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Genealogy and Local History moves Downtown

June 2, 2016 | TRL Humanities and Social Sciences | Comments (0)

Genealolgy wordle -4
The genealogy and local history collection housed in the Canadiana Department at the North York Central Library was recently transferred downtown to the Toronto Reference Library’s Humanities and Social Sciences Department (HSS).
This included a variety of materials in different formats:

  • genealogical periodicals  Pcr-2191
  • church and parish histories
  • historical atlases
  • city directories
  • yearbooks
  • indexes to births, marriages and deaths
  • passenger lists and census on microfilm
  • local histories
  • general works on conducting genealogy research
  • how-to guides for those starting to explore their family history

To search for these items you can use the Toronto Public Library catalogue or the Local History & Genealogy webpage.

The HSS department is also continuing the library’s partnerships with three Genealogical Societies:  the Canadian Society of Mayflower Descendants (CSMD), the Jewish Genealogical Society of Toronto (JGS) and the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS).   Materials in these collections include:


  • self-published family histories
  • cemetery transcriptions
  • family charts
  • genealogical newsletters and periodicals. 

Ohq-pictures-s-r-616These collections are now located in the closed stacks of the Humanities and Social Sciences Department (2nd floor) where they will complement and augment the existing local history and genealogy collections.

Search their unique catalogues for items of interest at the following links: OGS Catalogue, JGS Catalogue, CSMD Catalogue.

Materials are for use in library only and can be requested at the Humanities Social Sciences Reference desk on the 2nd floor of the Toronto Reference Library, in person, by phone (416-393-7175) or by email .

Family history buffs will have a much larger collection to aid them in their research, as well as access to  online resources such as Ancestry Library Edition (in library access only) and the Digital Archive, in one location.

Chinese Canadian Archive Project - What's New?

November 22, 2016 | Suk Yin | Comments (6)

This 1945 graduation photo of nine preschool students, all age five, helps tell the story of Chinese Canadian life in Toronto over the past century. It was taken at the Chinese Canadian Institute located at University and Dundas in the heart of Toronto's old Chinatown

1945 CCI pre-school graduation on University Ave
CCI preschool graduation, 1945  (Courtesy of Mavis Chu Lew Garland)

These second or third generation children, now all 76 years old, are planning a reunion in early December at Toronto Reference Library to reconnect with childhood friends, share old memories and support Toronto Public Library's Chinese Canadian Archive Project. 

CCI Preschool class with teachers Miss MacTavish and Miss Mah,1945 (Photo courtesy of Mavis Chu Lew Garland)

Many of these people are now the guardians of historical documents and photos left by their parents and grandparents and are looking for a place to safely and permanently preserve their family records and make them available to future generations.

Quong Sing First Class Laundry
Quong Sing's First Class Laundry in 1920s    (Photo courtesy: Valerie Mah)


Head tax certificate $500 - Jim Ng 1918
Chin Ng paid $500 Head Tax to join his father in Canada in 1918. The amount paid was sufficient to buy two houses at that time. (Photo courtesy of Jim Rosenthal)

Since the inception of the Chinese Canadian Archive Project last April, we have had the opportunity to meet many "low wah kiu" or "old timers" who have generously shared their stories of perseverance, joy, success and community contributions as Chinese Canadians living and working in Toronto.

First Chinese Canadian Woman received Order of Canada 1976
Jean Lumb -- the first Chinese Canadian woman to receive the Order of Canada, 1976   (Photo courtesy of Arlene Chan)

On Tuesday, November 29, at 7 pm, Toronto Public Library is hosting a special event for the Chinese Canadian Archive in the Toronto Reference Library Atrium. Author Judy Fong-Bates is our keynote speaker and she will discuss the relationship between the themes of her book, The Year of Finding Memory and TPL's Chinese Canadian Archive. You will also have the chance to hear from community members sharing family stories and personal experiences. You can also get a first peek at some of the unique items already donated to the Archive.

The Chinese Canadian Archive will collect and preserve documents, photographs and memorabilia which reflect the rich heritage of the Chinese Canadian community in Toronto. Please join us to learn more about this exciting project.


The Globe and Mail Historical Newspaper Archive

October 28, 2016 | Stacey | Comments (1)


Conducting research into your family history? Writing a research paper on an aspect of Toronto history? Seeking first-hand coverage on major historical events?

