his son Anthony ran a successful florist business from greenhouses he had built on the property.

A street in the neighbourhood is named after the Pegler family.

In 1896, Robert Butterworth and his wife Betsy, who were dentists from England, bought the property. Their son Chris sold it in 1945 to Charles Garnett who ran a restaurant in the old inn. In 1961, the interior was damaged by fire.

After standing for over a century and a half, the Inn was demolished in 1982.

Thornwood

Thornwood

Find location on Google Maps: 329 St. George Street, London

Take a tour of the Thornwood on Historypin

Thornwood London Ontario photograph

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG D-179a, London Free Press, Jeanne Graham, October 17, 1970

History

Henry Corry Rowley Becher, builder of Thornwood, was born in London, England in 1817, son of Alexander Becher, a Royal Navy officer, and Frances Scott, daughter of the Anglican rector of Kingston and Port Royal. His family had interesting naval and literary connections. Henry’s cousin was the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, and his brother Alexander was an admiral.

In 1835, Henry came to London and articled as a lawyer. His studies were interrupted by the 1837 Rebellion, and he took part in the destruction of the rebel ship “Caroline”, which was cut loose and sank in the Niagara River above the Falls.

Becher was called to the Bar in 1841, was made a Queen’s Counsel, and later gained a reputation for court duels with Oliver Mowat and Edward Blake. He was well connected with the local elite and invested successfully in toll roads, banks, oil, real estate, and railroads. In 1882, he became a barrister of the Inner Temple in London, England.

Becher married Sarah Evanson Leonard, daughter of the Sheriff of Niagara, in 1841. The couple had seven children; their son, Henry Jr., was London’s mayor in 1885. Their original wooden house, Thornwood, was built in 1844 and burned in 1852. Becher replaced it with a brick design of his own which included Gothic and Tudor styles. The house is situated on high land overlooking the Thames River and its floodplain (now Gibbons Park). A verandah, added in 1856, contributes to its architectural and domestic charm.

Becher and his descendants entertained many dignitaries at Thornwood, including the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), the Duke of Connaught, Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Robert Borden, and the young Winston Churchill, who planted a birch tree in the yard.

Toddle Inn

Toddle Inn

Find location on Google Maps: 640 Richmond Street, London

Take a tour of the Toddle Inn on Historypin

photograph of Toddle Inn London Ontario

Photo credit: Western Archives, London Free Press Collection of Photographic Negatives, April 18, 1947

History

In 1891, Michael Cullen and Walter Milburn operated a blacksmith shop in the building that now houses the Toddle Inn.

William Lashbrook took over the shop in 1893, just as Richmond Street was about to undergo a transformation as electric trolleys and street lights replaced horse-drawn streetcars and oil lamps. New houses and businesses were being built, including Lashbrook`s home (now 642 Richmond Street) next to his blacksmith’s shop.

In1924 he leased the smithy to Richard Weir. Lashbrook died in 1938, but his wife Sarah retained ownership of the building until 1947, when she sold it to Charles W. Egleston.

Ironically just south of the blacksmith shop, a Cities Services Oil Company gas station had been established at the northeast corner of Hyman and Richmond streets as early as 1931. With the increased number of cars on the roads by the late 1940s, the need for blacksmithing declined.

Egleston converted the shop into a restaurant to cater to the bustling neighbourhood which included a bank, barber shop, grocery, and a coffee shop.

Egleston’s new enterprise, the Toddle Inn, opened as a modest establishment with a simple menu and a large, horseshoe-shaped counter. His customers were mostly single people and students. In later years, tables were added and the Toddle Inn expanded its menu to appeal to a broader clientele.

More than fifty years later, the Toddle Inn is still operated by the Egleston family. 

Western Hotel

Western Hotel

Find location on Google Maps: 463 Richmond Street, London

Western Hotel London Ontario photograph

Photo credit: Western Archives, Photograph RC # 40585, 1875

History

The Western Hotel pictured here opened in 1854, replacing an earlier hotel of the same name on another site, which had been destroyed by fire in 1850. The new hotel’s first proprietor was 21 year-old Peter McCann, an Edinburgh native. By 1855, the Western Hotel was considered to be one of six first-class hotels in London, along with the Robinson Hall, the City Hotel, the Golden Ball, the American Hotel, and the Prospect House.

London was experiencing a land boom created by the coming of the Great Western Railway in 1853. McCann, like hundreds of others, invested heavily in land. In the ensuing financial collapse of 1857, McCann lost everything, including ownership of his hotel.

The hotel served as a southern terminus of the London-Lucan stage coach lines, one of which was owned by William Donnelly. Bitter rivalry between these companies contributed to a long-standing feud, culminating in 1881 in the savage murder of five members of the Donnelly family in Biddulph Township.

No longer a first class establishment, the Western Hotel remained in operation until 1917 when James Washington Westervelt acquired the building and established his business school in the upper stories. The building was demolished in 1989, and an office and retail complex was then built on the site.

Local Historic Sites

About the Historic Sites Committee

Photo: Members of the Historic Sites Committee of the London Public Library Board, 2013-2014

The Historic Sites Committee of the London Public Library Board identifies and marks historic buildings, places, and people of local significance. 

Since 1970, the Historic Sites Committee has erected plaques commemorating buildings and sites of historical and architectural merit in London. The purpose of the plaques is to inform Londoners and visitors about the city's history, to interest Londoners in the preservation and appreciation of their heritage and to maintain an easily accessible archive of research materials in the Ivey Family London Room at London Public Library's Central Library. The plaques erected by the Historic Sites Committee are for information purposes only and do not indicate heritage designation. 

Members of the Historic Sites Committee are volunteers who have an expertise or interest in local history and are appointed by the London Public Library Board. Funding for the work of the Historic Sites Committee is raised through grants, community contributions and donations.

The Historic Sites Committee welcomes suggestions for plaques from members of the community and provides their Historic Sites Committee Guidlines as a helpful starting point.

For additional information, please contact Arthur McClelland at the Central Library, 519-661-4600 or email to Historic.Sites@lpl.ca

Local Historic Sites Marked by the Committee

Here you will find short histories of the London sites marked by the Historic Sites Committee since 1970.  As of October 2014, the Historic Sites Committee had recognized 68 London sites with a plaque.

Where buildings have been subsequently demolished, the plaques have been re-mounted in the Ivey Family London Room at the Central Library.  As well, a few plaques are missing from their sites, and the Committee is working to replace them.

These brief histories are based on speeches given at plaque unveilings, and on research materials collected about each historic site. These materials are available in the Ivey Family London Room -- an excellent place to discover sources for the study of local history.

There are also many other London sites that have been marked by various designated heritage bodies. Sites listed here are limited to those recognized by the Historic Sites Committee of the London Public Library Board.

 Walking Guide to Historic Sites in London

In 2006, the Historic Sites Committee published their Walking Guide to Historic Sites in London.  This guide provides brief histories of the 49 sites marked by the Committee from 1970 through 2000.  Print copies of the Walking Guide to Historic Sites in London are available to borrow from London Public Library and to purchase from the Library Store while supplies last.

The first draft of the Walking Guide was compiled by Eric P. Sheppard while a student in the Public History Master of Arts Program, Department of History, Western University. We acknowledge his hard work, and thank his supervisors, Professors Benjamin Forster and Jan Trimble, and his editorial assistant, David Larlee. The staffs of the Western University Archives, and of the Ivey Family London Room, assisted with research and historical photographs. Rob Turner of the D.B. Weldon Library, Western University, designed the map. Netta Brandon, Glen Curnoe, Vince Gray, Elizabeth Hill, Anita McCallum, Catherine B. McEwen, Bill McGrath, and Elizabeth Russell likewise gave invaluable assistance.

The final manuscript was edited by members of the Historic Sites Committee. This has been a collaborative effort and the Committee welcomes notice of any errors. The Walking Guide was designed by Betty Lueddeke, the Library’s graphic artist. Funding for this project was provided by Landmarks London - Heritage and Museum Network. Publication of the Guide fits with the mission of Landmarks London to establish the City of London as a well-known and highly valued destination for cultural and heritage tourism.

Since the original manuscript was prepared, the Committee has erected additional plaques. The histories of those sites are included within this online version.

African Methodist Episcopal Church

Arthur Stringer House

Banting House

Beechwood

Blackburn, Grace and Susan

Bleak House

Boomer, Harriet Anne

The Brener Brothers Cigar Factory

Brick Street Methodist Church

Buchan House

Carling Breweries

Carling Street, 122

Church of St. John the Evangelist

Crouch, Richard Edwin

Crouse, Isaac

The Dawn of Tomorrow

Doidge Park

Duffield Block

The East London Town Hall

Elson Homestead

Engine 86

Fire Station, No. 4

First Baptist Church

First Episcopal Election

The First London Public Library

Fullerton, Margaret

Gates Proof Line Road

Gibson, George "Mooney"

Glenmore

Grand Opera House

Green Gables

Grosvenor Lodge

Hall's Mills (Byron)

Idlewyld

The Industrial Banner

 

Kingsmill's Limited

Lilley's Corners

Locust Mount

London Armouries

London Normal School

London Rowing Club

London Transportation Commission

McCormick Manufacturing Company

Mechanics Institute

Metropolitan United Church

Norton Attawandaron Village

 

Siddall House

Site of Woodfield

Smallman & Ingram Ltd.

