London and the Thames were named in 1793 by John Graves Simcoe, who proposed the site for the capital of Upper Canada. The first European settlement was between 1801 and 1804 by Peter Hagerman. The village was founded in 1826 and incorporated in 1855. Since then, London has grown to be the largest Southwestern Ontario municipality and Canada's 11th largest metropolitan area, having annexed many of the smaller communities that surrounded it.
London is a regional centre of health care and education, being home to the University of Western Ontario, Fanshawe College, and several hospitals. The city hosts a number of musical and artistic exhibits and festivals, which contribute to its tourism industry, but its economic activity is centred on education, medical research, insurance, and information technology. London's university and hospitals are among its top ten employers. London lies at the junction of Highway 401 and 402, connecting it to Toronto, Windsor, and Sarnia. It also has an international airport, train and bus station.
Prior to European contact in the 18th century, the present site of London was occupied by several Neutral, Odawa, and Ojibwe villages. Archaeological investigations in the region indicate that aboriginal people have resided in the area for at least the past 10,000 years.
The current location of London was selected as the site of the future capital of Upper Canada in 1793 by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe who also named the village which was founded in 1826. It did not become the capital that Simcoe had envisioned. Rather, it was an administrative seat for the area west of the actual capital, York (now Toronto). Locally, it was part of the Talbot Settlement, named for Colonel Thomas Talbot, the chief coloniser of the area, who oversaw the land surveying and built the first government buildings for the administration of the Western Ontario peninsular region. Together with the rest of Southwestern Ontario, the village benefited from Talbot's provisions, not only for building and maintaining roads but also for assignment of access priorities to main routes to productive land. At the time, Crown and clergy reserves were receiving preference in the rest of Ontario.
In 1814, there was a skirmish during the War of 1812 in what is now southwest London at Reservoir Hill, formerly Hungerford Hill.
In 1832, the new settlement suffered an outbreak of cholera. London proved a centre of strong Tory support during the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837, notwithstanding a brief rebellion led by Charles Duncombe. Consequently, the British government located its Ontario peninsular garrison there in 1838, increasing its population with soldiers and their dependents, and the business support populations they required. London was incorporated as a town in 1840.
On 13 April 1845, fire destroyed much of London, which was at the time largely constructed of wooden buildings. One of the first casualties was the town's only fire engine. This fire burned nearly 30 acres of land destroying 150 buildings before burning itself out later the same day. One-fifth of London was destroyed and this was the province's first million dollar fire.
Sir John Carling, Tory MP for London, gave three events to explain the development of London in a 1901 speech. They were: the location of the court and administration in London in 1826; the arrival of the military garrison in 1838; and the arrival of the railway in 1853.
The population in 1846 was 3,500. Brick buildings included a jail and court house, and a large barracks had also been built. London had a fire company, a theatre, a large Gothic church, nine other churches or chapels, and two market buildings. In 1844, a fire destroyed 150 buildings but most had been rebuilt by 1846. Connection with other communities was by road; stages ran daily. A weekly newspaper was published; the post office received mail daily.
On 1 January 1855, London was incorporated as a "city" (10,000 or more residents). In the 1860s, a sulphur spring was discovered at the forks of the Thames River while industrialists were drilling for oil. The springs became a popular destination for wealthy Ontarians, until the turn of the 20th century when a textile factory was built at the site, replacing the spa.
Records from 1869 indicate a population of about 18,000 served by three newspapers, churches of all major denominations and offices of all the major banks. Industry included several tanneries, oil refineries and foundries, four flour mills, the Labatt Brewing Company and the Carling brewery in addition to other manufacturing. Both the Great Western and Grand Trunk railways had stops here. The Crystal Palace Barracks, built in 1861, an octagonal brick building with eight doors and forty-eight windows, was being used for events such the Provincial Agricultural Fair of Canada West held in London that year and visited by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, Governor-General John Young, 1st Baron Lisgar and Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald. Several insurance companies had offices in the city.
Long before the Royal Military College of Canada was established in 1876, there were proposals for military colleges in Canada. Staffed by British Regulars, adult male students underwent a 3 month long military courses from 1865 at the School of Military Instruction in London. Established by Militia General Order in 1865, the school enabled Officers of Militia or Candidates for Commission or promotion in the Militia to learn Military duties, drill and discipline, to command a Company at Battalion Drill, to Drill a Company at Company Drill, the internal economy of a Company and the duties of a Company's Officer. The school was not retained at Confederation, in 1867.