Historical newspapers are invaluable sources of information for genealogists, students, and general researchers. Proquest Historical Newspapers: The Globe and Mail features digitized copies of the newspaper dating from 1844 to 2012. Learn more about local history by reading about more than 160 years of life in Toronto. Read articles, editorials, classifieds, check out old advertisements, and view birth, marriage, and death announcements. The paper is searchable from cover to cover.

This resource is a wonderful way to get a sense of what life in Toronto was like during a particular time period, and to gain an understanding of the impact of major events on the city. Or just for fun, find out what was in the news on the day you were born!

And don’t forget that the original newspapers are in the Toronto Reference Library’s Special Collections and also available on microfilm.

For more information, check out this blog post on digitized Toronto newspapers or watch our introductory video tutorial to the Globe and Mail.

Researching British Military Ancestors

October 27, 2016 | Irena | Comments (0)


Getting Started

This guide focuses on resources available at the Toronto Reference Library. Most of the resources listed are available through the Humanities and Social Sciences Department, located on the second floor.

Questions to think about before beginning:

  • To what branch of the military did your ancestor belong (army, navy, militia, etc.)?
  • In what type of unit did your ancestor serve (cavalry, infantry, etc.)?
  • Was your ancestor an officer or an enlisted soldier?

In order to locate records, it may be necessary to know your ancestor’s regiment. For advice on determining the British Army regiment, see:

Searching the Library Catalogue

Many different subject headings apply to military sources, so keyword searches may be most effective. Choose keywords from the name of a place, the name of a conflict, and/or the name of an armed forces division. Lists of participants will have the subheading Registers. Lists of casualties will have the subheading Registers of dead.

Suggested Subjects and Keywords

  • Great Britain. Army. [Name of regiment]

E.g., Great Britain. Army. East Yorkshire Regiment

  • [Name of conflict] – Registers of dead – Great Britain

  E.g., World War, 1914-1918 – Registers of dead – Great Britain


Suggested Titles

Armed Forces Lists

These publications list commissioned officers, not enlisted men.

Handbooks and Guides

Medal Rolls

Regimental Histories

The following bibliography, available at the Special Collections information desk, has been annotated to reflect the Toronto Reference Library’s holdings:

Registers of Dead


Additional Print Resources

                           ---. Scottish soldiers in colonial America 

                           ---. Scottish soldiers in Continental Europe 

  • Deserter Index 1828-1840: an index to soldiers of the British Army regiments, Royal Marines & the Honorable East India Company's Service who deserted their units & whose names were published in the Police Gazette between 1 January 1828 & 31 December 1840 

External Websites

Library and Archives Canada -- Military Heritage

National Archives (United Kingdom) -- Military and Maritime Research Guides

Additional Online Sources

For further assistance, contact:

Answerline: 416-393-7131

Humanities and Social Sciences Department, 2nd Floor, Toronto Reference Library: 416-393-7175

or use the "Ask a Librarian" feature on

Ukrainian Genealogy

October 27, 2016 | Irena | Comments (0)

Slavic and East European Collections, The New York Public Library. "Karta Ukrainy V.Boplana 1650g. Tekst str. 15" The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

This guide has had minor revisions in October 2016.

Getting Started

This guide focuses on resources at the Toronto Reference Library. For help with your genealogy research, please visit the Humanities and Social Sciences Department on the 2nd floor.

Searching the Library Catalogue

Suggested Subjects and Keywords:

Suggested Titles

General Works

Maps and Gazetteers

Ukrainians in North America


Jewish Genealogy


For further assistance contact:

Answerline: 416-393-7131

Humanities and Social Sciences Department, Toronto Reference Library: 416-393-7175

Use our Ask A Librarian service to chat with us online.

Remembering Hurricane Hazel: October 15: Snapshots in History

October 15, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)

On October 15 and beyond, take a moment to reflect upon the destructive power and aftermath of Hurricane Hazel which struck southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area on October 15, 1954 after affecting various Caribbean countries and several American states along the eastern seaboard. Hurricane Hazel merged with a strong cold front over the state of Pennsylvania and turned northwest towards Ontario. Ninety five people in the United States lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Hazel. Consequently, Hurricane Hazel (a category 1 hurricane) hit southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area as an extra-tropical storm, resulting in major flooding from overflowing rivers and streams and an already saturated water table. Eighty-one people in Canada died from Hurricane Hazel, including 35 individuals who lost their lives when much of Raymore Drive and 32 adjacent houses in Etobicoke were swept away. More than 1,800 families in Toronto were left homeless due to Hurricane Hazel out of a total of 4,000 families affected in southern Ontario.

