London Life – a part of Canada’s heritage since 1874
Together, Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life serve the financial security needs of more than 12 million people across Canada. Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life are members of the Power Financial Corporation group of companies.
London Life rebranded its financial security planning division as Freedom 55 Financial.
London Life was acquired by The Great-West Life Assurance Company, which also acquired Canada Life in 2003.
London Life acquired most of the Canadian operations of The Prudential Insurance Company of America.
London Life was among Canada’s leading insurance companies with over $6.5 billion in life insurance in force. A new and modern building was planned to house its growing staff of 1,600. Fronting Queens Avenue, the building was completed in 1965 with each of its five floors comprising almost a full acre of work space.
London Life set the pace for insurance companies by using the most advanced information technology as it became available. In 1959, it was one of the first companies to install a computer. The original Univac system was so large that an outside wall had to be torn open to get it on the premises.
London Life expanded its head office following the end of the Second World War. The resulting seven-storey extension opened in 1948 and housed a staff of 847. Additions continued, however, and by the time construction was completed in 1953, there were 1,083 people employed at head office.
London Life was a major supporter of the Canadian war effort during the Second World War, purchasing $11 million in Victory Bonds. Like many towns and cities in Canada through the war years, London formed a Citizens’ Auxiliary War Services Committee. Under the auspices of this committee the London Life Troupers was born. The main goal of the revue was to provide entertainment for the military men and women who were stationed throughout the province.
London Life’s rapid growth in the first decades of the twentieth century required the company to expand from rented offices to something more permanent. The new premises included a bowling alley for employees and a large auditorium for meetings and social functions. The Dufferin Avenue site opened in 1927 and is considered a London landmark.
In 1906, anti-trust investigations revealed improper business practices in the North American insurance industry. In response to this, the Government of Canada established a Royal Commission to investigate insurance practices. London Life emerged from the inquiry not only unscathed but upheld as an outstanding example of a properly run company. The good press generated by the Royal Commission’s findings added to London Life’s success, with the number of head office staff growing from 22 in 1906 to 250 in 1926. By 1937, the company had offices across Canada.
In the mid-1880s London Life gained the services of John G. Richter, who joined the company as general manager. An actuary by profession, Richter was a man of firm conviction and vision. Under his leadership, the company designed insurance policies and payment schedules for the average Canadian, meaning insurance was no longer sold strictly to the very wealthy.
London Life was founded in London, Ontario, in 1874. A thriving community with a population of 20,000, London’s businesses at the time included the head offices of five savings and loans companies, eight banks, 21 insurance companies and three daily newspapers.