430-432 Richmond Street, London Free Press

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London Free Press

Old Free Press



The London Free Press

In 1849, the Canadian Free Press, the brainchild of William Sutherland, entered the media world in London (ON). When its first issue appeared on January 2nd 1849, it found itself in competition with other existing newspapers and journals. These were: Joseph Cowley's London Times, George Brown's Western Globe and Reverend James Inglis's Evangelical Pioneer. Sutherland struggled to keep the Canadian Free Press afloat until in February 1852 his attempt to convert the Free Press to a daily failed and dealt the newspaper its final blow. Sutherland sold the newspaper to Josiah Blackburn and in the following 150 years, the Blackburn name would become synonymous with media innovation and journalistic progress in the city of London. In 1854, Blackburn moved the paper into a building on Carling Street (now occupied by Marienbad Restaurant). In the early years, Blackburn was editor, reporter, proof-reader, book-keeper, money collector and advertising salesman. Through the years and a modernization process, Blackburn was able to issue a daily paper. The first edition of the daily Free Press appeared on May 5th 1855, beginning an uninterrupted record that continues to this day.

In 1866 the Free Press moved to 430-32 Richmond Street. In 1931, the Free Press took over the old Canada Trust and Huron and Erie buildings further up Richmond and would eventually take over the BMO building on the south-eastern corner of Richmond and Queens. The years on Richmond Street were to prove especially prosperous for the Free Press. During the two world wars, people would gather outside the premises to get fresh news on the on-goings of the war. In London Remembers, Len Allen recalls:

"After World War I, you could go to the Free Press at the back on Richmond Street. You could go through the back where they printed them and buy the papers. They sold (them) for two cents and I then sold them for ten cents. That was big money in those days."

People lined up in front of these offices on 7 June 1939 when His Majesty King George VI and consort visited the city. Two and a half years earlier, in December 1936, a similar crowd had gathered in front of the Free Press to listen to the abdication speech of King Edward VIII over the newspaper's CFPL radio station. A sombre crowd gathered in front of these premises again on 3rd September 1939 to hear about the outbreak of WWII. It would continue to gather intermittently for the next five years, as Canadians fought with the Allied nations during the Second World War.


430-432 Richmond Street
London, Ontario