Somerville, Charles Ross "Sandy"

St. Peter's Rectory

St. Peter's Seminary

Sulphur Spring Bathing House

Talbot Street School

Thames River

Thornwood

Toddle Inn

The Union School

Waverley Mansion

Western Hotel

White Ox Inn

YMCA

Charles Ross "Sandy" Somerville (1903 -1991)

Charles Ross "Sandy" Somerville

Sandy Somerville and Jack Nash

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, Red Scrapbook Series 30:8, 1933

History

London is proud to have been home to one of Canada’s most loved and respected golfers. Charles Ross (“Sandy”) Somerville was born in 1903 in London and started playing sports at a young age.  A great all-around athlete, Sandy was half-back for the University of Toronto varsity team, captain of its junior hockey team, and competed internationally in cricket.  He turned down offers to play with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Argonauts and instead opted to pursue golf at an amateur level, while building a successful career as a life insurance executive.

Somerville started golfing at the young age of seven and studied with Kernie Marsh at the London Hunt and Country Club.  He won his first Canadian Amateur Championship in 1926 and added five more titles to his resumé before the Second World War (in 1928, 1930, 1931, 1935, and 1937). Somerville gained much attention when he became the first Canadian and only the second non-American to win the United States Amateur Champion in 1932.  Organizers were unprepared for a non-American win and did not even have a Union Jack to use in the award ceremony.

When the Second World War broke out, Somerville put golf on hold and responded to the call of duty.  He was commissioned as an officer in the Canadian Army and served until the end of the war.  Somerville was made a Member of the British Empire in recognition for his service. 

After the war, Somerville continued to be active in golf and served as President of the Royal Canadian Golf Association, President of the Canadian Seniors’ Golf Association, and as President of the London Hunt and Country Club for three terms. He was also a four-time champion of the Canadian Seniors’ Golf Association and two-time winner of U.S.-Canada Seniors’ trophy.

Somerville has received many honours in recognition of his great accomplishments in golf, including the Lionel Conacher Trophy for Canada’s most outstanding male athlete (1932) and a place in both Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (1955) and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame (1971).  He was also named top golfer of the half century by the Canadian Press in 1950.

Perhaps more important than his long list of titles and awards, Somerville achieved international respect and admiration.  Nicknamed “Silent Sandy,” Somerville approached the game with quiet focus, determination, and modesty.  A key player at a time when golf was experiencing unprecedented growth and popularity, Canadians were proud of all that Somerville accomplished and represented.

First Episcopal Election

First Episcopal Election

Find location on Google Maps: St. Paul's Cathedral, to the left of the entrance, 472 Richmond Street, London

Plaque installed on May 27, 2007

painting by Cliff Kearns

Painting credit: "We Have an Election," by Cliff Kearns, 2007, commissioned for the Diocese of Huron Sesquicentennial, original housed in Diocese of Huron Archives, Huron College

Click on image to see larger size image.

From left to right: John Strachan, newly-elected Bishop Isaac Hellmuth, Alexander Neil Bethune.

History

The construction of St. Paul’s Anglican Church began in 1829. The Reverend Edward Jukes Boswell chose two half-acre lots in the centre of the growing settlement of London, Ontario, and began to build the wooden structure that would eventually become the church. However, that was not to be the church’s final location.

In the early 1830s, the Reverend Benjamin Cronyn sold the original lots of land and bought a larger plot of less expensive land northeast of the initial location. The still unfinished wooden frame of the church was placed on sleighs and pulled by oxen to its new home. In September of 1834, St. Paul’s Church was complete and was ready to receive its congregation.

On Ash Wednesday in 1844 (21 February), St. Paul’s Church was destroyed by a fire. The church’s spire toppled down and the new church bell dropped from the steeple with a tremendous sound that was heard for a considerable distance. The recently made church organ - the very first in London – was also lost in the blaze. 

The church was soon rebuilt. The new church had ornate windows, elegant arches and a tower reaching 114 feet into the air. The pinnacles and doorways of the church were accented by stone gargoyles. The church’s foundations were made of concrete, and the structure itself was built of bricks made from clay dug from a designated area of the churchyard. The new St. Paul’s Church was formally dedicated on Ash Wednesday, 1846 (25 February).

In 1851, St. Paul’s Church took up a subscription and was able to purchase a peal of six church bells. These bells were made by the English company of C. and G. Mears of London. The first of their kind in Ontario, the bells arrived in Port Stanley in 1852 and were transported to London by oxcart. In 1901 the bells would be replaced by a chime of ten bells, which in turn would be recast into a chime of eleven bells in 1935.

In 1857, the synod of the young Anglican Diocese of Huron met at St. Paul’s Church to elect a bishop. While bishops had previously been government officers, the English Crown was now removing itself from involvement in ecclesiastical matters. As result, the clergy and followers of the Anglican Church were left to find alternative methods of selecting bishops. The election that took place in London in 1857 was a solution to this new state of affairs. With the naming of the Reverend Benjamin Cronyn as the Bishop of Huron, St. Paul’s Church became St. Paul’s Cathedral, the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Huron.

Glenmore

Glenmore

Find location on Google Maps: 361 Windermere Road, London (now Westminster College, University of Western Ontario)

Plaque installed on May 4, 2002

London Hunt and Country Club map

Image credit: Western Archives, map of London Hunt and Country Club Limited, 1954

Click on image to see larger image

History

Glenmore served as the club house for the London Hunt Club, which was officially established on 30 March, 1885.

London Hunt activities have been traced back as far as 1843, when British soldiers were stationed in the city. During this time, many hunts were held at Carling Heights, which overlooks Adelaide and Oxford Streets.

The famed Grand Military Steeplechase of 1843 was held at this location; the event was depicted in a distinguished local painting. "Glenmore" was the name given to the charter property on the eastern side of Western Road which was formerly known as the Red Feather Farm. The London Hunt Club's first permanent residence was established here in 1889. 

The London Hunt Club's first President and Master of Foxhounds was Harry Becher, who also happened to be the Mayor of London at the time he took office. The official colours assigned to the Club's huntsmen were French grey and scarlet, which were very similar, if not identical, to the uniform colors of London's Cavalry Regiment, the 1st Hussars.

Early membership to the Club was limited to one hundred men who paid annual dues of ten dollars. While several other competitive activities such as golfing and snowshoeing were introduced to the Club in later years, early club activities consisted mainly of foxhunting, trapshooting, and tennis.

The London Hunt Club eventually began leasing land from Jane Houseman near the Proof Line Road, opposite Platt's Lane, which is currently the location of University Hospital. In the year 1900, the Club finally settled in a more permanent site on land near Richmond Street North and Windermere Road.

By 1903, the Club had established itself well enough to maintain official records for posterity, including meeting minutes, and a year later, the official name of the organization was changed to "The London Hunt and Country Club". An old farmhouse on the premises was converted into a clubhouse which became known as Glenmore.

Additional land was purchased in 1915 in order for the Club to build an eighteen-hole golf course, which extended through UWO property and was rumoured to be kept cropped by pasturing sheep. The Prince of Wales even played a round of golf on this course in 1919.

Several members of the Club have been honoured for contributions in competitive activities. Jack Nash won the Club Championship fifteen times and Sandy Somerville won the Canadian Amateur Championship in 1926 and Ontario's Championship in 1929. In addition, the Club's course hosted several national tournaments, including the Canadian Amateur Championship in 1938.

The expansion of The University of Western Ontario called for the relocation of the club's quarters. In 1957, the Club purchased 274.5 acres of land near the Byron area, which remains the current location of the clubhouse.

In commemoration of the London Hunt and Country Club, a centenary book was assembled in 1985 by Brandon Conron to celebrate the organization's history.

In 2002 a plaque was unveiled by the London Public Library Board's the Historic Sites Committee at Westminster College, the former location of the Glenmore clubhouse, at 361 Windermere Road.

Isaac Crouse

Isaac Crouse

Find location on Google Maps: At the west end of the King Street footbridge and the east end of Becher Street, South Branch, Thames River, London

Plaque installed on October 5, 2003

King Street Bridge

 Image credit: from Illustrated London by Archie Bremner (London, October 1900, second edition), p. 51

History

More than 95 years after his death, the memory of Isaac Crouse, London’s pioneer bridge builder, lives on through the daily use of the structures he constructed.

Isaac Brock Crouse was born in 1825 in a log farmhouse on the second concession of Westminster Township, in present-day London, Ontario. As a young boy, he attended school with twenty other students in a log cabin near Pond Mills. To reach the little schoolhouse, Crouse had to trudge through the Township’s thick brush. His two main textbooks were an English reader and the Bible.

