The Best Tattoo Parlors in London

Tattoos have surged in popularity of the last decade or so, turning from a subcultural signifier to a mainstream artform in a matter of years. The people of London have caught this trend and are getting inked all over the place, resulting in a plethora of tattoo parlors creating custom masterpieces to cover the skin of Londoners.

It should be noted that tattoos are incredibly subjective, like any art. As such, you personally may not like the style of tattoo you see at every place on this list, but someone else will! Regardless of your personal style preferences, everyone can agree that these artists are endlessly talented.

Getting an appointment at any of these parlors may be tough, there’s often a decently long waiting period, but you may be lucky and catch a walk-in opportunity on occasion, so following their social media is definitely worth it, beyond seeing their fantastic creations of course!

The Taste of Ink

Neighbourhood: Soho
93 Wellington Rd. N (map)
Facebook icon transparentinstagram icon transparent

The Taste of Ink tackles two important aspects to physical appearance – tattoos and hair. Owned by husband and wife team Aimee and Aaron Allen, Taste of Ink has been giving London extra aesthetic flair since the beginning of 2012 in Soho.

There are four artists at the Taste of Ink, including the two owners, each with their own distinct styles. Depending on what you’re looking for, you may want to go to one specifically, but you’re almost guaranteed to find something you like within those four walls.

Aimee, with over a decade of tattooing experience, is incredibly adaptable. She can take on a variety of styles, from photorealistic to traditional Japanese. Her use of colour is eye-catching, either incorporated into the whole piece or used as an accent to make a certain element pop in an otherwise black and grey piece.

Learning from great artists over the last few years, Aaron is coming into his own as a tattoo artist. Aaron’s brilliant use of colour attracts the eye. Many of his pieces use traditional line and shading styles in new ways or on non-traditional subjects, such as a tooth with a monacle or a pineapple sunset.

Their third artist, Heather Autumn, has gorgeous modern flair, using stippling and sketch-style lines in many of her pieces, giving her tattoos a rustic, yet refined appearance. She’s also got classic styles locked down, having a portfolio full of beautiful grey wash tattoos and American traditional-style pieces.

And last, but definitely not least, Taylor Brodbeck, who beautifully captures classic imagery on skin. Her portfolio is full of mandalas, flowers, and sugar skulls, but she’s always interested in taking your ideas and bringing them to life with you.

The Taste of Ink has four incredibly talented tattoo artists, not to even mention their hair stylists. They offer a clean, welcoming environment that is open to people that are already covered in ink or someone looking for their first tattoo.

Hangar 18

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
417 Richmond St. (map)

Facebook icon transparentinstagram icon transparent

Hangar 18 is the place to find crowd favourite, Dave Schultz, tattoo veteran of over 20 years, Sean Strouse, and newer face on the team, Melanie Wayland. Posted up in their parlor on Richmond Row, these two gentlemen have made a name for themselves creating gorgeous art using the body as a canvas in our Forest City.

Having over two decades of experience, Sean is able to employ a variety of styles that a customer may want. From traditional bold lines to stylized characters to photorealistic shading in black and grey.

Dave is similarly versatile. His hands can create impeccable shading technique with both greys and colours and linework is detailed, whether the lines are bold or fine. He has even recreated comic book panels to great effect.

Melanie’s style is both modern and classic. She often utilizes the classic, bold-lined style for tattoos with non-traditional subjects, such as a sloth in pajamas or an adorable bunny. Consult with her on your ideas or pick from her extensive group

You can feel confident in the fact that you’ll end up with a great new piece when you make an appointment with any of the artists at Hangar 18.

Addictive Tattoo

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
234 Dundas St. (map)

Facebook icon transparentinstagram icon transparent

Addictive Tattoo is a downtown tattoo parlor named for Jason “Addictive Jay” Wojceik. He and his partner, Jacqui Gallant, opened the store together in 1996. Tragically, Jason passed in 2012, but his memory lives on every day at their Dundas tattoo parlor that carries his name.

Jacqui Gallant still owns and operates the parlor, also acting as the piercing specialist. As one of, if not the most experienced body piercers in the city, with over 20 years of experience, your piercing is guaranteed to have proper placement of the jewelry. She also offers a checkup appointment within a month of piercing to ensure proper healing.

Working alongside Jacqui are a team of eight incredible tattoo artists with styles ranging from American traditional to dark realism to anime-inspired. Their team includes:

Stevie Boy is a blackwork specialist known for bold lines, with art that harkens back to the early 20th Century and Victorian era.

Pete Vanderheide, a veteran of over a decade with a particularly keen eye for detail and texture.

Debbie Mellor, with 15 years of tattooing under her belt, has a refined style dubbed “candy heart traditional” – a combination of American traditional, anime, and Debbie’s love of cute things.

Destiny Hendricks is a newer tattoo artist with incredible talent, inspired by a variety of styles, including realism, neotraditional, and new school.

Dylan MacNeil is a jack of all trades, including realistic blackwork and American traditional, that will never let your tattoo experience be dull.

Malibu Budd, a self-taught tattooer with over 10 years of experience. Her horror-inspired realistic style is always in high demand.

Mike Rodrigue, originally from New Orleans, uses his southern roots to inspired his traditional American style, with a dash of traditional Japanese influence.

With such a large and diverse team, Red Door Tattoo is a go-to for any style of tattoo you could dream of. From realistic to abstract to cute, they’ve got you covered. It’s safe to say that Addictive Jay would be proud.

Stay True Tattoo

Neighbourhood: St. Thomas
817 Talbot St. (map)

Facebook icon transparentinstagram icon transparenttwitter icon transparent

Stay True Tattoo is a little out of the way in St. Thomas, but it’s more than worth heading down to check out these guys. Since it opened in 2009, three artists have called Stay True home – Kate, Matt, and Rich, who also owns the joint.

Rich is essentially self-taught. He started tattooing at the age of 17, long before he realized this would become his career path. Eventually, Bonnie at Lucky Devil Tattoo in London took him under her wing and sharpened Rich’s raw talent. Inspired by a wide variety of other artists, Rich’s style is eclectic and varied. American traditional and blackwork are his most common, though he loves to experiment.

Kate, also known as Keight and K8 on their website, learned the basics out in British Columbia before returning to Ontario in 2012. Rich helped her to develop her own style and hone her skills. She has a special affection for tattooing cute animals and highly stylized pin-up girls. Her lines are incredibly bold and crisp, and her colour palettes are bold, though often unorthodox for the traditional American or Japanese style she is employing.

And finally, we have Matt. He got his start in 2007 as an apprentice at Lucky Devil, where he met Rich. After seven years of him gaining experience, he ended up back with Rich again here at Stay True, only this time, he was a full tattoo artist. Matt concentrates on a traditional style, bordering on neo-traditional. From black and grey to bold colours, Matt is excited to bring your desired tattoo to life.

Also found in Stay True is the equal and opposite to the tattoo industry. Clean Slate Laser Studio is owned and operated by Casi, Stay True’s office manager. She offers laser tattoo and hair removal to allow you to “clean the slate” as it were.

Whether you’re in St. Thomas and looking to stay local, or a Londoner that isn’t afraid to use a little gas to get top tier body art, Stay True Tattoo is definitely a great place to check out for your tattoo needs.

Legacy Tattoo

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
748 Richmond St. (map)
Facebook icon transparentinstagram icon transparent

Getting ready to celebrate their 20th anniversary next year, Legacy Tattoo and Piercing is one of the mainstays of the London tattoo community. They’ve been at their location by the intersection of Oxford and Richmond since 1999, and they show no signs of getting up and moving.

Their team of artists and piercers are top notch, even including a laser removal technician for any older tats you aren’t exactly in love with anymore.

