Sunday, May 31, 2009

London Lobster

I have always thought it odd that lobster is so readily available in towns and cities so far from the ocean. This weekend lobster was on sale in London. The dinner shown cost less than $5.45. The grocery store cooler was brimming with fresh, cooked lobster. I wondered how many they would sell at such bargain prices. Later, I googled lobster and discovered that the price paid for lobsters has collapsed. According to CTV, "Hundreds of lobster harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador have stopped fishing altogether to protest prices . . . "

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Drop of Rain

Hostas are tough. I know — they flourish under my care, or lack of care. I plant them and forget them. Thursday they were watered but not by me. Mother Nature stepped in. After the rain I could not ignore the hostas. Their rain-wet leaves sparkled, thousands of clear water droplets reflecting a bright but rain-threatening sky.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When GM Was the Leader

It's Thursday and this evening from 6 p.m. till dusk the Hyde Park Lions Club is hosting the second Country Cruizin' evening at Steve Plunkett's Fleetwood Farms. The nights are free, with optional donations going to the Special Abilities Riding Institute in Arva, which offers horseback riding to children with disabilities. Expect to see several hundred cars, mostly beautiful Detroit iron such as this heritage Cadillac, but there are always a few foreign cars, too. If all this sounds interesting, visit for directions and more details.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Carolinian Forest City_Once!

Native to southwestern Ontario? Quite possibly. Observing that hardwood forests in southwestern Ontario shared many characteristics with forests as far south as the Carolinas, botanists named this area Ontario’s Carolinian Zone. The area's Carolinian forests were originally enriched by tulip, sassafras, Kentucky coffee, cucumber magnolia, black gum, and papaw. Sadly, more than 40 per cent of the national list of endangered and threatened species are found here. In some parts of southwestern Ontario, agricultural and residential pressures have destroyed more than 90 per cent of the original Carolinian forest.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Good Morning Sun

Sunrise finds highway 401 at London still night-quiet. But 401, running 820 km from Windsor to the Quebec border, is one of the busiest highways in the world. In fact, the section running above Toronto is the busiest freeway in North America. London's location on 401 is a big plus for the southwestern Ontario city as it competes with other communities for business and industry. You see, over half the population of Canada lives along the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor and 401 is the corridor's major roadway.

The picture is the view from the driver's seat of a Morgan Plus 4 roadster. For a take on Morgan motoring see: A Morgan in the Morning - or see a short Morgan video or slide show from Morgans Over America IV when about 45 Morgans from all over the world toured North America.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Best Place to Learn

Fanshawe Lake is one of the best places to learn sailing. The high cliffs and the shape of the lake itself make sailing there a challenge. Those lucky enough to hone their sailing skills on Fanshawe Lake are said to be among the best sailors in the area. The Fanshawe Yacht Club and Sailing School is holding their annual open house this weekend - May 23rd, 24th. The winds were light Saturday but not light enough to prevent members from taking visitors for a gentle sail on the small lake on London's doorstep. Sunday afternoon looks like another fine day.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Still an "A" Roadster

Another classic gets some lovin' care at the first Country Cruizin' event of the year at Steve Plunkett's Fleetwood Farms west of London, Ont. The Hyde Park Lions Club is hosting the free events weekly on Thursday evenings through Sept. 24th. Donations are optional but greatly appreciated with the money raised going to the Special Abilities Riding Institute in Arva, which offers horseback riding to children with disabilities. Pictured is a Ford Model A roadster built in the late '20s in the Ford Motor Company of Canada plant in Walkerville, Ontario - now part of Windsor. As suggested in a previous post, for more details and complete directions please visit

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Cruizin' Parkard

Every Thursday evening from 6 p.m. till dusk until September 24th the Hyde Park Lions Club is hosting Country Cruizin' at Steve Plunkett's Fleetwood Farms. The nights are free, with optional donations going to the Special Abilities Riding Institute in Arva, which offers horseback riding to children with disabilities. Expect to see several hundred cars at each event, mostly beautiful Detroit iron but there are always a few like the 1932 Packard shown. If all this sounds interesting, visit for directions and more details.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Jones, Box and Label Moved

This red brick building at 1173 Dundas St. E., dates back to the 1920s. It has seen its share of changes over the years, with the last changes seeing the windows securely sheeted over with aluminum panels, the front entrance stripped of its elegance, and all in the name of security. The former Jones Box and Label manufacturing and warehousing building is now a self storage facility. On the bright side, it is understood that Jones Packaging, a successful fourth generation London company with roots dating back to 1882, is now headquartered in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility on Page St. at Veteran's Memorial Parkway.

