Bird's-eye view, looking north from harbour to north of Bloor St...
I have to admit that ever since I began working in the Canadiana Department I have been fascinated by Ontario place names, the histories associated with the places and maps.
The place names Athens, Baden, East Garafraxa, Lotus, Morningstar and Zavitz all sound exotic to me and yet are located in our province! How about Punkeydoodles Corners? I have always valued the effort that local authors have devoted to compiling and writing local history. Documenting the minutiae of a place and at times creating the only existing record of the past in a certain place, are invaluable in terms of our history.
Local histories in Ontario have been published since the early 1800s. Since genealogy and local history are complimentary subjects, the Canadiana Department has always collected Ontario local histories to support our genealogy collection. The reference collection of local histories for Ontario on the 6th floor of North York Central Library includes:
- Architectural histories
- Biographical dictionaries by place
- Community newspapers and indexes
- Directories for cities (provincial and national coverage)
- Federal Voters Lists on microfilm (1935-1979)
- Gazetteers and geographical dictionaries
- Histories of companies, institutions, villages, townships and counties
- Maps, fire insurance plans (focus on Toronto and York County) and county atlases
- Municipal documents for the former City of North York up to 1997
- School histories and yearbooks for Toronto and some Ontario schools
Our books are all reference and can be easily located in our library catalogue by typing the name of the place and the word “history” and/or a related subject e.g. "Toronto school history" in the search box of Toronto Public Library’s catalogue.
If you are interested in discovering local histories (usually published before 1925) that have been digitized you can have a look at the following sites:
You can obtain an overview of the local histories published by consulting:
Barbara Aitken’ s “Local Histories of Ontario Municipalities 1997-2007 : a bibliography”.
Hope you will visit the 6th floor of North York Central Library to discover our extensive collection of Ontario local histories!