Tara Nurse uses bold, sometimes sketch-like, lines and brilliant colours. She seems like the go-to woman for avian tattoos, having her Instagram chock full of birds of all sorts, from sparrows to geese.

Andrew Trueman works mostly in blacks and greys, doing amazing shading with stippling and lines. When he does dabble in colour, it does not disappoint. The blending of colours is magnificent.

Sammy DeCaen is known for his black and grey realism, able to recreate portraits with insane accuracy and detail. Whether you’re looking for a lion, a rose, a portrait of a family member, or Optimus Prime, Sammy can give you the truest to life tattoo you’ve ever seen!

Kaley Myers does fantastic line art for the simple, elegant look, with minimal or extensive shading. Many of her designs have a floral focus, but she also has an intriguing abstract series of tattoos where people’s faces are replaced with landscapes.

Zack Zager’s neotraditional style utilizes the bold lines and stippled shading of yesteryear with both traditional and nontraditional subjects. He’s tattooed classics such as anchors, roses, and sparrows, but also creates modern, polygonal pieces with the same bold style.

The Legacy Tattoo team is welcoming to all tattoo fans, aiming to give everyone the perfect new piece, whether it’s one of many or the start of a new collection.


Golden Axe Tattoo

Neighbourhood: Old South
100 Wellington Rd. (map)

Facebook icon transparentinstagram icon transparent

With five resident tattoo artists, the Golden Axe Tattoo parlor in Old South is one of the best in town.

Owner Dane Snyder jumps between Japanese and American traditional style, often blending the two in a single piece. Bold lines and bright colours are his trademark.

Mykie Rice’s explosive colours are nothing if not awesome. They almost appear to jump off the skin with their vibrance, and surely won’t be fading any time soon.

Jen Blackwood is a talented tattooer with great blackwork, utilizing the contrast of blank skin and of pure black to her advantage.

Chris Ludgate is a master of blacks and greys, creating astounding pieces with no colour in sight. Using a combination of stippling and hatching to create interesting textures and shades.

Morgan MacDonald splits his time between London and Toronto, which makes it a bit tougher to get an appointment with him, but it’s worth the wait. His personality comes through in his quirky pieces, but it’s not only goofs and giggles with his art. His serious pieces are seriously beautiful, and most anyone would agree.

Golden Axe Tattoo has a large group with diverse abilities. Depending on what you’re after, you would be in great hands going to any of these five.

Red Door Tattoo

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
567 Richmond St. (map)

Facebook icon transparentinstagram icon transparent

Red Door Tattoo is another unmissable Richmond Row tattoo parlor. The shop was opened in 2014 by Zach Pero, who also acts as one of the tattoo artists in the shop. You’ll also find Chris Price at Red Door, making intricate and beautiful pieces.

Owner Zach Pero will knock your socks off with his designs – stylized portraits or plant life are two popular subjects for his flash art. His lines are some of the cleanest in the game right now, and his colour palettes are always beautiful.

Chris has a varied style, able to create statuesque works in black and grey or quirky pieces with a blast of colour. Either way, you’ll be greatly impressed by Chris’ talents.

The two gentlemen at Red Door are creating masterpieces, so book an appointment with one of them now if you can!


Forest City
Beer Fest

The city of London, Ontario has a long, storied history of working hard. Whether it took the form of toiling on the farm or in the factory, London has always been a town that gravitated toward the rewards of hard work. One of the great truths of any city that works up a sweat by the end of the day is that it’s nightlife must be as equally hard working. After a long week, the populace wants to blow off some steam, and so the city must have something to offer those people and their steam. London is no stranger to night life – check out the busy revelry on the Richmond Row on any given night – and it’s no stranger to the libations that fuel the good cheer of that night life either. Beer has a long history in London as well; like any working city the world over, beer has been the grease that moves the wheels of life. The Forest City Beer Fest is a celebration of that fact, and the important role that London, Ontario has played in the development of beer in Ontario, and in Canada as a whole. Taking place, like so many other summer festivals, in downtown London, Forest City Beer Fest celebrates the craft, taste, and history of great beer, and great local beer manufacturers.

Brewing In London

Beer making first came to Canada from the Jesuits. In particular, Brother Ambroise, who opened the first brewery in 1646, shortly after the foundation of New France, is remembered as being the pioneering brewer of Canada. That was a personal brewery, though; the first commercial brewery is remembered as being that of Jean Talon, the Count d’Orsainville. Talon opened his brewery in 1688 in Quebec City, to cut down on the costs of drinking imported liquors. It soon proved so successful that he was exporting Canadian liquor out to the West Indies.

Brewing took a little longer to get out to the pioneering new colonies in Southwestern Ontario. Brewing in London became a commercial concern in 1828, after John Balkwill opened the London Brewery on Simcoe Street. The London Brewery brewed a good product and became quite successful, producing up to 400 barrels of beer a year. Much of the beer was sold through Balkwill’s tavern, of course, but a little beer was set aside to sell outside the region as well. In 1847, Balkwill sold The London Brewery to an entrepreneur named Samuel Eccles, who later partnered with a brewmaster with a famous name: an Irish gentleman by the name of John Kinder Labatt.

Labatt’s Brewery

John Labatt had gone to England to study the craft of beer-making, and when he returned and partnered with Eccles the quality and quantity produced by The London Brewery increased substantially. By 1853 they were doing so well that Labatt could afford to buy Eccles out of the business and put his name on it: John Labatt’s Brewery. By this time Labatt’s was producing over 4,000 barrels a year and was exporting their wares on the growing Canadian railway system to far-flung parts of the country.

John Labatt II, the youngest son of John Kinder Labatt, took the company over in 1866. Under his leadership, the London brewing industry adopted modern measures like pasteurization, and the use of ice. Ten years after his takeover of the company, Labatt’s India Pale Ale won a silver medal at the Canadian Exposition in Ottawa. The Labatt name joined a number of other names that were making Canada a renowned place for the brewing of beer: Molson, Carling, Sleeman, Alexander Keith, and Oland (the founder of Moosehead Brewery). With distribution spread across the entirety of the country, brewing proved to be an industry that could weather almost any storm. Despite economic setbacks during the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century, brewery sales continued to grow regardless. This was true right up until the advent of the First World War.

With the outbreak of war in 1914, the excise duty on malt was doubled as a war measure. In response, a number of provinces “went dry”, prohibiting the sales of alcoholic beverages. This was made worse by legislation passed by the federal government in 1918 making it illegal to brew “intoxicating” beverages until at least one year following the cessation of hostilities in Europe. Complicating the matter further was the activities of the prohibitionist and teetotaler movements, who were successful in the post-world war era in convincing governments in both Canada and the United States to outlaw alcohol for the purposes of morality, decency, and keeping the domestic abuse rates from the heights they were once at. While Prohibition didn’t last quite as long in Canada’s experiment with it as it did in the United States (who kept at it until the 1930s), the effects of what Prohibition we did have combined with the endemic economic problems of the Great Depression and the shortages brought about during the Second World War meant that the Golden Age of brewing in Canada was effectively over.

While it was an era of brewery closings and brewing industry consolidations, this was not entirely the case in London, Ontario. When the government of Ontario imposed prohibition in 1916, right in the furious middle of the First World War, the Labatt brewing company managed to restructure their business in two ways. First, they would continue to manufacture full-strength beer, but aim it for export to the American market. Second, they would continue to manufacture beer for Ontario but would make it at less than 2% alcohol, and market them as “temperance ales”. When the American government embarked on their own ill-fated experiment with prohibition in 1919, the London brewing industry had to adjust, and push endlessly for new markets. Their hard work paid off eventually; when Ontario finally repealed their attempt at prohibition in 1926, Labatt’s was one of only 15 breweries still in operation in the province, and the only one that still retained their original management.