In 1875, London's first iron bridge, the Blackfriars Street Bridge, was constructed. It replaced a succession of flood-failed wooden structures that had provided the city's only northern road crossing of the river. A rare example of a bowstring truss bridge, the Blackfriars remains open to pedestrian and bicycle traffic, though it is currently closed indefinitely to vehicular traffic due to various structural problems. The Blackfriars, amidst the river-distance between the Carling Brewery and the historic Tecumseh Park (including a major mill), linked London with its western suburb of Petersville, named for Squire Peters of Grosvenor Lodge. That community joined with the southern subdivision of Kensington in 1874, formally incorporating as the municipality of Petersville. Although it changed its name in 1880 to the more inclusive "London West", it remained a separate municipality until ratepayers voted for amalgamation with London in 1897, largely due to repeated flooding. The most serious flood was that of July 1883, which resulted in serious loss of life and property devaluation. This area retains much original and attractively maintained 19th-century tradespeople's and workers' housing, including Georgian cottages as well as larger houses, and a distinct sense of place.
London's eastern suburb, London East, was (and remains) an industrial centre, which also incorporated in 1874. Attaining the status of town in 1881, it continued as a separate municipality until concerns over expensive waterworks and other fiscal problems led to amalgamation in 1885. The southern suburb of London, including Wortley Village, was collectively known as "London South". Never incorporated, the South was annexed to the city in 1890, although Wortley Village still retains a distinct sense of place. By contrast, the settlement at Broughdale on the city's north end had a clear identity, adjoined the university, and was not annexed until 1961.
Ivor F. Goodson and Ian R. Dowbiggin have explored the battle over vocational education in London, Ontario, in the 1900-1930 era. The London Technical and Commercial High School came under heavy attack from the city's social and business elite, which saw the school as a threat to the budget of the city's only academic high school, London Collegiate Institute.
London's role as a military centre continued into the 20th century during the two World Wars, serving as the administrative centre for the Western Ontario district. In 1905, the London Armoury was built and housed the First Hussars until 1975. A private investor purchased the historic site and built a new hotel (Delta London Armouries, 1996) in its place preserving the shell of the historic building. In the 1950s, two reserve battalions amalgamated and became London and Oxford Rifles (3rd Battalion), The Royal Canadian Regiment. This unit continues to serve today as 4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment. The Regimental Headquarters of The Royal Canadian Regiment remains in London at Wolseley Barracks on Oxford Street. The barracks are home to the First Hussars militia regiment as well.
London annexed many of the surrounding communities in 1961, including Byron and Masonville, adding 60,000 people and more than doubling its area. After this amalgamation, suburban growth accelerated as London grew outward in all directions, creating expansive new subdivisions such as Westmount, Oakridge, Whitehills, Pond Mills, White Oaks and Stoneybrook.
In 1992, London annexed nearly the entire township of Westminster, a large, primarily rural municipality directly south of the city, including the police village of Lambeth. With this massive annexation, London almost doubled in area again, adding several thousand more residents. In modern day, London stretches south to the boundary with Elgin County, north to the Town of Arva and Fanshawe Lake, west to Komoka, and East to Nilestown and Dorchester.
The 1993 annexation made London one of the largest urban municipalities in Ontario. Intense commercial and residential development is presently occurring in the southwest and northwest areas of the city. Opponents of this development cite urban sprawl, destruction of rare Carolinian zone forest and farm lands, replacement of distinctive regions by generic malls, and standard transportation and pollution concerns as major issues facing London. The City of London is currently the eleventh-largest urban area in Canada, eleventh-largest census metropolitan area in Canada, and the sixth-largest city in Ontario.
On Victoria Day, 24 May 1881, the stern-wheeler ferry SS Victoria capsized in the Thames River close to Cove Bridge in West London. Approximately 200 passengers drowned in the shallow river, making it one of the worst disasters in London's history, and is now dubbed 'The Victoria Day Disaster'. At the time, London's population was relativity low, therefore it was hard to find a person in the city who did not have a family member affected by the tragedy.
