London District Catholic School Board

The London District Catholic School Board

The London District Catholic School Board is the separate school system that runs parallel to the established public school system run by the Thames Valley District School Board in and around the city of London, Ontario. Home to 20,000 students across 45 elementary and nine secondary schools, the London District Catholic School Board provides a separate Catholic education for those families wishing it.

Why Catholic Schools?

Like so many contentious issues in Canadian institutions, the roots of the separate Catholic school system lie in the outcome of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham on September 13th, 1759. The French defeat on the Plains of Abraham led to the loss of virtually all of their colonies in eastern North America to the victorious British Empire. This allowed the British to take control especially of Quebec City and Montreal, and thereby the entirety of the St. Laurence River (and the extremely lucrative trade along it). This outcome, however, led to unintended consequences for the victorious British.

Catholic-Protestant relations had always been a problem since Henry VIII had decided to break the Church of England away from the Roman Catholic Church due to internal succession issues. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, though, Protestantism had been the official religion of the Empire; anti-Catholicism became a constant factor in British laws afterward, including the Act Of Settlement 1701 which prevented Catholics from ascending to the Crown, and the Irish Penal Laws, which attempted to force non-Anglicans to fully convert to the Anglican faith. The problem facing the Empire after the fall of French Quebec, then, was that the British Empire found themselves the rulers over a sizeable population of French Catholic settlers, as well as indigenous populations that had been converted to Catholicism by French settlers.

The Empire had previously encountered this problem on a smaller scale in the colony of Acadia, which fell to British forces in 1713. The rather small population of the colony eventually led the British to the rather ugly solution of forced deportations; the Expulsion of the Acadians in 1755 sent approximately 12,000 Acadians off into other British colonies, including the pre-Revolutionary Thirteen American Colonies. When the British came into possession of Quebec, however, this was not a viable solution as the population was much greater and the political situation in some of their colonies was much more tenuous. Thus, in the Treaty of Paris (which ended the Seven Years War, of which the Plains of Abraham had been the deciding factor) the British granted the following concession to their new French Catholic subjects:

“His Britannick Majesty, on his side, agrees to grant the liberty of the Catholick religion to the inhabitants of Canada: he will, in consequence, give the most precise and most effectual orders, that his new Roman Catholic subjects may profess the worship of their religion according to the rites of the Romish church, as far as the laws of Great Britain permit. His Britannick Majesty farther agrees, that the French inhabitants, or others who had been subjects of the Most Christian King in Canada, may retire with all safety and freedom wherever they shall think proper…”

In other words, while French Catholic imperial citizens were subject to the same restrictions on religion as any other (not being allowed to somehow become the monarch, for example), they were allowed to continue practicing their faith as they saw fit. This was further solidified by the Quebec Act 1774, which guaranteed the freedom to practice the Roman Catholic faith and removed the reference to the Protestant faith from the Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown for Quebec citizens.

Then the American Revolution happened.

By 1789, when the American government finally established itself, a huge number of Protestant Loyalists had fled the new republic for lands still controlled by the Crown – namely, Ontario. Known then as “Upper Canada” in the Constitution Act 1791, Ontario was legally given over to the Anglican Church to be the official religion. The Canadian divide between the English and the French thus also took on a religious character: English-Protestant and French-Catholic. The problem, naturally, was that just because you put a border on something doesn’t prevent human beings from existing on the “wrong side” for their beliefs and inclinations. Anglophone and Francophone communities are still today a presence and a political issue in both Ontario and Quebec.

Education became a hot issue in the fracture line of this divide. In mid-19th Century Ontario, Protestants had won the right to an education system catered to their faith; since they were the clear majority of the province, this put the Catholic minority at a severe disadvantage. It was a contentious debate that found it’s way into the conferences to decide on the exact nature of the Confederation of Canada. The Archbishop of Halifax wanted both Catholic and Protestant schools in every province; the French delegates, not wanting to fund Protestant schools if they didn’t absolutely have to, demanded the right for each province to decide how to handle the religious nature of schools. The compromise is in the 1867 Constitution: provinces have control over how education in handled, except for pre-existing minority-language or religious schools. This was copied over to the 1982 Constitution as well.

Hence, in Ontario, there are 29 English-language Catholic school boards and 8 French-Catholic school boards. From 1867 to 1984, the Province of Ontario funded the education of Catholic students up until the 10th Grade. The Bill Davis government added an extra year of funding per year until 1987, in order to cover the entirety of Catholic secondary school education. Interestingly enough, even though the public school board system gradually moved from being a Protestant school system to being a secular one, there still exists one separate Protestant school board, the Penetanguishene Protestant Separate School Board, which operates one school, the Burkevale Protestant Separate School.

Catholic Schools

Now that the “why” of Catholic separate schools in Ontario has been established, the “where” must be addressed. The London District Catholic School Board operates a number of top-notch educational facilities that deserve consideration.

Catholic Central High School

Catholic Central High School

Motto: Virtus et Scientia

Team: CCH Crusaders

Located in Woodfield, near the core of Downtown London, Catholic Central High School was Ontario’s first “Junior” Catholic secondary school. When it opened on September 14th, 1952, it had been due to the efforts of the Sisters of St. Joseph in conjunction with the Diocese of London. Originally the school had operated as young as the 7th Grade; the 7th and 8th Grades were dropped in the 1970s. The school was completely redone in the late 1990s, with renovations including a new library, a wing devoted to technology, a new computer lab, a new gymnasium, and a new cafeteria.

Mary is the Patron Saint of Catholic Central and her icon once watched over the Crusaders as they entered the gymnasium through the “Madonna Doors”. The Crusaders themselves have a proud tradition of success in the London area. Their gymnasium features both a wall of achievement trophies and a “Wall of Fame” of notable athletes and coaches throughout the years. The CCH Crusaders have won twenty football championships in the Thames Valley Association, including a recent win in 2013-14 that saw the Crusaders also taking home the championship trophy in football, hockey, and basketball – the first such “triple crown” win in the Association since 1983.

Notable alumni of Catholic Central include former London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best, CBC journalist Carol Off, former New Jersey Devil and Maple Leaf front office guru Brendan Shanahan, and the Paul Haggis, creator of both Walker, Texas Ranger and writer of two Best Picture films, Million Dollar Baby and Crash.

John Paul II Catholic Secondary School

John Paul II Secondary School

Motto: Maturare In Dignitatem

Team: JP2 Jaguars

John Paul II (known locally and colloquially as JP2) is located at the corner of Oxford and Highbury Avenue, right next door to Fanshawe College. The school had originally been opened in 1985 on Huron Street, between the neighbourhoods of Carling and Fanshawe; the move to much bigger spaces at  Oxford and Highbury occurred in 1991. John Paul II is a city leader in it’s technological program, which features partnerships with Fanshawe College as well as local tech college triOS and several local industrial groups. These partnerships have led to strong development programs in Manufacturing, Design, Transportation, and the Culinary Arts.

One of the biggest annual events put on by John Paul II Catholic Secondary School is the JP2 ONERUN, which is one of the largest charity events run in London. The event, run by former John Paul II student Justin Tiseo and teachers Shawn Pede and Frank Delle Donne, attracts over 800 students annually, both from John Paul II and from other schools, including Fanshawe College and Western University. The event has raised over $170,000 in donations toward the London Health Sciences Center and St. Joseph’s Hospital, in the name of breast cancer research.

