London Life Insurance Company
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London Life Insurance Company was founded in 1874 in London, Ontario, then a thriving town of 20,000 people. A leader in the Canadian insurance industry, and today a part of the trio of insurance companies that includes Great West Life and Canada Life, London Life grew rapidly in the first decades of the 20th century, moving into its grand and iconic Neoclassical head office on Dufferin Avenue in 1927 - a London landmark ever since. During World War Two London Life was a major supporter of Canada's war effort, purchasing $11 million in Victory Bonds. Like many towns and cities in Canada during the war years, London formed a Citizens’ Auxiliary War Services Committee, and within London Life the company's Active Services Committee engaged its employees at home in continuous support of the 427 enlisted service men and women from London Life (of whom 11 died in service).
Backstory and Context
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During the Second World War, London Life's Head Office staff contributed to the war effort in a creative way, forming the much-loved musical revue, London Life Troupers, to entertain troops in active service throughout the province. The largely female troupe maintained a grueling schedule of 85 travelling performances across Ontario during 1940-44, featuring song and dance, music and costume. After the war the London Life Players Club continued the Troupers' tradition by mounting musical revues at Christmas from 1945-47.
London Life women also served widely as wartime volunteers in the Women's Voluntary Service Corps, Voluntary Auxiliary Drivers Corps, Red Cross Society, St John's Ambulance Brigade and London Women's Club Committee. A number of Head Office men served in the reserve army.
Under the Reinstatement in Civil Employment Act, London Life committed to re-employ all returning service personnel who were on staff on or before 3 September 1939, and to offer continuous service credit for enlisted employees as well as Certificates of War Service staff life insurance. After the war pension benefits for employees who enlisted for overseas service included a special grant to compensate for the fact that no contributions had been made during the war period.
As a leading life insurance company, London Life bore a heavy responsibility in processing death claims arising from the war. London Life's wartime insurance losses totalled $3,749,271 including all deaths in the armed forces overseas and in the air forces in Canada, and other deaths attributable to enemy action.
Following the end of the war London Life expanded its Head Office, opening a seven-storey extension in 1948 that housed a staff of 847. By the time construction was completed on the Head Office building in 1953, London Life was a major employer with 1,083 men and women on staff. The building today bears the sign Canada Life Insurance Company.
From here head down Wellington St towards Queens Ave. You will be able to see more of the London Life building. You’ll then head east on Queen’s Avenue and continue to St. Paul’s Cathedral on the corner of Queens Ave and Richmond St.
London Life. “Our History.” London Life. Accessed October 18, 2019. https://www.londonlife.com/about-us/who-we-are/our-history.html.
McClelland, Joe. “New City Hall Was for People - This Once Anyway.” London Free Press, September 22, 1971.
Memorial Cross Mothers, London, Ontario. Book of Remembrance. Vol. 1, 1950.
Veterans Affairs Canada. “History of the Books of Remembrance.” History - Books of Remembrance - Memorials - Remembrance - Veterans Affairs Canada, April 3, 2019. https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/books/history#swwbook.
London Life Corporate Archives (1927 aerial view LL - taken_1946)
London Life Corporate Archives (4669 Troupers in the Auditorium)