As a teenager Isaac Crouse had many encounters with the abundant local wildlife. Often he would be called to protect the family farm from the many bears that were present in the area at the time. Local legend also told that he chased a bear out of a King Street tavern and through downtown London.  Crouse commonly hunted deer and wild turkeys and fished the plentiful Thames River.

As an adult, Isaac Crouse went on to be a farmer, millwright, contractor and, most importantly, bridge builder. He learned the trade of bridge building while working for the Central Pacific Railroad in Nevada in the late 1860s. Upon his return to Canada, he built London’s first iron bridge in 1875, the Blackfriars Bridge.

This reinforced wrought-iron bowstring bridge spans the North Branch of the Thames River at Blackfriars Street.  During this period, the bridge was the primary link between the City of London and its surroundings. Other wooden bridges had preceded the iron Blackfriars Bridge, but none could withstand the frequent spring flooding. The wrought-iron structure was designed and fabricated by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Ohio, shipped to London and assembled under the supervision of Isaac Crouse.

Soon after its construction, the bridge became a landmark in the city of London, inspiring local artists and photographers. Its low parabolic chord enables the 212 feet bridge to be unsupported, giving the illusion that it floats above the Thames River. It is one of the few remaining bowstring bridges in Canada and is the oldest wrought-iron bridge in North America still used for vehicular traffic.

In addition to the Blackfriars Bridge, Isaac Crouse constructed other bridges and mills throughout London. He built the first dam at Springbank, and the superstructures and abutments for the Dundas, King, Oxford and Wellington Street bridges. He also constructed the first Meadowlilly bridge, then known as Meadow Lily, in southeast London. A second bridge, built by his son, Levi Crouse, later replaced this bridge.

After a successful career and having watched London grow from a small town to a city of 60,000 people, Isaac Crouse passed away on March 16, 1915. His many contributions as a London-area pioneer, contractor and bridge builder have led the London Public Library Board to recognize him by erecting an historic plaque in his honour in 2003.

Other historic plaques related to Isaac Crouse have been erected in the city, one at the site of the Blackfriars Bridge to commemorate the historical significance of London’s first iron bridge, and another at his last home, located on 77 Price Street.

London Rowing Club

London Rowing Club

Find location on Google Maps: 199 Wonderland Road South, London

Plaque installed on July 6, 2002

London Rowing Club Regatta on the Thames River

Click on image for details

A black and white print taken from an original photograph showing a scene on the Thames River taken during the London Rowing Club's Regatta on September 5th, 1903.

History

London has a long history in producing some of Canada’s finest rowers. The first documented regatta took place in 1849 between local citizens and British soldiers from the 20th Regiment stationed at today’s Victoria Park. Subsequently, crews from the Arms, the Abbey, and the Tecumseh Hotels clashed oars on the south branch of the Thames river. By 1870, these groups had merged into the London Rowing Club, a development stimulated by the industrial revolution, more leisure time, advancements in technology, and city rivalries.

Two additional factors heightened the interest in rowing. First, when authorities constructed a dam and a waterworks at Springbank Park in 1878 to solve the city’s sanitation problems, they also created a superior rowing course on the main branch of the Thames. Three new rowing clubs sprang into existence. The second influence was the Grand Regatta of 8 July 1880.  Over 3,000 spectators watched Canadian Ned Hanlan, the champion sculler of the world, display his prowess. These circumstances surely prepared London oarsmen for their success at the first Canadian Henley regatta held in Toronto later that year. The future looked bright.

Tragedy struck on the holiday weekend of 24 May 1881, when the paddle wheeler Victoria sank on its return trip from Springbank Park to London.  Almost 200 lives were lost.  Legend has it that a large number of people rushed to one side of the boat to watch as two scullers powered by, causing the steamer to sink.  Enthusiasm for boating was restrained for years.

Although few details have survived for the period between 1890 and 1950, we know that the London Rowing Club became the London Bowling and Rowing Club; that club members staged an annual regatta each Dominion Day; that LBRC oarsmen won the workboat four race at Henley in 1905; that the clubhouse was heavily damaged by floodwaters; that membership was dormant during the Second World War; and that Londoners re-established the London Rowing Club in 1954, operating it for the next two decades in an old barn at Fanshawe Lake and in a Pump House at Springbank Park.

The pace of change quickened again after 1968 when members founded the Western Rowing Club; replaced the barn at the Lake with a modern shellhouse; and moved the London Rowing Club from the Pump House in Springbank Park a mile east to the Joe McManus Canoeing and Rowing Facility.  These improvements helped town-and-gown crews and individuals attain impressive, even Olympic, achievements.  As the twenty-first century dawned, moreover, officials upgraded centre facilities to host Commonwealth Championships, the Canada Summer Games, the World Transplant Games, the Police and Fire Games, and the National Rowing Championships.

Another significant development occurred in the mid-1980s when Rowing Canada awarded High Performance Rowing Centres to London and to Victoria, British Columbia. That decision quickly elevated Canadian rowers to a stature not seen since the time of Hanlan; and London, Ontario, with its once forgotten rowing tradition, is again a proud contributor to these results.

London YMCA

London YMCA

London YMCA

Click on image for details

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG F-51, ca. 1914

History

The London YMCA was founded by William Bowman on 28 November 1856, just two years after London became a city and just twelve years after the original YMCA was founded in England by Sir George Williams. London's YMCA was the third to be established in Canada, preceded only by organizations in Montreal and Halifax, making it the first of its kind in Ontario.

It is believed that the first meeting location of the organization was at the northwest corner of the third floor of the Carling Block. Although the oldest official records only date back to 1876 and the first quarters of the London YMCA cannot be confirmed, it is certain that the organization began leasing rooms on Richmond Street in 1873 and occupied a more permanent property at 394-6 Clarence Street in 1879. This was also around the time that the organization became widely referred to as the YMCA - until this point, it was known as the Church of England Young Men's Christian Association.

When the Salvation Army took over the Clarence Street property, the organization was forced to relocate to its first purpose-built structure, which was on the south-west corner of Wellington Street and Queens Avenue and was officially opened to the public on New Year's Day, 1897. Building the new facility, though extremely costly, brought a wider range of members in the community together, including members of the newly established YWCA. By 1903, the organization was completely debt-free and held a celebration at which mortgages were burned and letters from Sir George Williams were read aloud.

Since the YMCA was founded on the principle that it would complete Christian work in communities that the church was not equipped to do, early objectives of the organization focused on growing a clean mind in a healthy body. It famously featured a "four-fold program" to develop the physical, mental, social, and spiritual character of Christian citizens.

In more recent years, services have expanded to focus more on recreation, health, education, and volunteerism. Starting in 1951, the organization was officially referred to as the "Y" to signify its changing nature, such as the merging of the men's and women's associations and the reduced focus on Christianity. The Centenary of the London Y in 1956 was celebrated on Sir George Williams' birthday and members of the community mainly celebrated the notable achievements of the organization during wartime. The YMCA has always had a reputation for providing unyielding support and services for all those persons involved in international conflict.

The Y building that stood at Wellington and Queens was demolished after a devastating fire in 1981 and the property sold to Sifton Properties, which constructed One London Place in 1992. A commemorative plaque was unveiled at the YMCA's former site in 2006 by the London Public Library Board's Historic Sites Committee. The London Y currently serves the city from several locations.

Margaret Fullerton

Margaret Fullerton

Find location on Google Maps: 300 Dufferin Avenue, London (City Hall)

Plaque installed on December 7, 2007

Margaret Fullerton 

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, Bill Barrett, from London Canada Coronation Souvenir (London, 1953), p. 32


Potrait of Margaret Fullerton

History

Margaret A. Fullerton was one of London’s most effective and popular municipal politicians.  Born in 1909, she grew up the daughter of a clergyman, the Rev. A.E.M. Thomson.  After graduating from The University of Western Ontario, she attended the College of Education in Toronto securing a position teaching Latin at London’s Central Collegiate.  She married Edwin N. Fullerton in 1938 (d. 1970).  

Previous to her political career, she participated widely in community life especially in women’s affairs.  As a U.W.O. alumnus, she organized the Opera Workshop Society in 1950 and served as Vice-President of the University’s Women’s Club.  She was President of the Women’s Canadian Club in 1947-49 and was active also with the London Council of Women, the Western Fair Board and the I.O.D.E.

She made her greatest contributions to London affairs in the area of municipal politics.  With her election in 1953 to council as Ward 2 alderman, she became London’s first female councillor; in 1960, she ran successfully for the Board of Control.  She sat on many council committees chairing several.  She gained notoriety for carefully reviewing all budgetary matters and displayed an avid interest in planning issues.  Her accomplishments were significant in their impact: the London Centennial celebrations of 1955; the establishment of the Victoria House Museum, London’s first permanent museum, in 1958; the annexation of 1961; the improved status for married women in employ of the city; and the building of Centennial Hall as London’s Canadian Centennial project for 1967.  