John Paul II Catholic Secondary School is also known across the city for it’s very low dropout rate (which is less than 2% overall); the large majority of John Paul II students go on to attend post-secondary education in either the college system or at a university.

Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School

Motto: Carpe Diem

Team: MTC Spartans

Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School is one of the newest secondary schools established in London, having first opened on September 11th, 2001. Located along Sunningdale Road, it was built to capitalize on the city’s explosive growth over it’s old northern boundaries.  The school occupies approximately 15 acres of land, with building space of around 170,000 square feet; this includes a full-size football field and soccer pitch, and an 8 lane track and field circle. The cost of the school was fairly high, at $25 million, but it claims to be the largest and most technologically advanced secondary school in the entire London District Catholic School Board. It is also proud of it’s new chapel, built on the second floor and designed with a unique circular plan that seats 150 people.

The school is also proud of it’s new but fierce athletic tradition. The MTC Spartans field teams in every sport, with Spartans teams competing well not only at the city level but also at the OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations) and WOSSAA (Western Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association) level across Ontario. The senior Spartans football team, whose home field is named J.R. Regan Field, won the OFSAA championship in 2007 and 2009. The junior Spartans football team was undefeated for 9 straight years from the opening of Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School until it suffered it’s first loss in 2010; during this period, the junior Spartans won the city championship in 2008. The Spartans hockey team has also covered itself in glory, winning the city championship in 2007, 2010, and 2012, and also capturing the Bronze Medal at the OFSAA hockey championships in 2012. The girl’s soccer team, meanwhile, went defeated in 2011, sweeping regular season play, the playoffs, and the OFSAA championship, where they took home the Gold Medal.

St. Andre Bessette Catholic Secondary School

St. Andre Bessette Catholic Secondary School

Motto: Modestia Constantia

Team: Bulldogs

St. Andre Bessette is the newest secondary school in the London District Catholic School Board, having opened in September of 2013. It was built primarily to address the growth in the north west end of the city, near Hyde Park, and the resultant overpopulation of both Mother Theresa Catholic Secondary School and St. Thomas Aquinas. When it opened there was a population of 300 students in Grades 9 and 10; the first graduating class graduated in June of 2016 and now enrolment is close to 1000 students.

St. Andre Bessette cost $27 million to build and is smaller than the relatively similarly-priced Mother Theresa, but the ability to design the school around the latest technological updates was well worth the expense. The school’s network is completely wireless, and striving to be paperless is also a hallmark of the school’s operating philosophy. The school also includes a health-sciences technology course, a dance studio, and a fully equipped drama room.

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School

Motto: Study And Share

Team: Flames

St. Thomas Aquinas first opened in September 1994, near the old tuberculosis sanitorium on Oxford Street across the Thames River from Byron. When it was built, it was designed to take advantage of what was then state-of-the-art technology. Wired internet access was provided throughout the school, and every classroom featured hookups and equipment for cable television and VCRs. It was also designed with a “cafetorium”, a large room that could be either a cafeteria or an auditorium depending on what was needed at the time.

In it’s twenty-plus years of athletic tradition the St. Thomas Aquinas Flames have proved to be a strong presence in both the city and provincial athletic competitions. Flames girl’s hockey teams won in OFSAA championships in 2004, 2006, and 2007, and the boys hockey team won at OFSAA in 1999. A number of athletes are listed as alumni of St. Thomas Aquinas, including Olympic swimmer Joe Bartoch, NHL journeyman Sam Gagner, pro skateboarder Chris Haslam, and former Boston Red Sox outfielder Adam Stern. One non-athletic alumni of note is award-winning cartoonist Bryan Lee O’Malley, who is best known for the Scott Pilgrim series.

Introducing Eve Park: Sustainable Housing Development

If you’ve read our article on the West 5 development coming to London, you’ll know that a sustainable future isn’t just an option, it’s a necessity. Our precious planet is facing grave consequences due to major ecological mistakes made by humanity in the last 100 years. Rather than rationing the valuable resources the planet has to offer, we’ve managed to deplete them to the point of no return. To fix these mistakes and create a brighter future for our children, companies such as S2E Technologies are bringing together some of the world’s visionaries in architecture and sustainability to create housing developments that offer net-zero living (a home that produces as much energy as it uses each year).

EVE Park

A place to call home that you won’t feel guilty about, what’s better than that? The newest community coming to London is called Eve Park and the amenities offered will unquestionably pave the way for sustainable living in the years to come. We were lucky enough to chat with Ashley Hammerbacher, Eve Park’s lead planner, to discover the numerous reasons why this futuristic community is at the forefront of net-zero living.

Residents will dramatically shift the way they live their life and the footprint they’re leaving on the Earth. This complex will provide a net-zero lifestyle in a stylish, futuristic home that exists harmoniously with nature. Residents and visitors alike will flourish in a community that caters to the people and the environment. Instead of using space for car parks and driveways, the community will be people-centered, encouraging engagement between neighbours, whether it’s through the carshare membership or the open concept design.  


EVE Park by S2e Technologies

S2e Technologies has established itself as a serious business striving to take direct action on climate change. Every project this company embarks upon is committed to providing communities and technology that not only promote sustainability but make an immediate difference.

This company is built on passion, and it doesn’t go unnoticed as it received the 2018 GLOBE Climate Leadership Award for a small/medium business. This type of award not only garners recognition but fuels the desire and commitment to making the world a more green, cohesive and efficient place. What began as a company developing large solar farms, has branched off into microgrid integrations with solar power, and green tech control systems. Now, s2e Technologies has transitioned into a company at the forefront of green housing developments that encourage not only green housing but a green lifestyle.

In our brief conversation with Ashley Hammerbacher, she exuded an infectious knowledge and apparent desire for this project to succeed. And for Eve Park to excel in its vision, it is imperative to work with engineers, architects and designers who are at the cutting edge in sustainable technology. This is such a special endeavour because it’s bringing together some of the world’s visionaries in clean energy.


EVE Park - Partner - Dror Benshetrit

The Eve Park team is collaborating closely with Studio Dror, an architectural firm led by Dror Benshetrit. His company’s vision for the future directly aligns with the fundamental nature of Eve Park. They have dedicated much of their firm to not only this project but evolving the future infrastructure and design of metropolises around the world. This firm’s impressive portfolio showcases the idea that it is possible for cities to thrive harmoniously with nature.

In addition to partnering with Studio Dror, Gensler, a large architect firm has been working tirelessly to bring Eve Park to life. Gensler began in 1965 and has since established itself as a firm constantly bending the norm and erecting awe-inspiring architecture around the world. Gensler has opened offices in multiple cities across North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Asia with 3,500 clients spanning across the globe. With such an expansive set of resources available to Gensler, it comes as no surprise they were chosen to work on Eve Park.

EVE Park - Partners - Gensler

These two firms have carried out projects reminiscent of something only the future would hold, but through innovation and dedication have solidified that the future is now.  While the planners of Eve Park are working with additional partners that cannot yet be mentioned, we are optimistic that design and sustainability will come together seamlessly as a result from these leading architects. The project will also see a significant partnership with London Hydro to ensure best practices pertaining to efficiency.

