London’s Old East Village (OEV) contains many Forest City gems with interesting stories behind them.
The OEV BIA created a self-guided tour called the Culture Cruise, highlighting the heritage and creativity of the neighbourhood. The tour is perfect for sightseers and history buffs alike as it is filled with plenty of stunning artwork and historical buildings.
Walking around OEV and admiring all of the buildings and artwork, new and old, will inspire you to get your creative juices flowing. Taking the Culture Cruise is also a great way to get your afternoon walk in as you explore the neighbourhood.
When visiting OEV next, be sure to check out these stops and more during the Culture Cruise!
795 Dundas Street
The Aeolian Hall hosted many musicians over the years to play intimate shows and is a staple of OEV.
The current building’s history began as the London East Town Hall in 1882. Over the years, the building held a variety of purposes such as Fire Station No. 2, the Ninth Divisional Court, a public school, and the London Public Library’s first branch location. Outdoor concerts and plays were held outside of the building at the start of the 20th century.
The first Aeolian Hall was a former church that Gordon D. Jeffery bought and converted into a concert hall in 1947. After arson destroyed the building, Jeffery bought the former East London Town Hall site in 1968 and held the first concert in 1969. While it was meant to be a temporary site, the building is still a concert hall today.
Seeing a show at Aeolian is a guarantee that you will enjoy music surrounding you in the warm lighting.
442 Adelaide Street North
Between 1920 and 1921, Sir Frederick Banting lived in OEV while doing his research. The home is now a historical site dedicated to the man who discovered insulin and the work leading up to the finding.
According to the Banting House website, Banting lived in the home for a year and sold it in May 1921 to finish his research in Toronto.
The building was used as a boarding house and a real estate office before the Canadian Diabetes Association bought it in 1981.
The square outside the house also features lots to look at, including a statue of Banting carved by John Miecznikowski, a globe designed by Daniel Castillo, and the Flame of Hope. Queen Elizabeth lit the flame in 1989 and the flame will stay until there’s a cure for diabetes.
There are also two murals on the exterior walls, one by Matthew Carver and Ron McDougall and the other by Nohl Reiser.
You can even take an augmented reality (AR) tour of Banting House, thanks to EXAR Studios!
864 to 872 Dundas Street
This historic building hosts Bread and Roses Books, Artisan Bakery, and the non-profit, social support organization Life*Spin. John Hayman, who ran the oldest contracting firm in Ontario, built the building in 1885.
Hayman’s original home is across the street from the Life*Spin building. His company also made Aeolian Hall.
London Clay Art Centre
664 Dundas Street
The London Clay Art Centre is the place to go to if you’re looking for a handmade mug, teapot, or vase. Better yet, it’s where to be if you’re looking to try your hand at pottery.
According to a video on the London Clay Art Centre’s website, the London Potters Guild-run centre is the first and only guild-owned and operated clay art centre in Canada. The London Potters Guild got the building in 2008. The centre was refurbished over five years in four stages before opening in 2013.
The Canada/Ontario 150 Mosaic created by Susan Day, Beth Turnbull Morish, and a group of volunteers is behind the building. Day and the London Clay Art Centre also made the Wayfinding Mosaic on 390 Adelaide Street North, by Marshall Street.
The Palace Theatre
710 Dundas Street
From its early days as a silent movie theatre to becoming a live theatre staple, the Palace Theatre has been entertaining Londoners for nearly a century.
The theatre, previously known as the Park Theatre, was bought by London Community Players in 1990 and then renovated. The current theatre lobby and marquee were re-created in 1991 based on the original building blueprints.
With theatre making a post-pandemic return, be sure to see a production in the historical building!
Regency Florists Mural
773 Dundas Street
The OEV’s Culture Cruise is packed with many buzzworthy stops, including this vibrant honeybee mural on the Regency Florists’ building. Local artist Brad Biederman added the colourful splash in 2021.
Western Fair District and Queens Park
900 King Street and 925 Dundas Street
The Western Fair District’s been the site for events like the London Wine and Food Show, London Comic Con, and of course, the Western Fair.
The red brick Confederation Building, better known today as the Market at the Western Fair District, was built in 1927 after the Crystal Palace was lost in a fire. Londoners love to shop at the historical building for delicious food and unique gifts.
You can also find some great sights to see at Queens Park representing local and Western Fair history. There, you can find the Arts Building, Bill Lishman’s turkey, sheep, pig and steer sculptures, and Engine 86.
The train Engine 86 was built in 1910 and ran on the Canadian National Railway and the Grand Trunk Railway for 48 years. It was donated to the City of London in 1958 and then placed in Queens Park in the 1960s.
Of course, this is just a small selection of all OEV has to offer.
For a complete list of stops, visit the Culture Cruise page on the OEV BIA website and be sure to check out the other neighbourhood tours, found Only in OEV, right here!
This post has been powered by the Old East Village Business Improvement Area. The OEV BIA’s mandate is to create a vibrant, diverse, and sustainable commercial corridor, at the heart of an inclusive community, where more people live, work, shop, play and produce.
Feature photo by Carrie Freele.