THIS MONTH IN LONDON HISTORY library of historic London events on a month by month basis
DIG AROUND THE ARCHIVES listing of website archives by subject
LINKS TO LONDON HISTORY list of other website with a London Ontario Canada heritage theme
HOME PAGE for Doty Docs
ABOUT DOTY DOCS information on the company and its owner Chirstopher Doty
LOMBARDO WING website dedicated to the hometown roots of bandleader Guy Lombardo
grand theatre wing
hangings of london

Doty Docs isn't the only site carrying the torch for London, Ontario history. There are a growing number of similar sites that you should check out. We've also enclosed hopelessly opinionated critiques and ratings on each entry. Feel free to disagree...but don't hate us just because we're witty.

Doty Docs' Web Site Ratings
Deserves its own display at the museum
The makings of a fine coffee table book
At least it's more fun than reading census records
Think I'll see what's on History Television...

General History Sites ... Museum and Library Sites
Theatre Sites ... Guy Lombardo Sites ... Specialized Sites
Thomas Talbot Sites ... Historical Site Sites

General History Sites

London and Middlesex Historical Society
The community's first historical website still offers up hard-core research on a variety of topics but is geared more towards historians than the general public. The web design is also getting a bit tired. ***

History of London: Tourism London Canada
As you might expect, this is a sanitized version of London's history. But it is also a surprisingly broad one prepared with the help of some top historians. Unfortunately, it is entirely text-based so make sure your eyes are well-rested before you pull it up. ***

London's Early Disasters and Hard Times
Buildings collapse, rivers flood and civil servants jump to their deaths. Middling introduction to London's darker hours could have used better research and writing, but is still a good place to get some fast facts. *

Historic Plaques of Ontario
A listings of the provincial-recognized historical sites of Middlesex County - which includes London, Ontario. Read about the Founding of London, Eldon House, the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the British Garrison - then turn off your computer, get off your keester and go see the actual plaques! ***

Plaque Watchers of London, Ontario
More plaque that your dentist has ever seen! An almost-up-to-date listing of every federal, provincial and municipal historical marker in London, complete with photographs. Did I mention you should get off your keester and visit the actual sites? ***

Pat O'Brien
London-area MP offers up a grab bag of historical items from the area. A former teacher, O'Brien is one of the few politicians who care about the history of his constituency, which just might make it worth voting for him during the next election. ***

Museum and Library Sites

Museum London
Well-designed site offers you a taste of the holdings of London's premier historical museum including archival photos, paintings, artifacts and a virtual tour of Eldon House, the city's oldest residence. There's also a lot of stuff on modern art which I don't care about...

The London Public Library
A brief overview of the library's historical archive, a short links page, a listing of historical buildings and a handful of old postcards. It's obvious the staff would rather have you visit them than tour their web site. Maybe they're lonely. **

The Lawson Prehistoric Indian Village
Over 11,000 years of Southern Ontario prehistory are contained at this site. Highlights include artifacts from archaeological digs, depictions of native life over the centuries and a virtual tour of a reconstructed Neutral Indian village from 500 years ago. Lots of good, scholarly information - but the site is tough to navigate. ***

Fanshawe Pioneer Village
This fine replica of an early London settlement deserves a better web site than this. Nice design but the content is pathetically skimpy. Updates aren't a strong point either. Go see the actual village instead. **

Banting House
In the early hours of October 31, 1920 Frederick Banting conceived of a treatment for diabetes in this modest brick house. Unfortunately, London's claim to insulin ends there as the city didn't have adequate research facilities for Banting's work. Fine museum in east London deserves a proper web site but this private effort does its best. **1/2

Banting House Historic Site
The official webpage of the house where insulin was born - or rather the idea for it. It's better to visit this wonderful tribute to one of Canada's greatest researchers than rely on an under nourished website that has had its url constantly shuffled about by the Canadian Diabetes Society. I can't even guarantee this link is still good! **

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum
They snuffed out Louis Riel's rebellion, showed the Kaiser who was boss and kicked Mussolini's butt during the Italian campaign. They are the Royal Canadian Regiment and their rich military legacy is celebrated by one of London's finest (and least known) museums. The highlight of this site is a virtual tour of the building but - believe me - you've got to visit this place in person.

Theatre Sites

The Grand Theatre
Competent overview of Canada's oldest, continually performing playhouse; from vaudeville, to amateur theatre to the works of Canadian playwrights like James Reaney, Michael Ondaatje and Orlo Miller. ***

Theatre in London
The dynamic past and present of the city's theatre community are featured, highlighted by a list of plays written by Londoners from 1920 on, plus contemporary reviews. Easy-to-follow page design and concise research make this one of the most useful London-based web sites. Historical content is not its reason to be, but then you've got to stop living in the past at some point. ***1/2

The Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia
Short blurb on London's Grand Theatre, focussing largely on the professional era of 1971 onwards and featuring links to former artistic directors Martha Henry and Robin Phillips. An okay introduction. **

London Community Players
Highlights of London's major amateur theatre troop covers its founding in 1974, its purchase and restoration of the Palace movie theatre in 1990, and all the dramatic festivals it has staged over the past quarter century. Should have been a great page, given the material. **

Ambrose Small: Case Closed
Proposal for a new television documentary that will blow the lid off the mysterious disappearance of former Grand Theatre owner Ambrose Small. Promises more than it delivers. **

Guy Lombardo Sites

Guy Lombardo to Retire
Say it ain't so, Guy! Reprint of a 1957 article by columnist Robert W. Dana breaks the news that The Royal Canadians will be leaving The Roosevelt Grill in New York City, their wintertime home for almost 30 years. As things worked out, Guy didn't leave the place until 1962 and didn't stop conducting until his death. **

Guy Lombardo's Gravesite
For those of you who want to see the absolute end of the story. Photos of Guy's grave at Pinelawn Memorial Park, New York. It's also the burial site of his younger brother Lebert. *1/2

The Great American Big Bands
Comprehensive entry on the Lombardo band, focusing on their New Year's eve broadcasts, presidential galas and the Jones Beach spectaculars. Mediocre photos - which have to be downloaded separately.