While serving on Council in 1966, she accepted an appointment from Prime Minister Lester Pearson to serve on the Canadian delegation to the United Nations participating on the Committee of Trusteeship and Colonialism.  She conducted a vigorous campaign for the Liberal Party in the 1965 federal election, but suffered defeat at the hands of Conservative Jack Irvine.  Her municipal political career was terminated briefly in 1969 when she lost her seat on the Board of Control.  After 15 months, however, she returned to municipal politics in 1971 again as Controller replacing, ironically, Jack Irvine, who had resigned abruptly.  She served for only two weeks accepting an appointment by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau as a Commissioner on the newly constituted Pension Review Board.    While in Ottawa, she was active also in the Ottawa Civil Service Recreational Association.  On her retirement in 1978, she returned to London.  She died on July 27, 1991.  

Margaret Fullerton left municipal politics with a reputation as a vigorous and skilled debater.  To quote London Free Press columnist Joe McClelland, she had “the courage of her convictions and an utter contempt for political grandstanding.” 

She is buried in Woodland Cemetery, 493 Springbank Drive, London

Bibliography
“Con. Fullerton appointed to new pension board”. London Free Press, April 15, 1971.

Etherington, Jim, “Margaret Fullerton’s 15-year civic career interrupted”. London Free Press, December 3, 1969.  

“Know Your Directors”, RA News, January 1973.  

“Margaret Fullerton Fonds”, The University of Western Ontario Archives, The J.J. Talman Regional Collection.  

McClelland, Joe, “Return of Mrs Fullarton seen as needed catalyst”. London Free Press, April 1971.  

Wallace, Helen, “Mrs. Fullerton leaving post with regret”. London Free Press, April 1971.

Smallman and Ingram Limited

Smallman and Ingram Limited
Image to be added

 

History

In 1877, John Bamlet Smallman and Lemuel Hill Ingram formed a partnership to establish a retail dry goods store. They rented a store at 147 Dundas Street and called it Smallman and Ingram. The original location had sixteen feet of retail frontage and specialized in mantles and millinery with an onsite workroom for making clothing.

The store's sales grew quickly, more than quadrupling by 1891. These sales were driven by John Smallman and Lemuel Ingram's commitment to carrying good quality, low-cost goods. Both founders had extensive experience working in dry goods stores.

John Smallman had apprenticed as a clerk at a dry goods store from the age of fourteen and Lemuel Ingram was a clerk at a wholesale store at the time of their partnership. They used their experience well, building a more productive store by encouraging employee loyalty and engagement. One initiative was the implementation of early closing on Saturdays and on days preceding holidays. Normal store hours were 10am to 11pm, but the new closing hour was set at 7pm. Eventually Smallman and Ingram closed at 5:30pm on Saturdays and before Holidays.

The store expanded in 1891, 1892, 1897, and finally in 1904. John Smallman, the sole owner after the death of Lemuel Ingram in 1901, purchased land on Richmond and Dundas Streets and began construction of an L-shaped building with 149 feet of retail frontage and 96,000 square feet of floor space, on five floors and a basement. Smallman and Ingram opened as a department store in a neo-classical red brick building on the corner of Richmond and Dundas streets in 1905.

In 1908, J.B. created a limited liability company, Smallman and Ingram Limited, and gave employees the chance to invest and become shareholders; forty-four employees took advantage of the opportunity. The same year he introduced the Smallman and Ingram Limited Benefit Association, which provided all of his 200 employees with sickness and adversity benefits.

J.B. had no children of his own but he was a family man. After Ingram's death he brought in two of Ingram's children and his own nephew.  Gordon John Ingram was the most promising. He was made office manager in 1908 when the company was incorporated and eventually became President when J.B. died in 1916. Gordon Ingram operated the store until 1944. Over that period of time, Smallman and Ingram Limited grew to be the largest department store in Western Ontario. The store was also the first in London to receive goods shipped by air.

The store was sold to Simpson's of Toronto in 1944. Gordon Ingram remained on as chairman of the new Board of Governors and all of the employees were retained. Now known as Market Tower, the store building still stands at the corner of Richmond and Dundas Streets.

St. Peter's Seminary

St. Peter's Seminary
Image to be added

 

History

In 1912, Michael Francis Fallon, the Bishop of the Diocese of London, dissatisfied with how his seminarians were being treated at the Grand Séminaire in Montreal, decided to educate them in London by establishing his own seminary. He was fortunate that the Rectory next door to St. Peter’s Cathedral was spacious, that pedagogical skills in theology and other subjects were vested in local priests, and that diocesan clergy and laity wholeheartedly supported his efforts.

He was able to obtain pledges to fund the building of a seminary on land donated by local businessman Philip Pocock – the Sunshine Park property on Huron Street, which was then just north of the city limits.

The First World War delayed his building plans, but in 1923 Fallon engaged the Windsor architectural firm of Pennington and Boyd to design and oversee the construction of his seminary. Sod was turned in the snow in February 1925, and the “monastic Gothic” building rose slowly over the next 13 months.

It was officially opened in September 1926 in “Catholic Week”, during which the refurbishing of St. Peter’s Cathedral and St. Mary’s Church and the opening of Brescia Hall were also celebrated. The seminary chapel and cloister were completed and opened in June 1930.

Before the Sunshine Park building was completed, the seminary’s first home was in the Cathedral Rectory, and the education of seminarians was closely connected to the life of St. Peter’s Cathedral.  Cathedral rectors and priests lectured to them in theology, tutored them in liturgy, and guided their pastoral training.

In 1923, Fallon opened a School of Philosophy a few blocks east of the Cathedral on Queens Avenue. It provided the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree to those men intending to enter the priesthood. When the seminary building was completed in 1926, students in both philosophy and theology and their priestly teachers moved there in time for September classes.

St. Peter’s Seminary was built to house 88 students and 12 faculty members, and incorporated classrooms, library, temporary chapel, administrative offices, facilities for sports and recreation (both in the Seminary and its spacious grounds), and a separate wing for housekeeping staff.

Throughout most of the next few decades, the seminary was guided by two giants: Rector Monsignor Andrew Parnell Mahoney, and spiritual director, Father Leonard Forristal. The lean years of the Depression were followed by a growth of spiritual vocations in the 1940s, by an educational response to increased lay involvement in the Church in the 1950s, and to the whirlwinds of change prompted by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

The seminary acquired an auditorium, recreation hall, and new library in the 1950s. Faculty - both ordained and lay - expanded to address issues of social justice, growth in missionary outreach, and changing pastoral needs, including greater involvement in parish ministry.

The 1970s and 1980s saw a transformation in seminary leadership; students took a greater role in decision-making, and a Group System was developed, with students divided into groups under faculty advisors. These groups lived in separate sections of the residence, with their own lounge for relaxation, discussion, and group celebrations of the Eucharist. The system promoted collegiality among students in different years and in different programs, and survives (with some variation) today.

Philosophy students were now free to take courses at both King’s and Brescia Colleges, and Theology students to enroll in courses at Huron College. Lay student enrollment increased with the introduction of the Master of Divinity degree. The seminary mandate had expanded from just preparing men for the priesthood to also forming the laity for service in the Church. 

In 1986, St. Peter’s Seminary received its first accreditation by the Association of Theological Schools, an achievement that introduced a new culture of planning and professionalism into seminary life. It has maintained this status ever since.

The years leading up to the new millennium saw both a reduction in the number of students preparing for the priesthood and strong lay enrollment. The latter reflected growing opportunities for employment in parishes and the helping professions.

The seminary library was expanded in 1995, and Aquinas House, on the seminary grounds was refurbished. A Master in Theological Studies program was instituted, and the first candidates studying for the Permanent Diaconate were welcomed in 2000.

The St. Peter’s Seminary Foundation was created in 2003 to take a dynamic role in fundraising and development. The Institute for Catholic Formation was established at the seminary in 2008 to serve the needs of those in parish ministry and to foster lay and ecclesial formation.

St. Peter’s Seminary Library forged new technological links to King’s University College and the University of Western Ontario and opened a new climate-controlled space for the Michael R. Prieur Archives.

In 2012, St. Peter’s Seminary celebrated one hundred years of service to the Diocese of London and the Canadian Church.

The Brener Brothers Cigar Factory

The Brener Brothers Cigar Factory

Find location on Google Maps: 184 Horton Street, London (Boys and Girls Club)

Plaque installed on September 19, 2001

O.E. Brener Cigar Factory

Photo credit: Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library, PG L-13, James Egan, ca 1890

Click fore more details

History

Cigar manufacturing has a long and rich history in the London area. In the years before the First World War, London was the second largest producer of cigars in all of Canada, only slightly behind Montreal.

