Our History

Our 40th anniversary came and went in 2009 — a bitter-sweet milestone, since we continue to hope that some day our programs will not be needed because all Canadians will be fully literate.


Freda MacDonald and Bill Brady

Freda MacDonald and Bill Brady

Beryl Treloar, a member of the London Council of Women, and Miriam Stevens, a community worker with London Family and Children’s Services, put out a call over the CFPL Open Line radio show, hosted by Bill Brady, for a volunteer to help two single mothers improve their reading skills. Freda MacDonald, a teacher who recently moved to London, answers the call.

Tutors Freda MacDonald and Terri Porter provide literacy training to six learners at a space at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club on Horton Street. Adult Basic Education (ABE) is born, supported by the London Public Library and the London Board of Education (now the Thames Valley District School Board).

ABE moves to the R.E. Crouch library, and School Trustee Mary Gee helps secure learning resources, counselling and testing for learners.

The London School Board takes advantage of new legislation enabling them to offer a greater range of programming to adults by hiring ABE volunteer Mary Oliver as a full-time project officer overseeing ABE.

The Southam News Corporation (including the London Free Press) commissions a wide-ranging study as a precursor to the International Literacy Year in 1990. The resulting report shows that Canada has an adult literacy crisis.

ABE moves to the London Community Schools Association from the school board, although the board continues to supply in-kind support.

Program budgets for adult literacy are cut drastically as funding is moved from the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. 

ABE becomes Literacy London Inc. and establishes itself as an independent, fully incorporated registered charity.

Literacy London receives the Canada Post Community Leadership Award.

Literacy London is one of three finalists for the PILLAR Community Leadership Award.

Literacy London continues to empower adults with one-to-one literacy, numeracy and computer skills training.

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