Labatt’s wasn’t the only brewer during the Golden Age in London, of course, merely the only one that made it out whole and on top of their business. Carling Breweries was the brainchild of Thomas Carling, originally a native of Yorkshire, England. Carling moved to London Township in 1819, married in 1820, and founded a brewery, Carling Breweries, in 1843. The original site for the Carling Brewery was on Waterloo Street, which at the time was directly opposite the British military garrison, which is of course a brilliant place to put a brewery. Soldiering, then as now, was thirsty work, and Carling made a fair bit of money selling his brews to them. That first brewery featured two kettles, a horse that would make the grinding wheel turn, and six hired men whose business it was to work the mash tubs.

The business was enough of a success that a new brewery was opened in Montreal and Carling products were shipped all over the country. Carling himself left the brewery to his son in 1850 and went into politics. He later served in the cabinet of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, was himself knighted by the British Crown, and later served in the Canadian Senate. Under Carling’s son William the brewery continued to expand. A new Carling Brewery in London was built at the bottom of Ann Street, next to a large spring-water pond near the banks of the Thames River. It was an excellent site for a brewery upon it’s completion in 1875, but in 1879 disaster struck. A massive fire broke out at the brewery and burned the site to the ground. If that wasn’t enough, William Carling himself was injured trying to retrieve files from the burning brewery. He would die two weeks later, from pneumonia brought on by exposure. The brewery itself was rebuilt in massive fashion: 300 feet long, almost six stories high, and featuring a seven-story malting tower. The main building itself was surrounded by a complex of sheds and storage barns, holding coal, ice, and empty barrels. The company had rail lines running at the rear of the main brewery, for ease of transportation, and after the disastrous burning of their first Ann Street brewery the Carling company decided to invest in a private fire fighting force to keep the place safe.

Unlike Labatt’s however, Carling did not survive the era of Prohibition, Depression, and war intact. Prohibition did the biggest initial damage to the Carling business, sharply reducing their production and necessitating actually shutting down production entirely for a time starting in 1920. By 1930 the company was sold off and in 1936 the brewery closed after an amalgamation with Kuntz Brewery, a brewing company based out of Waterloo, Ontario.

The Art of Craft Beer

While both major London brewing companies have survived in names, both are also brands within gigantic international corporate conglomerates. Mass-produced beer is as popular now as it ever has been; the Labatt’s brewery in London is still in full operation, after all, and the downtown’s premier spot for concerts is named after another extremely popular brand of beer. That said, there has been a movement in recent years toward something smaller, a product both more local than international, and more “hand-crafted” and “authentic” than domestic favourites like Labatt Blue and Molson Canadian. This is the push toward “craft beer”, and it is increasingly a key concern in the purchasing habits of the discerning beer consumer. Over the past two decades the craft beer industry has become a multi-million dollar industry. Recent years have seen a number of craft breweries spring up in the city, all of which are staking names for themselves as top producers of quality beer.

Anderson Craft Ales, located at the edge of London’s Old East Village, has become known for their selection of ales, including a very popular India Pale and a delicious cream ale. Forked River Brewing Company, a brewery founded by three graduates of the University of Western Ontario, is another popular local craft brewer. Their iconic Capital blonde ale – that’s the one with the flowing blonde Father John Misty doppleganger on the can – can be found in any number of local eateries, both chain and independent. The London Brewing Co-Op, meanwhile, focuses on making locally sourced, environmentally sustainable beer as a partnership between the brewers and local farmers. Powerhouse Brewing Co. is a newcomer on the scene, having just opened up for business in the old Kellogg factory, alongside the new athletic adventure complex, The Factory. Storm Stayed, a brewery located at the edge of London’s Old South neighbourhood, is one of the few craft breweries to offer the more niche European beer experiences, such as the sour-mash variety of their Berliner Weisse and their milkshake kettle sour. Toboggan, a brewery and restaurant that is a busy fixture in downtown London (located across from Victoria Park), features not only a great blonde ale (their Mr. Insurance Salesman) but also a killer Cuban sandwich. Perhaps the clearest sign that the craft beer phenomenon is becoming big business, however, is the opening of Equals Brewery, a full-time manufactory that will brew beer not for themselves, but on contract for a number of small craft breweries who would not otherwise be able to mass produce their product in sufficient numbers to get them into the hands of consumers outside the London region.

Forest City Beer Fest is a celebration of all these latter-day brewing heroes: the craft brewers who concentrate on the quality and aesthetic of their product, rather than on producing the gigantic quantities of the industrial age. Industrially mass-produced beer fosters the assumption that there’s only a few different ways that beer can taste. Craft beer opens up the availability of taste to the limits of the human imagination. At Rib Fest, another summer festival in downtown London, I happened upon tents run by Powerhouse and Railway City (a brewery based out of St. Thomas, Ontario). Powerhouse was offering a raspberry-flavoured concoction, a specialized German pilsner if I recall correctly, and Railway City had an orange creamsicle ale. The possibilities are endless, and that’s what the Forest City Beer Fest sets out to showcase. If you have a passion for beer, or you suspect that you might enjoy beer beyond the light pilsners of Labatt’s Blue or Budweiser, then the Forest City Beer Fest is right where you need to be.

Fanshawe Pioneer Village

The Forks of the Thames River is a mystical, cool place that plays quite a role in the history of London. Today it’s the home of both a revamped, cutting-edge splash pad for the kids as well as the site of Labatt Park, the oldest continuously operated baseball grounds on this fragile little planet of ours. Before all of this, though, it was also a great spot to stop for a rest and to eat some lunch, as John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, found in 1793. While lingering over some food, he became enamoured with the area and decided that it would make an excellent place to found a capital for Upper Canada. The actual village that would grow to become the City of London, though, wasn’t established until 1826, and by that time everyone had officially acknowledged that York (now Toronto) was the capital of Upper Canada as it would also go on to be the capital of the Province of Ontario. There was still room for their to be an administrative capital, since the western half of the province was at the time being administered from the little village of Vittoria, a tiny spot near what is now Port Dover, just north of Turkey Point. Then, as now, Vittoria was just too far from where the real settlement action was taking place, to the north between Lakes Erie and Huron. So it was that an undeveloped expanse of Crown Land, set aside by Simcoe all those years ago, became the administrative capital of Southwestern Ontario immediately upon it’s founding.

View of the Thames, 1840 (Painting attributed to John Hamilton)

History You Can See And Touch

The story of this founding, and of the growth of the city and the regions surrounding it, can seem rather hard to imagine in terms of our modern existence. The idea of coming from across the world to a new place in order to wrestle enough food to survive from the ground has only metaphorical comparisons with the modern way of moving to new cities to take advantage of particular markets for your skills. While it’s probably impossible to ever truly know what being a pioneer in Southwestern Ontario was actually like, there is a way to get a good visual, interactive idea of what pioneers had to go through on a day by day basis. The Fanshawe Pioneer Village allows visitors a chance to see and touch the experience of being a pioneer in the early days of Southwestern Ontario, in order to get an idea of what life was like at various times in the London area beginning in 1820. For those curious about how they might have fared as a early settler of the London region, it’s the best place to get in some research and first-hand experience.

Fanshawe Pioneer Village is located on the shores of Fanshawe Lake, straight down Fanshawe Park Road East at the edge of the Fanshawe Ridge neighbourhood. Fanshawe Ridge is an up-and-coming northeast London neighbourhood centered around the intersection of Highbury Avenue and Fanshawe Park Road. Being at the edge of the city has it’s advantages here; Fanshawe Ridge is a neighbourhood where green space is still abundantly available and the buildup of high-density commercial property is still at a minimum. It offers all of the perks of living right next door to the country while also being just a hop, skip, and a jump away from all of the amenities and excitements of city living. At the end of the neighbourhood is the ultimate in green space within the city of London – the Fanshawe Conservation Area – and in that lush, gorgeous spot is the Fanshawe Pioneer Village.