Two years later, on 12 July 1883, the first of the two most devastating floods in London's history killed 17 people. The second major flood, on 26 April 1937, destroyed more than a thousand houses across London, and caused over $50 million in damages, particularly in West London.
After repeated floods, the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority in 1953 built Fanshawe Dam on the North Thames to control the downstream rivers. Financing for this project came from the federal, provincial, and municipal governments. Other natural disasters include a 1984 tornado that led to damage on several streets in the White Oaks area of South London.
Like another ten cities in the world, this London was named after the English capital of London by John Graves Simcoe, who also named the local river the Thames, in 1793. That was understandable since John Graves Simcoe and many of the original settlers were from Britain. Simcoe had intended London to be the capital of Upper Canada. Guy Carleton (Governor Dorchester) rejected that plan after the War of 1812, but accepted Simcoe's second choice, the present site of Toronto.
The area was formed during the retreat of the glaciers during the last ice age, which produced areas of marshland, notably the Sifton Bog (which is actually a fen), as well as some of the most agriculturally productive areas of farmland in Ontario. The Thames River dominates London's geography. The North and South branches of the Thames River meet at the centre of the city, a location known as "The Forks" or "The Fork of the Thames." The North Thames runs through the man-made Fanshawe Lake, located in northeast London. Fanshawe Lake was created by Fanshawe Dam, constructed to protect the downriver areas from the catastrophic flooding which affected the city in 1883 and 1937.
London has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb), though due to its downwind location relative to Lake Huron and elevation changes across the city, it is virtually on the Dfa/Dfb (hot summer) boundary favouring the former climate zone to the southwest of the confluence of the South and North Thames Rivers, and the latter zone to the northeast (including the airport). Because of its location in the continent, London experiences large seasonal contrast, tempered to a point by the surrounding Great Lakes. The summers are usually warm to hot and humid, with a July average of 20.8 °C (69.4 °F), and temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) occur on average 10 days per year. In 2016, however, temperatures at or above 30 °C (86 °F) occurred more than 35 times. The city is affected by frequent thunderstorms due to hot, humid summer weather, as well as the convergence of breezes originating from Lake Huron and Lake Erie. The same convergence zone is responsible for spawning funnel clouds and the occasional tornado. London is located in Canada's Tornado Alley. Spring and autumn in between are not long, and winters are cold but witness frequent thaws. Annual precipitation averages 1,011.5 mm (39.82 in). Its winter snowfall totals are heavy, averaging about 194 cm (76 in) per year. The majority of it comes from lake effect snow and snow squalls originating from Lake Huron, some 60 km (37 mi) to the northwest, which occurs when strong, cold winds blow from that direction. From 5 December 2010, to 9 December 2010, London experienced record snowfall when up to 2 m (79 in) of snow fell in parts of the city. Schools and businesses were closed for three days and bus service was cancelled after the second day of snow.
The highest temperature ever recorded in London was 41.1 °C (106 °F) on 6 August 1918. The lowest temperature ever recorded was −32.2 °C (−26 °F) on 20 January 1892.
London has a number of parks. Victoria Park in downtown London is a major centre of community events, attracting an estimated 1 million visitors per year. Other major parks include Harris Park, Gibbons Park, Fanshawe Conservation Area (Fanshawe Pioneer Village), Springbank Park, and Westminster Ponds. The city also maintains a number of gardens and conservatories.
According to the 2011 census, the city of London had a population of 366,151 people, a 3.9% increase from the 2006 population. Children under five accounted for approximately 5.2 percent of the resident population of London. The percentage of the resident population in London of retirement age (65 and over) is 13.7, also the percentage for Canada as a whole. The average age is 38.2 years of age, compared to 39.9 years of age for all of Canada.
Between 2006 and 2011, the population of metropolitan London grew by 3.7 percent, compared with an increase of 5.7 percent for Ontario as a whole.
According to the 2011 census, the majority of Londoners profess a Christian faith, which accounts for 62.8 percent of the population (Roman Catholic: 27.0%, Protestant: 25.0%, other Christian: 9.0%). Other religions include Islam (4.4%), Buddhism (0.8%), Hinduism (0.8%), and Judaism (0.5%), with 29.9 percent of the population reporting no religious affiliation.
