The London Squash & Fitness Club is the city of London’s premier destination for all things relating to the sport of squash. It features four international singles courts and a North American doubles court, as well as all of the amenities one expects from a world-class fitness facility. The London Squash Club is located in a beautiful part of downtown London, just south of Ann Street Park and east of the Thames River at 76 Albert Street.
The story of squash in London, Ontario begins in September, 1966 when the London Squash & Fitness Club was established, with a focus on both squash and fitness and an organization that prides itself on being non-profit and member-owned. The building that the London Squash & Fitness Club is housed in began life as a family home, which is clearly visible from the street. Additions have been made to the original building, of course, but the façade of the club still resembles many large family homes in the area, especially with regard to the yellow brick that was at one point extremely popular for houses both in the country and in the city. It’s a unique look for fitness facilities in Ontario and brings a level of warmth and charm that is often lacking in such places. The additions have added a lot, of course; the fitness centre on the second floor and the club lounge with licensed bar are both additions after the fact, and the $500,000 worth of upgrades that were completed in 2011 made the London Squash & Fitness Club a top notch and modern athletic facility.
The London Squash & Fitness Club now boasts over 300 members, all of whom own a stake in the club. The club and it’s members pride themselves on offering a healthy competitive atmosphere for those who have been playing the sport for years, as well as an atmosphere of educational support for people who are new to the sport and looking to pick it up in order to stay fit and have fun in a social setting. The social setting is also a big part of the membership to the London Squash & Fitness Club; the lounge provides a great meeting place for members, and the activities that the club sponsors – including member ladders, tournaments, the city squash league, and social events – keep members fit andsocial. The yearly pinnacle of this is the Nash Cup, an official tournament sanctioned by both provincial and global squash authorities that brings some of the world’s top squash players to the London Squash & Fitness Club.
What Is Squash?
What is squash, though? Squash is a racket-based game played by two players (called “singles squash”) or four players (called “doubles squash”). The squash court itself is a four-walled room (often times today the back wall will be glass). To play, players must use a racket to alternate hitting the ball onto the playable surfaces of the walls of the court. A racket is spun to determine the first serve, and then after that players have to hit the ball to the part of the wall above the service line, but below the out line. On the way back from the wall, the ball is allowed to hit the floor once before the player hits it back toward the wall. The ball can bounce off of the side and back walls as often as necessary, but the only once on the floor.
That seemsfairly straightforward, but it gets more complicated when you add in how to score points and keep track of who’s winning. There are three systems of scoring in squash, and which one you use depends on how you learned to play squash and how emotionally attached you get to specific scoring systems in small sports organizations. The following is a brief although certainly not exhaustive breakdown on each of these systems.
The English system (also known as the Hand-In-Hand-Out system) is the one that the sport originally used when it was created. This is more like the tennis system, where if there server wins the rally they get a point, and if the returner wins a rally they get the advantage of serving in the next round (and thereby potentially being able to score). The first person to get to nine points wins the match. If the match is a nailbiter, however (tied 8-8), the first player who reached 8 gets to decide if 9 will be the winning point, or if the match will get played to 10. These two conditions are known, with typical English obscurity, as “set one” and “set two.”
The Point-A-Rally Scoring system (or PARS) gives the winner of a rally the point for the round no matter whether they’re the server or not. In this system the match point is 11, although the winner has to win by two full points so the game can in practice score quite high. The PARS system is the one used on both the men’s and women’s professional tours and in other types of “official” matches.
Finally there is the American Scoring system. American Scoring is virtually the same as the PARS system except the match point is 15. This isn’t used much, since a match to 15 points tends to be more of an endurance match than it is a good game of squash.
This was the same rationale behind the professional squash world’s adoption of the PARS system, as well. Under the English system, official matches could vary wildly in length; since the system tends to produce matches where players trade serving back and forth for a while before scoring a point. Thus it, too, became an endurance match. Switching to the PARS system allowed tour organizers to more accurately predict match length, and thus made it easier to schedule days. However, many players prefer the English system because it adds a psychological element to the game, whereby a player can tactically wear down their opponent by drawing out the length of the match. There is some controversy in the professional world over which scoring method is superior; the Professional Squash Association switched to PARS in 2004 and the World Squash Federation switched in 2009, but many player organizations claimed that the essence of the game is contained in the English system and that the PARS system destroys the strategic planning that many find essential to the sport.
