London is a city in Southwestern Ontario, Canada along the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor with a metropolitan area population of 457,720; the city proper had a population of 352,395 in the 2006 Canadian census. The estimated metro population in 2009 was 489,274. London is the seat of Middlesex County, at the forks of the non-navigable Thames River, approximately halfway between Toronto, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan. The City of London is a separated municipality, politically separate from Middlesex County, though it remains the official county seat.
London was first permanently settled by Europeans between 1801 and 1804 by Peter Hagerman and became a village in 1826. Since then, London has grown into the largest Southwestern Ontario municipality, annexing many of the smaller communities that surrounded it. The city has developed a strong focus towards education, health care, tourism, and manufacturing.
The village of London was not founded until 1826, and not as the capital Simcoe 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 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 Dr. 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 April 13, 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. On January 1, 1855, London was incorporated as a “city” (10,000 or more residents). London was a “city within a forest” and as such earned the nickname “The Forest City.”
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.