According to the 2011 census, 82.0 percent of the population of London are European, 2.7 percent are Latin American, 2.6 percent are Arab, 2.4 percent are Black, 2.2 percent are South Asian, 2.0 percent are Chinese Canadian, 1.9 percent are Aboriginal, 1.0 percent are Southeast Asian, 0.8 percent are West Asian, 0.8 percent are Korean Canadian, 0.6 percent are Filipino, and 0.7 percent belong to other groups. In the 2011 census, the predominant ethnic origins of Londoners were English (30.5%), Canadian (26.0%), Scottish (20.8%), Irish (20.3%), German (11.5%), French (10.1%), Dutch (6.2%), Italian (4.7%), Polish (4.4%), Portuguese (2.8%), and Ukrainian (2.5%).
In February 2015, Statistics Canada published a population estimate of the London CMA of 502,360, as of July 1, 2014.
London's economy is dominated by medical research, insurance, manufacturing, and information technology. Much of the life sciences and biotechnology-related research is conducted or supported by the University of Western Ontario, which adds about C$1.5 billion to the London economy annually.
Since the economic crisis of 2009, which gutted many of London's manufacturing jobs, the city has transitioned to become a technology hub with a focus on the Digital Creative sector. As of 2016, London is home to 300 technology companies and employs 3% of the city's labour force. Many of these companies have moved into former factories and industrial spaces located in and around the downtown core, and have renovated them as modern offices. For example, Info-Tech Research Group's London office is located in a hosiery factory, and Arcane Digital moved into a 1930s industrial building in 2015. rTraction, a digital media firm, currently has its offices in the London Roundhouse, a steam locomotive repair shop built in 1887. Its redesign, which opened in 2015, won the 2015 Paul Oberman Award for Adaptive Re-Use from the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario. London is also home to Diply, which is ranked among the top websites on the Internet, video game companies Big Viking Games and Digital Extremes, and Voices.com, which provides voiceover artists a platform to advertise and sell their services to those looking for voiceover work.
The largest employer in London is the London Health Sciences Centre, which employs 10, 555 people.
The headquarters of the Canadian division of 3M are located in London. The London Life Insurance Company was founded there, as was Imperial Oil, GoodLife Fitness, and both the Labatt and Carling breweries. The Libro Financial Group was founded in London 1951 and is the second largest credit union in Ontario and employs over 550 people. Canada Trust was also founded in London in 1864.
General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) builds armoured personnel carriers in the city. GDLS has a 14-year $15-billion deal to supply light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. There are 2,400 workers at GDLS Canada.
McCormick Canada, formerly Club House Foods, was founded in 1883 and currently employs more than 600 Londoners.
London's fledgling city centre mall was first opened in 1960 as Wellington Square with 400,000 sq. ft. of leasable area with Eaton’s and Woolworths as anchors. From 1986-89, Campeau expanded Wellington Square into Galleria London with 1,000,000 sq. ft. of leasable area and 200 stores including The Bay and Eaton’s. However the early 1990s recession, following by the bankruptcy of Eaton's in 1999 and then the departure of The Bay in 2000 resulted in only 20 stores left by 2001. Galleria London then begun seeking non-retail tenants, becoming the home for London's central library branch, and satellite campuses for both Fanshawe College and Western University. The complex was purchased and renamed to Citi Plaza by Citigroup in 2009. Citi Plaza has been redeveloped as a mixed use complex that blends retail, office, businesses, and education providers. Alongside Citi Cards Canada's offices, in November 2016, CBC announced plans to move its expanded operations into the building.
A portion of the city's population work in factories outside of the city limits, including the General Motors automotive plant CAMI, and a Toyota plant in Woodstock. A Ford plant in Talbotville became one of the casualties of the economic crisis in 2011.
11 December 2009, Minister of State Gary Goodyear announced a new $11-million cargo terminal at the London International Airport.
The city is home to many festivals including Sunfest, the Home County Folk Festival, the London Fringe Theatre Festival, the Expressions in Chalk Street Painting Festival, Rock the Park, Western Fair, Dundas Street Festival, and The International Food Festival. The London Rib-Fest is the second largest barbecue rib festival in North America. Pride London Festival is the 11th largest Pride festival in Ontario. Sunfest, a World music festival, is the second biggest in Canada after Toronto Caribbean Carnival (Caribana) in Toronto, and is among the top 100 summer destinations in North America.