Who Comes Up With These Things?
Squash is an old game that is based on even older English games. The idea of using stringed rackets to hit a ball was something that came out of royal court tennis, which dates back to an even earlier set of sport in France in the 12thCentury that were played in the courtyards of medieval towns. It is also clearly descended from the English game of rackets. Rackets was first played as a way to kill time while serving time in one of London’s debtor prisons in the 17thCentury. All one needed was a wall, a ball, and a racket, so it became a popular casual game in a place where that might be all you have. Prisoners released after working off their debt brought the game out into the wider world, and by the late 1700s it was a popular pastime in the alleys behind bars and in school yards.
Squash, in the modern sense, was first played around 1830 by students at Harrow School in London, England, one of London’s elite boarding schools. It became a choice pastime first as a more adventurous sport played anywhere, which led to some rather dangerous situations involving water pipes, chimneys, and ledges. Eventually the school stepped in and built four courts specifically for playing squash and provided natural rubber balls for play. The sport’s ‘play-anywhere’ aspect had an effect on the racket design, though; because so many of the spaces the sport was originally played were in cramped areas, the rackets had to be redesigned to have a shorter reach. It was no good to have to play so close to your opponent that your rackets tangled up, so a shorter, more efficient racket was desired.
From Harrow School, squash spread out across England with schools, clubs, and private citizens building squash courts and taking up the sport. At the time there were no real regulations on how a squash court was built, only that there were walls that balls could be bounced off of. The sport spread to North America by the late 19thCentury, with the continent’s first squash court being built at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire in 1884. The first national association for squash was formed shortly after, when the United States Squash Rackets Association was formed in Philadelphia in 1904. In 1907 the organization in charge of setting the rules for tennis and rackets decided to lay out the standardized rules of the sport. These rules were modified in 1923 when the Royal Automobile Club met to discuss the official rules and regulations of squash, squash rackets, and squash courts. An actual organization specifically meant to maintain the rules of squash, and change them when necessary, was formed in 1928; this was the Squash Rackets Association. In 1922, the first international squash match was played when the U.S. and Canada sent athletes to play for the inaugural Lapham Cup. In 1924 Britain sent athletes, making it the first truly global squash tournament in history.
After the Second World War, squash began to very quickly grow in popularity. Championships and tournaments grew and the number of nations that sent athletes to them grew as well. By the time that the London Squash & Fitness Club opened in 1966, international matches were becoming a passion across the Commonwealth and the United States. The very next year, representatives from Australia, Britain, Egypt, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, and South Africa met to form the International Squash Rackets Federation, which regulated international play and held world championships. The United States and Canada were admitted in 1969, and within ten years the number of countries in the International Squash Rackets Federation doubled. A name change happened in 1992, with the International Squash Rackets Federation becoming the World Squash Federation. The Federation worked hard at getting squash accepted as a more prestigious sport, and in 1998 it was first played at the Commonwealth Games. Today, the World Squash Federation comprises 119 nations across the world.
The Nash Cup
Today the London Squash & Fitness Club holds its own professionally sanctioned championship, called the Nash Cup. The Nash Cup was originally called the NASHionals, and it was first held in 2003 with around 70 participants. In 2008, it was decided that the NASHionals would become a professional event, with a purse of $5,000. This professionally sanctioned tournament was a big success and was repeated in subsequent years. A women’s purse was added alongside the men’s purse, and in 2018 the Nash Cup was the only tournament in the Professional Squash Association that featured a larger women’s purse than the men’s purse. In 2017, the Nash Cup’s $30,000 total purse was the largest Professional Squash Association event ever held in Canada; both the men’s and the women’s events featured some of the hundred best squash players on the planet.
Not A Pro?
