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History of London - 1844 to 1894


Canada’s London had its Great Fire in 1845. This destroyed one-fifth of the downtown’s buildings including St. Paul’s Cathedral (rebuilt the following year). Industrial modernization was much in evidence with the introduction of gas streetlights, new rail connections and telegraph service extending into Quebec. A mayor and town council structure came into effect, and, in 1855, London was incorporated as a city with seven wards. Legacies of these 19th century years range from The London Free Press newspaper and an urban police force to landmarks such as St. Peter’s Cathedral and Grosvenor Lodge.

 

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  • 1844
    • ​The Bank of Montreal (Canada's oldest bank) opened a branch at Carling and Ridout Streets - the first of existing banks to establish a branch in London.
    • St. Paul's Cathedral destroyed by fire
  • 1845
    • ​The Regular Baptist Church of London held an organizational meeting. 
    • The Great Fire of London occurred destroying 150 buildings, about one-fifth of the town.
  • 1846
    • St. Paul's Cathedral rebuilt.
    • Covent Garden Market officially recognized by the President and Board of Police of London.

  • 1847
    • ​Royal assent to the Provincial Bill establishing a mayor and town council in the Town of London, effective January 1848.
    • London linked by telegraphic communication as far east as Quebec.
    • Ground breaking ceremony performed by Colonel Thomas Talbot for the construction of the Great Western Railway, northwest of northwest corner of Piccadilly and Richmond Streets.
    • First firehall located on Little North Street (Carling) between Richmond and Talbot Streets.

  • 1849
    • ​January 2: The first issue of the Canadian Free Press (now The London Free Press) was published with William Sutherland, who had previously published The London Gazette and The Evangelical Pioneer, as its first editor and publisher.
    • Proof Line Road to Ryan's Corners was constructed as a private enterprise.
    • The cornerstone of London's Free School (later renamed the Union School and still later Central School) was laid on the block bounded by King, Waterloo, York and Colborne Streets.


  • 1851
    • St. Laurence's Church was destroyed by fire.
    • Father Kerwin leased "Old Kirk" Church on King Street, between Clarence and Wellington Streets.
    • Barney Boyle Principal and Public School Inspector


  • 1852
    • ​The new St. Laurence Roman Catholic Church (renamed St. Peter's Cathedral in 1856) on the north-east corner of Richmond Street and Dufferin Avenue was dedicated by A. F. Marie de Charbonnel, second bishop of the Diocese of Toronto.
    • The Mercantile Library Association was organized.
    • Central Fire Hall on King Street.

  • 1853
    • ​Colonel Thomas Talbot, original superintendent of settlement in London, died in London on February 6.
    • Letter delivery commenced with John Nichol, Postmaster.
    • McClary factory established.
    • Perrin and McCormick biscuit factories; Holmes and Campbell's carriage factories and Anderson's Foundry in operation.
    • London & Port Stanley Railway incorporated.
    • Great Western Railway - first official train arrived London, December 15, from Hamilton along tracks which are now CN.

  • 1854
    • ​Streets first lit by gas, stores gas-lit year before.
    • An Act was passed incorporating London as a City with seven wards to be effective January 1, 1855 - population 10,000.
    • City Hall built on Richmond Street.
    • Customs House opened.
    • The Provincial Agricultural Exhibition was held in London for the first time.

  • 1855
    • ​Barker F. Spellman started a gas plant.
    • Regular Police Force organized (Chief W. O'Reilly).
    • Hospital building on Hamilton Road.
    • Leonard Co. makes cars for the London & Port Stanley Railway.
    • "London Free Press" established as a daily paper.
    • January 1, London became a city.
    • John Doyle appointed City Clerk.
    • Samuel Peters appointed City Engineer.