One of the lasting legacies from Hurricane Hazel was the creation of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) in 1957. TRCA used land use planning and regulations to encourage the creation of parkland and dam construction along floodplains to avoid future occurrences of the damage and loss of life that resulted from Hurricane Hazel. For example, the Scouts’ Camp of the Crooked Creek in Scarborough closed down in June 1968 and was taken over by the then-Metropolitan Toronto Conservation Authority, which did not permit people to inhabit flood-prone areas. This area is now the Morningside Park area of the Highland Creek Park.  

Consider the following non-fiction titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:


Rain tonight a story of Hurricane Hazel

(Children's Non-Fiction Book)

The author was born the evening that Hurricane Hazel struck and parlayed his fascination with the subject into this book. Follow the account of eight-year-old Penny Doucette, her family and their elderly neighbour clinging to a house roof as the neighbouring house floated away on the Humber River.


  Hurricane Hazel Canada's storm of the century        Hurricane Hazel Canada's storm of the century

(Adult Non-Fiction Book)                        (Adult Non-Fiction eBook)

Read a fiftieth anniversary account of the destruction and loss of life wrought by Hurricane Hazel. Eighty-one people died in southern Ontario, including 32 residents of Raymore Drive in Etobicoke. The latter had to contend with an eight-foot rise in the Humber River in the span of one hour, and five volunteer firefighters who drowned attempting to reach motorists trapped in their automobiles.


Hurricane Hazel Betty Kennedy

(Adult Non-Fiction Book)

Broadcaster and journalist Kennedy authored this book to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Hazel striking southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area.

Consider the following novel which encompasses Hurricane Hazel in the storyline:


The carnivore a novel

 (Adult Fiction Book)

 A young police officer named Ray Townes emerges as a hero in saving trapped Humber River residents from the wrath of Hurricane Hazel. Meanwhile, Ray’s wife Mary, a nurse, is wracked with doubts about Ray’s heroism when she meets a disoriented woman near death in the emergency room at the hospital whose recollection of events differ from Ray’s story.

Children wishing to read a story including Hurricane Hazel can try the following easy-to-read title:

Written on the wind / Anne Dublin and Avril Woodend, 2001.

(Children’s Easy-to-Read Book)

This story is set in the 1950s around the time of Hurricane Hazel. Sarah is afraid when her Ouija board forecasts that terrible things are going to happen.

Please visit the TPL History: Hurricane Hazel hits Toronto (October, 1954) page to view additional images about Hurricane Hazel.




Is There an Archive in Your Attic? Check Your Old Shoeboxes for Hidden Treasure!

September 1, 2016 | Suk Yin | Comments (2)

Farmer in the 19th century
On the farm in Nova Scotia, c. 1900 (Photo courtesy of Carl MacKenzie)

When my mother-in-law passed away 10 years ago, she left some precious family heirlooms. While my husband took pride in using the silver, bone china and crystal for special events, nothing gave him more joy than discovering, tucked away in our basement, shoeboxes of old family photos documenting his family’s early days as farmers in Nova Scotia, homesteaders in Saskatchewan and social workers in northern Manitoba.

Homesteaders in Saskatchewan
The homestead in Saskatchewan, c. 1910 (Photo courtesy of Carl MacKenzie)

It was exciting to go through all these family records which brought to life our family’s early history in Canada. Many of the photos had been labeled by his father and others were identified through a bit of detective work and delving into the memories of family members. For years, the photos were hidden away, until we got them organized and used a scanner and some common on-line tools to turn them into a large hardcover book showing life in the North. The photos are now well documented with names, places and faces permanently recorded in the scanned image files or on paper. Anyone can view the book online.

Our shoeboxes yielded treasures and memories that will enlighten and inform future generations and help them understand where they came from and how they got here.


York Street Public School 1923
York Street Public School 1923 (Toronto Public Library Digital Archive)

Chinese-Canadian Archive Project

This past April, the Toronto Public Library began the task of establishing a Chinese-Canadian archive to document the stories of the struggle, survival, joy, sorrow, failure and success of the Chinese immigrants in Toronto.