Prior to the beginning of Canadian cigar manufacturing, most of the cigars sold in Canada were imported from Germany. In the late 1800s, Otto E. Brener, a German immigrant residing in London, Ontario, began making his own cigars. Though it is unclear exactly when he began his operation, Brenner listed his occupation as a cigar maker as early as 1881.

His first business was located on the west side of Wellington Street between Bathurst and Horton. Brener worked out of this location for several years before moving his operation to the west side of Richmond Street, just south of King.

By 1886, he had once again relocated, this time to 384 Ridout Street, a former hotel and military garrison building. At the time of this move, Brener Brothers employed some thirty workers.

Over the next few decades, Brener’s cigar manufacturing would grow and thrive in the London area.

By 1891, Otto’s two sons, Otto E. and Arthur H., had joined him in the family business. As the company grew in size, Brener Brothers decided to relocate their cigar factory one final time to 184-190 Horton Street. It was at this location that Brener Brothers found their greatest success.

It has been estimated that London’s highest cigar production came in the years between 1910 and 1912.  Some accounts report that on average the city of London produced up to eighty million cigars during this time, a number that would drop to around twenty million in the years after the end of the First World War.

As one of London’s larger cigar producers at the time, Brener Brothers had expanded their workforce from thirty to two hundred and produced roughly ten million cigars in 1912.  Their success, however, would be short-lived, for the post- war years would see the decline and eventual closure of Brener Brothers.

The First World War saw the prohibition of the sale of alcohol of any kind, putting many bars, the main place cigars were sold, out of business. As well, after the War, cheaper cigarettes replaced cigars as the smoke of choice.

These events led to a downturn in cigar production and by 1922 the Brener Brothers Company was no more. In the 1970s, the Brener Brother’s former factory on Horton Street became the home of the Memorial Boys’ and Girls’ Club of London. This lasted until the building’s demolition in the mid 1980s.

The Dawn of Tomorrow

The Dawn of Tomorrow

Find location on Google Maps: 95/97 Glenwood Avenue, London

Plaque installed on October 21, 2009

The Dawn of Tomorrow

 Image credit: The Dawn of Tomorrow, October 8, 1927, p. 1, Archives Box #380, London Room

History
The Dawn of Tomorrow was founded by James F. Jenkins and the first issue was published on July 14th, 1923 from the Jenkins family home at 95/97 Glenwood Avenue in London, Ontario.  Jenkins, one of Canada’s most notable Black leaders, was born in Forsyth, Georgia in 1884.  He experienced firsthand the ingrained discrimination and segregation of the American South.  Educated in the liberal arts, James had worked with the influential black intellectual and activist W.E.B. Du Bois.  Jenkins arrived in London in 1907 and was aware that Canadian Blacks faced many obstacles.  During World War One, some Blacks who had tried to enlist in the Canadian army were rejected because of their colour.  After the war, racial tension grew and the Ku Klux Klan made headway. At the same time, Black communities were scattered, making communication between them difficult.  In launching The Dawn of Tomorrow, Jenkins wrote, “It is to be remembered first, our people in Canada do not possess a newspaper, second that the circulation of the American colored newspapers in Canada is very small, and third, very little news of our people in Canada is in American publications.”  He knew it was important for Blacks to stay connected for mutual support.  The name he gave his paper highlighted the positive message he intended.

In his newspaper, Jenkins explored how Black Canadians and Americans could work together.  In the United States, racial boundaries were clearly marked and segregation was legal.  In Canada, race relations were unequal but this issue was not discussed.  The Dawn wrote about the accomplishments of Black Canadians, stimulated racial pride and helped forge a Black Canadian identity.

Jenkins knew London historian, Fred Landon, Chief Librarian at the London Public Library and later at The University of Western Ontario.  Landon wrote extensively about the history of Blacks in Ontario and, in what was a fruitful partnership, The Dawn reprinted many of his articles.

Out of Jenkins’ work for inter-community co-operation and Black advocacy came the formation, in 1924, of the Canadian League for the Advancement of Colored People (CLACP).  Jenkins was named Executive and Organizing Secretary and The Dawn, its official publication.  The League and The Dawn sought to coordinate the efforts of Black organizations, fight discrimination in hiring practices, improve the conditions of Blacks in Canada, promote education for young Blacks and serve as a watchdog for racist incidents.

Jenkins died suddenly on May 6th, 1931 of complications following surgery, leaving behind his wife, Christina E. and their eight children.  She carried on with The Dawn and when she remarried her whole family helped with the paper.  A strong community leader in her own right, Christina managed the enterprise until her death on May 8th, 1967, whereupon her children continued her work.

There are microfilm copes of The Dawn at the London Public Library and at Weldon Library.

The Industrial Banner

The Industrial Banner

Find location on Google Maps: 420 Richmind Street, London (south facade of Scotiabank Building)

Plaque installed on November 17, 2009

Industrial Banner Labour Newspaper

Photo credit: masthead from April 1909 issue, courtesy of Hilary Bates Neary

Click on image to see larger size image.

History

Currently, 420 Richmond Street  is a Scotiabank branch, but at one time the land adjoining it belonged to the London Advertiser Printing and Publishing Company.  The London Advertiser is significant to the city because a newspaper of the same name was printed at that location and, perhaps even more importantly, because Canada’s first and longest-running labour newspaper was also printed there, The Industrial Banner.

For its first issue in 1891, the Industrial Banner was printed at the United Labour Hall.  Original editor Joseph T. Marks, along with his colleagues Rudolph Hessel, Henry Ashplant and Frank Plant, thought it was time for London to have a paper that was devoted to championing the rights of the Canadian working class, and so this monthly newspaper was born. 

Through the Banner, the editors provided a voice for unionists in the city and even went on to create their own political party, distinct from the existing Liberals and Conservatives.  From this the “Independent Labour Party of Ontario” was created.  It met with some success over the years, including the election of Frank Plant to council in 1899.

Aside from the part the paper played in politics, the editors had another aim – to promote education for workers and literacy in the entire community.  Most important to them were the creation of a public library and the provision of free textbooks to schoolchildren.  Both of these eventually did occur in the city in later years, but the first referendum on creating a public library did not pass.   After this the editors of the newspaper, along with their sponsors, decided that they should take upon themselves the responsibility of improving literacy. 

To do so, they founded a reading room at the United Labour Hall.  This proved that there was enough interest in literacy and that people in London were serious about the issue.  In 1895 – two years after the opening of the reading room – a second referendum was held on whether to open a library and this one, fortunately, passed.  Joseph Marks, as one of the strongest proponents of the idea, became a founding member of the London Public Library Board. 

For approximately twenty years The Industrial Banner was printed in London at the Advertiser location.   Around 1913, production moved to Toronto, where editor Marks and the Independent Labour Party of Ontario hoped to make their own mark on the political stage.  After ten years in this location, the paper folded.

Though The Industrial Banner saw its end in Toronto, it clearly had its greatest impact in London.  Through the ideas of Joseph Marks and his colleagues, it provided a voice for the working class when they needed it most.  Their influence is still felt through the introduction of a proper public library system – one that still serves London to this day.

Waverley Mansion

Waverley Mansion

Waverley mansion

Image credit: from Illustrated London by Archie Bremner (London, October 1900, second edition), p. 153

History

Waverley is a gorgeous Queen Anne mansion built in the 1880s for Charles F. Goodhue on land owned by Goodhue's father, George Jervis Goodhue, London's first millionaire. Named after George Goodhue's home on Bathurst Street, Waverley was planned by British architect Captain Hamilton Tovey. 

London architect George F. Durand extensively modified Tovey's plans and built the mansion. Durand is considered by some to be south-western Ontario's most important architect. He trained under William B. Robinson and worked in New York before returning to London with his bride Sarah Parker of Albany. In London he joined the firm of William Robinson and Thomas Henry Tracy.

Waverley, a beautiful London white brick mansion, is an excellent example of Durand's exuberant Queen Anne style. In particular the irregular silhouette, the many different roof types, and the heavy supporting woodwork with intricate and delicate trim are classic features of the style.

On Goodhue's death in 1893, Goodhue's daughter sold Waverley to Thomas Henry Smallman, who made several additions to Waverley, including a ballroom and a number of turrets. A native of Ireland, he was the eldest son of James Knight Smallman, and  the brother of John Bamlet Smallman of London's Smallman and Ingram department store.

Thomas Smallman was a founding member of Imperial Oil, one of the first directors of London Life Insurance in 1874, and a board member of his brother's department store.  Thomas was also appointed by the province of Ontario to the first Board of Governors of Western University, now The University of Western Ontario. He had two children, John Elton and Eleanor Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Smallman occupied the property until her death in 1948, when it was sold to the Shute Institute for Medical Research, a research institute credited with pioneering the medical application of vitamin E.

In 1987 Diversicare Canada Management Services took over the mansion and, with the addition of the state-of-the-art south-west wing, transformed it into a retirement home.