No need to worry if you’re not up to the exacting standards of professional squash, of course. The London Squash & Fitness Club focuses on getting players of all skill levels out onto the court, and there are a few ways in which they do this. The most organized of these are the club’s in-house leagues, which feature flexible match times that can work around the player’s schedule and ability. Lessons with expert players are also available, for those who want a leg up on the next match. This training program also extends to children and adolescents, who can take lessons even if their parents aren’t members of the club. The club also takes the fitness part of the equation seriously. In addition to the fitness training facility on the second floor, the club also maintains the services of a professional massage therapist and runs a pro shop where you can purchase the best available gear with sharp advice from expert players.
The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame is an institution located in London, Ontario that seeks to honour the medical heroes of Canada, from the early beginnings to the modern day. Their specific mission is to recognize and celebrate medical scientists who have advanced the state and the science of health in Canada, and who have inspired others to take up a career serving society as a medical practitioner. Through an annual induction ceremony, educational grants and opportunities, and a physical exhibit hall, the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame exists to serve as the national memory for our greatest achievements in the advancement of medicine.
The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame is a partnership among a number of organizations with a keen interest in the subject. The first of these is the Canadian Medical Association, the interest group that advocates for and advances the position of medical professionals in Canada. The CMA exists to push for meaningful change in the medical profession, to advance the safety and welfare of both patients and doctors within Canada’s medical system. They do this by framing conversations and advancing debate on contemporary issues in the field of medicine. The second organization, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, exists for a fairly similar purpose. While the Canadian Medical Association exists to advocate for doctors, the Royal College exists to educate, license, and regulate the medical profession within Canada. University medical programs receive their accreditation through the Royal College, and the standardized examinations that doctors must take in order to receive their specialist certifications are written and administered by the Royal College. They also promote lifelong learning among medical professionals and underwrite some of the medical and medical science research that takes place in Canada.
The third organization is the College of Family Physicians of Canada, which exists along a similar line to the Canadian Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The College of Family Physicians of Canada exists to establish training standards, certify, and promote the lifelong education of family physicians. They also exist to promote the profession of family medicine and to advocate for family physicians and their patients. The fourth organization, finally, is the City of London, which provides the local partnership for the national organization.
The Exhibit Hall
The physical location of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, known as the Exhibit Hall, is located at 267 Dundas Street, in downtown London, Ontario, at the southwest corner of Wellington and Dundas Streets. The building was first built in 1928 as the regional headquarters of the Bank of Toronto; over the years, it also housed professionals practicing real estate, insurance, investments, and the law. The mergers of the late 20thand early 21stCenturies eventually saw the successor corporation of the Bank of Toronto, TD Bank, merge with Canada Trust. In that merger, the London headquarters was deemed a surplus property and was sold to the City of London for a dollar in 2001. The city named it after former Canada Trust president J. Allyn Taylor, a noted philanthropist and tireless advocate for the city of London. Among his business ventures, he served as the Chancellor of the University of Western Ontario as well as on the boards of University Hospital, the local YM-YWCA, the London Community Foundation, and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Inspiration for the J. Allyn Taylor Building is clearly Renaissance architecture, with its symmetrical design, the parapets on the façade above the ground floor, and the medallions along the top storey of the building. It lends a gravitas to the sober proceedings within the building itself.
The interior is divided into several different areas. The Laureate Portrait Gallery displays the members of the Hall of Fame themselves, each one designed by Irma Coucill, a London native who now lives in Toronto and brings each member to life in a strong, passionate way; her work has also appeared in the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame, the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Canadian Business Hall of Fame, and private corporate ownership. This collection also includes a bust of Dr. Calvin Stiller, the founder of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and himself an inductee in 2010. Dr. Stiller was behind the successful organ transplant program at University Hospital and was a pioneer of transplant research across the country. In addition to the Medical Hall of Fame, he was a founding partner of the Robarts Research Institute, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, and the Stiller Centre. The bust itself was sculpted by local London artist George Shadford.
