The Chamber's origins stem from protecting London's business interests and making the city a better place to live and work.
From the outset, the London Chamber has been actively engaged in debate and legislation that affects local business and community planning.
Areas of concern have included: law reform, fair taxation, labour markets and wages, consumer protection, and the municipal, provincial, and federal budgets.
It was in 1857 that 44 of London's prominent business, civic and political leaders gathered at the old Mechanic's institute to establish the London Board of Trade (LBOT).
Notable London businessmen included John Kinder Labatt, Lionel Ridout, and Sir John Carling. With a membership fee of one pound, the LBOT set a mandate to avoid government funding and rely on financial and moral support from its members.
It is significant to note that many of the early Chamber presidents were community icons and that many of our streets and buildings now carry their names. This underscores their contribution to the economy of London and marks their place in London's ongoing history.
Of the 44 founders of the London Chamber:
- 4 were school trustees
- 6 served in their turn as Mayor of the Municipality
- 17 served as municipal councilors
- 4 become members of parliament
- 5 were anointed members of the Canadian senate
- 2 were made Privy Councilors
- 2 were knighted
- 2 served as Members of Dominion Cabinets
- 1 of these two served in five Canadian Cabinets
*Title Changed to Chairman of the Board in 1988, back to president in 1997
In 1918, following World War I, the London Board of Trade changed its name to the London Chamber of Commerce. At this time programs were restructured to reflect a greater diversity of functions relating to cultural concerns including education, health care, city beautification and air transport.
The Great Depression and lingering memory of the First World War gave the Chamber a new perspective on business at the local, provincial, national and international levels. By 1937, the onset of World War II, the Canadian economy had begun to stabilize and the London Chamber continued its policy advocacy and prudent planning to ensure London remained a strong, growing economy. With war abroad in 1940, the Chamber launched a tourism campaign across America advertising London as a little bit of the Old England in an attempt to attract tourist dollars and grow the local economy.