The idea of building a pioneer village museum for the London area first came about in 1955 in the offices of the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. The open air museum was officially opened in 1959 with the help of Dr. Wilfrid Jury, the Director of the University of Western Ontario’s Museum of Indian Archaeology and Pioneer Life. Starting off on a small parcel of land, the space for the Fanshawe Pioneer Village was expanded to 2.2 acres in 1961 and again to 22 acres by 1963. The museum now takes up a total of 46 acres. Dr. Jury was the owner and exhibitor of a large collection of artifacts from the pioneer days of Southwestern Ontario; originally this exhibition was stored at Middlesex College at the University of Western Ontario but it was transferred to Fanshawe Pioneer Village in 1978. This was not a small collection, keep in mind; the Fanshawe Pioneer Village is now home to over 25,000 artifacts from the early days of the London area. These include furniture, art, clothing, farm tools, vehicles, and documents. It’s a large collection of things and it forms the backbone of the Fanshawe Pioneer Village experience.

Fanshawe Pioneer Village logo

Pioneer Days

That Fanshawe Pioneer Village experience is divided into four “clusters” in order to separate the history of the growth of London and area into four distinct times. The first of these is the early days of pioneer settlement in Southwestern Ontario, known here as the Fanshawe Settlement 1820-1850. These were the days when Governor Simcoe’s right-hand man, Colonel Thomas Talbot, ruled the granting of land to settlers with an iron fist and would not grant you land if you were an American Revolutionary, someone whose political tastes ran toward democracy, or didn’t offer Colonel Talbot what he deemed as a sufficient amount of respect. Londoners dwelling in the neighbourhood of Byron likely remember him best for Colonel Talbot Road, also known as Highway 4 both before and after the neighbourhood. Others may remember him for the partially instigating role his control of settlement lands played in the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837.

Fanshawe Pioneer Village’s first cluster shows what life was like for Colonel Talbot’s early settlers, back when he was still doling out the land. The cluster consists of three buildings: the log school, modeled after schools from the 1830s; the Elgie log house, which is representative of the homes the settlers of the 1820s put up upon receiving their lands; and the Colbert Log Barn, an imposing structure built out of rock elm logs. The cluster is meant to show the beginning of the settlement of the London region and the growth of farming pioneers into villages and towns before the beginning of industrialism in Ontario and the migration of rural workers to the cities. This is shown through several themes. The first of these is the change in land usage: settlers would come to a place full of trees, with wild fruit-bearing plants growing here and there through the forests and along the river. In order to fulfill the conditions that were put on them when they were granted land by the British Crown, settlers needed to clear their land of trees and open the earth up to take the seeds needed for crop growth. The regimented land grants given out by Colonel Talbot required the settler to build and occupy a house of a specific size within three years of taking ownership of the land; 5 acres of land needed to be cleared of trees and fenced off, and the area in front of the allotment needed to be cleared of trees and readied for road construction.

The need to cut down large numbers of trees was the impetus behind building these early sorts of dwellings out of logs. The Colbert Log Barn shows the sort of impressive, useful architecture that could be wrought from these logs, but there were always more trees than could be used as building materials. In the end, after exhausting all other uses for them, settlers would burn the remainder; it’s said that the smoke from the fires in Southwestern Ontario at the time could be seen from as far away as Chicago. The log house on display in the Fanshawe Settlement cluster is closer to how pioneers would have built their houses near the end of the early settlement period, however. In the early part of the 19th Century, the housing would have been more in line with the thatched-roof “Irish cottages” that many settlers left behind in the old world.

A Growing Community

The second cluster concerns the period from 1850 to 1880 when communities grew into municipalities; this period is known at Fanshawe Pioneer Village as Fanshawe Corners. The Fanshawe Corners cluster traces the path of London history as hardy individual pioneers worked together with others to build mutually useful infrastructure, and to build businesses that would suit the needs of this blossoming community. The growth of the railway and the telegraph also contributed to the growth of community, both regionally and nationally. To this end, Fanshawe Pioneer Village displays five buildings from this period: the blacksmith shop, the Corbett Tavern, the Lochaber Church, the Mount Moriah Lodge, and the Purple Hill Lodge. The blacksmith shop is one of the first four buildings established upon the village’s opening in 1959, which makes sense when you consider that one of the first things a growing farm community needs is someone who knows their way around the forge. The shop is modeled after the shop of William H Weir, who lived just outside of the 1850-1880 range but whose work won awards throughout local fairs; this work is among the artifacts you can view during a tour of the museum. The Corbett Tavern was originally built in 1843 by farmer and entrepreneur John Corbett; the tavern structure had been used by the Corbett family for a long time after it ceased being a tavern and it was moved to the village in 2008. The Lochaber church is the structure built in 1884 for the Rev. Lachlin MacPherson’s Free Presbyterian Church, a splinter Presbyterian sect of some historical note. The Lodges are examples of purpose-built halls for both the Masonic Lodge and the lodge of the Orange Order; the building currently being used as an example of an early Masonic Lodge hall started off life as Pond Mills SS #7, a one-room schoolhouse first built in 1825.

A group of Fanshawe Pioneer Village employees in costume

The Second Generation

The third cluster examines the period from 1880 until 1910, known as “Fanshawe Township.” This period saw the hardship of being a farmer rewarded with ever-increasing farm production, leading to self-sufficiency, exports, increased income, and the growth in communities that resulted from that. Three buildings showcase this period of growth: two farmsteads and the Fanshawe School. The first farm, labeled the “Caverhill Farmstead”, represents a family of first-generation settlers who have been established on the land for quite a long time; the old log house that was used when the family first settled has been converted into a barn and the family now lives in a much more contemporary frame house. The second farm, labeled the “Jury Farmstead”, shows a second-generation family of settlers in a typical late 19th Century farmhouse. The building is named as such because it is actually the childhood home of Dr. Wilfrid Jury, built by his father in 1888 to celebrate marriage to his mother. The Fanshawe School, meanwhile, shows the type of one-room schoolhouse that was built to serve the needs of that second generation of settlers, whose schooling involved formalized curriculums and attendance mandated by law in the Province of Ontario. The building itself was originally located at the corner of Highbury and Fanshawe Park Road before being moved to the Fanshawe Pioneer Village in 1992.

The Modern Age

The fourth cluster examines the rapid period of change in 1910-1920, through and after the First World War. This cluster, the “Town of Fanshawe”, shows the way that the community changed as the modern world began encroaching on them through war, plague, modern technology, and changing social norms. To this end, the Town of Fanshawe cluster showcase businesses like Alder’s Weaving Shed, the Denfield General Store, the Harmer Sawmill, and the London Pioneer Brewery, a business whose genesis dates all the way back to 1828. Included in this cluster is an approximated reconstruction of what the original printing press for the London Free Press looked like; it has to be an educated guess at best, since the actual original press was firebombed by unknown individuals unhappy with the newspaper’s politics at the time.

Aerial view of Fanshawe Pioneer Village

The history of London is a fascinating piece in the overall mosaic that is the history of Ontario, and the history of Canada as a whole. If you’re interested in seeing what life was like during the early period of Southwestern Ontario’s settlement, or if you’re interested in seeing how those early pioneer farms grew into communities, towns, and cities, then the Fanshawe Pioneer Village is exactly what you’re looking for. The collection of early settler artifacts is amazing and the staff on hand is really up on their historical knowledge.