Beyond the portrait gallery, there is are further elements to the Exhibit Hall. The Wall of Wisdom shares inspirational quotes by members of the hall of fame, presented in both English and French. In addition, there are three feature exhibits that showcase advancements in Canadian medical science.
The first feature exhibit is titled Mother and Child and focuses on health and safety in pregnancy and children. The exhibit shows some of the more interesting and recent breakthroughs in pediatric surgery, including a number of medical firsts that were accomplished by doctors right in London. It also showcases the work of the inventor of the “childproof” medicine bottle (where you have to press down and turn) as well as the “Barr Body”, the condensed, inactive X chromosome that is found in the nuclei of the somatic cells of female mammals.
The second exhibit is titled Vital Flow and the displays showcase the systems of the body. In particular, it displays important recent discoveries in the cardiovascular system. This includes both examinations of the invention and progress of the pacemaker and the heart monitor. It also shows some of the history and recent advancement of heart surgery, as well as the early detection and treatment of heart defects.
The third exhibit is titled Brain and Mind and showcases the recent work on neuropsychology. This includes a number of advancements in neurological sciences that were made right in London at the University of Western Ontario, as well as advancements made at McGill University in Montreal. These are discussed, and their impact on global neurological research is also examined. One of the more interesting parts is the story of how Dr. Wilder Penfield mapped the brain. The “Montreal Procedure”, which he pioneered with Herbert Jasper, treated patients with severe epilepsy by targeting the nerve cells in the brain where seizures originated and destroying them. Before going through with the procedure, Dr. Penfield would stimulate the brain with light electric probes while the patient was still conscious; in this way, he could target the effected areas of the brain with a high degree of precision, allowing him to keep unexpected side-effects to a minimum. An outcome of this was that he was able to record these individual pre-surgical probes to create a map of the brain and how each part connected to various parts of the body. These maps, partially reproduced in the Brain and Mind exhibit, are still used today with very little change from when they were compiled.
Two other pieces of art round out the collection in this section. The first is a bust of Sir Frederick Banting, cast by Francis Loring in 1932 and donated to the Exhibit Hall by William Banting. Banting, of course, was the former medical instructor at the University of Western Ontario who won the Nobel Prize in 1923 for helping, along with Dr. Charles Best, to discover insulin as a regulatory product of the pancreas, as well as discovering it’s therapeutic use in treating diabetes. Banting is perhaps THE Canadian medical legend, and his reputation as something of a Renaissance Man (he was an accomplished painter as well) has led to him rating his own museum, the Banting House National Historic Site located at 442 Adelaide Street North in London.
The other piece is the last available print of the famous painting Marathon Of Hope, Terry Fox 1958-1981 which was originally done by Cliff Kearns in 1980. It was donated to the collection of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in April of 2012 by the Calhoun and Kearns families. Terry Fox famously ran across part of Canada to raise money and awareness for cancer research. The Marathon of Hope, as it came to be known, has been repeated yearly by schools and charitable organizations in a quest to keep the hope of a cancer-free world alive. Marathon Of Hopehangs in the Exhibit Hall in the hopes of inspiring visitors – especially future medical scientists and doctors – to seek a world where cancer is treatable, liveable, and survivable.
In addition to the art, the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame also keeps exhibits of artifacts – medical items and memorabilia from medical researchers and doctors that have been at the forefront of progress in Canadian medical science. The artifact exhibit also features a number of pieces of literature and books written by the inducted members of the Hall of Fame, a medallion of Saint Marguerite d’Youville, and news articles and photographs dating back to the early 1920s. The exhibit here is largely comprised of donations from the Kerhoulas Family of London. Alongside this there is a collection of stamps, donated by Canada Post in 1999, that honour various Canadian medical pioneers.
Finally, near the back of the Exhibit Hall, the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame keeps their Media Centre. The Media Centre is built into what was, in the beginning of the J. Allyn Taylor Building, the bank vault for the Bank of Toronto. Inside the Media Centre, visitors can view videos that outline the experience and the passion that each of the inducted members have brought to the medical profession and to the advancement of medical science in Canada.
