Canada Diaries: The Other London

I had nearly finished writing this piece in early June ’21, on my experiences in London ON, when the sad news of the racially motivated and senseless murders of a family came in. Perhaps we become tone deaf to subtle racism, but this level of racial hatred in London was news to me. I really hope this was an isolated and one off event.

I have observed that living somewhere for more three months or so, gives it a feeling of home, and another place I feel has been a home away from home is the city of London, the other London in Ontario, CA. A had a one year visiting position at U of T and I was visiting Western, we took this opportunity to also explore the Land of Maple Leaf. After some discussion of whether to stay somewhere in between and commute or rent out two separate places, but decided to go with the latter option. I rented a room at a nice house in London, it provided a chance to interact with the other tenants all of whom had rather unique stories, not to mention the landlady J, who kept the place is great shape.

The city of London was set up on the banks of the river Thames (the other Thames) in the early 19th century and proposed as a site for the capital of Upper Canada. It has steadily increased in size and is now the 11th largest metropolitan area in Canada. The economy is based around Higher education, medical services and of late, information technology. I had rented out a place near Western, and initially would bike down to the campus, I was also fortunate to have my friend K who had arranged the accommodation and worked at a local hospital show me around and help get me settled in. Later I rode my motorcycle from San Diego to London, which gave me more nobility to explore the surrounding area. My fondest memories of London, of course are of Western University and surrounds, including the many eateries on Richmond street near Victoria Park.

One of the first towns I visited in Canada outside of London was St. Jacobs. The town has a large Mennonite population, and is famed for its framer’s market which draws in locals and tourists. K & I visited St. Jacobs, sampling many goodies in the market and later exploring the town itself. The town is home to around 100 outlets and restaurants, it is the birthplace of the retail chain Home Hardware and the original store still stands and is now a furniture outlet. I would definitely recommend a visit to this quaint and welcoming little town.

Grand Bend is a resort town about 30 miles from London, on the shores of Lake Huron. I visited ‘the Bend’ several times in different seasons. From the very subdued town in the off season (winter) Grand Bend morphs into a booming resort town in the summer. This Florida of the North is a must visit if one is in the area.

Another town worth vising in the area is Port Stanley, located on the shores of Lake Erie. Known for its lifting bridge, marinas and numerous restaurant, the town has a booming tourist economy. A & I enjoyed a few very nice days visiting Port Stanley.

Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver were other major areas that I have visited in Canada and all of them have something unique to offer, more on these soon….

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