Hence we are seeking any related archival materials such as photos, letters, manuscripts, scrapbooks, documents, certificates, videos, etc. to help document the daily life of the Chinese in Toronto and Canada from 1878 to the present. With their blood, sweat, loneliness, suffering and desire for political justice, these pioneers worked hard to pave an easier road for today’s immigrants. The Toronto Public Library wants to document it all and build a collection that presents a holistic picture of the Chinese in Canada.


Archive in your attic: discovering family treasures

We are sure there are many shoeboxes, hidden in the basements and attics of many homes in Toronto (and even perhaps beyond) that will yield rich and poignant family stories that will make our archive come alive.

If you want to know more about discovering your family treasures through archiving, we invite you to join one of two upcoming sessions for Archive in Your Attic: Discovering Family Treasures:


Denise and her siblings reprise their parents' wedding
Denise Chong and her siblings reprise their parents’ wedding (Courtesy of Denise Chong)

Sat. Sept. 10, 2-3:30 at the Hinton Learning Theatre 3rd floor, Toronto Reference Library – presented by renowned author, Denise Chong.

Denise Chong had a nagging curiosity about the handful of black and white photos—all that was left from her grandparents’ time—and it ultimately led to her writing a family memoir, “The Concubine’s Children.” Denise will discuss how a writer, working with available materials, is a detective and inquisitor, triggering memories, documenting and imagining life as it was.



Lumb Family 1955
Lumb’s Family 1955 (Courtesy of Arlene Chan)

Sat. Oct. 22, 2-3:30 at the Hinton Learning Theatre, 3rd floor, Toronto Reference Library – presented by Chinatown historian, Arlene Chan.

Arlene Chan is the author of “The Chinese in Toronto from 1878: From Outside to Inside the Circle,” a book which documents the history of her community for young and old. Arlene is a 3rd generation Canadian and grew up in Toronto’s original Chinatown, an area now occupied by Toronto City Hall. Chan’s parents owned a grocery store before opening a popular restaurant in Chinatown. Arlene will share with us about the importance of archiving family materials, preserving family histories and sharing family stories for future generations.





Celebrating the Princes' Gates at the CNE: August 30: Snapshots in History

August 30, 2016 | John P. | Comments (1)

Prince of Wales opens the Princes' Gates CNE  Toronto Archives Fonds 1244 Items 1018A

(Credit: Prince of Wales and group at the CNE, 1927 – Toronto Archives –

William James family fonds - Fonds 1244 – Item 1018A)


C.N.E. Prince's Gate Prince of Wales cutting ribbon August 30, 1927 Toronto Archives Globe and Mail fonds Fonds 1266, Item 11384

(Credit: C.N.E., Prince's Gate, Prince of Wales cutting ribbon, August 30, 1927

– Toronto Archives – Globe and Mail fonds - Fonds 1266, Item 11384)


C.N.E., Prince's Gate Prince George and Sam Harris talking August 30, 1927 Toronto Archives Globe and Mail fonds Fonds 1266, Item 11385

(Credit: C.N.E., Prince's Gate, Prince George and Sam Harris talking, August 30, 1927

– Toronto Archives – Globe and Mail fonds - Fonds 1266, Item 11385)


On August 30 and beyond, take a moment to celebrate the Princes’ Gates (not the Princess Gates to which they have been sometimes erroneously referred) at Exhibition Place on the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) grounds. Originally constructed to celebrate Canada’s 60th anniversary of Confederation in 1927, the gates were originally supposed to be named “The Diamond Jubilee of Confederation Gates”. 

In late 1926, the CNE hired architect Alfred H. Chapman to design a new eastern side entrance to the fair grounds. The gates featured a statue of the Winged Victory (similar to the Louvre’s Winged Victory of Samothrace) on top of a central Roman arch of a 91-metre long structure, including nine thin ionic columns on each side representing the then-nine Canadian provinces (prior to Newfoundland and Labrador joining Confederation in 1949). The structure was designed in a Beaux-Art style. Sculptor Charles D. McKenchie had the responsibility of sculpting all the figures on the Princes’ Gates. Two pairs of identical figures are on each side of the Winged Victory – one pair held cornucopias representing a fruitful harvest, while the other pair held beehives symbolizing prosperity and hard work.  Additionally, the sculptures on the pylons also had symbolic significance – the female figure clasping onto a grain sheaf represented agriculture, while the male figure (with his left hand resting on a wheel and a set of drawings covering his knees) represented industry.

