About London

Although the history of London begins in 1793, when Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe selected the Forks of the Thames as his choice for the future site for the capital of the province, the city itself was not founded until 1826. By that year the provincial capital had long been located at Toronto. What was needed in the southwestern peninsula was an administrative seat for the vast London District which covered most of central Western Ontario. Vittoria, a little village in Norfolk County which had served as the district town for some years, by 1825 was too remote from many of the little clusters of settlements which were spreading north from Lake Erie.

By 1840 London was large enough to become an incorporated town (somewhat equal to a village today). The survey was extended east to include all the land to Adelaide Street, south to Trafalgar Street and north to Huron Street. The first council was elected and George J. Goodhue was chosen as first town president. Municipal services then began to appear and Covent Garden Market was established at its present location in 1845. By that time the advance of settlement in Western Ontario had necessitated the establishment of new administrative districts centered around Goderich, Woodstock and Simcoe. Yet the reduction in its administrative territory little affected the growth of London, for by the early 1840's the town was already beginning to establish a firm economic control over what is still today its hinterland.

Since the end of World War II, London has experienced a growth unprecedented in its history. With the major annexation of 1961, which added 60,000 people to the city, London had grown close to a quarter of a million people in 1976, the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of its founding. Major physical changes in London's appearance have occurred. In the old city core, many of the landmarks of the past have gone to be replaced by modern developments - the McClary factory was demolished for Wellington Square; the Hotel London was replaced by the City Centre; the Covent Garden Market was enclosed by the Market Garden Parking Building; and a new Court House was finally constructed on a demolished two block site. New suburbs have appeared on the outskirts-Lockwood Park, Sherwood Forest, Oakridge Acres. The old residential areas became threatened by the overuse of the automobile on streets meant only to accommodate horse and buggy. Recent planning decisions have, however, been carefully made to ensure that the character and integrity of the old city is maintained, something which can only result in enhancing the urban environment and in making London a pleasant place for its present and future citizens.