In the wide assortment of desirable small towns in Southwestern Ontario, Thamesford is set apart by its key location and vibrancy. Sitting at a cross between a branch of the Thames River and Dundas Street/Highway 2, Thamesford is about halfway between London, Ontario and the City of Woodstock. If a charming community outside of bigger Southwestern Ontario cities is something you are seeking, then this guide to living in Thamesford is for you!
Where is Thamesford? How big is it?
Thamesford is a village, one of a handful of settlements that makes up the Zorra Township. It is located East of London along Dundas Street/Highway 2 and West of Woodstock along the same road. The Township stretches over urban and rural areas alike, occupying nearly 530 square kilometers in Oxford County and boasting a population of just over 8000 people. For comparison, the village of Thamesford had a population of 2,116 people in an area of 2.76 square kilometers as of the 2016 Canadian Census.
Real Estate in Thamesford: Living in Thamesford
Homes for sale in Thamesford can be divided into two groups. First are the older, more traditional houses that have been long-standing parts of the village. These homes are rarer to see on the market. The other group is made up of new developments and brand new or to-be-built properties as recent as 2019.
The most recent development is the subdivision of Thames Springs. The development, currently on its 8th phase, spans 94 acres of land in Thamesford. There are 10 different builders involved in the project building a variety of single-story and two-story homes with 2+ bedrooms. Prices in the area for a finished home begin in the low $500,000s and range to almost $700,000 at the top end.
There is potentially more development on the horizon for Thamesford. In 2018, Maple Leaf Foods permanently closed the doors of its Thamesford facility, leaving the factory and the 100+ acres of land that it sits on vacant. In the Summer of 2019, the Zorra Township announced that it has entered a conditional agreement to purchase the site. Their proposed plan for the area includes diverse residential and mixed-use community developments.
Thamesford offers plenty of convenience for its residents. A lot of errands can be done locally, from the post office, to pharmacy trips, Tim Hortons, or eating out. On top of shopping, Thamesford also has a Public Library on Dundas Street and six public parks located throughout the village - including on the banks of the Thames River. Parks provide handy community access to picnic areas, sports fields, and play structures.
The Commute: Work and School
On a map, Thamesford is right between London and Woodstock. What does that really mean when you get into your car to drive to either city? Reaching London is pretty straight-forward, if you continue West along Dundas Street/Highway 2, after about 22 km - or 25 minutes, you would arrive in the core of London. Before driving into London, the London International Airport is only 15 minutes away, making long-distance travel accessible too. The core of Woodstock is 22 km away by taking Dundas Street/Highway 2 in the other direction. The drive to Woodstock is a little bit shorter than the drive to London time-wise, clocking in at about 20 minutes. Another nearby town for shopping, work, and school, Ingersoll is also a short 15 minute drive away.
Thamesford is serviced by the Thames Valley District School Board and the London District Catholic School Board. In the public board, students attend the local public school up until Grade 8, after which they move into Ingersoll or Woodstock for High School depending on their program. In the Catholic stream, students will start in Ingersoll and move into Woodstock for Secondary School. Below are the schools available to residents of Thamesford, their grade levels, and location.
Thames Valley District School Board:
- Thamesford Public School (JK to Grade 8), Thamesford
- Roch Carrier French Immersion Public School (Grades 1 to 8), Woodstock
- Woodstock Collegiate Institute (French Immersion Program) (Grades 9 to 12), Woodstock
- Ingersoll District Collegiate Institute (Grades 9 to 12), Ingersoll
- College Avenue Secondary School (Grades 9 to 12), Woodstock
London District Catholic School Board:
- St. Jude’s Catholic Elementary School (JK to Grade 8), Ingersoll
- St. Mary’s High School (Grades 9 to 12), Woodstock
History of Thamesford and Township
The Thames River, the namesake of Thamesford, was a bountiful place for early European immigrants to put down new roots. As a result, many settlements like Thamesford, adopted its name into their own. Before it was Thames River, it was named Akunesippi “Antlered River” by the First Nations Peoples in the area, then La Tranche by French explorers. But where did the Thames name come from? In the 1790s, the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe borrowed the name of the River Thames which runs through London, England for this Ontario river. In 2000, the Thames River was named a Canadian Heritage River, recognizing the national appreciation for the storied body of water.
At first, Thamesford was a village in the Township of East Nissouri. In the 1800s, the village was marked by the presence of a mill which used the water of the Thames to power the early processing of flour. The Thamesford Mill remained operational in some capacity until the late 20th century, being demolished in 2007. While it was milling flour and feed for farms, the Mill drew settlers toward it and into Thamesford. In 1862, the St. John Anglican Church and accompanying cemetery were built. The beautiful original stone church is still standing and servicing Thamesford.
The Townships of East Nissouri and Zorra respectively were surveyed in the early 1800s, but would not be settled in earnest until later. The first set of land grants were given to veterans of the War of 1812 and there were more to come. Soon, British (particularly Scottish) and American refugees would accept the conditions and establish their new homes in the Townships. The arrival of railroads in nearby communities ensured that settlement of the area would continue throughout the 19th century.
In 1975, the Townships of East Nissouri, West Zorra, and North Oxford were amalgamated into the Zorra Township as it is known to this day.
Things to Do In and Around Thamesford:
What does that mean? A Calithumpian has meant a lot of things over the years, but what they all have in common is merriment and noise-making. It refers to a gathering, a parade, or a celebration. In Thamesford, Calithumpian is all three! Over the Victoria Day long weekend, residents of Thamesford gather together to mingle and celebrate their community. The festivities usually include a parade, shows, games, contests, food, and entertainment for all ages. In 2019, the Thamesford Calithumpian celebrated its centennial anniversary in a big way: a 4 day event returning to the roots of the festival to bring together new residents with those who have many Calithumpians under their belts already.
Highland Games Weekend
The Highland Games are held in Embro, another village in the Zorra Township about 15 minutes North-East of Thamesford. They began in 1856 when the Embro Highland Society was founded to preserve the Scottish heritage of immigrants in the area. After a hiatus from 1888 to the revival of the Society in 1937, the Highland Games returned to Embro and have been held in the tradition ever since. The Games consist of team Tug-of-War, foot races, stone put, hammer throw, and weight over bar contests. Alongside the traditional highland athletics, attendees of the Games are treated to Scottish music, a (bag)pipe band performance, and a variety of different Highland dance competitions featuring talent from around the world.
Thamesford and its neighbours in the Zorra Township are famous for two loud and rowdy festivals, but don’t get the wrong idea. Life in Thamesford is an escape from London’s metropolis and even Woodstock’s smaller-city bustle in favor of a village that is peaceful, quaint, and comfortable. With recent developments and the potential for more, Thamesford is emerging as a popular commuting option in Southwestern Ontario.