Our history – London Life
Canada Life, Great‑West Life and London Life are now together as one new company – The Canada Life Assurance Company™.
London Life Insurance Company
On Jan. 1, 2020 The Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life Insurance Company, The Canada Life Assurance Company and two holding companies amalgamated. They are now one company – The Canada Life Assurance Company.
Each of the companies has a vibrant and proud history, having formed more than 125 years ago.
Now together as one company, we look forward to continuing to deliver on our purpose – to improve the financial, physical and mental well-being of Canadians.
View London Life’s history, or view the history of Canada Life and Great-West Life.
On January 1, 2020, Great-West Life, London Life and Canada life came together to form one company – The Canada Life Assurance Company.
London Life rebranded its financial security planning division as Freedom 55 Financial. In addition, Quadrus Investment Services Ltd., London Life’s mutual funds subsidiary, is established.
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 launches a series of award-winning Freedom 55 television commercials known as the “Imagine visiting yourself in the future” ad campaign.
The Canadian public is introduced to the Freedom 55 brand, which does away with a focus on death and dying and becomes “Life insurance for the living.”
London Life introduces a new company logo: a stylized maple leaf. It remains in use today.
London Life produces the award-winning Human Journey television series in partnership with the CTV network. London Life ads running during the show’s commercial breaks proclaimed that, “to London Life, TV is a little more than entertainment. And life is more than insurance.”
London Life becomes the first insurance company in the world to install the IBM System/360 – a revolutionary computer in its day. In fact, NASA used this computer platform to send Apollo 11 to the moon and back in 1969.
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 (below, right) 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 (above, middle), 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.