Fire Insurance Plans for Toronto
This guide was revised to include recent online Additional Sources which help in navigating the atlases.
Toronto Public Library has fire insurance plans for the City of Toronto dating from 1858 to 1973. Digitized versions of many of these maps up to 1910 are available on our website.
Sometimes called Goad's atlases, after Charles E. Goad who initiated fire insurance mapping in Canada in 1875, fire insurance plans are large scale aerial drawings of municipalities. They often show not only the locations of current buildings, but their size, shape and construction materials, as that was important information for insurers.
Fire Insurance Plans: why are they useful?
Today, researchers find fire insurance plans an invaluable information source, using them for a variety of purposes, including to:
- narrow the date when a building was constructed.
- determine earlier street numbers of individual buildings and previous names of streets which may have changed.
- locate a building on the street and in relation to other buildings on the block. This is useful in resolving confusion that sometimes happens in directory research. Sometimes a directory will indicate that a building, which is now located in mid-block, as being at the corner if no closer buildings to the corner have yet been built.
- determine the lot number, block number (if there is one), and the registered plan number of a property. These can be useful with assessment and title searches.
- indicate buildings that may have been demolished or recently constructed.
- track how buildings have been used and altered over time.
- indicate a building in relationship to its neighbourhood, such as schools, churches, industries.
- show how a neighbourhood has changed over the years.
- indicate sites where soil may be contaminated from former noxious uses.
Detail of Atlas of the city of Toronto and vicinity. (Goad) 2nd ed. 1893 Plate No. 47
For a guide to the symbols and colours used on the fire insurance maps, see the detail below from the Insurance plan of the city of Toronto, Ontario. (Goad) 1880 edition revised to 1889. Plate No. 3.
Searching the Library Website for Digitized Toronto Fire Insurance Maps
Suggested keywords and subjects:
- fire insurance Toronto [name of neighbourhood] e.g. fire insurance Toronto Riverdale
Sorting the results by date will make them easier to use. If you know the Plate Number, enter the year of the atlas and the Plate Number preceded by two zeros e.g.
Note: for 1910, zeros on Plate Numbers are not required.
What's my Toronto neighbourhood called?
Toronto fire insurance maps must be searched on the website by neighbourhood, not street. To find out what the area you want is called, check out the neighbourhood map. Fire insurance plans focused on built up areas, so that the digitized plans available on this website are primarily for the old city of Toronto, or former municipalities, Weston for example. This neighbourhood map link also allows you to retrieve other digitized items such as photographs, as well as information on the local history books the library owns. To limit your search to maps for your neighbourhood, click " microforms, maps and computer disks" on the left of the screen , under "Type".
Where to Find Toronto Fire Insurance Plans from Toronto Public Library
Location code: TRL SC: Toronto Reference Library, Special Collections
TRL HSS: Toronto Reference Library, Humanities & Social Sciences
NYCL CA: North York Central Library , Canadiana Department
- 1858 Boulton Atlas of Toronto. (W. S. and H. C. Boulton)
- 1880 Insurance plan of the city of Toronto, Ontario. (Chas.E. Goad) 1st ed.
- 1884 Atlas of the city of Toronto and suburbs from special survey and registered plans showing all buildings and lot numbers. (Goad) 1st edition
TRL SC NYCL CA
- 1889 Insurance plan of the city of Toronto, Ontario. (Goad) 1880 edition revised to 1889
1889 Goad digitized maps Note: mislabelled as 1892
- 1890 Atlas of the city of Toronto and vicinity from special survey... (Goad) 2nd ed.
- 1893 Atlas of the city of Toronto and vicinity.(Goad) 1st revision of 2nd edition.
- 1894 Atlas of the city of Toronto and vicinity.(Goad). 2nd revision of 2nd edition.
TRL HSS (microfilm only)
- 1899 Atlas of the city of Toronto and vicinity...(Goad) 3rd revision of 2nd edition.
- 1903 Atlas of the city of Toronto and vicinity...(Goad) 4th (last) revision of 2nd (1890) edition.
TRL HSS (microfilm) TRL SC (photostat) NYCL CA (catalogued as 1890 edition)
- 1904 Area of fire, wholesale district, Toronto, Canada April 19, 20. (Goad)
TRL SC (T1904/4Msm) and NYCL CA
- 1903 - 1918 Insurance Plans for the city of Toronto (Goad)
TRL SC (912.71354 G573.6 microfilm only)
- 1910 Atlas of the city of Toronto and suburbs. (3 vols). (Goad)
- 1912 Atlas of the City of Toronto and suburbs (3 vols) 3rd edition (1910) revised to May 1912. (Goad)
TRL HSS (microfilm) NYCL CA (1912 not indicated in date)
- 1914 - 1918 Insurance plan of the city of Toronto [including Toronto Juntion]. (Goad)
TRL SC (microfilm only)
- 1923 Atlas of the city of Toronto and suburbs (3 volumes) (Goad) 2nd revision of 3rd edition (1910).
TRL HSS (microfilm only)
- 1924 Atlas of the city of Toronto and suburbs (3 volumes) (Goad) 2nd revision of 3rd edition (1910).
TRL SC NYCL CA (Ontario Genealogical Society collection)
- 1904- 1951 Insurance Plans of the City of Toronto
TRL SC (microfiche in 9 vols., various years)
- 1952 - 1973 Insurance Plan of the City of Toronto. (Underwriters' Survey Bureau)
TRL SC NYCL CA (1952-1969 only)
City of Toronto Archives has digitized selected plates from fire insurance plans, 1880 to 1924
Access by Plate Number is provided on Nathan Ng's blog "Recursion"
Library and Archives Canada has digitized the following editions:
Detailed information on all Toronto and Canadian fire insurance plans is available in:
For further assistance contact:
Special Collections Department, Toronto Reference Library, 416-393-7156
Canadiana Department, North York Central Library, 416-395-5623