To celebrate their 50th anniversary in 1977, the Princes’ Gates were rededicated. In 1987, a badly damaged and weathered Winged Victory was replaced by a replica constructed of an advanced polymer resin. In 1994, poured concrete was used for restorative purposes to recast the other four statues on the main arch of the Princes’ Gates.


Princes' Gates model 1926

Princes’ Gates, Model (Credit: Pringle and Booth, 1926

– Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection)


Why was the Princes’ Gates name adopted? The directors of the Canadian National Exhibition learned that Edward, Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom), and his brother, Prince George (a future Duke of Kent) were going to be visiting Toronto in 1927. Hence, the name was changed and both Princes were present at the official opening of the Princes’ Gates on Tuesday, August 30, 1927. The Prince of Wales used gold scissors to cut the purple ribbon to declare the Princes’ Gates officially open.


Princes' Gates looking west James Victor Salmon 1952

Princes’ Gates, looking west, 1952 (Credit: James Victor Salmon

– Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Collection)


Consider the following titles for borrowing or examination from Toronto Public Library collections:



Once Upon a Century 100 Year History of the Ex


Once Upon a Century 100 Year History of the Ex

(Additional copies)


Once Upon a Century 100 Year History of the Ex

(Additional copies)



The Ex a picture history of the Canadian National Exhibition



For additional images of the Princes’ Gates, please visit the CNE website. For further background information, please visit articles from, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, , and .

Remembering Jack Layton on August 22: Snapshots in History

August 23, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)


Memorial at Toronto Necropolis

Credit: Freaktography Urban Exploration and Photography, September 10, 2012


On August 22 and beyond, take a moment to remember the late Hon. John Gilbert “Jack” Layton (Born: July 18, 1950; Died: August 22, 2011), who was Leader of the Official Opposition in Canada’s 41st Parliament, 1st Session; Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada from January 2003 to August 2011; and Member of Parliament for Toronto-Danforth from June 2004 to August 2011 until his death from cancer. Jack Layton was also a former Toronto city councillor and one-time Vice-President (2000) and then President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) (2001). He was a well-known advocate for AIDS research, environmental, housing and homelessness issues, and co-chair and founder of the White Ribbon Campaign on Violence against Women.

Since his election to City Council in 1982, Jack Layton served many years in a wide range of roles including Acting Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Toronto, Chair of the Toronto Board of Health, Chair of the Economic Development and Planning Committee of Metro and Member of the City Executive Committee, Chair of Metropolitan Toronto's Planning and Transportation Committee, the Advisory Committee on Homeless and Socially Isolated Persons, as well as the 3Rs Task Force. Jack Layton ran for Mayor of Toronto in 1991 but lost to June Rowlands.

Prior to being elected to the House of Commons in 2004, Jack Layton had lost elections to Parliament in the 1993 and 1997 federal elections in the Rosedale and Toronto-Danforth constituencies respectively.

On August 22, 2013, the Ontario Federation of Labour honoured Jack Layton’s memory with the gift of a bronze statue depicting Layton on a tandem bicycle that was unveiled at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal (formerly the Toronto Island Ferry Docks) where people can travel to and from the Toronto Islands.

Jack Layton was only the second federal Leader of the Opposition to die in office. The first was none other than the Right Honourable Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919) who had previously served as Canada’s first francophone Prime Minister. Only two Canadian Prime Ministers died in office: the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) and the Right Honourable Sir John S. D. Thompson (1844-1894).

Here is a list of items by/about Jack Layton, available for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:


Homelessness how to end the national crisis   Homelessness The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis


Speaking out louder ideas that work for Canadians

   Speaking out ideas that work for Canadians

(Also available in Talking Book format restricted to print disabled patrons).


Building the orange wave  the inside story behind the historic rise of Jack Layton and the NDP

(Also available in Talking Book format restricted to print disabled patrons).


Love, hope, optimism an informal portrait of Jack Layton by those who knew him


Jack Layton art in action




Hope is better than fear paying Jack Layton forward  


Speaking out louder ideas that work for Canadians





Feature Film

Remembering the T. Eaton Company on August 20: Snapshots in History

August 20, 2016 | John P. | Comments (2)


Timothy Eaton and his son John Craig Eaton, Eaton's department store, Toronto, Canada, 1899.