The Day the Music Died
In-depth report by journalist Jonathan Sher about the recent legal fiasco surrounding London's Guy Lombardo Music Centre. More mesmerizing than a car accident - but just as tragic. ***

The Guy Lombardo Society
Clearing house for all things Lombardo offers some good links and allows you to share your obsession with other Royal Canadian fans through the club newsletter. Unfortunately, the design of the site needs a major overhaul. **

Thomas Talbot Sites
The story of the cranky land baron who was responsible for the success of modern-day Southern Ontario.

The Talbot Settlement
Introduction to the old curmudgeon himself, his career and what possessed him to settle in a log house in the middle of nowhere. **1/2

Malahide Castle - The Past
History and architectural features of the ancestral home of Colonel Talbot, located in the County of Dublin in Ireland. Talbot modelled the courthouse in London after his boyhood home - but it's obvious the contractor couldn't read the blueprints to save his soul. **

Malahide Castle - The Present
I've always dreamed of visiting Ireland to see Malahide Castle. Anyone want to join me? Anyone want to pay my way? Well, it was worth a try. I guess I'll just have to console myself with this virtual tour of modern-day Malahide. ***

Historical Site Sites

History of the Diocese of London
The story of St. Peter's Basilica from the pages of the Catholic Encyclopedia. Solid stuff, but there are no accompanying photographs of London's most beautiful church - and that's a sin. **

St. Peter's Cathedral Archives
Vastly superior to the entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia, this site features images, old newsletters, artwork descriptions and finely researched stories about the basilica. An inspiring piece of work...and I'm not even Catholic! ***

Victoria Park
Everything you would ever want to know about London's oldest public park. The web design is top notch and benefits from a cheeky sense of humour - and a curious fetish for black squirrels.

UWO at 125
The colourful history of my old alma mater, from its founding in 1878, to the construction of the new campus in 1923 to the glorious triumph of my graduation in 1991. Guess which item isn't included on the website. ***1/2

Specialized Sites

Aboutown Cabs
If you're interested in the history of a London taxi cab company, search no further. If you actually want a cab then pick the phone. **

The Donnelly Home Page
The official site of the most notorious mass-murder in Southern Ontario history which has spawned books, plays and documentaries. Highly recommended. ***1/2

Transit History of London, Ontario
Have you been lying awake at nights wondering on what date the London Street Railway Company was incorporated? I thought so. Interesting site for buffs. Tough sledding for everyone else. **

The London Port Stanley Railway
There are two types of people in this world. Those who are obsessed with this old passenger route and those who wonder why the first groups exists. If you're a member of the first group your prayers have been answered with this site. If you're a member of the second group stop being so judgemental. ***

The Glenn Miller Website
Okay, I admit there were other great big band leaders besides Guy Lombardo. Extremely specialized site focusses on the two Canadian concerts given by the Miller orchestra - including his January 1942 performance at the London Arena. Lombardo did a hometown gig three months later but I suppose I'm labouring the point. **1/2

History of London Fire Services
A short account of the founding of the London fire department, from the volunteer bucket brigade of the 1840s to first fully-paid operation in 1873. Recently improved site offers up plenty of dramatic fire fighting photos plus a detailed chronology of the department's milestones. ***

The Emily Chesley Reading Circle
Unique site promoting the reputation of the late Victorian era "speculative fiction" writer who occasionally graced London, Ontario with her presence. Biographical details, academic insight, and even unpublished manuscripts by this forward-thinking (and fictitious) author. A well-researched, impeccably-written, highly-recommended joke. ***1/2

Supertest Petroleum Corporation Limited
Back to the days when a fill up was a fill up. Photos, memorabilia and chronology of the London-based chain of gas stations that were eventually swallowed up by British Petroleum and then by Petro Canada. Photos take a while to download, but they'll clean your windshield and check your oil while you're waiting. **1/2

Hyde Park History - The Good Old Days
Nostalgic overview of Hyde Park's past - back in the days it was a charming hamlet to the north west of London. Then the city annexed the area and that was the end of that. Okay web page should have relied on something other than those Tweedsmuir histories for its primary sources. **

The Battle of Longwoods
The closest the War of 1812 came to London - which didn't even exist at the time. This authentic re-enactment of the Royal Scots 1st Regiment of Foot's attempt to ward off American invaders is held every May by re-enactors.
I'm not going to be a spoilsport and tell you who won. **1/2

Doty Docs
Brilliant Web site is a joy to read, from its inspiring home page to the biography of its handsome, gifted creator. A work of unqualified genius. Only a moron who hasn't had a bath in a month would find any faults in this site.