To be frank with you, history wasn’t one of my favorite subject in school, but let’s give it a go!
Whether you like modern history or archaeology you won’t know where to start when you visit London, Ontario. The first settlement here was going to be called Georgina, after George III, and was intended as the state capital. The Governor, Guy Carleton, thought that a capital stuck in the middle of a forest probably didn’t make too much sense and so Toronto (called York at the time) was chosen instead and the village of London was developed as an administrative center instead.
Visitors familiar with London, England, have a lot of fun comparing the names and areas of the two places – we have a Westminster as well as a Blackfriars Street Bridge which spans the River Thames. Some of our oldest buildings are to be found in West London and the London Armoury building has been preserved as a hotel.
London was built on the site of some villages of the Neutral Nation (also sometimes called Iroquois or Attawandaron peoples) and Ojibwa and there are some excavations going on to examine these pre-first contact communities further. The Museum of Ontario Archaeology has large exhibits which show the progress of the dig and is a must-see for any history student – don’t worry if you’ve been before, the museum is constantly updating as more things are found.
If you like your history live and jumping about then the Fanshawe Pioneer Village is the place for you. Wendy and I often take the kids out to Fanshawe for their historical re-enactments. No matter how old you are or how much of a history buff you might be, there’s nothing quite like seeing it happen before your very eyes. What we really like about this place is that it covers a whole century – 1820-1920 – so you can see how things developed.
We love visiting museums and they are always on our list of things to do wherever we go, but it has to be said that eight-year-old boys don’t always get much out of things in glass cases – if you have kids in your party, you can guarantee they’ll love Fanshawe (and perhaps they will be a bit more patient when you do the glass cases on your next day out!).