Credit: Archives of Ontario, Item Reference Code F 229-308-0-2209



Eaton's store façade, 190 Yonge Street, Toronto, Canada, 1918.

Credit: Archives of Ontario, Item Reference Code F 229-308-0-1700


On August 20 and beyond, take a moment to remember the passing of a Canadian business institution, the T. Eaton Company, which filed for bankruptcy protection on the evening of August 20, 1999, 130 years after it had been founded in 1869 in Toronto by Timothy Eaton (1834-1907). Eaton introduced the then-revolutionary practice of cash sales at one fixed price rather than the traditional credit, bargain and barter method. Many Canadians and Torontonians grew up with the famed Eaton’s catalogue. Introduced in 1884 with a mail-order process to facilitate access by rural and farming communities as well to a wide range of products, the Eaton’s catalogue remained a mainstay of the T. Eaton Company until it was discontinued in 1976.

Upon Timothy Eaton’s death in 1907, Eaton’s third son, John Craig Eaton (1876-1922) became president of the company. Knighted in 1915 for philanthropy, it was under Sir J.C. Eaton’s stewardship that Eaton’s employees on active war service received full pay, as well as establishing Saturday holidays and 5:00 p.m. evening closures at Eaton’s stores, mail-order offices, and factories in 1919. Additionally, the Eaton Boys and Girls clubs offered recreational and educational facilities for Eaton’s employees and their families. Following J.C. Eaton’s death, his cousin Robert Young Eaton assumed the company presidency, followed by J.C. Eaton’s son, John David Eaton, in 1942. Under the presidency of J.D. Eaton, the T. Eaton Company expanded into northern and western Canada as well as introducing a contributory medical insurance plan and a retirement plan for employees. J.D. Eaton personally contributed $50 million to the retirement plan in 1948. During the Second World War, Eaton’s was the first Canadian company to pay employees who joined the armed forces.  Son John Craig Eaton ll became Chairman of the Board of the T. Eaton Company in 1969. Another son, Fredrik Stefan Eaton, served as Chairman, President and CEO of the company from 1977 to 1988.  George Ross Eaton, the youngest son of J.D. Eaton, was the last member of the Eaton family to assume the presidency of the T. Eaton Company until June 1997.

The T. Eaton Company had some ups and downs. It established the Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade in Toronto in 1905 and continued its sponsorship until August 1982, when it pulled out citing increasing costs. Other sponsors came in to sustain the annual parade which continues to this day as the Toronto Santa Claus Parade. The company had resisted attempts of some employees to unionize during the days of Timothy Eaton, during the early 1950s, and even during the mid-1980s when some stores were unionized but an unsuccessful strike resulted in a decertification vote. The company had tried to broaden its position in the Canadian retail universe in the 1970s by establishing a discount chain called Horizon which was closed in 1978. The company also had to deal with stiff competition from the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), Sears Canada, Zellers, and Walmart Canada and the trend towards big-box retailing stores. Eaton’s attempts to compete included hiring HBC’s chief executive officer George Kosich in 1997 as president to develop a higher-end retailing strategy similar to that used at HBC. This initiative resulted in legal wrangling between Eaton’s and HBC. Kosich resigned in 1998 and was replaced by then-chairman Brent Ballantyne. Ballantyne took the company public and shares were sold for the first time in the company’s history with the Eaton family retaining a 51% controlling interest.

Following the declaration of bankruptcy in 1999, Sears Canada purchased Eaton’s corporate assets (name, trademarks, brands etc.) for $50 million and attempted to launch Eaton as a brand name under its auspices. However, the attempted juxtaposition of the then-Sears Canada with its lower prices and merchandise quality with that of the higher-end Eaton’s ultimately ended with the retirement of the Eaton’s name in 2002.

A landmark symbolic of Eaton’s, the Toronto Eaton Centre shopping mall which opened in 1977, continues to be one of the City of Toronto’s top tourist attractions.