Ontario Summer Games

The Ontario Summer Games Come to London

The Forest City hosts the prestigious event showcasing the province’s best amateur athletes

The Ontario Summer Games will once again take place in London Ontario – the fourth time in the event’s history that the province’s best competitors have planned to meet here to test their mettle against one another in their sport of choice. London also hosted the Ontario Summer Games in 1975, 1996, and 2004, drawing spectators from far and wide to see our best and brightest upcoming talents compete at an elite level.

The London 2018 Ontario Summer Games will be held Thursday, August 2nd to Sunday, August 5th, 2018. Because it falls on the August Civic long weekend, it will be especially easy for spectators, athletes, and their families to attend. The event will showcase the best amateur athletes from across Ontario, competing in 21 different sports, hosted in over 20 venues across the city.

On August 11th, 2016, Tourism London issued a press release just prior to the official announcement that London would be the next host city given during the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Ontario Summer Games in Mississauga. Minister Deb Matthews was at the Canada Games Aquatic Centre to make the announcement, along with Mayor Matt Brown, Tourism London General Manager John Winston, Western University Athletic Director Christine Stapleton, and London 2018 Ontario Summer Games General Manager Dave De Kelver.

Daiene Vernile, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport offered the following comment to the London Free Press: “Congratulations to the City of London on being selected as the host city of the 2020 Ontario Summer Games! With your world-class venues and facilities, and a strong legacy as a premier sport-hosting city, these Games are sure to be an unforgettable experience for athletes, volunteers and visitors. We are pleased to support the 2020 Ontario Summer Games through our Games Ontario program that encourages competitive opportunities for amateur athletes to pursue their sports goals while boosting local tourism, economic activity and volunteerism.”

In the agency’s press release, Cheryl Finn – Tourism London’s Director of Sport Tourism says that London i “honoured to have been chosen as the host community for the 2018 Ontario Summer Games… London has a phenomenal history of successfully hosting multi-sport events and we plan to provide athletes and their families with an experience in our city that they will never forget.” Finn explained how hosting events like the Ontario Summer Games not only brings revenue into the city, but it also heightens the city’s profile as a training opportunity for young and promising athletic talent. “It’s a great opportunity to have 3500 youth athletes on our campuses and in our facilities over a four-day period,” she said.

London Mayor Matt Brown was ecstatic about the news and had the following to say at the announcement: “We are a sports city through and through and it’s so fitting that we’ve been chosen as host city for the 2020 Ontario Summer Games. We have an army of volunteers at the ready to make this event amazing and we are so proud of our hometown athletes, who I know will do great things. Congratulations to everyone at Tourism London and the team who has worked so hard on this already.”


The Ontario Summer Games is supported by the Ontario Games Program – an initiative of the Ontario Government. The program assists with the realization of numerous events, including the Ontario Winter and Summer Games for youth, the Ontario 55+ Summer and Winter Games and the Ontario Parasport Games.

The program’s mandate is just one manifestation of Game ON – The Ontario Government’s Sport Plan designed to get young people energized about participating in organized sports in addition to improving coaching and training accessibility to Ontario’s high-performance athletes pursue excellence. Promoting increased tourism and economic development is also a key focus, working hand-in-hand with the needs and goals of each host city.

The 2018 Ontario Summer Games are scheduled to take place August 3 to 5. Bill Merrylees, a detective superintendent with the London Police Services (also the president and CEO of the Can-Am Police-Fire Games Federation and vice president of the International Police Sport Union) has been chosen to chair the London Host Organizing Committee.

“This is great and exciting news that London has been selected to host the Ontario Summer Games in 2018,” Merrylees said. “We have great venues and our volunteers will make the athletes and their families feel welcomed.”

The Ontario Summer Games is the largest multi-sport event in the province. Over 3,000 youth athletes, coaches, managers and officials are expected to attend. The event will include 22-27 different sports and is expected to produce an economic impact of over $6 million for the city, according to Tourism London.

The Ontario Games Program began in 1970 as an event geared towards letting people see the best the province had to offer in amateur sport with Etobicoke was the first host city. Today, the Games is Ontario’s largest multi-sport event and features both teams and individual competitors. Athletes in the U14 and U16 divisions are vetted through a regional selection process involving coaches, clubs, and organizations across the province. The best selected to an ‘East vs West Team’ who compete to win the “Best in Ontario” title.

Fostering the talents of bantam and midget-aged athletes is part and parcel of Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) opportunities is a key focus of the Ontario Summer Games.

Multiple organizations convene resources and equipment in order to provide numerous opportunities for athletes in terms of developmental training, including Provincial and National Level Coaching, the ability to consult with subject matter experts regarding their nutrition, cross-training strategies, and injury recuperation approach. Athletes also learn advanced techniques and lifestyle methodologies from more senior mentors such as mental preparation, positive visualization, team building, and leadership.

For many athletes, this is their first competitive experience outside their hometown communities, giving them a sense of where they stand among their respective competition, but also inspiring them with the excitement of getting to compete in more high-profile venues, and in front of larger crowds. Many of these young rising stars are just beginning to build impressive careers for themselves and are only starting to get noticed, destined to go on to even greater heights.

London Ontario – A Legacy of Sport

When the Province of Ontario made the announcement, it once again recognized London as a city and community with a long and cherished history in the world of sport. For decades the city has been the source of athletic achievement, producing some of the most decorated and high-profile figures to compete at the most elite levels on the international stage.

For starters, the Western Mustang varsity program is one of the oldest in North America, boasting an almost 100-year tradition of victories, OUA banners, and international championships. In addition to producing consistently superior teams, the university has also consistently boasted one of the most impressive coaching rosters around. Renowned for its football program that has won Mustangs 31 provincial championships and seven national championships, The university leads Canadian Varsity sport. The Western cheerleading squad has won their national championships 31 times – 22 times consecutively.

The Mustang rowing team has also performed quite strongly over the years, thanks in no small part to Canadian National Team coaches who have also overseen the training and development of many high profile, locally-born Canadian rowers who have won World Championships and Olympic gold medals, such as Adam Kreek and Leslie Thompson-Wilie. Mustang crews have also performed impressively overseas and across the United States. Local outfit Hudson Boat Works works hand-in-hand with the development of Western rowers has become the leading manufacturer of carbon fibre rowing shells internationally.

Goodlife Fitness, the most recognized franchise name in Canadian members-only gyms also has its origins and corporate headquarters in the Forest City, helping to promote healthy, and active lifestyles through their own programming and also their sponsoring of countless athletic events.

The London Knights, owned by brothers and former NHLers, Mark and Dale Hunter, have built the local team into one of the most closely-watched sources of elite-level hockey talent in the country. The Knights have produced some of the finest players seen enter the NHL over the past few years, including John Tavares (Leafs), Nazam Kadri (Leafs), and Corey Perry (Mighty Ducks) – all first-round draft picks. Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter. Drew Doughty. Paul Henderson (Lucan?). Mitch Marner and Paul Henderson (who as a member of Team Canada scored the historic goal against the Soviet Union during the Summit Series) each emerged from the team. Perry and Tavares played on Team Canada and won Olympic gold. The team was also where Max Domi and Eric Lindros were noticed during their time in the OHL.

Despite such an impressive on-ice record, London’s summertime athletes are not to be outdone. Though no longer a club, the London Majors were one of the longest-standing and original teams among the Intercounty Baseball league. London is home to the London Hunt Club which recently hosted an LPGA event, in addition to producing legendary golfers and Hall-of-Famers, John Nash and Ross Sommerville.


