Old East Village
Old East Village (OEV) is an eclectic neighbourhood unlike any other in London. Originally incorporated in 1874 as London East, the area has deep industry and railroad roots. In 1856, Murray Anderson, later London’s first mayor, opened the Globe Foundry Ironworks at Adelaide and Dundas. Lilley’s Corners was established in 1867. London East got its next big stimulate when Fredrick Fitzgerald founded The Imperial Oil Company (Esso) and built one of the first of sixteen refineries in London East. This spark created a manufacturing boom and triggered the creation of extensive railroad systems that form OEV’s north and south borders.
The subsequent economic prosperity caught the eye of the City of London, which amalgamated London East in 1885. Due to its independent nature and strong sense of community, the neighbourhood was officially named Old East Village (OEV). Following annexation, Western Fair established itself in Queen’s Park in 1887, drawing numerous citizens for its events and yearly agricultural fair.
OEV continued to be a growing manufacturing center. In 1921, physician Fredrick Banting opened a private medical practice in the front room of 442 Adelaide. That year, Banting conceived the idea for insulin and brought it to fruition in Toronto in 1922. 442 Adelaide became known as “the birthplace of insulin” and a designated National Historic Site of Canada.
Post-WWII, OEV became a commercial and retail center and the hub of the London Street Railway, precursor to the London Transportation Commission, located on Lyle Street. The much-beloved Chapman’s bakery and its famous kringle could be found at 619 Dundas, neighbour to one of London’s cherished independent department stores, Hudson’s. As manufacturing moved to the outskirts of the city and retail stores coalesced into malls, OEV began to lose these treasures. In 2003, The Planners Action Team of Ontario, in partnership with the Old East Village BIA and the residential community, created a road map of revitalization for the neighbourhood: "Re-establishing Value – A Plan for Old East Village." This report informed the City of London's Community Improvement Plan in 2005, which formalized the path to area renewal.
Since then, the BIA has worked with local businesses, property owners, residents, and the City of London to lower the vacancy rate and attract over $250 million in commercial and residential development. In 2013, the BIA determined through extensive research that the area's economic drivers are: One of a Kind Shopping, Food & Beverages, and Arts & Culture. The BIA continues to develop these sectors by recruiting and supporting businesses, stimulating the thriving grassroots economy of Old East Village.
Old East Village
Eat, Shop, Play
Simon Shegelman is a renowned artist who lived with his wife Julia in Old East Village for five years. Simon and Julia have shown Simon’s work across Canada and the globe. While living in OEV, Simon was commissioned by the Old East Village BIA to artistically capture our three key economic drivers: One of a Kind Shopping, Arts & Culture, and Food & Drink. Simon created three original works of art to celebrate the best of what Old East Village has to offer.
“Almost within one block there is theatre, there is the concert hall, studio space for artists, Old East Village is a very romantic part of our city, I hope that I can play a part in improving it.” ~ Simon Shegelman