The mansion is still occasionally available for viewing by the public. It has in the past participated in Doors Open London and as recently as December 2009 hosted a Victorian Christmas Open House.

Local History Websites

Dictionary of Canadian Biography
This is the online version of the multi-volume biographical reference tool with the same name.  To look for  Londoners, one can search by keywords, (London, Ontario), personal names or by region of birth (under browse function - North America - Canada - Ontario - Southwest). 

London Chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society
The London Chapter represents the regional interests and concerns of the archaeological community in Southwestern Ontario, by providing field activities, social events, and advocacy opportunities. This site includes information about research tools, special events and the chapter's newsletter, Kewa.

London Ontario (Wikipedia)
The entry for London includes a brief history of London, a list of mayors and other notable personalities in London's history. There are also links to the city's official website and to Stories in London's History from the London and Middlesex Historical Society.

London Region Branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario
Formed in 1966 in response to the threatened destruction of London’s original financial district on Ridout Street, the London Region Branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO), is a charitable organization dedicated to promoting, preserving and interpreting the architectural heritage of the London area.

Map and Data Centre
The Map and Data Centre currently holds over 400 fire insurance plans, 2,065 atlases and over 222,000 paper maps. The centre houses the following online versions for the city of London:

aerial photographs - 1922, 1942, 1945, 1946, 1950, 1955, 1960, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1970-72, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1989, 1993, 1998, 2001

fire insurance plans - 1881 (revised 1888), 1892 (revised 1907) and 1912 (revised 1915, 1922) 

geodetic maps -  1926 and 1957 

There are also over 900 fire insurance plans housed in the Western Archives. 

Museum of Ontario Archaeology (London, Ontario)
This unique museum is devoted to the study, display and interpretation of the human occupation of Southwestern Ontario over the past 11,000 years. The Museum is located beside the Lawson Prehistoric Iroquoian Village, a site occupied by the Neutral Iroquoians in the 16th century A.D. This website includes a list of museum events, exhibits and programmes

Official Donnelly Home Page
This site contains a list of books about the Donnellys, a family tree and photo album, ghost stories, a history of the Donnellys and their stagecoach and related Donnelly links.

Our Ontario
Search across the digitized collections of photographs, videos, audio recordings and more from libraries, museums, archives and community groups in Ontario.

Our Roots/Nos Racines
Our Roots is a library, archive, museum and school all in one. Check the collection to find Canadian local histories in French and English. Check Educational Resources for learning packages for students and teachers.

Tourism London
Here you wll find a calendar of events and museums to visit as well as a brief history of London.

London Ontario on Historypin

Historypin

Historypin is a website that lets you see historical images that are "pinned" to their geographic location on an interactive map.

Find London's Local Historic Sites on Historypin.

Historypin allows you to take one of the tours that have been created to highlight London's History: The Walking Guide to Historic Sites in London; and the Walking Tour of Dundas St.

Many thanks to the members of the Historic Sites Committee of the London Public Library Board who have worked tirelessly over the years to research and recognize London's History. Scroll down on this site to find The Walking Guide to Historic Sites in London which is their work and is also available in print at the library and online via our website.  We also appreciate the support that the Friends of London Public Library have provided to our local history digitization project.

 

How to discover London's history on HistoryPin

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London Public Library History

1835 The third Mechanics' Institute, forerunner of today's public library, in Upper Canada is established in London, the first two being in York (now Toronto) in 1831 and Kingston in 1834. A self-improvement centre for "the working class", the Institute offers concerts, exhibitions, lectures and a lending library.

December 8, 1840 The Mechanics' Institute is revived in London.

January 5, 1841 The London Mechanics' Institute is re-organized with the adoption of a constitution and the election of officers. Marcus Holmes is elected the first president.

June 21, 1841 Peter Tissiman, recording secretary for the London Mechanics' Institute, is paid two pounds and ten shillings as librarian.

December 1842 A new building for the London Mechanics' Institute and Museum is completed on the original courthouse square, near the present-day corner of Dundas and Ridout streets.

January 8, 1849 The London Mechanics' Institute receives its first government grant of fifty pounds.

July 15, 1852 The London Mechanics' Institute is incorporated.

November 12, 1855 The Mechanics' Institute moves to Talbot Street at the western end of Queens Avenue.

November 1, 1861 The London Mechanics' Institute goes bankrupt.

May 9, 1870 Having been inactive during the 1860s, the London Mechanics' Institute is reorganized.

October 23, 1872 Marcus Holmes, first president of the reorganized London Mechanics' Institute, dies at 183 King Street at the age of 67.

July 18, 1876 Sgt.-Maj. James Gray is appointed the librarian for the London Mechanics' Institute.

November 2, 1876 The cornerstone for a new Mechanics' Institute building is laid on the south side of Dundas Street east of Clarence Street.

September 21, 1877 The new Mechanics' Institute building costing $24,000 is formally opened at 229-231 Dundas Street. This is the final location for the institute. The building still stands today (2012).

February 28, 1882 The Ontario Legislature passes the Free Libraries Act, enabling municipalities to establish public libraries supported by taxes.

January 7, 1884 The first attempt to establish a public library in London occurs when London City Council passes a free library by-law and a free library board of management is set up but a public library is not established.

July 8, 1885 Miss Mary Gray, eldest daughter of the last librarian of the Mechanics' Institute, Sgt.-Maj. James Gray, is appointed an assistant to her father.

June 11, 1888 London City Council puts the matter of establishing a public library to a public vote and the 1884 bylaw is repealed and the library board dissolved.

July 22, 1888 The former Mechanics' Institute building (1842) is heavily damaged by fire.

January 2, 1893 Londoners vote a third time on a free library bylaw and the results were in favour of a free library so a Free Library Board is re-established.

February 21, 1893 The inaugural meeting of the Free Library Board is held and Henry Macklin is elected as its first chair.

June 18, 1894 Mr. Henry Macklin, chairman of the new public library board, signs a deed to a lot on the southwest corner of Queens Avenue and Wellington Street, the future site of the new public library.

July 3, 1894 Sgt.-Maj. James Gray, the last librarian of the London Mechanics' Institute, dies.

February 11, 1895 Robert Reid is elected chairman of the Free Library Board.

April 2, 1895 Robert James Blackwell, a former bookseller, is elected from more than 80 applicants as the first librarian for the London Public Library with an annual salary of $750 .

May 3, 1895 The Mechanics' Institute building at 231 Dundas Street is sold at Keenleyside's Auction Rooms to William Gorman for $19, 400.

May 3, 1895 The first meeting of the London Public Library Board is held with Robert Reid as its first chair.

May 6, 1895 The last meeting of the London Mechanics' Institute takes place. Minutes of the institute from 1841 to 1861 and 1879 to 1895 are located in the London Room at the Central Library.

July 1895 Miss Mary Gray became the first library assistant for the public library, earning $300 a year.

July 27, 1895 The reading rooms of the London Mechanics' Institute are permanently closed.

October 15, 1895 Miss Katharine McLaughlin is hired as the second library assistant in the reference department of the public library.

November 26, 1895 The first London Public Library is opened by the Hon. George W. Ross, Minister of Education. The new building costs $14, 818 including furnishings and took over the book collection of the Mechanics' Institute, some of which are housed in the London Room.

April 11, 1896 Frederic Martlett Bell-Smith donated the first painting, A Breaking Wave, an oil on canvas, ca 1892-1894, to London Public Library's permanent art collection.

card catalgoue 1903

Printed catalogues. Patrons would look at lists of books, write the number of the book they wanted on a piece of paper and hand it to a librarian at the desk. The librarian would then find the book in the closed-to-the-public stacks and bring it back to check out for the patron.


June 1, 1897 Mr. Blackwell, issued in book form, the library’s first published catalogue (taken from the card catalogue) using the new Dewey decimal classification system. Copies of this catalogue are in the archives at the London Room.

January 23, 1900 Robert Reid, the first chairman of the London Public library, dies at 422 King Street at the age of 78.

November 19, 1901 Dr. Clarence T. Campbell presides over the first monthly meeting of the London and Middlesex Historical Society held in the London Public Library.

December 1902 So quickly did the library’s services grow that an addition is built at the rear of the building.

March 19, 1906 Robert J. Blackwelll, the first librarian at the London Public library, dies of cancer at 62 Stanley Street at the age of 51

May 11, 1906 Joseph Henry Wilberforce McRoberts, a high school teacher, is appointed as the second librarian with an annual salary of $1000.

June 7, 1906 Joseph H.W. McRoberts begins his duties as librarian.

December 6, 1906 Joseph H.W. McRoberts resigns as librarian, effective January 1, 1907 to return to teaching.

December 14, 1906 William Oliver Carson becomes London's third librarian.

1908 Public access to the bookshelves is introduced

March 5, 1908 The Finance Committee is instructed by the London Public Library Board to consider the advisability of opening a branch of the library in East London.