With less than a month to go before the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Ontario Summer Games, the Host Organizing Committee has finally announced details for the events. And yes, before you ask, admission to the Opening Ceremony and all sports competitions will be open to the public and free of charge – no tickets required. However, this also implies first come / first serve seating for more popular events, so be sure to get to these well in advance. Kicking off the Games on Thursday, August 2nd at TD Stadium will be Ontario’s own and JUNO nominated Scott Helman, with support from another Juno nominee, Courage My Love.

“Enhancing the athlete experience has always been our primary consideration in planning these Games,” said Dave De Kelver, General Manager of the London 2018 Ontario Summer Games. “We have a great weekend planned, starting with the Opening Ceremony featuring Scott Helman and Courage My Love. We are also excited to share that thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, admission to the Opening Ceremony and all sports competitions will be at no cost. We are grateful to our sponsors for making this possible and further enhancing the athlete experience with stands full of family, friends, and community supporters.”

The schedule of various competitions schedule – along with the organization sponsoring free admission for each sport – can be found on the Ontario Summer Games website and social media channels. More detailed information on each sports competition including parking and competition times will be announced shortly at For the most up to date information on the Games, please continue to the Games’ at and social media accounts @OSGlondon2018.

A complete list of sports and their assigned venues is as follows:

Athletes’ Village – Western University
Archery – Crumlin Sportsmen’s Association

Athletics – TD Stadium
Baseball – City Wide Sports Park
Baseball – Dan Pulham Field
Baseball – Labatt Memorial Park
Baseball – Norm Aldridge Field
Basketball – Fanshawe College
Beach Volleyball – North London Athletic Fields
Box Lacrosse – Kinsmen Arena
Canoe Kayak – Fanshawe Conservation Area
Diving – Canada Games Aquatic Centre
Field Hockey – City Wide Sports Park
Field Lacrosse – Mustangs Field
Golf – Thames Valley Golf Club
Hockey – Thompson Arena
Mountain Bike – Boler Mountain
Cycling – TBD
Rugby – Alumni Field
Sailing – Fanshawe Conservation Area
Soccer – North London Athletic Fields
Softball – Stronach Community Recreation Centre
Table Tennis – Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre
Triathlon – Denfield
Volleyball – Alumni Hall
Volleyball – Western Student Recreation Centre

“Preparation is going very well,” said Dave De Kelver, general manager for the games. He said they recently finalized the sports schedules and participant numbers. About 1,100 people registered to volunteer for the event. With the overwhelming volunteer interest, additional volunteer registrations are now closed. Progress at event venues is also going well. The partial makeover on TD Stadium’s track is now complete. Repairs on the 100-metre sprint straightaway and the long-jump takeoff area began in June. The rest of the track should be resurfaced in time before the Games return again in 2020. City staff is working to get different parks in tip-top shape to host sports such as baseball, softball and rugby. Once a few finishing touches are added at the new beach volleyball venue at North London Athletic Fields, De Kelver said all facilities will be ready to go.

In fact, the whole city is preparing for the Games. Hotels and restaurants are hiring additional staff, and are changing their standard shift hours in order to accommodate the looming demand that faces them. The estimated impact on London’s economy is about $6 million.

“It’s good for London. It will expose people across the province to London,” said John Winston, Tourism London’s general manager. With London hosting back-to-back Games, Winston said the economic impact for the next Games in 2020 should be similar to this year’s event. As a result, London’s economy is expected to see a boost of $12 million for hosting two Games.

By supporting the Ontario Summer Games, the city is supporting their own infrastructure projects, creating opportunities to host future events. Check the official website for sports and the venues where they will be held. For outdoor events, bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and maybe a few lawn chairs if your match of choice is going to be a big draw. Come and be a part of an athletic tradition that is as much a part of London as the exceptional, elite-level athletes we have produced over the years.

In London

London Ribfest & Craft Beer Festival

July Long Weekend Brings World-Class flavour to Victoria Park

Great BBQ That Sticks to Your Ribs

Ready to get messed up? And by that (of course) we mean getting your fingers and face covered in delicious, sticky rib sauce at London’s Ribfest & Craft Beer Festival this July long weekend!

Ribfest began in 1985 and has been running ever since, bringing the best in the business from far and wide, drawing legions of BBQ enthusiasts from across Ontario to London’s Victoria Park for a day of fun, sun, beer, and carnivorous revelry.

The event attracts some of North America’s most prestigious, award-winning rib vendors to town to blow minds and taste buds with their charbroiled and trademarked secrets – most of them happily handing out popsicle sticks dipped in their own brands of tangy, sweet rib sauce in an effort to entice passers-by to pony up for a rack of their best.

The event is scheduled to run as follows:

  • Thursday, August 2 – 11 AM – 11 PM
  • Friday, August 3 – 11 AM – 11 PM
  • Saturday, August 4 – 11 AM – 11 PM
  • Sunday, August 5 – 11 AM – 11 PM
  • Monday, August 6 – 11 AM – 9 PM

Charitable Roots

The Boys and Girls Club of London ran the event practically since its inception, generating revenue for the local non-profit recreation centre for children and families. In 2008, the organization withdrew from Ribfest as the main organizer, citing challenges regarding budget and sponsorship. Concerns grew that London would be forced to cancel another summertime festival.

Fortunately, in 2009, Family Shows Canada took the Ribfest helm and has steered the event to increased levels of success ever since. By 2010, the list of exhibitors had grown to over two hundred and featured cooking demonstrations, a variety of food vendors, carnival rides, and a schedule of over 100 live bands.

Big Name BBQ Brands

Each vendor’s team members work sweatily but tirelessly behind their long and massive grills, horsing around with one another, their pit-masters sassing their competition, and basically make a show of having a great time engaging with and entertaining the public.

Just like the traditional southwest stockyard, it’s all about brands. Each vendor arrives with a trailer ‘shopfront’ that unfolds into a massive face-out covered with larger than life imagery and branding, letting everyone know who they are, where they’re from, and especially the awards their ribs have won. Some have favourite songs or chants that they enthusiastically participate in while they grill, each boasting without hesitation that their ribs are the very best in the world.

The festival always showcases Canada’s Top 10 ‘Ribbers’ – a list of grilling gurus who come from beyond our country’s border but also include local London names like Boss Hog’s Smokin’ Chophouse. Also featured are rib rockstars like Kentucky Smokehouse, Ribs Royale, Oak and Barrel, Dinosaur Ribs, Smokehouse Bandits, Fat Boys Barbecue, and more.

After Ribfest, attendees are invited to vote online for their favourites. Voting for the three-day festival opens on the Thursday of the week at 11 am and closes the following Monday at 4 pm. Winners are awarded at the Ribber Awards the following Monday evening.

Other Menu Items

It’s important to note that ribs aren’t the only thing on the menu, so don’t let the event’s focus give you the wrong idea. At Ribfest, the paved paths of Victoria Park are lined every year with a wide variety of food vendors. Indian? Fish and chips? BBQ chicken? Poutine? Roasted cobs of corn are a usual favourite. There is no shortage of alternative options if ribs aren’t exactly your thing. Everything from falafel to deep-fried mac and cheese is available to attendees. How about a fruit smoothie or a frozen yogurt to help beat the heat? London’s Ribfest truly offers something for everyone.

The promoter responsible for the success of the event each year is Doug Hiller. Quoted in the London Free Press, Hiller says that pulled-pork is a popular menu item that goes hand-in-hand with Ribfest’s glorification of grilling greatness.

London Craft Beer Festival

The addition of the first annual London Craft Beer Festival to the Ribfest in 2018 is sure to massively increase the attendance. Organizers obviously saw the benefit in bringing two great elements together simply because they cater to the same audience. Beer can be purchased with tokens available at the festival.

At Ribfest, the beer garden will be in full effect, complete with tabled seating, canopy coverage, live entertainment, washroom facilities (located alongside Victoria Park’s historic bandshell structure), and some of the best suds this side of the Belgian border. 2018 is also the first year that the event will feature a series of hard craft sodas.