It is imperative that the marketing team work hard to ensure Eve Park is catering not only to the future but to the people. Market research allows the developers to understand what their target market is looking for, but also deliver a product that fits the unique needs of the community. The initial phase of research garnered an overwhelmingly positive response. While the first phase of market research barely scratched the surface, with short surveys and advertisements via Facebook, the second phase will see a more comprehensive study put in place.

This analysis will provide insight into how potential homeowners currently use their living spaces and what they want for their future community. Communication with potential future residents of Eve Park is imperative to the design of the complex. The market research plan is to transition from conventional questionnaires to an open dialogue between developers and customers. This will have a direct effect on the design of each unit in the complex.  Communicating with future customers about how and why they live the way they do will not only benefit Eve Park developers but hopefully spark a conversation about sustainable living.


Eve Park wouldn’t be at the forefront of innovation if not for the sustainability aspect of the entire development. Since development hasn’t yet begun, Hammerbacher was able to provide only minor insight into the inner workings of Eve’s sustainability. Efficiency without solar power would be unheard of in this day and age, and Eve Park will have solar panels across the entire building with lithium-ion batteries for energy storage, thus, providing energy for everything from charging cars to heating water. Hammerbacher explained that simple modifications in the installation such as solar panels on windows reduce energy immensely.

In addition to installing solar panels, Eve Park will showcase state of the art charging tech for electric vehicles. There is also talk about including agricultural aspects such as hydroponic green areas and edible fruit trees to further solidify the goal of net-zero living. 

The technology used for this project is state-of-art, but it’s readily available today. Through implementing such technology in Eve Park, the goal is for other communities to see that it is possible to live a sustainable lifestyle now, and not twenty years from now. 


EVE Park - Car Share

There are many aspects of Eve Park that get different people excited; however, after a few conversations with people from all walks of life, it became apparent that the carshare is the most intriguing. Even Hammerbacher’s zeal over the idea of sustainable carsharing was contagious, and it will no doubt be the most pioneering aspect of the community.

What was once a mere glimmer of hope in the automotive world, is now a reality. For decades, the idea of electric cars dominating the roads was a concept that required such innovation it was essentially deemed impossible. Fast forward to 2018, and we’re at the dawn of a new automotive age. Electric cars are more accessible than ever, and as we see them slowly infiltrate the roads, we see strides in helping maintain the planet’s resources. The developers of Eve Park are aware of how urgent incorporating electric cars is to decrease one’s carbon footprint, and they have plans to make sustainable living easy with their carsharing concept.

Car sharing isn’t necessarily a new idea, but existing models require a few tweaks to ensure convenience for Eve Park residents will never be sacrificed. For example, existing car share models offer one car per 100 residents and in some cases, up to 500 residents. While it’s great that existing buildings are implementing a car share model, they’re just not fully accessible and convenient.

It’s difficult to provide information pertaining to Eve Park’s specific carshare model as there are a few options the planners are exploring. Features such as summoning a car (right to their doorstep) for a certain amount of time, whether you reserved it beforehand or need it right away are being ironed out. Carpooling is also a likely component of this carshare and will help strengthen a stronger sense of community. Talk for using Tesla is also in the works, but Hammberbacher explained they’re researching numerous charging technologies and reviewing all viable options in the electric car sphere. These are mere possibilities under review; details will be further solidified once the second, more comprehensive phase of market research has been finalized.  Hammerbacher explained that the answer for the future of transportation isn’t to stop the community from being mobile per se but to inspire the people to change how they move.

Looking Forward

EVE Park

So where is Eve Park and what’s the timeline looking like? Eve Park will be situated by the West 5 community in the north-west end of London. The complex will provide residential spaces, but no commercial areas. Because of this, Eve Park residents will no doubt become part of West 5, building a strong sense of community with like-minded people striving for a net-zero lifestyle. As far as timeline’s go, nothing is quite yet set in stone. The second, more comprehensive stage of market research will set the stage for a concrete building timeline. Stay tuned for more engagement with the planners as they’ll want to hear from anyone who has questions, comments or concerns regarding the specifics of Eve Park. In fact, one of the motivating factors for the developers of Eve Park is to not only provide a residential area devoid of excess carbon emissions, but to ignite a wave of interest and conversation about what it means to live a sustainable life.

While there are still many people in London and the world that are unaware of the urgency to move toward a greener life, we at Santa Knows Best are aware of the progressive strides that must be taken. With an influx of local businesses in the Forest City, and a determination to ensure new and old buildings are up to specific green standards, London is optimizing itself to be a frontrunner in the eco-race; which is not a choice but a requirement for future generations to live a prosperous life.

Londoners should be proud to live in a city that’s partaking in developments that not only create eco-friendly communities for the city, but pave the way for future generations of housing developments around the world. Eve Park oozes both passion and promise, and this is an exhilarating time for builders, developers and residents alike!

We’d love to hear what you think about Eve Park and sustainable living in general! Is this a residential neighbourhood you’d be interested in moving to? Let’s start a conversation about what you value in your home’s efficiency! Connect with us at any of our social media accounts linked below.

The Best Places to Eat Before a Knights Game

You never want to head to a hockey game on an empty stomach. Your growling stomach will distract you from the game. You’ll get lightheaded whenever you holler “go Knights go!” and you’ll be ever so tempted to buy those expensive arena snacks that won’t satisfy your cravings.

Rather than deal with all of that, head downtown a little bit early and grab a meal at one of these awesome local restaurants that are mere steps from Budweiser Gardens!

The Squire Pub & Grill

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
109 Dundas St. (map)
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Best Places to Eat Before a Knights Game - Squire

It’s no surprise that The Squire Pub & Grill tops this list. The great food, the fantastic drinks, and the proximity to Budweiser Gardens make it a no brainer.

The menu at the Squire is eclectic pub fare, and all of it is top notch. Whether you’re feeling like a burger – either meat or veggie – some chicken wings, or a big plate of nachos, the Squire has you covered with some of the best in London. Other pub favourites like bangers and mash or a steak dinner are also available if you’re feeling like something hearty before facing the chill of a hockey arena.

Or, if you’re feeling extra Canadian, you can get a great big poutine to go with your hockey. There are five poutine varieties for you to try out. The Classic is everything you know and love, fries, curds, and gravy. If you’re getting adventurous, try the Montreal Style, topped with chopped brisket, curds, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing!

To accompany your food, the Squire has a great selection of beer – draught, cans, and bottles – wine, and cocktails. Depending on the day the Knights are playing, you could even get a deal on your food or your drink! For instance, Mondays are half-price wings and $5 20oz Budweiser or Bud Light draught.

If you’re attending one of the Knights’ weekend afternoon games, you can partake in the Squire’s amazing lunch menu. Many of the items on their dinner menu pop back up, like wings and nachos, but they’ve also added wraps and bowls that are $10 and $11 respectively! They’re absolutely delicious and a great bang for your buck.

The Squire has it all. The food is awesome, the drinks are always flowing, and you can literally see Budweiser Gardens out of the window, so the only reason you’ll be late to the game is because you don’t want to leave!

Spageddy Eddy’s

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
428 Richmond St. (map)
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Best Places to Eat Before a Knights Game - Spageddy Eddy's

There’s nothing like a big bowl of carbs before cheering on your local hockey team. Spageddy Eddy’s has been a go-to place for Knights fans to grab dinner before a game for years. The atmosphere of the joint buzzes with energy any day that the Knights are getting on the ice, with tables full of jersey-wearing, hungry hockey fans diving into bowls of amazing pasta.

