THE FOREST CITY
London is located at the southwestern portion of Ontario, along the Windsor-Québec City Corridor. Yes, the city's name is derived from England’s capital. London is part of Middlesex County, which sits at the forks formed by the Thames River, a body of water in the middle of Toronto and Detroit, Michigan in the United States. London is actually a separate political unit from Middlesex. The city, however, is considered the county’s official seat. Like its namesake, the city’s geography is dominated by the Thames. The river’s south and north branches converge in the middle of the city, named "The Fork of the Thames” (or just The Forks). There are 366,151 living in London in 2011, most of whom are white Canadians. Most Londoners are Christians, with more Protestants than Roman Catholics.
London’s climate is characterized as humid continental. Its summers tend to be hot with the average temperature in July going as high as 21 degrees Celsius or 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Summer is also a time when London experiences many thunderstorms. Average annual rainfall is almost at 99 centimeters or 39 inches and annual snowfalls tend to be heavy. In fact, in as recently as 2010, the city had record snowfalls so business establishments and schools were closed for three successive days.
Both the University of Western Ontario and Fanshawe College are located in the city, contributing to London’s status as an international center of higher education and scientific research. In fact, the city’s main economic activity has to do with education, information technology, and medical research. London's university and hospitals are among the city’s top employers.
Besides London's growing reputation as a university town, its citizens are also becoming protective of the city's trees and natural resources. There are ongoing debates on the continuing urban development in the city and the damage it can afflict on the city's farm lands and forests.
HOW IT BEGAN
London was first settled by Europeans between 1801 and 1804 and became a village in 1826. In the 1960s, the city expanded its borders with the annexation of various surrounding communities. Suburban growth quickly followed this growth. The city further grew in size in 1992 with addition of the rural Westminster town, which made London one of the biggest municipalities in the country. At present, the city of London has grown as one of the richest cities in the country and a reputation for being one of the best-run.
YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHECK OUT...
╣Sunfest, an annual festival celebrating world music. It is one of the biggest music festivals in Canada and is usually held in July in the city's Victoria Park. The four-day festival is joined in by thousands of people of various ages and cultures.
╣London Fringe Theater Festival. It is an annual event held in late June and can last more than one week. The festival showcases various works and performances of non-mainstream stories.
╣Expressions in Chalk, an annual street painting festival often held at the end of July or early August. Artwork, sometimes, recreations of masterpieces, are done on asphalt-covered roads using colored chalk.
╣Rock the Park. It is an annual three-day event held at the city's Harris Park and features concerts from rock musicians from Canada and the United States. This event is becoming more and more famous in the international scene so don't be surprised if you see well-known rock groups in the program. Check rockthepark.ca for participating acts.
╣Western Fair. This is an annual 10-day event which began in 1868 and has become one of the biggest fairs in the country. It is usually held in August or September and features exhibits, concerts and rides. If you are traveling with your family, don't forget to join in on this event.
╣London Ontario Live Arts Festival. This is an annual three-day event which takes place every September. Widely referred to as LOLA, the event features music, dancing, interactive drama and other creative performances from arts organizations all over Canada. It also has live arts performances from amateur and professional artists.
╣International Food Festival, an annual event held in June in downtown Victoria Park. Aside from the wide variety of food choices, the event also features various activities for the whole family and live performance acts.
╣London Ribfest, one of the largest barbecue rib festivals in the whole continent. This is an annual five-day event held in August. Besides the main course, the event also features various exhibits, live bands, rides, cooking lessons, and food vendors.
╣Pride London Festival, one of the biggest gay pride festivals held in Canada every June or July. This annual 10-day event is organized for the country's growing LGBT community. The event, particularly the parade, is often attended by thousands of people from other cities in Ontario, as well as Québec and people from the United States like New York state and Michigan.
╣Eldon House, the oldest residential structure in the city. The building is designed in the 19th century style and still contains authentic furnishings, family heirlooms and other treasures that represent that era. If you joined a guided tour of the house, you will go home with an in-depth knowledge of family life in a bygone era.
TOURISTS SHOULD KNOW
The London Transit Commission runs the city's public transport system. The city's Transit Commission is still having a hard time coping with the increasing number of riders in the city, especially during the peak periods. Bus service is the only mode of public transport available in London, since the city still does not have rapid transit systems or ground rail transits. You'll be glad to know there are several taxi and limousine services for hire. Cycle ways have been constructed along major roads to reduce the use of automobiles. Greyhound Canada also provides service to the city.
Shops in the Ontario usually accept payment through credit cards or debits from cards or ATMs. Canadian stores usually accept credit cards like MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. You can be charged up to $2 per ATM transaction, but you should clarify with your home bank on other fees it may charge you.