Growing brands like Draught Dodger, Landshark, Railway City, London Brewing Co-op, Forked River, and Cowbell will be slinging their suds. Anderson Craft Ales – who took a silver at The Canadian Brewing Awards this year – will be present. A selection of wine and coolers will also be available for sampling.

“Generally, at a Ribfest, beer and ribs go hand in hand,” says Hiller. “Beer is a big thing.” And it’s available on tap. After all, what are world-class ribs without a top-notch, frothy brew to wash them down with? The last several years have seen London emerge as one of the craft brew capitals of the Canadian beer scene.

“We’re bringing like-minded people together who like to party and like their ribs,” says Hillier in The London Free Press. “It just couldn’t be any better. Throw in some country and blues music and Ribfest just can’t get any better.”


As is the case with each of London’s summertime celebrations, Ribfest doesn’t just offer attendees plenty to eat, but also plenty to do. The Stihl Timbersports Canadian Championship will noisily showcase the best axe-throwing and chainsaw-sculpting talents from all over Canada for the amazement of the crowd.

Attendees can participate in a wide array of backyard-style games, with a few next-gen additions. Test your wooden brick-balancing chops against a friend in Giant Jenga. Think you’re tough? The festival’s arm-wrestling competition hosted by the London Arm Wrestling Team is always a crowd-pleaser! Prizes to be announced.

Culture more your thing? Then be sure to check out Expressions in Chalk, a street mural painting competition conducted in full view for the enjoyment of the public. The showcase takes place on the concrete ice pad in front of the bandshell. As a new demonstration happening this year, the festival’s Art in the Park showcase will feature area artists creating and selling their work as part of a demonstration exhibition throughout the park.

Chalk artists are invited to apply here.

If everyone wants you on their team when it’s time to play drinking games, you should definitely get in on the Canadian Beer Pong Championship. Winners receive cash prizes, with the best team earning a trip for themselves and their team to the Beer Pong World Series in Las Vegas! Prizes will also be awarded for best team t-shirt and best costume. Register your team here.

Why not have an out-of-body experience with the newest addition to Ribfest’s attraction lineup – virtual reality! Apparently, the festival will feature a number of interactive, virtual reality exhibits that are free of charge. Organizers insist that they take no responsibility if your “mind is blown” after these incredible and immersive experiences.

As per tradition, Ribfest will also feature all of your carnival ride favourites like the Ferris wheel and the immortal tilt-o-whirl to allow attendees to either relax or have a rush – whichever they prefer. A $25 dollar bracelet gains access to all rides all day long. Parents ride for free with children aged 13 years or younger.


No festival is complete without a rotating schedule of awesome entertainers, and Ribfest is no exception. From DJs to bands to solo performers, the festival stages will feature talent all day long with a little something for everyone. Folk, roots, rock, country, and pop are all on the menu this year at Ribfest, starting at 2 pm each day with headlining acts slated to close out each night at 9:30 pm.

On Monday at 1 pm, attendees are welcome to sing their hearts out karaoke-style with backing from a live band! On the same day at 4:30 pm, the Local London Showcase will present a number of London’s most talented up-and-comers in the area music scene, wrapping up at 9 pm – the official conclusion of Ribfest.

Head to Victoria Park this long July weekend and take advantage of the opportunity to sample incredible tastes that only come to town once a year.

While there is always plenty of seating in the beer garden, attendees are encouraged to bring their own picnic blankets and lawn chairs so that they are comfortable eating and enjoying the entertainment. Summertime can bring record-level heat. Victoria Park offers some canopy coverage underneath its sizable trees, but remember to bring sunscreen and plenty of water to avoid sunstroke and dehydration.

Having attended Rifest in the past should not preclude a return visit. Organizers go to great lengths to ensure that the entertainment is fresh, that the food vendors are of the very highest quality around and are always looking to add new features, exhibits, demonstrations, and activities each and every year, giving every Ribfest audience its own identity with unique memories shared by all who attend.

The Best Patios in London

The summer weather never seems to last long enough, so the people of London have to spend as much time outside as they can, even during dinner. Thankfully, there are plenty of outdoor patios where you can grab a meal and a drink, and enjoy the sun rays before we’re back in the cold of winter with flurries of snow and 4pm sunsets.

Generally speaking, there are two types of patios: ones for eating and ones for drinking. Of course, there’s going to be overlap, but often times the emphasis is more heavily placed on one or the other. As such, we have split our list into two sections to reflect which vibe you can expect from the patio that catches your eye.


Best for Drinks

There’s nothing quite like having a drink in the fresh air.

Barney’s Patio

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
671 Richmond St. (map)
Facebook icon transparentinstagram icon transparenttwitter icon transparent

Barney’s is essentially a permanent beer garden in the middle of London, Ontario. The patio on this Richmond Row bar is absolutely massive – they’re licensed to serve over 500 people! The huge space is filled with tables and booths to accommodate their many customers. With two bars, you’ll never have to wait long for a drink!

Despite how spacious the patio is, it’s almost always packed on a sunny day in the summer and into the fall, especially once Fanshawe and Western classes are back in session. However, that shouldn’t intimidate anyone from heading over!

The atmosphere is irresistible, always buzzing with conversation and laughter. Large trees offer shade, but there are also plenty of spots to sit in the sun, because there’s nothing quite light having a beer in the sunshine. 

If you’re there after sundown, the patio lights come on, basking patrons in a glow bright enough to see that your pitcher is empty so you can order another one. However, it often does tend to get a bit wilder at this point of the evening, often including live music which may invite some of the less inhibited patrons to dance.

The food isn’t exactly gourmet, but after a couple drinks, a massive plate of nachos or the Barney’s Burger and a side of fries will almost always satisfy any hunger building in your stomach.

And if our praise isn’t enough, they’ve also won the title of Best Outdoor Patio from the London Free Press multiple times, including in 2018!

McCabe’s Irish Pub and Grill

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
739 Richmond St. (map)

Facebook icon transparentinstagram icon transparenttwitter icon transparent

The rooftop patio on this Irish pub is absolutely to die for. With a lovely view of downtown London, the patio on top of McCabe’s Irish Pub and Grill is a party destination every day of the week.

They’ve got drink and meal deals that switch up every day, from $5 pints of anything on tap on Mondays to half-priced bottles of wine on Wednesdays. With all these deals, McCabe’s still offers over 15 beers, including the obligatory Irish classic of Guinness, a wide selection of wines, both red and white, and a long list of cocktails and mixed drinks.

Labelling themselves as Partytown, the atmosphere at McCabe’s is always electric. Live music a few nights a week, karaoke on Tuesdays, and other events always keep things interesting, on top of the typical excitement of a fantastic patio.

McCabe’s has even partnered with FM96, a local radio station, to be the host for a live patio party every Thursday during the summer from 3pm-8pm. There are meal deals and chances to win tickets to London’s biggest shows this summer.

If the evening air gets a little too chilly as the fall settles in, the patio is equipped with heaters to keep outdoor patrons cozy while they drink and chat.

Barking Frog

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
209 John St. (map)

Facebook icon transparentinstagram icon transparenttwitter icon transparent

The Barking Frog is another Richmond Row establishment with a great patio. With an impressive capacity of 400, you can safely say the the scene is always hopping at the Barking Frog.

Bad jokes aside, the Barking Frog’s rooftop patio is the source of many rowdy nights in London, Ontario. The Frog, as many abbreviate it to, is a night club popular with students and local young adults.

The vibe is perfect for a younger crowd. Loud and excited, with bangers rattling your molars and booze galore. The Frog is definitely not a low-key type of evening, so have your energy high.

