London with a population of 366,000 is the largest southwestern municipality in Ontario. It was chosen by Lord John Graves Simcoe in the late 1700's to be the capital of Upper Canada (now Ontario).Its position was later usurped by Toronto.
Today's London, known as the Forest City, got its nickname due to the fact the Thames River flows through the city creating lots of parks and green space.
When we arrived early in the morning, we headed downtown to the indoor Covent Garden Market at 130 King Street. Established in 1845, this farmers market is one of London's most treasured cultural landmarks. We were impressed with what we saw. There were beautiful flowers,
tempting fresh Ontario fruits and vegetables, and an assortment of cheese and meats, a real farmers market where you can speak to real farmers. The market is open daily from 8:00 a.m.
Outside we ran into London's downtown Clean Team. Caitlin Billingsley told me, "we're proud of our city and we want visitors to feel the same way."
We decided to drive to Banting House National Historic Site at 442 Adelaide Street where we would learn plenty of things about Canadian Sir Frederick Banting who discovered insulin, the most important medical discovery of the twentieth century.
This place is a bit hard to find due to a lack of road signs. Once there, park in the back lot behind the site. We were lucky to run into Grant Maltman, curator of Banting House for the past 24 years. He told us "It was in a second floor bedroom of this home that Dr. Banting awoke at 2 a.m. on October 31,1920 and wrote down in his "idea book" a twenty-five word hypothesis that would lead to the development of the discovery of insulin."
Banting House is filled with plenty of things that will keep one fascinated. The Home and site is open Tuesday through Saturday between noon and 4 p.m. The cost is $5.00 for an adult, seniors and students $4.00 and children under 4 free. The family rate is $12.00.
When time to eat, several folks told us we wouldn't go wrong if we went to the nearby
Root Cellar in the
Old East Village, a block away. From outside it doesn't look like much but step inside and you'll be surprised. It was alive with the sound of noontime chit-chat. Waiting for a table, we could feel the Bohemian atmosphere. Servers passed us by with scrumptious looking food. There was a mix-match of tables and chairs; hand-crafted paper flowers adorned the tables; and fruits jars served as water glasses. Our service and meals were outstanding.
After lunch we stretched our legs with a walk along colourful Dundas Street, a delightful muddle of ice cream-coloured shops, interesting characters and a place where, when you enter a shop, the staff call you honey.
Later that day after checking into our hotel, we took another stroll along a very different section of Dundas Street. The street was wide with a mixture of old and modern architecture.
After a lovely hot and cold breakfast, we made one final stop before heading home. The Eldon House, built in 1834, is London's oldest residence and contains family heirlooms, furnishings, and priceless treasures of the Harris family. The home remained in the family until 1960 and was then donated to the city of London.
On this trip we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites downtown.
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, The Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.