  • 1856
    • ​London & Port Stanley Railway commenced operation.
    • Grammar School in the Old Central School.
    • 1st London Volunteer Troop of Calvary formed - later know as the First Hussars.
    • Rt. Rev. Pinsonneault first Roman Catholic Bishop.
    • Geo. White & Sons machinery factory established.
    • L. H. Perrin opened a factory on Hamilton Road.

  • 1857
    • ​Roman Catholic Separate Schools established. (Opened in 1858).
    • Board of Trade established.
    • Bishop Cronyn, first Anglican Bishop.
    • Grand Trunk Railway completed spur line from St. Marys to London.

  • 1858
    • ​Talbot Street School opened.
    • The seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese changed to Sandwich and shortly after restored to London.
    • Decimal system of monies established.
    • McCormick's commence business, Clarence Street.
    • A. S. Abbott was appointed City Clerk

  • 1859
    • ​Mount Hope property bought by church.
    • William Robinson appointed City Engineer.

  • 1860
    • ​Police reorganized (Chief Baskerville, later followed by Wigmore).
    • Visit of the Prince of Wales (Edward VII).

  • 1862
    • ​London's General Hospital erected at the corner of York and Thames Street.
    • 47th and 53rd Regiments stationed here.
    • Wm. Spencer's oil refinery opened.

  • 1863
    • ​Huron College opened by Bishop Cronyn.
    • "London Advertiser" established.


  • 1864
    • ​City Gas Company Act.
    • The Huron & Erie Savings & Loan Society (now Canada Trust) received its charter

  • 1865
    • ​Sacred Heart Convent Dundas Street property purchased from L. Lawrason.

  • 1866
    • ​Fenian Raids. Many Londoners serve.
    • Henry Edward Dormer, Ensign of the 60th Regiment, King's Royal Rifles, died at age 21, a victim of his charitable administrations to London's sick and needy. After a residence in obscurity of less than nine months, he was acclaimed by the people of London as "The Saint" and received the largest military funeral ever seen in London.
    • "Farmer's Advocate" established.
    • By-Law No. 105 passed March 26, to appoint Health Officers for City of London.
    • By-Law No. 108 passed May 7, pursuant to Chapter 38 "An Act respecting the preservation of the public health," to nominate the local Board of Health for the City of London.

  • 1867
    • ​Military grounds chosen as site of Western Fair.
    • Western Fair incorporated.
    • Canadian Confederation - July 1.
    • By-Law No. 120, passed March 11, for appointment of Board of Health.

  • 1868
    • ​John Forristal opened barrel industry. 
    • House of Providence opened.
  • 1869
    • ​Registry Office on Carling Street erected.

  • 1870
    • ​Talbot Street, north of Oxford Street, site of Fair Grounds.
    • Western Fair became a three-day affair.
    • Ontario Hospital opened.
    • D. S. Perrin factory on Dundas Street commenced.
    • London, Huron and Bruce Railway completed.

  • 1871
    • ​Detective Force organized under Enoch Murphy. 
    • High School district established. 
    • London, Huron & Bruce started operation. 
    • Nitschke building, piano factory - Spencer factory.
  • 1873
    • ​London Street Railway organized - $40,000.00.

  • 1874
    • ​Great Western Railway leased London & Port Stanley Railway. 
    • Judge Daniel gave site for Victoria Hospital. 
    • London Life Insurance Company granted charter.

  • 1875
    • ​London Street Railway Co. horse-car franchise. 
    • Victoria Hospital built. 
    • Women's Christian Association organized. 
    • Blackfriars Bridge erected. 
    • Ridout Street Bridge (old) erected.
  • 1876
    • ​Free delivery of letters.
  • 1877
    • ​Collegiate Institute built.
    • Mount Hope buildings erected.
    • Waterworks established.
    • Tecumseh Baseball Club.
    • W.T.T. Williams - Police Chief.
    • London Gas Light Company Act.

  • 1878
    • ​Water Commissioners are first elected.
    • Bishop Hellmuth procured charter for Western University.
    • "Catholic Record" established.
    • St. Joseph's Hospital opened at the request of Dr. Wishart.