1909 The circulation of books exceeds 100,000 for the first time.

October 6, 1910 The London Public Library Board is asked to consider the advisability of introducting a dictionary catalogue into the library.

November 1, 1910 The Reference Room opens and modern reference service begins.

December 1, 1910 The Library Committee of the London Public Library Board recommends that 50,000 cards, a card catalogue cabinet with sections for 50,000 cards and a typewriter be purchased for $310.

February 28, 1911 Miss Mary Gray, the first library assistant for the public library, dies at St. Joseph's Hospital of acute appendicitis at the age of 58.

May 10, 1912 The Glanworth Library Association is formed by Eunice Mary (Meadows) Dawson and Mrs. Robert Fisher.

July 28, 1912 Glanworth Public Library is established with Eunice Dawson as the first librarian.

Summer 1913 The Children’s Room opens in the west end of the ground floor of the Central Library, formerly used as a ladies’ reading room.

November 18, 1913 Rev. Dr. James Ross, a member of the London Public Library Board, is struck and killed by an automobile while in New York seeking an Andrew Carnegie library grant of $125,000 for building and furnishing a new central library. The library never receives a Carnegie grant.

August 1, 1915 Miss Marjorie Flanders is appointed as the first children’s librarian.

December 11, 1915 The first story hour for children is started.

December 23, 1915 London’s first branch library, East End (presently Carson) Branch, opens in a store in London East’s former town hall at the southwest corner of Dundas and Rectory Streets (now the Aeolian Hall, 797 Dundas Street).

black and whilte photograph of interior of the libarry showing bookshelves on one side with books and 2 long wooden tables with wood chairs in middle of room
Inside of reference room, 1916.

 

April 6, 1916 William O. Carson resigns as chief librarian of the London Public Library to become the inspector of public libraries in Ontario.

May 1, 1916 Fred Landon becomes London's fourth chief librarian.

November 29, 1917 The former Mechanics' Institute building (1842) is demolished.

October 16 to November 11, 1918 London’s public libraries are closed due to the flu epidemic.

December 28, 1918 London’s second branch library, South (presently Landon) Branch opens at 14 Askin Street.

black and white photo of women's back facing shelf piled high with books and newspapers
Basement workroom in the Library circa 1920. Note with the photograph states, "The only workroom in the library is in the cellar. It houses over 5000 volumes of reference material, stacked two deep, besides the school dept. with 6000 books, the branches dept, the accessioning and reception depts with the book repair and bindery depts. Any one of these departments should have a separate room for efficiency."


November 3, 1921 The London Public Library secured a one-year lease of premises in the Bourne Block at 435 Hamilton Road for London's third branch library, Southeast (presently Crouch) Branch.

1922 London’s third branch library, Southeast (presently Crouch) Branch moves to the basement of the Trafalgar Public School.

January 17, 1922 The Board of Education grants the use of a room in the new Victoria Public School to the London Public Library Board for its South (presently Landon) Branch Library. .

1923 The Glanworth Library, built with community funds, opens.

November 24, 1923 Before leaving for the United States, Guy Lombardo plays his last London performance at 305 Queens Avenue, site of the Winter Gardens which was a Hudson-Essex car dealership by day and a dance hall at night.

1924 The South (presently Landon) Branch Library moves to its present location at 167 Wortley Road.

1924 The Lambeth Library Association is formed.

April 1925 The Southeast (presently Crouch) Branch Library settles in a house at 550 Hamilton Road (at the northwest corner of Sackville Street)

1926 The East (presently Carson) Branch Library moves into the former Quebec Street School at the southwest corner of Dufferin Avenue and Quebec Street.

1930 The circulation of books exceeds 500,000 for the first time.

1931 The Lambeth Library opens on Talbot Road.

1932 Two of the three branch libraries are closed due to decreased funds during the Great Depression.

1933 London’s three branch libraries were closed due to the Great Depression.

1934 London’s branch libraries re-opened after more funds were granted by City Council.

1934 Elsie Perrin Williams, the only child of Daniel S. Perrin of the Perrin Biscuit Company, dies, leaving a large bequest to the city, a portion of which was used to build the new Central Library.

1934 Branch libraries are reopened when more funds are granted to the London Public Library Board by the Council Council.

1935 The Byron Memorial Library is founded by the Women’s Institute.

November 17, 1939 The cornerstone for the new central library at 305 Queens Avenue is laid by Mayor Allan J. Johnston.

September 20, 1940 The Central Library at the southwest corner of Queens Avenue and Wellington Street, closes.

October 4, 1940 The Elsie Perrin Williams Memorial Building housing the art gallery, central library and historical museum, is opened by the Hon. Duncan McArthur, Minister of Education at 305 Queens Avenue on the site of the former Princess Rink and Winter Gardens. It had room for 48,000 volumes, a second-floor art gallery, and an auditorium and children;s library in the basement.

December 7, 1940 The Active Service Club, a recreational centre for soldiers, opens its doors in the former Central Library building which was bought by the YMCA after the Second World War ended.

Female librarian handing male patron a metal film canister in black and white photo circ 1945 sign says film department
The Film Department at the Central Library circa 1945


1942 The library begins lending 16mm films.

1942 The London Public Library is the first library in Canada to circulate sound recordings.

1942 The lending library of art is established. Museum London continues to offer an art rental service.

March 31, 1942 The world premier showing of Canada's first feature-length film in colour, Here Will I Nest, is held in the auditorium of the Central Library.

Black and white photograph of a class of children learning how to use the card catalogue
School children learning to use the card catalogue in 1945


March 1946 Miss Katharine McLaughlin, the second library assistant for the public library, retires after 50 years of service.

1947 The Argyle Community (formerly Eastwood, presently East London) Library is established.

1948 The Broughdale Library opens.

September 17, 1950 Miss Katharine McLaughlin, the second library assistant for the public library, dies.

November 21, 1950 London is the first city in Ontario to establish a bookmobile service which provided library service to areas of the community not servies by library branches.

1952 The beginning of the library’s extensive microfilm collection begins with the acquisition of microfilm copies of the Globe and Mail and the London Free Press.

1952 Three new galleries are added to the second floor of the Central Library.

1954 Marion Currie became the first woman to sit on the London Public Library Board.

February 1954 The old Central Library building at Queens Avenue and Wellington Street is demolished to make way for an addition to the YM-YWCA.

1955 A mobile library is purchased.

September 8, 1955 A new building is opened for the South Branch Library and it is renamed the Fred Landon Branch Library.

December 7, 1956 Canada's first Art Mart, sponsored by the Western Art League, is held at he London Public Art Gallery at 305 Queens Avenue.

1957 Marion Currie became the first woman to chair the London Public Library Board.

April 10, 1958 A new building is opened for the Southeast Branch Library and it is renamed the Richard E.Crouch Branch Library.

1960 Eldon House, the former Harris family residence built in 1834 and London’s oldest surviving private residence, is given to the City of London by the Harris family.

1961 The circulation of books exceeds 1,000,000 for the first time.

1961 A second mobile library is purchased.

2 children, 1 adult and 1 librarian inside library bus. books are on shelves around the perimeter.
Inside of the bookmobile, 1960's


January 1, 1961 With annexation, the library acquires its fourth, fifth and sixth branch libraries - Argyle, Broughdale and Byron - and eight bookmobile stops formerly operated by the Middlesex County Library Co-operative. The Argyle (presently East London) Branch is moved to quarters in the Argyle Mall.

September 1961 The East Branch Library is renamed the W.O. Carson Branch Library.

1962 Community Relations Department is established to develop and coordinate the library's relationships in the community.

1963 The Glanworth Library joins the new Middlesex County Library system.

January 1, 1963 The London Public Library Board becomes responsible for two historical museums - Eldon House and Victoria House Museum.

June 1963 The seventh branch library, Westown (presently Cherryhill) Branch, opens in the Westown Plaza Mall.

1965 The Victoria House Museum closes.

1967 The eighth branch library, Northland (presently Beacock) Branch, opens in the Northland Mall at 1275 Highbury Avenue.

1967 The former Victoria House Museum is demolished to make room for Centennial Hall.

 

black and white photograph of a group of children sitting on the floor facing a standing woman in a dress, Eleanor Donnelly, in front of a fireplace
Storytime in the 1960's. Eleanor Donnelly was a children's librarian who also appeared on the CFPL "Sunshine School" weekly TV show reading stories to children. She was awarded the W.J. Robertson Medallion in 1980 presented by the Ontario Library Boards' Association to a public librarian who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the advancement of public library service in Ontario.


July 31, 1967 The London Room, a research facility for local history, opens.

April 26, 1968 The new million-dollar addition to the Central Library was formally opened by Ontario Premier John P. Robarts, providing a new children’s wing, more book space and more gallery space and increasing overall floor space from 39,600 square feet to 97,480 square feet.

May 9, 1969 The Centennial Museum, built and donated by the London and District Construction Association, is opened. It has a floor plan in the shape of a maple leaf.

