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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.

Remembering Fort York’s Beginnings: July 30: Snapshots in History

July 30, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)




Fort York looking east

(Fort York, looking east - March 1952 - Credit: James Victor Salmon Collection, Baldwin Room, Toronto Reference Library – Accession Number S 1-829B)

Fort York barracks looking w

(Fort York, barracks, looking w[est]., 1934 – Credit: Margaret Maud (Hicks) Howard Collection, Baldwin Room, Toronto Reference Library - Accession Number E 1-10n)


Looking w. to Queen's Rangers camp, foot of Bathurst St. Elizabeth P Simcoe July 30 1793

(Looking w. to Queen's Rangers camp, foot of Bathurst St. – Credit: Elizabeth P. Simcoe, July 30, 1793. Baldwin Room, Toronto Reference Library. Accession number 934-1-1.)

Residents of the City of Toronto as well as visitors to the city may have the opportunity to visit Fort York National Historic Site in downtown Toronto. On July 30 and beyond, take a moment to remember Fort York’s beginnings on July 30, 1793 as Upper Canada’s Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe acted upon the survey conducted of the harbor area by Joseph Bouchette and made the decision to establish a military garrison (complete with arsenal), accompanied by a town named York which became the capital of Upper Canada, was captured on April 27, 1813 by American forces during the War of 1812 (after the decision of Major-General Isaac Brock in 1811 to strengthen the garrison in anticipation of war), and eventually was renamed Toronto in 1834.

The British blew up Fort York’s gunpowder magazine in April 1813, killing 250 American invaders including Brigadier-General Zebulon Pike. The Americans had occupied York for six days, looting houses, destroying provisions, and burning Government House and the Parliament Buildings. The Americans returned briefly in July 1813 to burn barracks and other buildings that they had missed in April 1813. Afterwards, the British rebuilt Fort York that was sufficiently strong to repel another attempted American invasion in August 1814. The British continued to station troops in Fort York following the War of 1812, although most troops were re-located to a new barracks one kilometre to the west of Fort York in 1841. The Dominion of Canada assumed most of the responsibility for Canadian defense in 1870, including Fort York. After the weaponry became obsolete, the Army continued to use Fort York and its facilities for administrative, storage, and training purposes up to the 1930s. A military presence continued at Fort York even during World War Two.

Fort York was opened as a historic site museum on Victoria Day 1934 and operates in a similar capacity today with support from the Friends of Fort York as well as interested community members.

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

Setting a fine table historical desserts and drinks from the officers' kitchens at Fort York  

The military does not function with discipline, strategy, tactics, and weapons alone. Soldiers need to be fed. This book includes 30 selected recipes taken from the officers’ kitchen in Fort York, from the historic, inaugural recipe to its modern equivalent. The recipes are placed into context with explanations on choice and use of local food sources.


Historic Fort York 1793-1993 

The book was published in Fort York’s bicentennial year. Carl Benn looks back at the important role that Fort York played in the 1790s, the War of 1812, the 1837 Rebellion, the defense of Canada during the American Civil War, and more recently, as a national historic site commemorating the past. 

Also available in eBook format.


Consider watching the following DVD:

Structures. Fort York, Show #7, 2006 [1 videodisc] / Structures (Television Program); Rogers Television, 2006. DVD. Documentary. 

This documentary explores the historic buildings on the Fort York National Historic Site.


If you are interested in exploring more digitized historical pictures of Fort York from Toronto Public Library collections, please click here.


Remembering Elizabeth Simcoe’s Arrival at Toronto: July 29: Snapshots in History

July 29, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)

Looking east from around foot of Bathurst St. Elizabeth P Simcoe 1793

Looking east from around foot of Bathurst St. – Elizabeth P. Simcoe, 1793?