Orchestra London Canada was a professional symphony orchestra founded in London in 1937. Although the organization filed for bankruptcy in 2015, members of the orchestra continue to play self-produced concerts under the moniker, London Symphonia. London is also home to the London Community Orchestra, the London Youth Symphony, and the Amabile Choirs of London, Canada.
London also has a rich history in underground music. Noise pioneers, the Nihilist Spasm Band were formed in the city in 1965. Between 1966 and 1971, the group held a Monday night residency at the York Hotel in the city's core, which established it as a popular venue for emerging musicians and artists. Now known as Call the Office, the venue served as a hotbed for punk music in the late 1970s and 1980 and continues to host college rock bands and weekly alternative music nights. In 2003, CHRW-FM developed the London Music Archives, an online music database that chronicles every album recorded in London between 1967 and 2006.
London's performance venues include Aeolian Hall, a former Victorian-era town hall located in Old East Village, and the London Music Hall, a multi-level performance space in the downtown's Entertainment & Culture District.
Guy Lombardo, an internationally acclaimed big band leader, was born in London, as was jazz musician Rob McConnell. Contemporary musicians born in London include hip hop artist and former CBC Radio host, Shad, and singer-songwriter Meaghan Smith. Justin Bieber was born in London prior to moving to Stratford, Ontario.
The city is home to several museums, including Museum London, which is located at the Forks of the Thames. Museum London exhibits art by a wide variety of local, regional and national artists. London is also home to the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, owned by Western University. Its main feature is Canada's only on-going excavation and partial reconstruction of a prehistoric village of the Neutral Nation (Lawson Site). The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum is a military museum located at Wolseley Barracks, a former Canadian Forces Base in the city's Carling neighbourhood. The Secrets of Radar Museum was opened at Parkwood Hospital in 2003, and tells the story of the more than 6,000 Canadian World War II veterans who were recruited into a top-secret project during World War II involving radar. The London Regional Children's Museum, located in South London, provides hands-on learning experiences for children and was one of the first children's museums established in Canada. The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame has its headquarters in downtown London and features a medical history museum.
Eldon House is the former residence of the prominent Harris Family and oldest surviving such building in London. The entire property was donated to the city of London in 1959 and is now a heritage site. An Ontario Historical Plaque was erected by the province to commemorate The Eldon House's role in Ontario's heritage. The Banting House National Historic Site of Canada is the house where Sir Frederick Banting thought of the idea that led to the discovery of insulin. Banting lived and practiced in London for ten months, from July 1920 to May 1921. London is also the site of the Flame of Hope, which is intended to burn until a cure for diabetes is discovered.
London is also home to a number of art galleries and artist spaces including the McIntosh Gallery at Western University, and the London ARTS Project; a gallery, studio, and theatre space located on Dundas Street in the city's Entertainment & Culture District. The Forest City Gallery, co-founded by Greg Curnoe in 1973, is one of Canada's first artist-run centres. It is currently located in the SoHo neighbourhood, south of downtown. London also hosts an annual Nuit Blanche each June.
London is home to the Grand Theatre, a professional proscenium arch theatre located in Central London. The building underwent renovations in 1975 to restore the stage's proscenium arch and to add a secondary performance space. The architectural firm responsible for the re-design was awarded a Governor General's award in 1978 for their work on the venue. In addition to professional productions, the Grand Theatre also hosts the High School Project, a program unique to North America that provides high school students an opportunity to work with professional directors, choreographers, musical directors, and stage managers. The Palace Theatre, located in Old East Village, originally opened as a silent movie theatre in 1929 and was converted to a live theatre venue in 1991. It is currently the home of the London Community Players, and as of 2016 is undergoing extensive historical restoration. The Original Kids Theatre Company, a nonprofit charitable youth organisation, currently puts on productions at the Spriet Family Theatre in the Covent Garden Market.
London serves a core setting in Southern Ontario Gothic literature, most notably in the works of James Reaney. Modern writers include fantasy writer Kelley Armstrong, Man Booker Prize winner, Eleanor Catton, Scotiabank Giller Prize nominee, Joan Barfoot, and winner, Bonnie Burnard. Emma Donoghue, whose 2010 novel, Room, was adapted into a 2015 Academy Award-winning film of the same name, also lives in London. Words is an annual literary and creative arts festival that takes place each November.