Hidden away in their Richmond Row alleyway, Spageddy Eddy’s is just a short walk from Budweiser Gardens. Park before you eat then dash over to the arena before the game starts!

Although, you may not be in a “dashing” mood after your meal at Spageddy Eddy’s. Their massive bowls of pasta with rich, flavourful sauce may weigh you down just a little bit. But as long as you get to the game before the puck drops, you’re doing alright.

Spageddy Eddy’s offers a wide range of pastas to satisfy any carb-lover. Classic spaghetti (or as they spell it, spageddy), creamy alfredo, or split the difference and get the maza-maza, a blend of the two sauces making it a blush pink colour.

It’s not only long noodles at Spageddy Eddy’s, however. They’ve also got an awesome homemade lasagna, made fresh daily, and meat ravioli that is to die for, served in your choice of sauce. Or you can diverge from pasta entirely, and go for the chili, a big platter of nachos, or French onion soup!

Spageddy Eddy’s is a London institution and has been the destination for so many Knights fans before a game. Undoubtedly, one of the best spots to grab food before heading to Budweiser Gardens!

Zen’Za Pizzeria

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
71 King St. (map)

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Best Places to Eat Before a Knights Game - Zen'Za

Sure, they Knights are partnered with Pizza Pizza, but no corporate sponsorship will get in the way of us enjoying the best pizza you can get in London. Just a stone’s throw from Gate 1 of Budweiser Gardens, Zen’Za Pizzeria is one of our favourite places to grab a bite before cheering on the Knights (or any time, but this list is about pre-Knights game meals).

The super thin crust is topped with a variety of wholesome and local products, making it one of the healthiest pizzas you’ll ever get. Don’t get it in your head that “healthy” means “tasteless” though. With toppings like house-made tomato sauce, garlic-soaked spinach, and balsamic-marinated mushrooms, they’ve got flavour through the roof!

Zen’Za is also a great spot for vegan hockey fans to grab a bite! Every pizza they’ve got on their menu has a vegan version, giving you just as many options as any meat-eating Knights fans you may be with. Each pizza is perfectly fashioned to balance flavours, textures, and of course, contains no animal products. It can be tough to find a spot that caters to both vegans and carnivores so well, but Zen’Za has it nailed!

Zen’Za is also a great spot for those weekend afternoon games as well! On Saturdays and Sundays before 3PM, Zen’Za is magically transformed into the Z’Energy Day Café, which offers a menu of incredibly avocado toasts. Hockey and avocado toast may not be the most traditional pairing, but when two great things go together, it’s found to be amazing.

If you’re heading downtown for a Knights game and have a hankering for pizza, there’s no better place to stop than Zen’Za. Amazing pizza that you’ll never find anywhere else as well as being just steps from the main entrance to the arena? What could be better!

Milo’s Craft Beer Emporium

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
420 Talbot St. (map)
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Best Places to Eat Before a Knights Game - Milos

As the name of the pub implies, Milo’s Craft Beer Emporium is the perfect spot for grabbing a drink with your meal before the game.

With 23 beer taps, it’s truly the craft beer lover’s dream. You have the opportunity to explore local and craft brews that you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the city! As of writing this article, over three quarters are Ontario brews, so local breweries are definitely well-represented. Breweries like Barrie’s Flying Monkeys, Toronto’s Bellwoods Brewery, and our very own Forked River are all on tap at Milo’s!

Beyond the beer, Milo’s has a solid menu of pub classics with a modern, elevated twist. They have lighter fare like beer nuts, BBQ & cheddar potato croquettes, and two cheese platters – one dairy, one vegan – served with house preserves and crackers.

For a proper meal, their dinner menu has awesome options like half a roasted chicken, Korean BBQ pork ribs, and roasted cauliflower with a coconut green curry sauce. Or if you’re there before an afternoon game, you can get a delicious lunch like a roasted turkey club sandwich, a farm egg frittata, or a pho French dip – an amazing combination of the classic Vietnamese soup and the classic steak sandwich, you seriously have to try it.

You may show up at Milo’s just for a drink before the game, but after looking at the menu, you’ll almost definitely be diving into something delicious alongside your drink. Milo’s is a modern pub with a relaxed feel, offering the best of casual and fine dining, and of course their amazing beer selection.

J Dee’s Market Grill

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
109 King St. (map)
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Best Places to Eat Before a Knights Game - J Dee's

J Dee’s Market Grill actually pre-dates Budweiser Gardens by nearly two decades. The arena opened in 2002, kitty corner to J Dee’s at the intersection of Talbot and King. Ever since, the restaurant has been one of the greatest places for Knights fans to stop on the way to see a game.

J Dee’s claim to fame is being the first place in London to get a gourmet burger. No fast food patties in this joint. Every burger is made in house, topped with lettuce, tomato, dill pickle, and J Dee’s own mayo and served on a ciabatta bun. They’ve got nearly a dozen varieties of burger, from the peppercorn burger to the blue cheese and bacon burger, and of course a veggie burger for vegetarians.

Their menu is more than just burgers though. They’ve also got appetizers a plenty, like escargot, mozzarella sticks, deep fried mushrooms, and bacon-wrapped scallops! All utterly enticing and a perfect starter to any meal. Entrees include oriental chicken fettucine alfredo, vegetarian or chicken stir fry, and fish and chips!

And then, there’s the chicken wings. These fresh wings are marinated and grilled, no frying here! Toss them in your choice of BBQ sauce, Frank’s Red Hot, teriyaki, or honey curry sauce. Wings are served with their house-made blue cheese dressing. Or if you’d prefer fingers over wings, you can get some chicken fingers, fried to golden perfection, and tossed in the same choice of sauces, served with plum sauce.

J Dee’s is older than Budweiser Gardens, but they aren’t showing their age. Fresh, delicious food, and an awesome beer selection makes for a great pitstop before you head to the game!

Hunter & Co.

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
349 Talbot St. (map)
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Best Places to Eat Before a Knights Game - Hunter and Co

Hunter & Co. is the perfect spot to stop for a more upscale meal before heading to the Knights game. Just south of Budweiser Gardens, Hunter & Co. is a cozy, modern place to get high class eats.

The menu at Hunter & Co. features mostly small plates, perfect for sharing with your fellow Knights fan. The charcuterie board and the bone marrow are awesome starters, or perhaps some oysters, freshly shucked of course, are what you’re after.

The menu is always changing. Hunter & Co. emphasizes locality and seasonal dishes, so they adhere to harvesting seasons in the London area as best they can. Their chef is a genius, proudly crafting each and every dish that goes on the menu that will make you happy.

Of course, Hunter & Co. won’t leave you thirsty. They’ve got some of the best cocktails in London, after all! They’ve also got an excellent beer selection, both on tap and in bottles, featuring some favourites from local breweries and across the globe. Don’t worry if you prefer a nice glass (or bottle) of wine, Hunter & Co. has you covered. They’ve got a wonderful wine list with both reds and whites that you won’t be able to find at the LCBO!

Hunter & Co. is a lovely spot to fill your belly before you cheer your heart out for the London Knights.

The Best Fish and Chips in London

Although the dish was invented in that other city called London, fish and chips is a popular meal in the Forest City with many restaurants dedicated solely to perfecting the fried fish formula!