Looking s. towards Gibralter Point, showing firing of salute Elizabeth Simcoe 1793

Looking s. towards Gibralter Point, showing firing of salute – Elizabeth P. Simcoe, 1793


Elizabeth Posthuma (Gwillim) Simcoe, 1762-1850 circa 1790

Elizabeth Posthuma (Gwillim) Simcoe, 1762-1850 (circa 1790)


On July 29 and beyond, take a moment to remember the arrival of Elizabeth Posthuma (Gwillim) Simcoe, the wife of Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe, at Toronto on July 29, 1793. (The next day, Toronto would become York only to become Toronto again in 1834.) We should be grateful to Elizabeth Simcoe for leaving to posterity her diaries documenting her travels as well as her artwork depicting various scenes around Toronto/York. Her diary entry for July 29, 1793 (accompanied by subsequent commentary and notes by eminent Toronto historian John Ross Robertson) stated the following:

The diary of Mrs John Graves Simcoe reference to arriving at Toronto on July 29 1793


Elizabeth Simcoe’s diary provide those interested in Canadian history with a snapshot of personal life experiences. Borrow a copy of Mrs. Simcoe’s diary from Toronto Public Library collections by placing a hold:


The diary of Mrs. John Graves Simcoe, wife of the first Lieutenant-Governor of the province of Upper Canada 1792-6





Or, read Elizabeth Simcoe’s diary online through .


For more detailed information on Elizabeth Simcoe, please visit Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe, 1762-1850 on the North York Central Library blog.  For more information on John Simcoe, please visit Snapshots in History: February 25: Remembering John Graves Simcoe and York on the Local History & Genealogy blog.


Remembering Sir Frederick Banting and Insulin: July 27: Snapshots in History

July 28, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)



On July 27 and beyond, take a moment to remember Sir Frederick Grant Banting (Born: November 14, 1891 at Alliston, Ontario; Died: February 21, 1941 at Musgrave Harbour, Newfoundland from wounds and exposure to the elements following a airplane crash.) whose is best known for his life-saving and life-changing work on the discovery of insulin that improved lives for millions of diabetics all over the world. On July 27, 1921, Banting initially isolated insulin from a dog’s pancreas, working in conjunction with colleagues J.J.R. Macleod, Charles Best, and James Bertram Collip. Beginning on January 11, 1922, insulin (initially called isletin) was administered to 14-year old Leonard Thompson (who had Type 1 diabetes) at Toronto General Hospital. Thompson initially had an allergic reaction to Banting and Best’s extract; however, on January 23, 1922, Thompson reacted more positively to an extract developed by J.B. Collip. For this discovery, Dr. Banting was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1923 with Dr. John James Rickard Macleod. Macleod had provided Banting with access to laboratory facilities at the University of Toronto in 1921 along with the assistance of a medical student, Dr. Charles Herbert Best. Banting was angered at the Nobel Committee for ignoring Best’s contribution in the discovery of insulin so Banting gallantly shared his half of the Nobel Prize money with Best. In response, Macleod shared his half of the Nobel Prize money with Collip. (Best succeeded Dr. Macleod as professor of physiology at the University of Toronto in 1929.) In addition to being the youngest Nobel laureate in medicine/physiology, Banting also received the Reeve Prize in 1922 from the University of Toronto, was awarded an annual life annuity of $7,500 by the Canadian government in 1923, and was knighted by King George V in 1934 as well as becoming a Vice-President of the Diabetic Association (now Diabetes UK). Banting also became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1935.

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

Breakthrough Banting Best and the race to save millions of diabetics  

Journey back to 1919 where a frail 11-year old Elizabeth Hughes has been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes with the only accepted form of treatment being starvation. Due to the work of Banting and Best, marred somewhat by scientific jealousy and business rivalry, Elizabeth Hughes becomes one of the first diabetics to receive insulin injections while the discoverers and the Eli Lilly and Company work to mass produce insulin in order to help diabetics all over the world.

Also available as an eBook.