  • 1879
    • ​Sources of springs surveyed. 
    • Hydraulic pumphouse built. 
    • T. H. Tracey appointed City Engineer. 
    • Dominion Telegraph Company opened the first commercial telephone exchange at 415 Richmond Street.
  • 1880
    • ​Gravel and broken stone roads.
    • Middlesex Law Association forms.
    • Imperial Oil Co. organized here. F. A. Fitzgerald first president.

  • 1881
    • ​Western University teaching in five-room building on St. James Street, near Hellmuth Avenue.
    • St. Peter's cornerstone laid by Bishop Walsh.
    • Oxford Street Bridge erected.
    • Westminster Bridge erected.
    • Victoria Disaster, May 24th, with the loss of more than 180 lives.
    • First telephone poles erected on city streets in London. Some merchants threatened to chop them down with axes.

  • 1882
    • ​Steam auxiliary installed at pumphouse. 
    • Grand Trunk Railway absorbed Great Western Railway. 
    • Medical Faculty of Western University opened. 
    • Clark's Bridge erected. 
    • Early in 1882 Salvation Army held first open-air meeting in Canada, on Covent Garden Market Square, London. 
    • John Pope appointed City Treasurer.
  • 1883
    • ​First electric light system (F. T. Trebilcock). 
    • Great Flood, July. 
    • Nurses' Training School inaugurated.
  • 1884
    • Kensington Bridge erected.

  • 1885
    • ​London East and Ward 5 added to City. 
    • Westervelt School opened. 
    • 7th Regiment took part in the suppression of Louis Riel's Rebellion.

  • 1886
    • ​Ball arc machine installed by Stevens.
    • Ball and Royal electric companies' franchise.
    • London South-Eastern Railway authorized.
    • London and South-Eastern Railway operate their short line in the city.
    • Faculty of Law opened at Western University.
    • Military School at Wolseley Barracks opened.
    • Home for Aged Women opened.
    • Stevens, Turner & Burns commence brass manufacturing.

  • 1887
    • ​Medical School moved to Waterloo Street. 
    • Fire Department established. 
    • Victoria Hospital Trust established. 
    • Talbot Company, Printers, opened. 
    • Canadian Pacific Railway opened service on September 1 between Woodstock and London.
  • 1888
    • ​Collegiate Institute enlarged.
    • Residence of Justice Street opened as St. Joseph's Hospital.
    • Convalescent Home opened.
    • London and South-Eastern Railway pay balance of funds to City.

  • 1889
    • ​Ball and Forest City electric franchise.
    • Western Fair became nine-day fair.
    • New Wing of St. Joseph's Nurses' Home built.

  • 1890
    • ​Willis Chipman's sanitary sewer system. 
    • London South and Ward 6 added to the City. 
    • Canadian Pacific Railway, extended service, London to Windsor, on January 1.
  • 1891
    • ​C.A. Kingston appointed City Clerk. 
    • A. O. Graydon appointed City Engineer.
  • 1892
    • ​Forest City Electric Light Co. installed D.C. generator.
    • The Miller Syndicate operated the London & Port Stanley Railway; and the Michigan Central Railway temporarily operated the London & Port Stanley Railway.
    • McCormick's Home for Aged opened.

  • 1893
    • ​First Building By-law.
    • Collegiate Institute enlarged.
    • Children's Aid Society organized.
    • LE & DRAWER operate the London & Port Stanley Railway.
    • Order's Bridge erected.
    • CPR Board of Trade held dinner at London Club, opening of new station of Canadian Pacific Railway, April 13. Addresses by Sir John Carling and Vice-President CPR, Mr. This. Shaughnessy and Mayor E.T. Essery.

  • 1894
    • ​Convalescent Home, called the Victoria Home for Incurables, situated on the corner of Hamilton Road and Egerton Street was opened and was operated by the Women's Christian Association.