There are some old hats and some new faces on this list. Some of the restaurants opened decades ago, while others have just passed one year of serving Londoners! Regardless of their histories, each of the restaurants have their deep fryers hot, their fish battered, and potatoes cut. All you have to do is order!

Kipps Lane Fish and Chips

Neighbourhood: Huron Heights
1050 Kipps Ln. (map)
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Best Fish and Chips in London - Kipps Lane

As you may have guessed, Kipps Lane Fish and Chips can be found right on Kipps Lane, in the same spot it’s been since 1972. The original owner, John Arp, was dubbed “The Codfather” in the early 80’s, a nod towards just how amazing their fish and chips are. John’s daughter Jacqueline Arp continues on the Codfather legacy to this day, serving up freshly fried and perfectly cooked fish alongside golden brown and salty fries to hungry Londoners.

At the shop on Kipps, you have three choices of fish to accompany your chips: halibut, cod, and haddock.

Halibut is their original offering, served up for a whopping 85 cents in 1972. Caught in the north Pacific, the white fish is dense, flaky, and absolutely delicious. Cod is the most popular choice of fish in the UK, and those guys wrote the book on fish and chips. The cod at Kipps Lane is light, flaky, and fluffy with none of the “fishiness” that make some people wary of seafood. Haddock has a larger flake than the other two, and is described as slightly sweet. Some even go as far to say it’s more flavourful than cod, but still not “fishy.”

The chips, or fries as Canadians are more inclined to call them, are thick cut, which is traditional for fish and chips. A crisp bite and fluffy centre makes for the perfect accompaniment.

On Tuesdays, you can grab a haddock and chips for only $9.95, or $12.65 any other day of the week. You can get the same great deal on a cod and chips dinner on Wednesdays. No matter which fish you pick or which day you visit, you’ll always get perfectly cooked fish and chips with lemon and their incredible house-made tartar sauce.

Their menu extends to all sorts of seafood now, including scallops, shrimp, and even fish tacos. Or if fish isn’t your thing, they’ve also got salads, chicken strips, and unbelievable poutine.

There’s a lot of history behind Kipps Lane Fish and Chips. For over 40 years, they’ve been one of the best in the business and there’s no signs that they’ll be dethroned any time soon. London’s Codfather lives on in Kipps Lane Fish and Chips.

Olde London Fish and Chips

Neighbourhood: White Oaks
561 Southdale Rd. E (map)
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Best Fish and Chips in London - Olde London

Olde London Fish and Chips is a traditional chip shop run by the mother-daughter team of Brenda and Keri Phillips. Sticking to the British origins of their title dish, Olde London has been the place to go for a piece of top-quality fish that’s been battered and fried to perfection in the south end since 1994.

There are many types of fish to pick from at Olde London Fish and Chips: cod, halibut, haddock, salmon, and Alaskan whitefish are all available. Each fish fillet is coated with a light, non-greasy batter that was created by Brenda’s father, the owner of multiple fish and chip shops, in 1955. Get one or two pieces of fish, with the option to add four shrimps to your meal. Or if you’re feeling extra hungry on a Sunday or a Tuesday, Olde London offers All You Can Eat Alaskan whitefish as a special!

The chips are fresh cut and fried to order, so you know they’ll always be sizzling hot with that incredible crunch when they come to your table. They’re absolutely perfect with salt and a splash of vinegar if that’s your style, or take a dip into the homestyle tartar sauce.

Even if you’re avoiding anything that came from a deep fryer, you can still enjoy the seafood at Olde London. Get your fish steamed instead of fried, and opt for a side of rice instead of fish. Just as flavourful and without the fat!

There are also a few sides that you can add on to your meal in traditional English style. Coleslaw, a vinegar-based recipe that’ll add some fresh and acidic elements to your meal, and mushy peas, exactly what it sounds like but so much better than what you may expect.

Visiting Olde London Fish and Chips is always a delight. Fresh, thick-cut chips to go along with top-quality fish, battered and fried with expertise. Now that’s a proposition that’s near impossible to refuse.

Irene’s Seafood and Grill

Neighbourhood: Glen Cairn
315 Wellington Rd. (map)
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Best Fish and Chips in London - Irene's

Irene’s Seafood and Grill is an inconspicuous-looking house on the corner of Wellington Road and Wellington Court. While the exterior may be modest and the dining room is rather tiny, there’s nothing bolder than the flavour of the fish and chips that they serve.

The smallest order of fish and chips you can get at Irene’s consists of one large and one small piece of fish, served with fries and a roll, as well as your choice of soup, salad, or coleslaw. Definitely not a tiny portion! You can also double down and get two large pieces and one small piece of fish accompanied by the sides.

Your fried fish selection is either halibut, cod, or haddock. Many Irene’s regulars will swear that the halibut is some of the best that you’ll find anywhere! Light and flaky white fillets ensconced in a light batter that’s been fried to golden, crisp perfection. The fries match the golden-brown hue as well as the satisfying crunch. Squeeze a lime wedge over everything and you’re off to the races!

There’s a whole lot more to the Irene’s menu than just fish and chips. If you aren’t feeling fried fish, you can pick from one of their famous grilled fish dinners. They offer over half a dozen types of fish to pick from, including specialty exotic fish. They’ve also got a whole breakfast menu of pancakes, omelets, and French toast that’s served between 7AM and 4PM, a variety of sandwiches and burgers, and even steak dinners!

Irene’s doesn’t let their small size get in the way of big flavours. Their fish and chips are perfectly crisp on the outside and flaky tenderness on the inside. Whether you manage to get a table in their dining room or are ordering to go, you’ll never finish a meal at Irene’s unsatisfied.

The Takeout Fish and Chips

Neighbourhood: Huron Heights
1635 Oxford St. E (map)
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Best Fish and Chips in London - The Takeout

If you thought Irene’s was tiny, then take a look at The Takeout Fish and Chips. Located on the corner of Oxford Street and Second Street, this little blue house is responsible for some of the best fried fish and French fries that you can find in the Forest City!

When ordering fish and chips, your fish options are: halibut, haddock, cod, and shrimp (technically not a fish, but you can get it with chips and it’ll still be delicious). No matter which seafood option you choose, it’ll get battered and fried until golden brown, ready to be eaten.

Meals come with either one or two pieces of fish, fries, and a small coleslaw. If there’s a group of you that all want the same type of fish, you can go for a family pack, which comes with six pieces and a double order of fries. If you’re just feeling a fish and no chips (or you’re looking to add an extra piece of fish to your other meal), that’s an option as well!

If you aren’t feeling like seafood, The Takeout also has three different preparations of chicken: wings, nuggets, and fillets. The nuggets and fillets both come with a side of chips, so you can still feel included in the “fish and chips” style, even without the fish. Meanwhile, your wings come tossed in your choice of mild, medium, hot, or honey garlic sauce if you so desire it!

As the name suggests, the only dine-in opportunity is a picnic table out in front of the shop, which isn’t the most viable option given the current weather. Your best options are to take out or to get it delivered by Skip the Dishes!

The Takeout Fish and Chips shows that the phrase “small but mighty” still has meaning. They may not have a grand and glorious dining room, but that won’t stop them from making some of the best fish and chips you can sink your teeth into!