Frederick Banting hero healer artist  

Consider this readable biography of Banting that included his exploits in the Canadian Army Medical Corps that led to his being awarded the Military Cross in 1919 for heroism on account of treating wounded soldiers for 16 hours, while being wounded himself. Continue the story of Banting’s life by reading about his work with Charles Best and others on isolating insulin to treat diabetics around the world.

Also available as an eBook.


The discovery of insulin 3rd pbk ed 

Consider this multi-awarding winning book (including the City of Toronto Book Award) by University of Toronto Professor Emeritus of History Michael Bliss about the discovery of insulin by the Canadian research team of Banting, Best, Macleod, and James Bertram Collip. 

Click here for the 1982 edition of this title.


Banting a biography  

Read this acclaimed biography by Professor Michael Bliss of Frederick Banting’s ascent to celebrity status following the discovery of insulin and his subsequent frustrations in scientific discovery, a failed marriage to a socialite that ended in scandal, his attempt to seek solace through his work and painting, and his untimely death in a plane crash. 

Click here for the 1984 edition of this title.

Did you know that November 14th (Banting’s birthday) is also World Diabetes Day as proclaimed by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization? For more information on diabetes and resources available in Toronto Public Library collections, please visit Toronto Public Library’s Health and Wellness Blog and view the blog post Diabetes by Numbers….



Remembering William Lyon Mackenzie King: July 26: Snapshots in History

July 28, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)


Credit: Paul Joseph - Vancouver, BC, Canada


On July 26 and beyond, take a moment to remember the Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King (Born: December 17, 1874 at Kitchener (previously Berlin), Ontario; Died: July 22, 1950 at Kingsmere, Québec; Buried: July 26, 1950 at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario), who was Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister (for approximately 22 years and 5 months) from December 29, 1921 - June 28, 1926, September 25, 1926 - August 7, 1930, and October 23, 1935 - November 15, 1948.

The grandson of former Mayor of Toronto and 1837 Rebellion leader, William Lyon Mackenzie, W.L.M. King served as the Member of Parliament for York North in the early 1920s during his inaugural term as Prime Minister of Canada. In another connection to Toronto, he also influenced the outcome of the York South by-election of February 9, 1942 by declining to let a Liberal Party candidate stand as former Prime Minister and political rival Arthur Meighen (who was in favour of conscription) was seeking to return to the House of Commons as leader of the Conservative Party once again. Liberal supporters divided between supporting the winning Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) candidate Joseph W. Noseworthy (some federal Liberals supported the CCF campaign) and Arthur Meighen (Ontario Liberal premier Mitchell Hepburn, a critic of Prime Minister King, supported Meighen).

King’s governments implemented a variety of social programs including old age pensions in 1926, unemployment insurance in 1940, and family allowances in 1944. King was Prime Minister during World War Two. Canada declared war on Germany on September 10, 1939, fully one week after Great Britain and France had done so as Prime Minister King wanted a vote of war declaration from Canada’s Parliament on its own timetable as a means of asserting Canada’s independence. Canada’s role in the war is well-known through its military participation in the invasion of Normandy in June 1944 and through the disastrous Dieppe Raid of 1942 and the invasion of Hong Kong in 1941. Arguably, less known might be the important role that Canada played in the implementation of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in which some 131,500 Canadian and Allied air personnel received flying, navigational, bomb aiming, air gunning, and wireless operator training across Canada during the Second World War. Canada was also a major player in nuclear research with the establishment of the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories in Deep River, Ontario in 1944 and the subsequent operation of the NRX reactor in 1947.

Prime Minister King and his government had to weather the Conscription Crisis of 1944 that followed up on a 1942 plebiscite asking Canadians to release the Canadian government from its pledge not to send any troops overseas (that was made in the 1940 Canadian general election campaign). The country was divided at that time with English-speaking Canada voting 83% in favour of sending troops overseas as needed and French-speaking Canada voting 73% against sending troops overseas with 63% of Canadians in favour overall of instituting conscription. Mr. King had a penchant for getting out of tough spots politically and rebounding from political defeats as in the elections of 1917, 1925 and 1930. The government also imposed the internment of Japanese-Canadians (and seizure of their property) in 1942 following the air attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Empire on December 7, 1941. (The government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney formally apologized for this injustice carried out against the Japanese-Canadian people in September 1988 and instituted a compensation package.) On a happier note, Canada was a founding member of the United Nations in 1945 with Prime Minister King (who also served as his own Secretary of State for External Affairs for many years) in attendance.