In addition to providing a place to celebrate and memorialize the leading lights of medical science in Canada, the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame also provides educational programs to help smooth the path for students who are looking to pursue a career in professional medicine or medical science. For medical students, this takes the form of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Award for Medical Students. This award, sponsored in part by MD Financial Management, recognizes medical students who display the qualities of perseverance, collaboration, and the entrepreneurial spirit – qualities that Hall of Fame inductees have pinpointed as the key factors in their success. Each Canadian medical school puts forward one nominee per year; applicants must be medical students in good standing, ready to complete their second year of study, and must have demonstrated leadership through school and community involvement, superior interpersonal or communication skills, and academic excellence. The award is worth $5,000 and includes a ticket to the yearly Canadian Medical Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
For high school students, the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame provides both educational programs and scholarships for high-performing students looking to pursue an academic degree in medicine. The Discovery Days in Health Sciences program is the educational arm of the Hall of Fame, providing one-day events for Grade 11 students who wish to explore all of the career options available to them in medicine and health sciences. These Discovery Days include a keynote lecture, panel discussions on various careers by experts and professionals, and interactive workshops that help to develop skills and showcase the necessary daily functions of a practitioner of professional medicine. In addition to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, the Discovery Days program is also sponsored by a number of universities and health sciences organizations, which allows a local spin to be put on each of the Discovery Days put on across Canada.
The scholarships available through the Hall of Fame are in the process of being retooled. In the past, the offered high school graduate scholarship was a partnership between the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and Great-West Life,London Life, and Canada Life. Each recipient of the scholarship received $4,000 toward a four-year undergraduate degree in a field related to the health sciences. The criteria for the award required students to have stellar academic records and a passion for helping others and improving lives.
In addition to these, the Hall of Fame also runs a “Museum School” program where senior elementary school classes take up school day residence in the Hall of Fame for a full week. During this time, students learn about past and present Canadian medical marvels and heroes, as well as meeting locally-based London health scientists who work with the latest and greatest technology in the field of medical innovation. The Museum School for elementary students is available through a partnership with Museum School London, a multi-organization partnership that offers similar programs across ten local museums or heritage sites.
One London Place is a high-rise office building in downtown London, and is also the tallest structure in the city. Completed in 1992, One London Place stands at 113.4 m tall, and characterizes the downtown skyline, even at a great distance.
In addition to an abundance of office space, One London Place features a complete fitness centre and gym, a restaurant, newsstand and convenience store, a car wash, and an underground parking lot for 382 vehicles. Sifton administration and property management also have an office in the building. One London Place touts some 372,000 square feet of energy-efficient office space for businesses looking to rent an impressive space for their staff and clients to enjoy. Sifton prides itself on state of the art property offerings with all the trimmings, and One London Place stands as a shining example of their commitment to excellence and ability to their ability to attract and support a rental clientele of leading industry brands.
Every 22 minutes the structure’s central air system completely replaces the air every 22 minutes automatically. Individual temperature zones spanning 600 square feet are located throughout the building for businesses that wish to control their own internal climate. Four columns support the structure at every floor, each floor featuring 8 corner offices.The building has 24 floors with views of the city skyline.
One London Place is managed by GWL Realty Advisors, a leading Canadian real estate investment advisor, with expertise in asset management, property management, development and specialized real estate services. GWL Realty Advisors manages buildings on behalf of its clients to the highest standards and operating efficiencies with the efforts of an experienced team of property management professionals.
Regularly, Londoners collect pledges to climb the stairs. One group even rappelled down its side to raise money for charity. The building boasts the fastest elevator in London. And there is no better high spot you can find for a wonderful, panoramic view of the entire city looking in every direction. Those with vertigo or a fear of heights may not wish to look down, however…
A Rally-Point for Community
The building’s size and spectacular appeal have made it an attractive site for numerous groups seeking a high-profile venue for publicity surrounding charitable causes. For about five years in a row, Londoners have pledged to a 116-metre trip to the bottom. In an event called The Easter Seals Drop Zone, the group annually sent dozens of donors, who each raised at least $1,500 to help kids with physical disabilities, over the side of One London Place for a quick, carefully controlled rappel down the building’s shimmering exterior. By all accounts, it was a fun and exciting event for everyone involved – and without a single safety incident in its history.