Golden Lake Fish and Chips

Neighbourhood: Westmount 
15 Southdale Rd. E (map)
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Best Fish and Chips in London - Golden Lake

The south end of London really has fish and chips sorted out! Golden Lake Fish and Chips is a new face on the London fish and chips scene, having opened in May 2017, and they’re making a big splash (yes, the fish pun was intended)!

Your fish choices are as follows: haddock, cod, halibut, or pollock. Golden Lake is the only restaurant on this list to offer pollock, which is considered to be strong in flavour when compared to mild fish varieties like halibut or cod, though not overbearing or overly fishy in smell or taste.

The fish is dipped in a signature batter before frying, making the fish flaky and soft while the batter gets crisp. A standard order comes with one fillet for haddock, cod, and halibut, while a pollock order comes with two. If you’re ordering for a group, consider the Meal for 2 or 3, which come with the respective number of pieces of haddock, a large garden salad, large fries, and garlic bread with cheese. While it diverges from the traditional sides of coleslaw and mushy peas, it’s an irresistible meal to share with friends or family.

Golden Lake’s fish and chips lunch special is even better! If you visit between 11AM and 3PM, you can get a pollock fillet and fries for only $7.49! Add some shrimp to that deal and you have the Pollock, Shrimp & Fries lunch special for only $9.99! That’s some good bang for your buck.

With options for dining in, taking out, and even delivery (through Just Eat and Skip the Dishes), you can get some awesome fish and chips anytime!

St. Joseph’s Hospital

St Joseph’s Hospital Has Been Providing Compassionate Care Since 1868

St Joseph's Hospital

We’re lucky enough, here in London Ontario, to live in a city with such incredible options for medical care. We have some of the best hospitals in all of the province and country right here in our home. In fact, people from all over Ontario get referred to our hospitals because they are renowned for their expertise. One of those great hospitals is St. Joseph’s.

If you’ve lived in London for more than just a few years, the chances are that you or a loved one has had some kind of visit to St. Joseph’s hospital. In fact, St. Joseph’s hospital has been such a major part of London Ontario’s history. As our city has grown and changed, so too has it, as it has adapted to the community’s needs and continues to aim for excellence in health care. St. Joseph’s is a research and teaching hospital, which means that they’re continuously striving to achieve the best practices of tomorrow, today. They’re researching and learning and shaping their practices to what the future of healthcare is.

At St. Joseph’s, they strive to care and cure differently. They want the right care for the individual and look at each patient as a whole and unique individual, knowing that care comes in three forms: mind, body and spirit. St. Joseph’s is a hospital that cares compassionately. It’s a hospital that seeks to have everyone’s confidence in their ability to fully and completely care for their patients.

Located in the Old North neighborhood of London, St. Joseph’s is conveniently located on one of the major roads in London, and is pretty central to the city, giving amazing access to all who need it.

Londoners should be proud to have access to such an incredible hospital with expert medical staff that stay on the cutting edge of medicine, while also showing respect and compassion for each and every patient that they serve. Who wouldn’t want to take their own sick or injured loved ones to a hospital like that?

Mission and Values

The vision of St. Joseph’s hospital is to earn total confidence in their ability to provide complete care, and to make a difference that lasts in the quest to live full lives. They want their patients as well as the family and friends of those patients to be able to rest easy when they enter St. Joseph’s that from start to end, they will be treated with respect, compassion and understanding. St. Joseph’s strives to help patients achieve the ability to live their lives to the fullest possible.

St. Joseph’s has deep roots in faith and is still a faith based institute. They care for a person’s whole being: body, mind, and spirit. They provide life-affirming care with the utmost respect and ethics.

St Joseph's Hospital - Mission and Values

In their quest to serve and care for everyone who needs it, they also provide a voice to those without one and are constantly trying to create a better healthcare system that helps all. Their service and compassion does not stop within the walls of the hospital. They seek to ensure that everyone who needs help can find it, no matter what their situation is, and advocate for changes within the medical systems to get that help out there.

Their core values are respect, excellence, and compassion. Respect involves celebrating diversity, listening always, honoring those that they’re providing care for, appreciating the work of others, and always being truthful. Excellence is about continuously learning and pushing, giving their best each and every day, and being creative with the skills and gifts that they have. Compassion is about truly caring for each individual, making a difference, giving, being with others, and striving to truly understand the needs, realities and hopes of each individual that they serve.


St. Joseph’s Heath Care actually has incredible deep roots and has been providing care, compassion, and excellence for those in need since back in 1868. In that year the Sisters of St. Joseph’s fought to provide a place to care for the sick, the poor, and the helpless. So they opened Mount Hope, which was an orphanage for children, a safe place for the elderly, and a refuge for the homeless.

The community and the government saw what wonderful work the Sisters were doing, and suggested that they open a hospital. The sisters purchased a house, which was located on the corner of Richmond and Grosvenor Street, and in 1888 the hospital officially opened.

St Joseph's Hospital - History

It had humble beginnings, with there being 10 hospital beds (although there was also room for 14 more beds) and four medical staff members, and three sisters running the hospital.

Just four short years after, the hospital was doing so well that they opened a new, bigger facility in October of 1892. The new building was three and a half stories, had 60 beds, and even had an operating room! The new facility was built adjacent to the old house building.

To get an idea of what it was like back then, London’s population was at 35,000, each patient cost approximately 25.87 cents per day, and the average length of stay at St. Josephs was 34 days. The hospital saw an impressive 339 patients in 1893 and that number rose in 1902 to 573 patients.

Nursing care for patients was originally provided by the Sisters, and then in 1901, it was decided that anyone tending to patients needed to have medical training, and so they established the St. Joseph’s Hospital Training School for Nurses. 1901 was also the year of St. Joseph’s first recorded birth!

Since St. Joseph’s continued to care for more and more patients, they needed to expand again. In 1903 they added an addition on the east of the hospital and added 80 beds and 30 nursing staff.

St Joseph's Hospital - History 2

Just over a decade later, St. Joseph’s Hospital needed to expand again. This time they added a three-story wing on the south. This added private rooms, service rooms, as well as a library and lecture rooms. While the new wing was being built, they also added a new chapel into the hospital, which is still there today.

In 1922 eight doctors were designated to specific specialties within the fields of medicine in the hospital: Surgery. Medicine, Obstetrics, Anaesthesia, Pediatrics, Ophthalmology, and Gynaecology.

In the 30s and 40s St. Joseph’s Hospital excelled in creating excellence within their medical staff. It became a hospital that patients in all of Southwestern Ontario often were referred to because of St. Joseph’s expertise. In 1947 Western Ontario formalized and signed an agreement to make St. Joseph’s a teaching hospital.

With London Ontario expanding rapidly after World War II, St. Joseph’s became a very busy community hospital. Not only that, but it became a hospital that smaller more rural hospitals would refer patients to. Because of the incredible expertise of medical staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital it also became a referral hospital for the entire province. Because of all of this growth, St. Joseph’s went through many more expansions, adding on more and more wings as it  became needed, including an administration wing, a psychiatric area, a new Emergency Department, a new surgical suite, an intensive care unit, as well as a maternity and nursing facility.

St Joseph's Hospital - History 3

St. Joseph’s continued to expand and grow within the 60s, 70s and 80s. The internationally renowned neonatal intensive care unit opened during those expansions, as well as a surgical day care unit, a laboratory test center, a new coronary care unit, as well as new rooms for medical clinics.

