Destination Ontario – London Calling!
By Cece Scott www.cecescott.com
Britain and Canada unite with shared namesakes
Incorporated in 1855, London is the largest municipality in southwestern Ontario and the 11th largest in Canada. Situated halfway between Toronto and Detroit, in the Windsor- Quebec City corridor, this trendy metropolis is positioned at the juncture of the Forks of the Thames. Home to many wonderful parks, including Victoria Park, Harris Park, and Fanshawe Conservation Area (Fanshawe Pioneer Village), London is also a regional hub for healthcare, education and the prestigious Western University.
Get your London on
If eclectic activities are high on your list, London is the place to be. Voted the sixth happiest city in Canada, (Jetpac City Guides, 2015), the city is also ranked the fourth best, large city to live in (MoneySense, 2016).
More than 160 years old, London is packed full of cultural experiences and fun things to do. In fact, the see-it, do-it, interactive music festivals, fairs, theatre, museums, and outdoor experiences – places London among the top summer destinations in North America.
It’s all about the beat
Summer in London is an extravaganza of music festivals, many of them centrally located in Victoria Park. TD Sunfest (July 6 to 9) is one of Canada’s largest music festivals, and embraces a cross cultural spectrum of music, dance and visual arts.
The popular Home County Music and Art Festival (July 14 to 16), with roots dating back to the 70s, features Canadian musicians and juried artisans showcasing original pottery, glass, jewelry, fine art, textiles and photography. A diversity of cuisine is served up by 30 featured food vendors.
The London Blues Fest (August 25 to 27) brings it home with megawatt talent. Last year’s performers included Sass Jordan and Downchild Blues Band.
The Banting House National Historic Site of Canada was home to Frederick Banting, the facilitator for the discovery of insulin (1920). Banting’s discovery continues to help millions of diabetics worldwide to live better, and more active, lives.
Eldon House, London’s oldest residence, is a prime example of Georgian and Regency architecture. Savour one of their special tea events while enjoying their gardens, considered some of London’s most beautiful.
Things to do and see
Outdoor enthusiasts should check out Boler Mountain, home of the London Ski Club and Boler Bike Centre. Skiing, tubing, biking and zip lining are all great seasonal options.
Museum London houses southwestern Ontario’s leading collection and presentation of visual arts. The permanent installation includes works by the Group of Seven, Paul Peel and Jack Chambers.
The Grand Theatre, opened in 1901, was built by Toronto entrepreneur Ambrose Small, whose ghost reputedly still haunts the theatre. The Grand’s illustrious list of performers include W C Fields, Sarah Bernhardt, Sidney Poitier and Leonard Nimoy.
London, known as the Forest City, has a reputation for loving trees, so it is only natural that they host the Tree Trunk Tour. Carvers create wooden sculptures carved from chain saws, chisels and power rotary tools, which are then varnished and displayed on public streets.
If name dropping is your thing, author Emma Donoghue, whose novel, Room, won a 2015 Academy Award for its screen adaptation, lives here; as well as Scotiabank Giller nominee Joan Barfoot (Luck), and Man Brooker prize winner, Eleanor Catton (The Luminaries). For those old enough to remember, Guy Lombardo of big band fame, was also born here. And, for the youngin’s, The Biebs (yes Justin Bieber) was born in London.
Photos, courtesy londontourism.ca