Drop Zone co-ordinator Stace Law is or record reporting that the event raise $490,000 over its first four years, and that the group projected earnings from the event to reach over half a million dollars in its fifth year. The efforts and commitment of participants lands close to home for many involved. “Either they are family or they know someone. They know how difficult (it is) for parents of children with a physical difficulty. It costs so much money, and often one parent has to stay home, and the other has to work,” she said. “A wheelchair can cost between $5,000 and $25,000 and they need to be replaced every five years, because those kids are growing.”
One rappeler, Colleen Wake, saw her participation as her triumphing over her lifelong fear of heights. “I heard the Drop Zone was going to be on my birthday,“ said Wake. “I’m terrified of heights, so I decided to do this to get over it.” When she asked her family to help, she was asking for their donations. “But then, my mom decided it was a good idea, too, and if she can do it, then I can do it, and I can’t chicken out.”
Wake’s mother, Mary Holmes, 89 – a consummate thrill-seeker had parasailed over the Pacific Ocean and ridden in a helicopter over Hawaiian lava fields, offered three reasons for wanting to take on the tower challenge. “First, it’s my baby daughter’s birthday, so we all joined in to help her. Secondly, one of my boys drives a bus for challenged kids and he tells us how they’re such great kids, and they need help. Thirdly, thank God, we’re all healthy and happy, and here we are.”
Wake to wavering slightly the morning she awoke before the event thinking “Oh no, really, seriously, I can’t believe I’m doing this.” Once fitted and safety tested in full-body harnesses, mom and daughter took the long elevator ride to the top of One London Place, posed for selfies and members of the press, were fastened to the ropes, and stepped up to the notoriously windy ledge. Unsurprisingly, participants usually report the first step as being the hardest part of the experience. When Wake and Holmes reached the ground, Holmes got a kiss from her daughter. “I did it, I did it, I did it. That was good. I enjoyed it,” Holmes said.
An Iconic Structure
One London Place was originally the joint-effort concept of two London-based real estate and property management groups – Sifton Properties Limited and London Life Insurance Company, both major employers in the area and highly visible brands. The Sifton website states “Through innovation in design, forms of housing and material usage, Sifton remains at the forefront of the home construction industry. Their partnership represented a $100-million deal and related long term plan to permanently alter the city’s skyline.
One London Place has a unique post-modern architectural design that was developed by Crang & Bourke, an architectural firm based out of Toronto. As their website states “The current mandate of the firm is the advancement of research and development to facilitate high quality design to North American standards in the International offices.” The agency was selected for the ambitious project because of their demonstrated expertise in high-rise buildings and other similar undertakings for the same types of prospective corporate tenants.
This spirit of innovation remains today, and has enabled Sifton to diversify into office construction and leasing, retail construction and leasing, industrial construction and leasing, residential rental accommodation, including apartment rentals and townhome rentals, retirement living communities and property management.” As a matter of succession, the current ownership of the building was later transferred to London area financial services giant, Great-West Life. What’s more, the values and vision that inspired the inspiration for the project initially are echoed in the mission statements of Great-West Life’s entire family of financial services brand, including London Life and Freedom 55.
Partners in Trust
“Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life have long histories and deep roots in our communities. Over many decades, individuals, families, businesses and organizations have been able to count on us to deliver on the promises we make. We strive to be a socially responsible company that takes a proactive approach to ensuring we make a positive impact in everything that we do.”
Their website also states “In addition to providing a broad range of financial security products to individuals, families, businesses and organizations, we are a strong supporter of communities across the country. Our success comes by working directly with hundreds of national, regional and local community organizations, through our head office locations and our network of field offices across Canada.” The time-tested mission statements of the Great-West-Life and London Life family of brands have guided, committed to their surrounding communities, and the people who live and work there, making their role in management of One London Place – a building whose design and purpose was conceived with these very ideals in mind – a wonderfully logical and fitting relationship.