Then in 1982, researchers at St. Joseph’s were the first to show that diseased tissue could be distinguished from healthy tissue through nuclear magnetic imaging. They became the first ever in Canada to have a human image using Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which is widely known as an MRI.

Since the 80s, St. Joseph’s has continued to grow in its expertise and strives to stay on the cutting edge of medical technology and understanding. They continuously pursue excellence in both knowledge and in compassionate patient care.

Areas of care

St. Joseph’s Hospital is a leader in both short-stay surgery as well as day surgery. They’re also a leader in the treatment and management of chronic and complex medical diseases. St. Joseph’s continues to grow its role in ambulatory treatment, illness prevention, as well as research and education.

Within a year, St. Joseph’s Hospital sees approximately 1740 impatient surgeries and 46,060 urgent care visits. Across all of St. Joseph’s programs, they also have around 428,200 outpatient visits within the year. St. Joseph’s Hospital also strives to keep their bed count at 21 because they believe in advancing technology to give patients shortened surgical stays.

St Joseph's Hospital - Areas of Care

Their teams are trained to provide detailed and thorough assessments, proper diagnosis, treatment, as well as follow up. At St. Joseph’s, they care about you as an individual from start to finish. Here are all of the areas of care in which St. Joseph’s looks to serve you:

  • Allergy and immunology
  • Breast care
  • Cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention
  • Cardiovascular investigation
  • Cataract suite
  • Colposcopy clinic
  • Diabetes
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Gastroenterology program
  • Hand and upper limb centre
  • Infectious diseases care
  • Ivey eye institute
  • Lung disease
  • One stop- pituitary clinic
  • Osteoporosis and bone disease
  • Otolaryngology
  • Pain management
  • Prescription shop/Drug store
  • Pre surgical screening unit
  • Regional sexual assault and domestic violence treatment centre
  • Respirology
  • Rheumatology
  • Surgery
  • Urgent care
  • Urology


St Joseph’s offers a two day mental health first aid course for seniors. This is such an important course to offer right now. Because of the baby boomers, there are more people over 65 than under 15. Not only that, but mental health issues increases at once a person hits the age of 69. This means that London is looking at serious mental health issues for senior citizens. The course promotes mental health care as well as the prevention of mental illness and suicide when possible, even helping people to learn how to intervene at the earliest stages possible.

St Joseph's Hospital - Events

They also offer conferences for physicians, nurses, medical students, and trainees about various health care issues. Keeping those who practice medicine sharp and constantly learning is one of the best ways to ensure the best care possible for patients.

St. Joseph’s Hospital also has their annual geriatric medicine refresher day, which provides practical knowledge, and inspires advancement in care.

They also offer free educational sessions about mental illness and addiction for families, in order to help the most amount of people possible, because knowledge and understanding is the first tool to prevention and care.

They offer other educational session to the public as well as medical professionals and are always looking to inform and spread awareness.

Looking Forward

St. Joseph’s has a 2018-2021 strategic plan. Within this strategic plan they have three key principles: uncompromising quality and safety, partnerships with patients residents and family caregivers, as well as advocacy and collaboration for innovation and system change.

Their five strategic priorities within this plan include: reaching out to the people who need them the most to ensure that excellent care is accessible to all, connecting care to support mind body and spirit needs, innovating together by making expanding and sharing knowledge an expectation across all jobs within the hospital, leveraging technology to transform care and knowledge, and empowering people in an inclusive environment that promotes the understanding that everyone’s voice matters.

St Joseph's Hospital - Looking Forward

St. Joseph’s hospital is dedicated to maintain their focus on those that they serve. The care of the whole individual, the respect and understanding, as well as the total confidence in their ability to provide complete and compassionate care are at the heart of everything that St. Joseph’s hospitals is and strives to be.

London Ontario is lucky to have a hospital like that within our great city. It’s a hospital that understands that medicine is about serving the patient through compassionate care. St. Joseph’s strives to pursue that kind of medical care to each and every patient, as well as to find ways to extend that kind of care outside of the hospital walls through the community for those who cannot speak up for themselves.


Vintage Victoria Hospital

Victoria Hospital is one of the large teaching hospitals in London Ontario, a city with a long tradition of medical research and practice. Both Victoria Hospital and University Hospital are partnered with Western University, and together form the London Health Sciences Centre. As a collective unit, the London Health Sciences Centre acts as the Lead Trauma Centre for the region of Southwestern Ontario. On its own, however, Victoria Hospital has a long and proud history, and a reputation for cutting edge research into medicines and surgical techniques.

Early Victorian Medicine

Like all of the history of Southwestern Ontario, the history of Victoria Hospital begins in the crude, practical necessity of settler life in the days when Colonel Talbot was still doling out parcels of land to those coming over from the old world. At its earliest inception, the hospital was actually a log cabin, hastily constructed on the grounds of the old military barracks in Victoria Park in 1838. While this rough-and-ready construction managed to keep people alive – barely – as the city grew from a pioneer settlement of breweries and markets for farm goods to a more mature city it became obvious that the cabin hospital was woefully unsuited to meet its needs. In addition, beginning in 1860, the Province of Ontario began offering municipalities money to build hospitals. To this end, the city built a new hospital, London General Hospital, at a site on what is now South Street in 1875. When the London General Hospital opened, the London Free Press said that,

“The site, on South Street between Colborne and Waterloo Streets, which had long been set aside for hospital purposes, is in every aspect a desirable one. It is free from nuisances of every kind; the land is sufficiently elevated to ensure good surface and subsoil drainage; an abundant supply of pure fresh water can be obtained by digging deep enough; and the extent of the lot, some four acres, is sufficiently isolated to give the grounds the necessary exposure to currents of air.”

The South Street neighbourhood where London General Hospital was built has been described as both working class and mostly Afro-Canadian; the area was where a number of former slaves had settled after escaping the American South on the Underground Railroad. The neighbourhood was mostly row houses and cabins that housed a diverse collective of people, including subsistence dairy farmers, proto-taxi drivers, craftsmen, machinists, and bakers. The actual site of the hospital was largely land belonging to a lawyer named James Daniell, who had rented it out to the Winder family as a farming lot to grow oats for race horses.

Between the time in which the city had purchased the land in 1866 and the hospital’s eventual construction in 1875 a cholera epidemic broke out in the South Street neighbourhood that required the city to build an emergency temporary hospital. It was a shanty type building with wooden tables nailed to the wall and huge box stoves to burn wood in to keep warm.

The London General Hospital

London General Hospital

Once built, the London General Hospital took advantage of the growing urban center, including the growth of the new university in the city, to expand and develop their operations. In 1882 a white frame cottage was opened on St. James Street by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario, built to house student doctors learning at the new hospital. Five years later there were 60 student doctors, which meant that a whole new building had to be erected at Waterloo and York Streets. That faculty would later be moved to the Western University campus in 1965. The year after the St. James Street teaching facility opened another training program opened; this was the London General Training School for Nurses, which began its 1883 opening year with three nursing students.