London's recent urban regeneration efforts and civic initiatives have allowed the city to rank high in Canadian livability lists. In 2016, MoneySense magazine ranked London as the fourth best large Canadian city to live in. It also ranked fourth (fifteenth overall) in 2013, and fifth in 2015. In 2015, London was ranked as the sixth happiest city in Canada by Jetpac City Guides. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives ranked London as the sixth best place to be a woman in 2015 and third in 2016.
The city's cost of living is low compared to other southern Ontario cities. According to the London St. Thomas Association of Realtors, the average price of a home in the London and St. Thomas area in 2016 is $274,383, which is substantially lower than the national average of $467,082. It is also well below the average home prices of nearby cities including Toronto ($736,670), Hamilton ($510,204), and Kitchener-Waterloo ($364,290). The 2015 average rental rate for a one-bedroom apartment is $781.
London has nine major parks and gardens throughout the city, many of which run along the Thames River and are interconnected by a series of pedestrian and bike paths, known as the Thames Valley Parkway. This path system is 40 km (25 mi) in length, and connects to an additional 150 km (93 mi) of bike and hiking trails throughout the city. The city's largest park, Springbank Park, is 140-hectare (300 acre) and contains 30 km (19 mi) of trails. It is also home to Storybook Gardens, a family attraction open year-round.
London is among the best places to retire in Ontario, according to Comfort Life, a publication for seniors because of safety, affordability and the short distance to nearby beaches such as Port Stanley, Port Burwell and Lambton Shores.
London is currently the home of the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, who play at the Budweiser Gardens (previously known as the John Labatt Centre). The Knights are 2004–2005 and 2015–2016 OHL and Memorial Cup Champions. During the summer months, the London Majors of the Intercounty Baseball League play at Labatt Park. London City of the Canadian Soccer League, is the highest level of soccer in London. The club was founded in 1973; it is the oldest active professional soccer franchise in North America. The squad plays at Cove Road Stadium at the German Canadian Club. Other sports teams include the London Silver Dolphins Swim Team, the Forest City Volleyball Club, London Cricket Club, the London St. George's Rugby Club, the London Aquatics Club, the London Rhythmic Gymnastics Club, London City Soccer Club and Forest City London.
Football teams include the London Beefeaters (Ontario Football Conference).
London's basketball team, the London Lightning plays at Budweiser Gardens as members of the National Basketball League of Canada. Finishing their inaugural regular season at 28–8, the Lightning would go on to win the 2011–12 NBL Canada championship, defeating the Halifax Rainmen in the finals three games to two.
There are also a number of former sports teams that have now either moved or folded. London's four former baseball teams are the London Monarchs (Canadian Baseball League), the London Werewolves (Frontier League), the London Tecumsehs (International Association) and the London Tigers (AA Eastern League). Other former sports teams include the London Lasers (Canadian Soccer League) and the London Nationals (Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League).
In March 2013, London hosted the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships.
The University of Western Ontario's teams play under the name Mustangs. The university's football team plays at TD Waterhouse Stadium. Western's Rowing Team rows out of one of two National Training Centres at Fanshawe Lake. Fanshawe College teams play under the name Falcons. The Women's Cross Country team has won 3 consecutive Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) National Championships. In 2010, the program cemented itself as the first CCAA program to win both Men's and Women's National team titles, as well as CCAA Coach of the Year.
The Western Fair Raceway, about 85 acres harness racing track and simulcast centre, operates year-round. The grounds include a coin slot casino, a former IMAX theatre, and Sports and Agri-complex. Labatt Memorial Park the world's oldest continuously used baseball grounds was established as Tecumseh Park in 1877; it was renamed in 1937, because the London field has been flooded and rebuilt twice (1883 and 1937), including a re-orientation of the bases (after the 1883 flood). The Forest City Velodrome, located at the former London Ice House, is the only indoor cycling track in Ontario and the third to be built in North America, opened in 2005.
London's municipal government is divided among fourteen councillors (one representing each of London's fourteen wards) and the mayor. Matt Brown was elected mayor in the 2014 municipal election, officially taking office on 1 December 2014. Prior to Brown's election, London's most recent elected mayor was Joe Fontana; following Fontana's resignation on 19 June 2014, city councillor Joe Swan served as acting mayor until councillor Joni Baechler was selected as interim mayor 24 June. Until the elections in 2010, there was a Board of Control, consisting of four controllers and the mayor, all elected citywide.