William Lyon Mackenzie King has served as a puzzle to many Canadians with some familiarity of Canadian history. Arguably, he is the best educated Prime Minister to date with a total of five university degrees (B.A., M.A. (University of Toronto); LL.B (Osgoode Hall Law School); M.A., Ph.D (Harvard University), and the only Prime Minister to date to have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree. On the other hand, some have learned of Mr. King’s connection with the occult and communing with spirits of dead individuals from his past, including his mother and former Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and his use of an ouija board and a crystal ball.

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


Prime Ministers ranking Canada's leaders

This book by historians Granatstein and Hillmer was a result of a Maclean’s magazine study that consulted 25 Canadian historians and political scientists on ranking all of Canada’s Prime Ministers up to the late 1990s but listed in chronological order of service. Despite perceived personal peculiarities, William Lyon Mackenzie King was ranked first as the best Prime Minister in the “Great” category. Kim Campbell was evaluated to be the worst Prime Minister. Brian Mulroney placed eighth in the “Average” category whilst Joe Clark finished fifteenth in the “Below Average” category.


Winston Churchill and Mackenzie King so similar so different

Winston S. Churchill and W.L. Mackenzie King were contemporaries as they were born about two weeks apart in 1874. However, each took a different path into politics, viz.: King through academics and Churchill through military adventure. In the 1930s, Churchill, an isolated backbencher, was extremely prescient about the dangers of fascism and Nazism while King tended towards appeasement of the Nazis. Nonetheless, King came around to the dangers of the fascists and gave full support to Great Britain’s war effort once Canada’s Parliament had declared war first, one week after Great Britain and France had. 

Also available in eBook format.


Consider watching the following interview with author Terry Reardon:



King William Lyon Mackenzie King a life guided by the hand of destiny

Levine offered the reader the first biographical review of Canada’s best educated (Ph.D, Harvard University) and longest-serving (and arguably the most unusual) Prime Minister in many years. On the one hand, King consulted mediums to gain contact with deceased family members and political mentors. On the other hand, he showed great political foresight in outmanoeuvring political opponents and keeping the country together. 

Also available in eBook and Talking Book (Restricted to Print Disabled Patrons) formats.


Warlords Borden Mackenzie King and Canada's World Wars  

Read historian Tim Cook’s dual biography of Canada’s two world war Prime Ministers: Robert Laird Borden and William Lyon Mackenzie King. Despite a lack of charisma, the author contended that both leaders were “warlords” in a Canadian way and had to navigate a number of similar issues: developing armed forces from a civilian base, conscription, mobilizing war finances and production, and keeping labour peace. On the issue of conscription, Borden was prepared to divide the country to achieve victory while King was very much concerned with keeping the country together. Both Prime Ministers’ governments used internment of people as an instrument during wartime: King’s government interned Japanese-Canadian people while Borden’s government interned the Ukrainian-Canadians under the pretext of being “enemy aliens”. 

Also available in eBook format. Read the review from Quill and Quire. Read the review from Digital Journal.


Consider watching this video of author Tim Cook discussing this book:



Consider borrowing the following public performance rights DVD from Toronto Public Library collections:

Mackenzie King and the conscription crisis

This documentary combined archival footage with excerpts from The King Chronicles, a dramatic series written and directed by Donald Brittain. Faced with a divided country on the conscription issue during the Second World War, W.L. Mackenzie King could only put off the decision for so long even though he was deeply concerned about the potential fracturing of the country. Some scenes included graphic language.




