Postcard from London, Canada
City Life – The Covent Garden Market
It started in 1835 with a patent for a “public fair” and exactly a decade later it found its home in the lands donated by the business owners of the London City. At the intersection of Richmond, Dundas and Kings streets, farmers crowded the marketplace three days a week to trade a variety of goods; a marketplace that developed and stayed as the city’s business and cultural hub. In 1958, through the first major renovation of its building, this Farmers’ Market saw its evolution into the Covent Garden Market Inc. The current building is the result of latest renovation carried out in 1999. Covent Garden Market in the neighborhood of Market Tower is still the pivotal point of the downtown London. It’s a place to embrace the farmers’ produce, fresh and gourmet foods, flowers, meat and vegetables, tea and grains, and a plethora of gifts and souvenirs. There are smiles, greetings and a couple of busking performances every time one visits this place.
A London landmark that is a commercial hub and a community center at the same time. A joyful place to roam and shop around…
City Monuments – St Peter’s Cathedral Basilica
At the corner of Richmond and Dufferin streets, St Peter’s is a Cathedral Basilica for the Catholic Diocese of London. The establishment of St Peter’s dates back to early 19th century with the first structure built of wooden logs. Having been burnt twice, initially in the great fire of London in 1845 and then five years after, the first brick structure was erected around 1860s. The present building dates back to 1880s as the architect Joseph Connolly put in shape, an inspiration from the 13th century French Gothic Architecture.
The massive bell towers and the high transepts of St Peter’s Basilica present a sight for sore eyes. The glorious bells chime every quarter hour and add a charming music to the sights and sounds at the very heart of Downtown London. The church is trimmed in oak and it’s for the quality of wood and finesse of the rose window (reportedly imported from Austria), I ought to have another trip to admire the interior of the Cathedral, and that, dear reader, I shall plan in days to come…
Railway Romance – Engine #86
Standing on guard in the western fair district, as if it will blow a whistle with a puff of steam any moment, this beauty from the bygone days of steam was built in 1910 by the Canadian Locomotive Company. A mogul 2-6-0 locomotive that was originally commissioned with Grand Trunk Railway under the number GTR 1006, later served Canadian National Railway under CNR 908 in 1923 and eventually carried the name Engine 86 in 1952. Engine 86 was in service on a mixed passenger-freight role on a line from Owen Sound to Palmerston.
The locomotive was donated to the city of London in 1958 commemorating the city’s 100 year history as a railway center. In it, dear reader, lives the ghost of the Grand Trunk Railway, a ghost that still roams around the abandoned lines and railway stations in Ontario. This is a story I shall deliberate upon in the upcoming posts on the railway heritage of Ontario …