The idea from the outset in the late eighties was to create a monumental landmark representing success and the growth of commerce in the city – a shining beacon for future growth and investment in downtown London. The building also set a new standard for commercial skyscrapers in southwestern Ontario, being clearly the tallest among London’s neighbours’ downtown cores.
According to the arrangement between the two leading partners, Sifton Properties was left responsible for the sites’ development, while co-founders London Life pledged to invest a considerable portion of the bill and also agreed to occupy at least seven floors of the space once the building was open and operational in order to sustain its ongoing overhead and to help attract other brands of scale.
One London Place is located at Wellington and Queens at the site of the former London YMCA, which caught in a disastrous fire in 1981 that saw the existing structure utterly destroyed. By 1992, construction was completed and One London Place officially took its place as London’s tallest building, where it has held bragging rights ever since.
The Building as its Own Brand
As it turns out, One London Place’s official address, “255 Queens Ave”, is rarely used.
The name was designed to be as iconic as the structure itself. Inspired by other skyscrapers in Canada, such as Toronto’s First Canadian Place and Place Ville Marie in Montreal, One London Place was chosen as a name that would give the site renown – a central landmark that supersedes the need for a street address or postal code. Its easily identifiable name lends itself well to its reputation as one of, if not the London core’s most prestigious buildings, and a signpost for investment, commerce, and growth.
In fact, One London Place is not only the tallest building in London, but also the tallest in Ontario, outside of the golden horseshoe – the area of Ontario that exists beyond the Greater Toronto Area and the western shore of Lake Ontario, which also includes major urban centres like Hamilton and the Niagara region. Reaching 113.4 meters tall and half a block wide, the building’s design reflects light, increasing pedestrians’ and motorists’ ability to ‘see’ the sky from street level, supplying the greatest possible access to natural lighting on every floor of the building.
It is almost as though the building changes shape as one walks around its triangular base, looking up. The tower’s irregular lines and glass ‘cliffs’ completely change the appearance of the building’s structure based on your location. Depending on the perspective, it can look rectangular, triangular, octagonal, or hexagonal.
The structure is planted in a foundation of indigo granite, with reflective blue glass reaching up and around practically every surface of the structure. The glass surface reflects the London sky and even appears to change colour and hue as the natural light moves and weather changes throughout the day. London’s own “looking glass” as it has been called – when the sky is overcast the building’s finish is consistent with that of a gunmetal grey battleship, but on clear and sunny days, it shines an iridescent blue – light reflecting off its multiple surfaces, even shining natural lighting into smaller, adjacent buildings that would otherwise receive no direct natural lighting at all.
The Two Towers?
One London Place is impressive by itself. But the original scheme provided for the construction of not one but two towers. One can imagine the scale of double the visual effects of One London Place had the structure’s proposed little sister seen the light of day.
The original promotional brochure to attract tenants reveals the original plans for the complex, including a second 18-story tower designed for the south-east corner of the site – the design originally intended to connect to One London Place by a glass atrium with high, lofted ceilings.
Because One London Place opened in the midst of the economic recession that struck Canada in the early 90s, experts surmise that the construction of the second tower was delayed and ultimately cancelled. What was constructed was the underground infrastructure for a second tower, including a parking garage, access stairs, and foundation, was constructed at the same time as One London Place, keeping the option of building up later.
The Future of One London Place
Over the years, officials from the Sifton Properties group have indicated that they would be ready and willing to build the sister tower, but only if a sizable anchor tenant is found. While one could argue that a second tower take away from the significance of One London Place’s grandeur and visibility, at the time of the writing of this article, it stands on its own.
Perhaps the site will one day see construction begin on the second tower that had always been an element and significant consideration of the original proposed design. If the right Canadian company seeks to build its castle in London Ontario, this could be an eventuality not too far off in our downtown’s future. In fact, over the last two decades alone, London’s tech and design agency scene has experienced incredible growth, heightening the profiles of numerous scrappy players who have proven themselves, and may one day wish to join and / or lead the ranks of the big brands inhabiting One London Place.