Guide to British & Irish Genealogy

July 6, 2016 | TRL Humanities and Social Sciences | Comments (0)

Getting Started

This guide has had minor revisions in Sept 2013.

The Toronto Reference Library houses research material for genealogists and local historians, including books, microforms, pamphlets, maps, government documents, periodicals and online databases, and the Deposit Collections of three genealogical societies (Ontario Genealogical Society, the Jewish Genealogical Society of Toronto, and the Canadian Society of Mayflower Descendants). Note: the Toronto Reference Library has an in-depth collection of British and Irish genealogy. 

Searching the Library Website

Suggested Subject and Keywords

Suggested Titles

General Guides



Using Online Resources

Recommended Websites

In Library Resources

Recommended Database

  • Ancestry Library Edition (available in any Toronto Public Library branch) has an extensive collection of censuses, births, marriages and death records for Great Britain, as well as some Irish resources.

Journals and Magazines

(at the Toronto Reference Library)

  • Gonfanon [Royal Heraldry Society of Canada]

Other In Library Resources

At the Toronto Reference Library Humanities and Social Sciences Department, access the Ontario Genealogical Society Collection which includes Scottish cemetery transcriptions and journals of British county family history societies. Search the OGS collection.

The Canadian Society of Mayflower Descendants Collection is also available at the Toronto Reference Library Humanities and Social Sciences Department.

Collection highlights:

For further assistance contact:

Answerline: 416-393-7131

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

Chinese Canadian Archive: From Chop Suey to Peking Duck

July 4, 2016 | Suk Yin | Comments (11)

Chef Kam Ing
Source: Toronto Star Archives

From chop suey to Peking duck

"Chop suey" translates as "mixed bits" and was a popular dish among early Chinese immigrants and Caucasian diners. Corresponding with the dynamic growth of various Chinese populations in Toronto, the variety of Chinese cuisine has grown dramatically and, today, we have a multitude of choice – from chop suey to Peking duck and everything in between – according to our preference.




Mr. Lee Hong's laundry, 48 Elizabeth Street
Mr. Lee Hong's laundry, 48 Elizabeth Street 1912
Series 372, sub-series 55, item 43,
City of Toronto Archives

Did you know?

The first Chinese resident recorded in Toronto was Sam Ching in 1878. He ran a laundrat 9 Adelaide St. East. According to the 2011 Census, there are over 308,000 people of Chinese descent living in Toronto, representing 12 per cent of the city’s population.




Lion dance York Univ Archive
Source: York University Archives

Chinese Canadian Archive

In its 2016-2019 Strategic Plan, the Toronto Public Library identified a goal to create community connections through cultural experiences and, to help achieve this goal, called for the establishment of a Chinese Canadian Archive.The Archive will document the rich history of Chinese Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area from 1878 to the present by building a collection of individual and organizational records, photographs, documents, diaries, memoirs – in print or digital form – to document Chinese Canadians’ daily lives and their community spirit, celebrations, struggles, successes, failures, dreams and contributions to Canada. By collecting these records, we want to record the presence of the Chinese in Toronto, illustrate their part in forming Toronto’s rich cultural mosaic, and make this information available to future generations.


Photo courtesy of Denise Chong


Archive in your attic

Valuable family records and photos could be hiding in shoeboxes or tucked away in attics, basements and closets. When de-cluttering your home, be sure to look before disposing of the contents. You might be pleasantly surprised to find family treasures hidden inside.

If you have records, photos or other materials that document your family’s part in building Toronto’s Chinese community, we believe the Toronto Reference Library is the best place to permanently maintain and preserve your precious family records.



Photo courtesy of Arlene Chan

Contact us

Each family archive is unique. We would love to hear from you to discuss how we can work together to preserve your collection. 


You can contact the archive by emailing Suk Yin at

Guide to Census Records

June 29, 2016 | TRL Humanities and Social Sciences | Comments (0)

Getting Started

Census: an official enumeration of populations that can help you discover birth dates, the names of parents and siblings, immigration details and much more.