Weed Warrior on the Move

London, Ontario, was a leader in the move to curtail the cosemetic use of pesticides. A bylaw addressing the issue was passed by London City Council long before the Province of Ontario took a stand. An Ontario-wide pesticides ban came into effect this past April. With the war on weeds stripped of its chemical weapons, weed warriors like the dandelion are again claiming territory. An increased exposure to dandelions but a decreased exposure to toxic chemicals seems like a fair trade-off. The ban has the full support of London's winged community.

Photo tip: This picture was taken with a Canon SD10 point and shoot camera. Use the macro setting and hold camera near the flower while you keep your distance. (I have long arms.) The camera was within a couple of inches of the flower. Try shooting from a low vantage point and from the side and not from the top. This will show more of the insect.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thames River Bridge

For years the walking bridge over the Thames River at the
Thames Valley Golf Course was a beautiful to look at, fun to cross, single lane, suspension bridge that creaked and swayed with every step. A few years ago, I believe, the aging structure was condemned. Its replacement is an oh-so-practical solid steel and concrete bridge. It is not beautiful but it is handsome – a solid, wide, well-used, wooden-decked span.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ruggles Motor Truck of Saginaw also in London

In the Vernon City Directory for London, 1922, this elegant building on Dundas Street was listed as the home of the Ruggles Motor Truck. This was a Saginaw, Michigan, company that built trucks from 1921-1928 and which also operated a plant in London until 1926. Today Ruggles are exceedingly rare as few Ruggles survived the Great Depression. I understand there's a truck in a San Diego museum and a bus in Australia. When a rare Ruggles appears at an historic vehicle auction, it's news.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Soon to be gone

I believe this bit of vandalism was on the side of the Embassy Hotel which recently was destroyed by fire. One more reason not to put your craftsmanship on the side of buildings - brick and mortar may not last as long as canvas. Many will miss the hotel, far fewer the graffiti.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fire Guts Embassy Hotel

The Embassy Hotel, closed for two months and awaiting demolition to make way for a 150-unit condominium development, was gutted by fire Tuesday, May 12. Built in the early 1900s, the Old East landmark had been an East London music spot and popular watering hole for 50 years.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Heritage Bust

An art deco landmark, the Elsie Perrin Williams Memorial Building opened in the fall of 1940 to house the city's central library, the art gallery and an historical museum. For decades Londoners approaching the Queens Avenue entrance wondered,"Whose bust is that above the entrance?" In 2001 the exterior facade, including the puzzling bust, foyer and central hall were given heritage building status by the City of London. No longer in use, the building sits idle awaiting its rebirth.

Anonymous said, "It's Socrates." Anonymous is right. Now, when I worked at the paper I heard that the stain on the beard symbolized the poisonous hemlock he drank and that the stain was part of the relief. I was told the stain had been there since the installation of the sculpture. Any comments on this? (I believe, now that the building has been sold, the stain is gone. The poisonous, symbolic drool has been removed. Must check.)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Battle of the Balconies

I have always loved the wooden, stacked balconies filling the front of this small apartment building in downtown London. For me, this old building is a great addition to the core. I fear that someday a highrise, like the one in the background, may stand in its place. Prove me wrong, London.

If this urban stuff interests you, you might like my take on Oak Park, the new urbanism suburb in Oakville. London is looking longingly at new urbanism developments in Oakville and Markham. New urbanism may soon appear in a London area corn field near you.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Making a dash for the foot warmer

It was chilly Sunday. So chilly that this woman decided to forego her walk in the park. Burrr. She slipped off her shoes, propped her feet on the sunshine-warm dash and reclined her seat to enjoy the warm hothouse-like car interior. :-) mmmm toasty . . .

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Captain Rex visits London

Clone trooper Captain Rex was Anakin Skywalker's second in command during the Clone Wars and I'm sure I met him Saturday in London. If this really was Captain Rex, popular myth seems to have gotten some things wrong. He wasn't at all the gruff, no-nonsense, tough as nails type. In fact, he wasn't a he, he was a she - a pretty, young, blonde she. Still, I didn't want to mess with someone who commanded the famed 501st Clone Trooper Battalion. If the blaster pistols are not intimidating enough, look in the background - an all terrain scout transport, an AT-ST walker. I took a quick picture and moved on.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Better late than never . . .

About four years after her wedding, this Londoner put on her wedding dress Friday afternoon and headed for the park favoured by so many young brides - Springbank Park. With rain clouds quickly thickening and little drops of rain beginning to fall, her photographer worked quickly, taking advantage of the soft prestorm light. The photographer had the shoot wrapped up in mere minutes.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

First Permanent Headquarters for ?

Known today as the Wright Lithographing building, it once had a different moniker. In 1906 London Life moved their staff of 22 into new permanent headquarters after 32 years spent renting space in downtown London. That historic building, still standing today on Wellington Street, is now known as the Wright Lithographing building. The present London Life buildings are just down the street, filling the block from Queens Avenue to Dufferin Avenue.