The distinct feature on this original modern London hospital was the Mansard roof, which included a central tower with its own distinctive features – paired windows and an ornamental top. The top floor, underneath the Mansard roof, was divided into three wards, devoted to free female patients. Another detached ward catered mainly to men who were incapable of paying for treatment. In fact, the London General Hospital spent much of its time treating the old, poor, and chronically ill. While eight rooms were set aside specifically to quickly serve paying customers, by the early 1890s the province was unhappy with the largely charitable work of the hospital and insisted that the city fund a facility that would serve more than “the prostitute, the pauper, or the imbecile,” as a local doctor told the city council in particularly colourful fashion in 1889. By 1897 the hospital was admitting 842 patients and matters were rapidly coming to a head.

Victoria Hospital

Victoria Hospital

In that same year, 1897, the British Empire, spanning the Commonwealth, celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. In the latter half of 1896, Queen Victoria had become the longest-reigning monarch in the history of the Empire; celebrations were put off until the following year so as to coincide with the Jubilee, which marked her 60th year as Queen and Empress. The Jubilee was made a festival across the entire Empire, decreed by Her Majesty’s Government. The request of the Queen was that all memorials made in her name across the United Kingdom and its colonies were to have something to do with helping the plight of the sick and the suffering. Seizing upon the idea, the city of London proposed to either add on to the London General Hospital or to build an entirely new hospital.

Between 1897 and 1898 the city, the doctors at the existing hospital, and local interest groups debated which memorial to Queen Victoria they should embark on. In 1898 the city of London decided to build a new hospital at the cost of $70,000; it would have 140 beds and provide facilities for improved treatment of disease, maternity, convalescence, and especially for children. Special emphasis was also placed upon improving the treatment facilities for paying customers, which many felt London General Hospital sorely lacked. This was also the impetus behind debating the location of the hospital. The South Street location was handy for the city’s working-class population and for the long-term care needs of the city’s poor and elderly, but these features also kept the better-off part of the London population from feeling free to access health care.

In the end it was decided that keeping the hospital at the South Street location would be the best course of action. On November 16th, 1899, the newly expanded hospital opened under the Jubilee-memorial name of Victoria Hospital. A crowd of 15,000 London citizens crammed onto South Street to celebrate the opening of the hospital; crowds were admitted to the hospital grounds and according to the London Advertiser they “thronged the corridors and swarmed through the rooms.” While some resented keeping the hospital at its South Street location, the Hospital Trust that made the ultimate decisions for the facility stated that

“It should be the first consideration of the Council to provide accommodation for such as cannot otherwise obtain it, and if, after that is accomplished, they feel that it is within their power to provide the private wards for paying patients, it is very desirable to do so.”

The expanded and renamed hospital was designed by the firm of McBride and Farncombe, who beat out four other local architects to win the contract. The design was based around the idea of the hospital as a series of pavilions: several small brick buildings, as opposed to the one large building that had comprised the London General Hospital. Interestingly this had been an original design plan for the London General Hospital; Dr. Charles Moore, City Physician during the initial push to move beyond the old log cabin days of London medicine, had undertaken a tour of hospitals in the United States in order to best gauge what London needed for their new facility. Dr. Moore’s suggestion had been to undertake the very pavilion style of institution that eventually became incorporated in Victoria Hospital.

The pavilion style of hospital building had been recently popularized by the time Victoria Hospital was being planned. The idea of the pavilion as the best way to build a hospital had come from experiences with the redesign of the Hotel Dieu in Paris, military hospitals in the European wars of the 19th Century, and the journals of famed nurse Florence Nightingale. The latter was especially important, as Nightingale’s theories on miasma, decay, and the ability of a hospital to avoid either through clean facilities had achieved strong scientific backing with the rise of germ theory as the source of most human sickness. To this end, hospitals erected in the pavilion style, including Victoria Hospital, were built with wards in long buildings that were spread out to prevent contagion and cross-contamination. The London General Hospital in this case was treated as one of the buildings within the pavilion system, incorporating the old building into the new design.

Administration of the hospital was housed in the central building, which also housed a reception hall, a dispensary, and a kitchen. Long hallways connected the central administration building to the other wards, which included spaces for children, the poor, paying customers, and, in the old General Hospital, those afflicted with tuberculosis. Sun rooms were built into the ends of the hallways at the south end, with views of the Thames River and the rolling farm fields that spread out to the south of the city. In addition to natural sunlight, the hospital was equipped with both electric light and steam heating.

The addition of facilities to treat tuberculosis came a bit later than the others. The rise of tuberculosis in the London area around 1900 spurred the Province of Ontario into providing money to municipalities to combat the scourge. London took the money and planned to built a sanitorium to house patients, but it wasn’t until 1906 that space in the old General Hospital was allocated. Even then there wasn’t enough space for the rising number of patients; the plight of the afflicted attracted newspaper attention and the city looked to figure out a better way of treating them. Eventually a private location was established, near the Thames River at the edge of the village of Byron, Ontario. By 1910 all but the worst cases were transferred to the new Queen Alexandra Sanitorium, leaving the incurable to get hospice care at Victoria Hospital.

Victoria Hospital Part II

Victoria Hospital

After the Second World War, continued growth of the city of London meant that it was time to think once again about expanding the operations of Victoria Hospital. This time, however, the idea of moving the facility to a better location took on greater weight. A military hospital, Westminster Hospital, had originally opened in 1918 to serve the mental health needs of veterans returning from the First World War; this expanded to physical needs, including surgical procedures, for veterans from 1929 onward. In 1977 the site, comprising some 80 acres of land with facilities, was purchased by the Victoria Hospital Corporation; the site was renamed the Victoria Hospital Westminster Campus. In 2005 the bulk of the patients and staff at the South Street location of Victoria Hospital were transferred to the Westminster location, with the remainder to be moved over the following years. This was completed by 2013 and the South Street location of Victoria Hospital was permanently closed. Of the buildings that comprised the old Victoria Hospital, only the Colborne building and the War Memorial Children’s Hospital (as well as a few minor auxiliary buildings) remain today. The Colborne rebuilding is slated to be repurposed as a residential development, with two residential towers, garden suites, reflecting pools, villas, and seating.

While the old Children’s Hospital is still looking for new development opportunities, it bears mentioning that a medical innovation took place there. Like a number of medical breakthroughs, Canada developed a new cancer-fighting technique in 1951 called the “cobalt bomb” which first debuted in Victoria Hospital. The technique involved driving a powerful force of radioactive material (cobalt) deep into the body to destroy cancerous cells; the cobalt-60 that was used was the real revolution of the procedure. Cobalt-60 is a radioactive isotope that is a uniquely Canadian isotope that was until 2018 manufactured at the Chalk River Laboratories facility in Chalk River, Ontario. The technique has since been replaced by other radiation therapy techniques but the survival rate of previously lethal cancers is owed primarily to the medical pioneering established at Victoria Hospital.

Victoria Hospital Today

In 1995 Victoria Hospital merged with University Hospital, which had been established next to Western University in 1972. Together they formed the London Health Sciences Centre, which is what it remains today regardless of how healthcare has been changed administratively in Ontario. It is today still a home of cutting-edge medical research and treatment techniques. In the past decade alone, it has pioneered treatment for less invasive heart surgery, throat surgery for cancer, careful removal of liver cancer, bone conduction implants to help people hear, and robotic colorectal repair. In the course of a year Victoria Hospital experiences over 165,000 emergency room visits and admits over 52,000 for long-term stays; it’s a busy, thoroughly modern hospital that fits in perfectly with London’s forward-looking vision of growth and technical innovation.