There are many things I love about London, Ontario. Most of them start and end with children. We moved here when I got a job offer at the London Free Press and then we adopted our children and we became a family. And when we became a family here I started exploring all of the brilliant programs and services and places for families and children in this city and that, I think, is when I fell in love with my city.
This weekend I was on a plane returning home from a conference and a business traveller behind me asked what one thing do I have to see in the city when I am there? And most of the plane was dead quiet. One person joked about it being London and there’s not much to see. But one thing? What one thing? She had one day to spend in London and, as a business traveller, a tourist in your city, had only moments to spend in this city before travelling back to where she lived and worked normally.
I had to jump into that conversation because there are dozens of things I love here in London and many of them revolve around parks, or gyms, or festivals. Someone mentioned a shopping mall. But shopping malls, while fun, are not the biggest cultural centrepieces of a city. I thought instantly of theatre. But one day isn’t enough time to get tickets and go see something at Spriet Theatre, or The Palace, or The Grand. The parks are lovely and the Forks of the Thames is super cool to do with kids. Storybook Gardens also always made me happy as a child when we visited from out of town. But it’s lost a bit of its lustre. The London Regional Children’s Museum is where I take all my friends and family members with kids. But she wasn’t here with family. The festivals are my favourite thing, I think, at least as far as the summer months are concerned. The summer months are bookended with festivals as far as the eye can see. But those haven’t started quite yet.
My answer was Covent Garden Market. I remember the year it went in and all the discussion at city hall about the construction of the market. For me it is a jewel in the city’s crown. I believe it was one of the smartest things this city ever did. And if you only have a day to visit then maybe Covent Garden Market fits the bill and the brief amount of time to be a tourist here.
So that’s what got me thinking: how would you answer that question? What one thing would you tell people they had to see in your city?