What is certain is that this prestigious and highly-visible structure that characterizes London Ontario’s downtown skyline will persist as a spotlight and flagstaff of our business community, attracting new ideas, new commerce, and new investment to our city, while embodying the vanity mirror that reflects in its edifice our environment, surrounding neighbourhoods, and our unique set of cultural values that helps us build one another up and make our city great.
One-London Place – a badge of our heritage and a glimpse into our future as a city.
Boler Mountain is a ski and winter sports recreation complex located in London, Ontario. Although it is more accurately described as a bump, rather than an official mountain, it features a full range of winter sports activities and is officially counted as the southernmost ski hill in Canada. Boler Mountain started off as a fairly small ski centre but by 2012 expansions have brought the centre to three quad chairlifts, 16 runs, and a number of tracks for sports other than skiing.
The area that became the Boler Mountain ski club has a long history in the London region. In October of 1813 the area was known as Hungerford Hill. On October 5th, during the War of 1812, the British army was defeated at the Battle of the Thames (near Chatham, Ontario). This battle (famous for being the site where Shawnee Confederacy leader Tecumseh met his end) forced the British to retreat and lose control over much of Western Ontario. On their way to the fallback point in Burlington, the British army came across a group of wounded British soldiers being protected by the Oxford Militia, under the command of Captain John Carroll of Beachville, Ontario (future home of organized baseball). Slowing down to help them caused them to be overtaken by a scouting party from the Kentucky Mounted Riflemen. Captain Carroll chose to make a stand at Hungerford Hill; early in the war the decision would have likely been to surrender into captivity, but incidents on both sides had, by 1813, given both British and American soldiers the impression that no quarter would be given for prisoners. The battle lasted for the span of one charge by the American cavalry; after the British lines held, the Americans retreated and the caravan of the wounded was allowed to continue along its way.
A second battle took place at Hungerford Hill, although this battle is known as the Battle of Reservoir Hill, using the later name of the area. By August of 1814 the war in Ontario had turned into a series of raids across Lake Erie (which, incidentally, accounts for the lack of large settlements on the north shore of Lake Erie today). A group of American Rangers under Lieutenant William G. Service entered the Thames River Valley on a mission to capture livestock and militia officers. A raid on Beachville proved to be successful and the Ranger detachment managed to capture cattle and four officers, including Captain John Carroll, who had held the line in the first battle at the hill. Fearing the idea of being surrounded, the Rangers began to withdraw toward Detroit. At Hungerford Hill, though, the Middlesex Militia had set up an ambush and executed it well. The Ranger detachment broke and three of the prisoners escaped.
Nearly a century and a half later, on the other side of the most major conflict the world had ever seen, Hungerford Hill – by then definitively known as Reservoir Hill – would become an important player in local history once again. A group of soldiers returned from the European battlefield with a need for leisure and an appreciation for a new sport they’d witnessed and tried out while moving through the Alps: skiing. In 1946, after putting together some equipment, the group chose Reservoir Hill to show off the snowy thrills of the sport. The word got out, and over the next few years the collective of people who came to ski at Reservoir Hill grew quite large. Eventually, it grew large enough that it was necessary to scout out a new location to build a ski chalet, like those they had seen in Europe among the destruction of the Second World War.
In 1949, the skiers of London banded together and incorporated themselves as the London Ski Club, which was set out in the articles of it’s incorporation as a non-profit organization. They then surveyed the land along the Thames River, looking for just the right topography to provide exactly the ski experience that they wanted. They found that topographical balance on a spot outside of the village of Byron, Ontario, just off of Boler Road; the hilly area there would provide both good slopes for beginners to learn on and challenging slopes for more advanced skiers. Having found their hill, the London Ski Club set about purchasing it and putting together a volunteer Board of Directors that would oversee a mixture of both trained volunteers and paid employees who would operate the ski club on a day-to-day basis. As a non-profit, any surplus funds generated from visiting skiers have over its history been plowed right back into the organization, in the form of repairs, upgrades, and new equipment.