If you happen to find yourself there on a Thursday night, you’ll be treated to a snack courtesy the Frog. Previous free food offerings include Domino’s pizza, McDonald’s breakfast, and grilled cheese sandwiches. Who can argue against free food, especially after a drink or three?

While this patio might be a little too bombastic for some, it’ll be exactly what other, high energy people are looking for, so know what you’re heading into and you’ll have a great time in the night air!

Runt Club

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
152 Albert St. (map)

Facebook icon transparent

The Runt Club is a bar connected to Fellini Koolini’s, and is almost the complete opposite of the Barking Frog. The Runt Club is cozy and laidback, a great place to chat with friends, rather than scream and dance, which may be closer to your evening activity preferences.

Situated on Albert Street, between Talbot and Richmond, the Runt Club’s 100-seat patio is far enough from the hustle and bustle of Richmond Row to offer a more tranquil experience than many downtown patios. Plenty of trees in and around the patio offer shade, supplemented by umbrellas on some of the tables.

The Runt Club has more beers on tap than you could care to count, as well as extensive wine list and a healthy-sized cocktail menu. Picking a drink is either going to be easier because of their wide variety, or harder because you can only pick one of their fantastic options. Well, one at a time, at least.

Thanks to its physical connection to Fellini’s, you have access to an extensive menu of Italian food, including pastas, pizzas, and steaks. If you’re not feeling up to a full meal, the menu has many tapas options that you can mix and match to share with the table, or head inside for a moment and serve yourself some free popcorn.

Whether you’re there for a drink or a meal, the patio has a welcoming, chill vibe – a safe haven to escape the busyness of downtown without going out of your way.


Best for Food

Let the sun kiss your skin as you grab a bite to eat on these amazing patios.


Neighbourhood: Talbot Village
3020 Colonel Talbot Rd. (map)

Facebook icon transparentinstagram icon transparenttwitter icon transparent

Grab a spot on the patio at Dolcetto, a casual Italian spot in London’s Talbot Village. After all, the phrase “dining alfresco” does come from Italy, meaning “in the cool air.” While Ontario’s air might not exactly be cool, it is still excellent patio weather!

Don’t just take our word for it, Dolcetto was selected as one of the top 100 patios in Canada by Open Tables! And it’s hard to disagree. On lovely summer days, one of the walls of Dolcetto opens up completely to give the entire restaurant a breath of fresh air. So even if you’re inside, you can still enjoy the outdoor vibes, without the risk of getting a sunburn.

The menu at Dolcetto is inspired by two things: fresh ingredients and passion. Describing themselves as “rustic yet refined,” the team at Dolcetto, led by Chef Julie, have created a menu beholden to Italian tradition – fresh, simple, and delicious.

No matter where you’re seated, at Dolcetto, you’ll get the fresh air, dining as though you’re truly in Italy.

Black Trumpet

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
523 Richmond St. (map)

Facebook icon transparentinstagram icon transparent

The Black Trumpet is a lovely little restaurant that you’ve probably walked past a thousand times and potentially didn’t even realize it. Found on Richmond Row, just across from St. Peter’s Cathedral, the Black Trumpet has a little secret – a patio oasis hidden at the rear of the building.

Their globally-inspired menu ranges from Japanese to Mexican, even dabbling in Jamaican cuisine with their jerk hen. They also have a small vegan menu, including jackfruit tacos and the famous Beyond Meat burger. Their wine list is one of the longest we’ve seen on this, but their staff is more than ready to help you pick the right beverage to align with your meal and your palate.

Their patio is styled as an intimate Indonesian-style garden. An abundance of greenery surrounds the tables, so you truly feel the embrace of nature as you dine alfresco. The foliage allows the patio to be very private, both from the outside world, despite being in the middle of downtown, and from other tables.

The Black Trumpet is refined without feeling stuffy and unwelcoming. The staff are attentive without rushing you, and knowledgeable about the menu, the garden patio is gorgeously maintained, and of course, the food is to die for. The modern, effortlessly cool vibe is perfect for a business lunch to meet with an important client or an evening out with your special someone.

Jack Astor’s (Richmond Row)

Neighbourhood: Downtown
660 Richmond St. (map)

Facebook icon transparentinstagram icon transparenttwitter icon transparent

The rooftop patio on the downtown London location of Jack Astor’s is fantastic. Two stories above the street with a view looking down Richmond Row, it’s truly wonderful and adds to the dining experience.

If you’ve been to a Jack Astor’s before, you know what to expect food and drink-wise. It’s an eclectic mix of pub food and other various cuisines that is designed to satisfy the widest range of customers. Their drink menu is similarly diverse, offering an array of beers, wines, and cocktails that will satisfy basically any drinker in the place.

The Jack Astor’s patio technically has a capacity for 250 customers, but they have seating for a much more reasonable number. They offer a variety of table sizes for bigger or smaller parties. Even the most massive groups are easily accommodated on the patio with long bench-style tables.

On the hottest days, don’t fear being out in the sun. Relax under the shade of their umbrellas and their lovely addition of misting fans placed strategically around the patio, which offer sporadic showers of light, cooling mist to keep you comfortable – don’t worry, it’s not enough water to ruin your clothes or your makeup.

Jack Astor’s is perfect for any group, whether you’re a family enjoying a dinner out or a group of friends going out for a couple drinks.

Bertoldi’s Trattoria

Neighbourhood: Downtown
650 Richmond St. (map)

Facebook icon transparentinstagram icon transparenttwitter icon transparent

Bertoldi’s Trattoria is a traditional Italian restaurant in the Neapolitan style. Using traditional recipes and techniques, like only fresh ingredients and wood oven pizza, Bertoldi’s has been a go-to for pastas and pizzas in downtown London for years.

Bertoldi’s sports a rooftop patio with an abundance of seating. Enjoy a lunch in the sun or dinner in the glow of patio lights strung over the tables. Hanging planters adorn the outside edge of the patio overlooking downtown London.

You can find all of your Italian favourites at Bertoldis. Fresh pastas, pizzas, and either chicken or veal parmigiana are just a few classic Italian dishes you can find on their menu. Of course, it wouldn’t be an Italian dinner without a bottle of wine, so of course their wine list is long enough to make you go cross-eyed.

You can imagine you’re really in Italy as you sit on the Bertoldi’s rooftop patio, basking in the sun’s warmth with a glass of wine in your hand and a plate of fresh pasta in front of you.

Crossings Pub & Eatery

Neighbourhood: Hyde Park
1269 Hyde Park Rd. (map)

Facebook icon transparenttwitter icon transparent

Crossings Pub & Eatery has one of the most spacious patios on this list – an advantage of being in the far reaches of Hyde Park where space is plentiful, unlike downtown.

The pub says they get their name because they are where good food and friends cross paths. And with a menu like theirs on a patio this beautiful, we’re inclined to agree. The vibe is positive, yet relaxed, giving you the opportunity to connect with the people, whether they be friends or family, at your table.

Their massive patio is encircled with greenery, so you get the true feeling of the great outdoors with your meal. Bask in the warmth of the sun or grab a seat under an umbrella, whichever you find the most comfortable. No matter what, you’ll end up with a lovely view of the London sunset.

Crossings has a diverse menu, from fine dining to pub grub. A crowd favourite is the Dirty Burger, a classic beef patty topped with caramelized onions, bacon, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, and chipotle aioli. Or you could go a little more refined with a dish like the Maple Bourbon Salmon.

Of course, their drink menu is also impressive, a plethora of beers, wines, and mixed drinks to pick from, but that typically isn’t the main attraction to Crossings.

Crossings is great for a chill evening with some great food and even better company in the sun.


Page 1 of 912345Last »