Searching the Library website 

 Suggested Titles:

    Additional material on Great Britain census handbooks

    Additional material on the American censuses

    Additional material for 1871 census of Ontario

Online Resources

Recommended Websites


Canadian Census Records Online

Electoral Atlas of the Dominion of Canada
Provides access to a set of detailed maps showing federal electoral boundaries. Most of the electoral districts described in this 1895 atlas are identical to the 1901 census districts. Detailed ward maps for cities are also available.

All  Canadian census returns from 1825 to 1921 have been digitized and are currently available on multiple websites as well as Ancestry Library Edition. Ancestry Library Edition can be used in any Toronto Public Library branch and has all Canadian censuses from 1851 to 1921. It also has Canada East/Lower Canada censuses for 1825 and 1842, though not 1831, nor the 1842 Canada West/Ontario census.

There is FREE access on to the 1921 Census of Canada only, for those with a Canadian IP address. Free account must be set up at

Below are websites that have census information. Note: some are indexes, some have images, some are only searchable geographically.

Library and Archives Canada: CensusesGives an overview of the complete (1825-1916) census collection with links to LAC census databases and finding aids. Searchable by names and with images. There is also digitized microfilm for the 1871 and 1916 censuses. Note: 1906 and 1916 censuses are of western Canada only.

Canadian Censuses on FamilySearch Includes provincial censuses prior to 1842, and censuses 1851-1916. The 1861 census is listed by individual province. Early censuses 1825-1842 have images. FamilySearch is provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Automated Genealogy has indexed the 1852 (Ontario and Quebec and New Brunswick), 1901, 1906, and 1911 censuses. Select "split view" to view the original census page from Library and Archives Canada along with the transcriptions.

The Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) has the 1851/2 and 1881 census data.

Alberta Genealogical Society, Edmonton Branch has indexed the 1901 census for Alberta and Saskatchewan.

 Newfoundland (prior to entering Confederation in 1949)

Transcriptions for various years (Newfoundland's Grand Banks Genealogical and Historical Data). Some are incomplete. Censuses for 1921, 1935, 1945 are also on microfilm in the Humanities and Social Sciences Department, Toronto Reference Library. Consult the finding aid in the branch or go online to LAC to search the place name index to determine which microfilm reels to consult.


US Census Records Online

1790-1940 US censuses (FamilySearch): Indexed and usually linked to images. Free.

Digitized microfilm of 1790-1930 US census on Internet Archive. For help in using the microfilm try Donslist Finding Guides

Note: 1890 US census largely destroyed by fire.


British and Irish Census Records Online

1841-1911 Census for England,Wales and Channel Islands (FamilySearch)
Indexed. Access to images is not available to home or library users

1901 Census of England, Scotland and Wales
Free to search, pay to view records

1911 census of England and Wales
Free to search, pay to view records


Scotlands People
Census records for 1841-1911. Free surname searches; pay to view records.

1841-1891 censuses, free on Family Search. No images.



Tithe Applotment Books 1823-1837
The tithe applotment books were compiled to determine the amount which occupiers of agricultural holdings over one acre should pay in tithes to the Church of Ireland (main Protestant church).  Names of occupiers of each townland - head of household only. Information is for rural areas, not towns.

Griffith's Valuation 1847 -1864
First full-scale valuation of property in Ireland.

Census of Ireland 1901/1911  and census fragments 1821-1851
Includes images.

Census fragments 1821-1851 (FamilySearch)
Includes images.


In Library Resources

The Toronto Reference Library's Humanities and Social Sciences Department has all the available Canadian census records on microfilm. To identify which microfilm reel to search, consult the Catalogue of Census Returns on Microfilm 1666-1901. The department also houses many CD-ROMs and materials for U.S., and British and Irish census resources, as well as early Quebec censuses (1660s) and the 1681 census of New France.