Although London has many ties to Middlesex County, it is a totally separate entity; the two have no jurisdictional overlap. The exception is the Middlesex County courthouse and former jail, as the judiciary is administered directly by the province.
In spite of some controversy about this move, London was the first city in Canada (in May 2017) to decide to move a ranked choice ballot for municipal elections starting in 2018. Voters will mark their ballots in order of preference, ranking their top three favourite candidates. No single individual is required to get at least 50% of the vote in the balloting to be elected.
In 2001, the City of London first published their Facilities Accessibility Design Standards (FADS) which was one of the first North American municipal accessibility requirements to include Universal Design. It has since been adopted by over 50 municipalities in Canada and the United States.
In addition to mayor Matt Brown the following were elected in the 2014 municipal election for the 2014-2018 term.
The city includes three provincial ridings. In the provincial government, London is represented by Liberal Deb Matthews (London North Centre); Progressive Conservative Jeff Yurek (Elgin—Middlesex—London), and NDPs: Teresa Armstrong (London—Fanshawe) and Peggy Sattler (London West).
The London and surrounding area includes four federal ridings. In the federal government, London is represented by Conservative Karen Vecchio (Elgin—Middlesex—London), Liberals Peter Fragiskatos (London North Centre) and Kate Young (London West), and NDP Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe).
Between 1959 and 1984, London contained the largest concentration of serial killers in the world, as the city was startled by 29 murders. During that time period, up to six serial killers may have been operating in London, though three were convicted for 13 of the killings: Gerald Thomas Archer (the "London Chamber Maid Slayer"), Christian Magee (the "Mad Slasher") and Russell Johnson (the "Balcony Killer"), with the other 16 murders still unsolved as of August 2015.
The City of London initiatives in Old East London are helping to create a renewed sense of vigour in the East London Business District. Specific initiatives include the creation of the Old East Heritage Conservation District under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act, special Building Code policies and Facade Restoration Programs.
London is home to heritage properties representing a variety of architectural styles, including Queen Anne, Art Deco, Modern, and Brutalist
Londoners have become protective of the trees in the city, protesting "unnecessary" removal of trees. The City Council and tourist industry have created projects to replant trees throughout the city. As well, they have begun to erect metal trees of various colours in the downtown area, causing some controversy.
London is at the junction of Highway 401 that connects the city to Toronto and Windsor, and Highway 402 to Sarnia. Also, Highway 403, which diverges from the 401 at nearby Woodstock, Ontario, provides ready access to Brantford, Hamilton, the Golden Horseshoe area, and the Niagara Peninsula. Many smaller two-lane highways also pass through or near London, including Kings Highways 2, 3, 4, 7 and 22. Many of these are "historical" names, as provincial downloading in the 1980s and 1990s put responsibility for most provincial highways on municipal governments. Nevertheless, these roads continue to provide access from London to nearby communities and locations in much of Western Ontario, including Goderich, Port Stanley and Owen Sound.
Since the 1970s, London has improved urban road alignments that eliminated "jogs" in established traffic patterns over 19th-century street misalignments. The lack of a municipal freeway (either through or around the city) as well as the presence of two significant railways (each with attendant switching yards and few over/underpasses) are the primary causes of rush hour congestion, along with construction and heavy snow. Thus, traffic times can be significantly variable, although major traffic jams are rare. Wellington Road between Commissioners Road E and Southdale Road E is London's busiest section of roadway, with more than 46,000 vehicles using the span on an average day City council rejected early plans for the construction of a freeway, and instead accepted the Veterans Memorial Parkway to serve the east end. Some Londoners have expressed concern that the absence of a local freeway may hinder London's economic and population growth, while others have voiced concern that such a freeway would destroy environmentally sensitive areas and further contribute to London's suburban sprawl. Road capacity improvements have been made to Veterans Memorial Parkway (formerly named Airport Road and Highway 100) in the industrialized east end. However, the Parkway has received criticism for not being built as a proper highway; a recent city-run study suggested upgrading it by replacing the intersections with interchanges.
In the late 19th Century, and the early 20th Century, an extensive network of streetcar routes served London.