Consider the following titles for borrowing and review from Toronto Public Library collections:




The Eatons The rise and fall of Canada's royal family   Timothy Eaton and the rise of his department store  


Eaton's the trans-Canada store   Eatonians the story of the family behind the family  




Eaton's the trans-Canada store


Eaton's Fall and Winter Catalogue 1920-21

Fall and Winter Catalogue 1920-21


Eaton's Spring and Summer Catalogue 1917

Spring & Summer Catalogue No. 122 1917


Eaton's Spring and Summer Catalogue 1907

Eaton's Spring and Summer Catalogue 1907


Eaton's Fall and Winter Catalogue 1899-1900

Fall and Winter Catalogue No. 43 1899-1900


Spring and Summer Catalogue No. 27 1894

Spring and Summer Catalogue No. 27, 1894




Eaton, T., Company, shop, Yonge St., w. side, between Queen & Albert Sts 1923 Lifting a Seven Ton Motor

Eaton, T., Company, shop, Yonge St., w. side, between Queen & Albert Sts., 1923.

Lifting a Seven-Ton Motor - Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library


Eaton, T., Company, shop, Yonge St., w. side, between Queen & Albert Sts

Eaton, T., Company, shop, Yonge St., w. side, between Queen & Albert Sts., 1910? 

- Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library


Eaton, T., Company, Louisa St., n.e. cor. Downey's Lane; Interior Cutting Men's Clothing 1909

Eaton, T., Company, Louisa St., n.e. cor. Downey's Lane; Interior., 1909?

Cutting Men’s Clothing - Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library


Eaton, T., Company, Louisa St., n.e. cor. Downey's Lane; Interior 1909 Designing and Cutting Room

Eaton, T., Company, Louisa St., n.e. cor. Downey's Lane; Interior, 1909?

Designing and Cutting Room - Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library


Eaton, T., Co., warehouse, Louisa St. 1910

Eaton, T., Co., warehouse, Louisa St.?, 1910? - Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library


7 yr. old bay mare, T. Eaton Co., Toronto November 24 1910

7 yr. old bay mare, T. Eaton Co., Toronto, November 24, 1910. 

- Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library

(Credit: Reginald Symonds Timmis)


Highway 427, looking n. from n. of Bloor St. W., during construction, showing T. Eaton Co. farm at left 1953

Highway 427, looking n. from n. of Bloor St. W., during construction, showing T. Eaton Co. farm at left., 1953 - Credit: Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library

(Credit: James Victor Salmon)

Remembering Toronto’s First Electric Streetcar: August 15: Snapshots in History

August 16, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)

Toronto Railway Company's Map Showing Street Railway Lines 1892

Toronto Railway Company’s Map Showing Street Railway Lines, 1892. Lithograph.


On August 15 and beyond, take a moment to look back into Toronto’s transit history by remembering when Toronto’s first electric streetcar ran on August 15, 1892 (with the last horse streetcar finishing service on August 31, 1894). The Toronto Street Railway (TSR) had received a 30-year franchise from the City of Toronto to deliver horse-drawn street railway service from September 11, 1861 to March 26, 1891. Briefly, the City of Toronto operated the service for an eight-month period after which the Toronto Railway Company (TRC), formed through a partnership of Sir William Mackenzie and James Leveson Ross, embarked on its 30-year franchise which included a move to electrification.



King Street looking east from Yonge Street. Toronto, Canada. 1900


Expansion of the City of Toronto during the 1908-1912 period through the annexation of Dovercourt, Earlscourt, East Toronto and Midway (between Toronto and East Toronto) led to a desired expansion of street railway service. Given the reticence of the privately-owned TRC to expand its service, the City of Toronto established the publicly-owned Toronto Civic Railways (TCR) to offer street railway service in those other areas. With the expiry of the TRC franchise in 1921, the City of Toronto combined the TRC services with those of the TCR to establish the publicly-owned Toronto Transportation Commission (1921-1954) on September 1, 1921, the forerunner of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) (1954- ).



1921 Peter Witt streetcar used by the Toronto Transportation Commission – now on display at the Halton County Radial Railway Museum – Photo Credit: David Arthur, 2007


Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:


Not a one-horse town 125 years of Toronto and its streetcars


The Witts an affectionate look at Toronto's original red rockets


Mind the doors please the story of Toronto and its streetcars


Toronto trolleys in color



Discover the history of your family, your Toronto neighbourhood, or places in Ontario and across Canada.

Research online or at Toronto Reference Library and North York Central Library.

Learn about exciting programs and events.