Ancestry Library Edition can be used on any computer in a Toronto Public Library branch, but is not available from home.  It allows individual name searches, often with original images to: Canadian censuses 1825-1921 [except 1831 for Lower Canada and the 1842 census for Canada West, i.e.,Ontario]; UK Census Collection for 1841-1911; American Census Records 1790-1940 and some European census records.

Quebec  (available at North York Central and Toronto Reference Library)
French Canadian genealogy resource includes census information for Quebec and Ontario in 1881 and for Quebec in 1901.  


Additional Library Collections

The Ontario Genealogical Society Deposit Collection at the Toronto Reference Library, Humanities and Social Sciences Department, has an excellent collection of materials on British, American and Canadian censuses.


Toronto Public Library contacts:

Answerline, 416-393-7131

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

Remembering Sunnyside Amusement Park and Bathing Pavilion on June 28: Snapshots in History

June 28, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)

Sunnyside 1922

Sunnyside, 1922?

On June 28 and beyond, take a moment to remember Sunnyside Amusement Park of which one of its components, the Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, designed by architect Alfred H. Chapman, was opened on June 28, 1922 by then-Toronto mayor Charles Maguire. The Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion was intended to provide clothes-changing facilities for bathers wading into Lake Ontario. The cold temperatures of the lake water prompted the building of a nearby open-air swimming pool (aka the Sunnyside Pool, nicknamed “The Tank”) that opened on July 29, 1925; in fact, the pool was the largest outdoor swimming pool in the world at the time of construction. The Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion itself underwent renovations in 1980 to update its changing facilities as well as adding a garden and a beach-side café. Previously, the Bathing Pavilion had been declared an historic site in 1974 under the Ontario Heritage Act. More recently in 2014-2015, the Bathing Pavilion had been undergoing more restorative work following a 2012 structural audit.

The Sunnyside Amusement Park, also referred to as the Sunnyside Beach Park, existed from 1922 to 1955, after which it was demolished to make way for the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway project. The amusement park had a large roller coaster (the “Flyer”), some merry-go-rounds, and a Derby Racer steeplechase ride. Additionally, the park hosted stunt events such as flagpole sitting, boat burnings on Lake Ontario, and fireworks displays.

Other facilities within/near the Sunnyside Amusement Park included: the Sunnyside Pavilion (offering a tea garden and two restaurants) that was torn down in 1956 to make room for the new westbound lanes of Lakeshore Boulevard; the Sunnyside Stadium (for lacrosse and softball) that opened on May 19, 1925 but was bulldozed in 1956 to provide parking for the adjacent Boulevard Club; and, the still-existing Palais Royale (designed by the architectural firm of Chapman, Oxley & Bishop) that opened in 1922 with a dance hall on the upper level and with Dean’s Sunnyside Pleasure Boats on the lower level – eventually, only the dance hall function remained.




Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion – August 7, 1922


Sunnyside, swimming pool, looking east September 1925

Sunnyside, swimming pool, looking east – September 1925



Palais Royale 1930s



Sunnyside Boardwalk Toronto 1931


Sunnyside, showing demolition of pavilion October 1956

Sunnyside, showing demolition of pavilion – October 1956


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


I remember Sunnyside the rise & fall of a magical era   I remember Sunnyside the rise & fall of a magical era   I remember Sunnyside the rise & fall of a magical era

Book, 1996


I remember Sunnyside the rise & fall of a magical era





Celebrating the Queen’s Plate on June 27: Snapshots in History

June 28, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)

Seagram, Joseph E., winners of King's Plate, 1891-1905, shown at Woodbine (later Greenwood) Race Track. Toronto, Ont

On June 27 and beyond, take a moment to celebrate the running of the Queen’s Plate horse race in Toronto. The Queen’s Plate is Canada’s oldest thoroughbred horse race (inaugural date: June 27, 1860 at the Carleton racetrack.) as well as the longest continuously run race in North America. The Queen’s Plate comprises the first of three races in the Canadian Triple Crown, the other two being the Prince of Wales Stakes and the Breeders’ Stakes.  Since 1957, the Queen’s Plate has had a distance of 1 14 miles (2.01 km).

