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Settlement in Southwestern Ontario began along Lake Erie with the Talbot Settlement, then moved north into the Thames watershed between 1800 and 1850. Grist mills powered by tributaries of the Thames were built, and towns naturally grew up around them.
As farming methods diversified, woollen mills, breweries, cheese factories and dairies prospered. Gradually life changed in the watershed with the arrival of railways in the 1850s, electricity and telephones in the 1880s, and automobiles in the early 1900s.
The City of London was founded in 1826 on about 100 hectares of land at the Forks of the Thames. Transportation links provided by the river, roads, bridges and railways helped the city to prosper. London quickly became the administrative and manufacturing centre of Southwestern Ontario.
Today, London is a thriving metropolis whose busy streets attest to its coming of age. Often referred to as the Forest City, it has become a common travel destination for American and other foreign visitors who want a taste of Southwestern Ontario.
London's well-maintained old city neighbourhoods allow visitors a glimpse into its Victorian past. The Historical Woodfield and Wortley Village areas in particular, have managed to hold on to their visually distinctive small-town atmospheres.