June 6 -19, 1970 The first walkout by professional librarians in Canada and only the second in North America takes place as the staff at the London Public Library goes on strike. It is also the first work stoppage ever staged by public employees in London.

July 1970 The Crouch Neighbourhood Resource Centre is created.

December 3, 1971 The Historic Sites Committee of the London Public Library Board erects its tenth plaque to commemorate London's first public library at the southwest corner of Queens Avenue and Wellington Street. This plaque is now in the London Room.

1972 The ninth branch library, Northridge Branch, is opened at 1444 Glenora Drive as an extension of the Northland (presently Beacock) Branch Library.

January 1972 The Shut-In Library (formerly home Library, presently Visiting Library) service begins.

April 7, 1972 The Byron Memorial Branch Library opens in a new enlarged building at 1295 Commissioners Road West.

July 26, 1972 The Historic Sites Committee of the London Public Library Board unveils its twelfth plaque on the third and last building of the London Mechanics' Institute at 231 Dundas Street.

1973 Marion currie's terms of office as the first woman on the London Public Library Board ends.

1977 A new building for the W.O. Carson Branch Library is erected on the site of the former building.

1978 The tenth branch library, Westminster (presently Pond Mills) Branch, opens.

1980 The eleventh branch library, White Oaks (presently Jalna) Branch opens.

1980 The art gallery separates from the library and moves to its new facilities at the Forks of the Thames, the London Regional Art Gallery.

1980 Grosvenor Lodge opens as a historical museum at 1017 Western Road.

June 1980 The twelfth branch library, Westmount Branch, opens in quarters adjoining the Village Green Baptist Church at 507 Village Green Avenue.

1981 The GEAC automated circulation system is completed.

1981 Major renovations were made to the Central Library when the art gallery's former space of 12,940 square feet was renovated and a new staircase provided easier access to the newly expanded second floor. The London Room moved to the second floor.

November 13, 1981 The Historic Sites Committee of the London Public Library Board unveils a plaque to honour the library's longest serving chief executive, Richard Edwin Crouch.

March 14, 1982 The Northland (presently Beacock) Branch Library moves to a new building at 1280 Huron Street.

1985 The Northland Branch Library is renamed the E.S. Beacock Branch Library.

1985 The COM (computer output microfiche) catalogue replaces the card catalogue.

May 7, 1985 The thirteenth branch library, Sherwood Forest Branch, opens in the Sherwood Forest Mall at 1225 Wonderland Road North.

1986 The Library stops lending 16 mm films.

1986 The circulation of books exceeds 2,000,000 for the first time.

June 25, 1986 The Argyle (presently East London) Branch Library relocates from the Argyle Mall to the Eastwood Plaza and is renamed the Eastwood Centre Branch Library.

December 1986 The Centennial Museum closes.

1987 The lending of video cassettes which replaced the 16mm films begins

January 1987 The London Public Library Board and the London Regional Art Gallery Board enter into a two-year trial period of cooperatively managing museum services.

July 1, 1987 The Children’s Library rejoins the Central Library after almost twelve years in Branch services.

1988 The lending of compact discs begins.

January 1, 1989 The library’s museum division separates from the library board and merges with the London Regional Art Gallery to become the London Regional Art and Historical Museums.

Large white truck that has London Public Library Book mobile painted on the side with orange silhouettes of chidlren reading and playing
The last London Public Library Bookmobile, 1989.


November 30, 1989 The bookmobile service ends as the number of branch locations has increased.

December 14, 1989 Westminster Branch Library closes permanently.

December 30, 1989 White Oaks Branch Library closes permanently.

1990 Westown (presently Cherryhill) Branch Library becomes the first full service branch with six full-time staff.

March 1990 The Pond Mills Branch Library opens at 1166 Commissioners Road East in the Pond Mills Plaza Mall to replace the Westminster Branch Library.

April 1990 The Jalna Branch Library opens at 1119 Jalna Boulevard to replace the White Oaks Branch Library.

1991 A new building is erected for the Lambeth Library.

1992 Friends of the London Public Library is founded.

1993 Access, the library’s publication of library events and news, begins distribution through the London Free Press and circulation increases from 8,000 to 86,000.

January 1, 1993 With annexation, the Library acquires its fourteenth and fifteenth branch libraries - Glanworth and Lambeth.

1994 Telefact, a telephone reference service, begins.

1994 The GEAC Advance online public access catalogue replaces the CD-ROM public service catalogue.

September 1995 The Broughdale Branch Library closes.

October 14, 1995 The sixteenth branch, Masonville Branch Library, opens at 30 North Centre Road.

December 18, 1995 Marion Currie, the first woman to chair the London Public Library Board, dies.

September 16, 1998 The Employment Resource Centre opens at the Beacock Branch Library.

February 8, 2000 It is announced that the Central Library would be relocating to the former Hudson’s Bay Department Store at 251 Dundas Street - in effect returning to its roots with the former Mechanics Institute building still standing next door at 231 Dundas Street.

February 5, 2001 The exterior facade, foyer and central hall of the former Central Library at 205 Queens Avenue is designated a heritage building by the City of London.

September 7, 2001 Hilary Bates Neary, president of the Friends of London Public Library accepts the Friends of the Year Award.

October 16, 2001 The former Westown Branch is expanded and relocates within the Cherryhill Village Mall. It reopens as the Cherryhill Branch

February 2002 The former Crouch Branch building at 550 Hamilton Road is demolished and service is resumed at 220 Adelaide Street North dutring the construction of the new Crouch Branch building.

February 18, 2002 Beryl and Richard Ivey announce a $300,000 gift for the London Room, the largest donation by a single donor in the library's history.

August 9, 2002 The deed and keys to 305 Queens Avenue are officially turned over to the City of London.

August 10, 2002 This is the last day of library service at 305 Queens Avenue.

August 25, 2002 The new Central Library opens at 251 Dundas Street.

September 21, 2002 The new Westmount Branch Library opens at 3200 Wonderland Road South.

February 1, 2003 Dr. Keith Crouch unveils a plaque honouring his father, Richard Crouch, at the opening of the new Crouch Branch Library.

June 5, 2003 A 20-week long project officially begins for the construction of the Rotary Reading Garden on a former parking lot just east of the new Central Library.

August 14, 2003 A total power outage affecting the Eastern Seaboard including London occurs.

November 29, 2003 The Rotary Reading Garden officially opens.

March 12, 2005 The Sherwood Forest Branch officially opens in a new location within Sherwood Forest Mall with a distinct children's area, computer commons, additional meeting rooms and an expanded popular reading area. The library shares the facility with the Northwest London Community Resource Centre.

April 13, 2005 Anne Becker becomes the tenth chief executive of the London Public Library and the first woman to occupy the position.

June 11, 2005 A renovated Beacock Branch with an enlarged children's area, renovated meeting rooms and newly built reading room, opens.

July 1, 2005 The renovated Jalna Branch opens, sharing a common entrance with the South London Community Centre.

July 8, 2005 A refurbished Byron Branch officially reopens, now fully accessible with a new elevator.

August 29, 2005 The former Centennial Museum building is demolished.

September 17, 2005 The completely renovated Landon Branch opens with enlarged children's and collections areas, a new community meeting room, the addition of an elevator and new exterior entrance ways, ramp, sidewalk and stairs.

September 24, 2005 The new East London Branch Library opens in the former White Rose building at 2016 Dundas Street to replace the former Eastwood Branch Library.The library shares the facility with the East London Community Centre and a daycare and fitness centre operasted vby the London Y.

October 5, 2005 Betsy Reilly and Father William B. "Bill" Thompson become London's first inductees into the Teachers' Wall if Fame at the new Central Library.

July 6, 2007 The Library starts providing access to downloadable eBooks and eAudiobooks.

2007 The library stops ordering VHS tapes.

May 30, 2008 Anne Becker ends her term of office as the first woman CEO of the London Public Library.

June 2, 2008 Susanna Hubbard Krimmer becomes the eleventh chief executive of the London Public Library and the second woman to occupy the position.

June 13, 2008 The Libro Road Show debuts with Community Outreach and Program Services staff driving the vehicle for the first time without the help of Facility Services.

January 2009 The Library Settlement Project is started at four locations: Beacock, Central, Jalna and Sherwood. The project is funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada in partnerships with the Centre for Lifelong Learning, the London Cross Cultural Centre, LUSO Community Services and the South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre,

February 6, 2010 The newly renovated Carson Branch reopens with a ergonomically designed book chute; new carpets, circulation desk, flooring, furniture and paint; redesigned shelving units and a revamped meeting room.

January 15, 2011 London's seventeenth branch, the Stoney Creek Branch, is officially opened.

January 29, 2011 An open house is held at the Lambeth Branch Library to celebrate recent renovations.

June 23, 2012 Employment Resource Centres close at Beacock, Pond Mills and Westmount branches.

July 7, 2012 Employment Resource Centres close at Central, Crouch and Jalna branches.