The Queen’s Plate became the King’s Plate following the death of Queen Victoria and became the Queen’s Plate again following the death of King George VI and the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II onto the British throne. The reigning monarch is the patron of the event and last attended the running of the Queen’s Plate in July 2010.

The Queen’s Plate was held in different Ontario communities (such as Toronto, Guelph, St Catharines, Whitby, Kingston, Barrie, Woodstock, Picton, London, Hamilton and Ottawa) until it was held in Toronto permanently from 1883 onwards with royal permission.

Woodbine Racetrack (aka Greenwood Raceway) hosted the Queen’s Plate in 1876, 1881, and continuously from 1883 to 1955, after which the race moved to the newer Woodbine Racetrack in Etobicoke since 1956.

Avelino Gomez, Sandy Hawley, and Robin Platts tied for the jockeys with the most wins in the Queen’s Plate to date with four wins each. Harry Giddings Jr. and Roger Attfield tied for the trainers with the most wins in the Queen’s Plate to date with eight wins each.


Queen's plate trophy. Toronto Star June 18 1998


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

The Plate 150 years of royal tradition from Don Juan to Square Eddie

The Plate, 2009


The eyes have it Roger Attfield had his eyes trained on yesterday's running of the Queen's Plate His horse, Izvestia, was a runaway winner in record style.


Food for a king Trainer Roger Attfield offers a carrot to Queen's Plate hopeful Shudanz.

Celebrate the CN Tower on June 26: Snapshots in History

June 28, 2016 | John P. | Comments (2)

CN Tower

On June 26 and beyond, Torontonians and others should take a moment to celebrate the CN Tower, currently the seventh tallest freestanding structure in the world. For over thirty years from 1976 (opening to the public on June 26th of that year) to the completion of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and the Canton Tower in Guangzhou, China, the CN Tower held two records as the world’s tallest freestanding structure and the world’s tallest tower. (View the list of the tallest freestanding structures in the world.)

The CN Tower, built by the Canadian National Railway Company (CNR), stands at 553.33 metres (1,815 feet 5 inches), a dominant icon of the Toronto skyline. 1,537 workers were involved on the construction project over a 40-month period from February 6, 1973 onwards, working five days per week and 24 hours per day. The public opening occurred on June 26, 1976.

Workmen pouring bucket of concrete on CN Tower slip form Toronto Star August 21 1973

STEEL REINFORCING BARS and steel pipe-the backbone and arteries jut up from the rising CN Tower on the Metro waterfront Toronto Star January 2 1974


Seeing 90 Miles--or 1,500 Feet Down. The revolving restaurant in the Sky Pod of the CN Tower is 1,150 feet up, and offers a view of Niagara Falls on a clear day Toronto Star March 8 1976


Following the privatization of the CNR Company in 1995, the Government of Canada retained ownership of the CN Tower through a federal crown corporation called Canada Lands Company. Henceforth, the CN Tower could also be referred to as the Canadian National Tower or Canada’s National Tower rather than previously referring to the CNR Company itself.

In addition to serving as an entertainment and tourist destination with sightseeing opportunities and the revolving 360 restaurant, the CN Tower serves an important role as a telecommunications conduit for FM radio and television broadcasts, not to mention wireless paging and cellular telephone signals.

View the full collection of Toronto Star photographs about the CN Tower accessible through Toronto Public Library collections.

Consider the following book titles from Toronto Public Library collections:


The CN Tower by Meg Greene     CN Tower by Simon Rose   Towering giants and other tall megastructures  

The engineering book from the catapult to the Curiosity Rover 250 milestones in the history of engineering   Modern buildings identifying bilateral and rotational symmetry and transformations  


Or consider the following DVD for borrowing:


The height of excellence construction of the CN Tower

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