London's public transit system is run by the London Transit Commission, which has 44 bus routes throughout the city. Although the city has lost ridership over the last few years, the commission is making concerted efforts to enhance services by implementing a five-year improvement plan. In 2015, an additional 17,000 hours of bus service was added throughout the city. In 2016, 11 new operators, 5 new busses, and another 17,000 hours of bus service were added to the network. Bus service is currently the only mode of public transit available to the public in London, with no available rapid transit networks like those used in other Canadian cities. However, city council approved a bus rapid transit (BRT) business case in May 2016 that will see a rapid transit system running in L- and 7-shaped corridors throughout the city. Construction is expected to begin in 2018, with the service fully operational by 2025.
London has 330 km (205 mi) of cycling paths throughout the city, 91 km (59 mi) of which have been added since 2005. In June 2016, London unveiled its first bike corrals, which replace parking for one vehicle with fourteen bicycle parking spaces, and fix-it stations, which provide cyclists with simple tools and a bicycle pump, throughout the city. In September 2016, city council approved a new 15 year cycling master plan that will see the construction of an additional 470 km (292 mi) of cycling paths added to the existing network.
London is on the Canadian National Railway main line between Toronto and Chicago (with a secondary main line to Windsor) and the Canadian Pacific Railway main line between Toronto and Detroit. Via Rail operates regional passenger service through London station as part of the Quebec City–Windsor Corridor, with connections to the United States. Via Rail's London terminal is the fourth-busiest passenger terminal in Canada.
London is also a destination for inter-city bus travellers. London is the seventh-busiest Greyhound Canada terminal in terms of passengers, and connecting services radiate from London throughout Southwestern Ontario and through to the American cities of Detroit, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois.
London International Airport (YXU) is the 12th busiest passenger airport in Canada and the 11th busiest airport in Canada by take-offs and landings. It is served by airlines including Air Canada Jazz, and WestJet, and provides direct flights to both domestic and international destinations, including Toronto, Orlando, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Cancún, Vancouver, Varadero, Punta Cana, Montego Bay, Santa Clara, and Holguin.
The city of London is considering bus rapid transit (BRT) and/or high-occupancy vehicle lanes (HOV) to help it achieve its long-term transportation plan. Additional cycleways are planned for integration in road-widening projects, where there is need and sufficient space along routes. An expressway/freeway network is possible along the eastern and western ends of the city, from Highway 401 (and Highway 402 for the western route) past Oxford Street, potentially with another highway, joining the two in the city's north end.
The City of London has assessed the entire length of the Veterans Memorial Parkway, identifying areas where interchanges can be constructed, grade separations can occur, and where cul-de-sacs can be placed. Upon completion, the Veterans Memorial Parkway would no longer be an expressway, but a freeway, for the majority of its length.
London public elementary and secondary schools are governed by four school boards – the Thames Valley District School Board, the London District Catholic School Board and the French first language school boards (the Conseil scolaire Viamonde and the Conseil scolaire catholique Providence or CSC). The CSC has a satellite office in London.
There are also more than twenty private schools in the city.
London is home to London Central Secondary School, the highest ranking academic school in Ontario.
The city is home to two post-secondary institutions: the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and Fanshawe College, a college of applied arts and technology. UWO, founded in 1878, has about 3500 full-time faculty and staff members and almost 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It placed tenth in the 2008 Maclean's magazine rankings of Canadian universities. The Richard Ivey School of Business, part of UWO, was formed in 1922 and ranked among the best business schools in the country by the Financial Times in 2009. UWO has three affiliated colleges: Brescia University College, founded in 1919 (Canada's only university-level women's college); Huron University College, founded in 1863 (also the founding college of UWO) and King's University College, founded in 1954. All three are liberal arts colleges with religious affiliations: Huron with the Anglican Church of Canada, King's and Brescia with the Roman Catholic Church. London is also home to Lester B. Pearson School for the Arts one of few of its kind.
Fanshawe College has an enrollment of approximately 15,000 students, including 3,500 apprentices and over 500 international students from over 30 countries. It also has almost 40,000 students in part-time continuing education courses. Fanshawe's Key Performance Indicators (KPI) have been over the provincial average for many years now, with increasing percentages year by year.
The Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology (OIART) is also in London. Founded in 1983, it offers recording studio experience for audio engineering students.
Westervelt College is also located in London. This private career college was founded in 1885 and offers several diploma programs.
London currently has one sister city: Nanjing, China