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TRL Program Calendar October 2015

September 30, 2015 | Katherine | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Music, art and the economics of real life with Jim Stanford. Plus authors Will Ferguson,

Helen Humphreys, Geraldine Brooks and Jonathan Franzen.

Click on each image to enlarge or  Download The October 2015 @ TRL as a pdf file

For a full list of programs to browse or search, visit our Programs, Classes and Exhibits page.

October 1 October 2 October 3 October 4 October 5 October 6

Put a Bird on It! John J. Audubon’s Birds of America at the TD Gallery

September 29, 2015 | Nicole | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Calling all bird nerds!

Make sure you stop by the TD Gallery at the Toronto Reference Library to check out our new exhibit, John J. Audubon’s Birds of America.

  TD Gallery Audubon Birds of Americ

TD Gallery Audubon Birds of Americ

The exhibit showcases striking images of birds from the masterwork of celebrated 19th century naturalist, John James Audubon (1785-1851), who set out to document all the known bird species in North America. The Toronto Public Library is very lucky to own one of the complete sets of the double-elephant folio edition of Birds of America – one of only five copies in Canada. The folio owes its enormous size to the fact that Audubon insisted every bird be illustrated life-size.

Barn Owl
Barn Owl (Plate 171), Tyto alba, 1833

  Whooping Crane

Whooping Crane (Plate 226), Grus Americana, 1834


Visit the gallery to get up close to a sampling of these rare hand-painted, engraved prints. Learn more about the habits and habitats of these birds in Audubon’s own words through quotes from his published field notes, known as the Ornithological Biography. You can also hear birdcalls and watch footage of birds in the wild on one of our neat interactive touchscreens!

There will be free guided tours of the exhibit today (September 29), October 20, or November 10 – tours begin at 2 p.m. in the TD Gallery.


Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican (Plate 421), Pelecanus occidentalis, 1838

Before and after your visit, there are lots of other ways to explore Birds of America at the library.

Check out our Virtual Exhibit for a sneak peak at the plates on display.

Explore the Digital Archive to see all 435 digitized plates from Birds of America. Find your favourite and you can even order a reproduction to display at home (I’m looking at you, flamingo fans!).

Find and share some of our favourite birds via our Pinterest and Flickr galleries!

You can also join us for two special events for a deeper look into Audubon’s fascinating life and process:

  • Audubon’s Aviary, a talk with John Robert Carley and Mark Peck, local experts in ornithology, field birding, and conservation. (Tuesday, October 13, 6 p.m. at the Toronto Reference Library – Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium)
  • Katherine Govier on Audubon, a talk with the award-winning author about how the library’s copy of Birds of America helped inspire her novel Creation. (Wednesday, November 11, 2 p.m. at the Toronto Reference Library – Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium)



If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading it, Govier’s wonderful novel imagines what may have happened on Audubon’s summer expedition up the dreary coast of Labrador and Newfoundland in 1833. His daily journal and letters detailing the three-month journey were apparently bowdlerized by his granddaughter in 1897.

The library also has many other captivating books about John James Audubon and his feathered subjects. Here is just a small sample:

The Audubon Reader

John James Audubon's journal of 1826: the voyage to the Birds of America  

John James Audubon and The birds of America: a visionary achievement in ornithological illustration by Lee Vedder

Under a wild sky: John James Audubon and the making of the Birds of America by William Souder

Audubon's wilderness palette: the birds of Canada by David M. Lank

Into the woods: John James Audubon lives his dream by Robert Burleigh

The boy who drew birds: a story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

John James Audubon and The birds of America: a visionary achievement in ornithological illustration  Under Wild Sky  Audubon's Wilderness Palette  Into the woods: John James Audubon lives his dream  The boy who drew birds: a story of John James Audubon


Whether you are already an avid birder or just bird-curious, this is a wonderful time to explore one of the library’s great treasures.

Mark Twain in Toronto

September 28, 2015 | Raimo | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Mark Twain 1884 Twain and Cable Autographed George Washington Cable Portrait 

Mark Twain, The Twins of Genius on Tour, George Washington Cable: Wikipedia Media Commons

Mark Twain visited Toronto twice during his 1884-1885 North American lecture tour to prior to the publication of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He was accompanied by fellow author George Washington Cable, on what became known as "The Twins of Genius Tour". While for Twain the tour was a promotional vehicle for Huckleberry Finn, it was also a significant source of income for the both authors. Author lectures or readings were ticketed events, and celebrity authors like Twain and Cable could draw large paying audiences. Twain's lectures were more than readings, they were entertaining performance pieces, similar perhaps to modern stand-up comedy routines and immensely popular with audiences.

  Mark Twain Mark Twain on Stage

Mark Twain on Stage and Mark Twain Portrait:  Wikipedia Media Commons


Rossin House

 Rossin House Image Toronto Public Library

While in Toronto, Twain and Cable both stayed at the upscale Rossin House Hotel at the corner of King Street and York Street. The building stood until 1969, when it was demolished to make way for the Toronto-Dominion Centre.


Allan Gardens Pavillion

Allan Gardens: Image Toronto Public Library

Twain and Cable lectured in Toronto in 1884 on December 8th and 9th. The venue was the 2,500 seat pavilion at Allan Gardens. Tickets cost 50 cents, with an extra 25 cent charge for reserved seats. Both performances were packed. "The Twins of Genius" returned February 14, 1885 for another Toronto engagement, but attendance for this third lecture was disappointing.



Twain had a very specific reason for including Toronto as part of this lecture tour. It was a calculated maneuver to protect the publishing rights to his forthcoming novel. While in Toronto he filed the Canadian and British copyrights for Huckleberry Finn. The law required him to be present in Canada to establish his copyright. As a result the most quintessential of American novels was published in Canada and the UK in 1884, a year before the first American edition appeared. This move avoided a loss of income resulting from pirated editions being published in Canada and Britain.


Copyright is a recurring theme in Twain's autobiography. He was somewhat obsessed with the shortcomings of contemporary copyright protection and lobbied at every opportunity for stronger legislation. Not only was there a lack of international copyright protection for authors, but copyrights in the United States expired 40 years after a book's publication. This situation represented a significant loss of royalties for authors. Twain dearly hoped to provide a secure financial future for his family after his death. The 40-year copyright limit essentially meant his children would not continue to benefit from future sales of his works.

Autobiography of Mark Twain Vol One Autobiography of Mark Twain Vol Two Autobiography of Mark Twain Vol Three

Of course Mark Twain still earned the modern equivalent of millions from book revenues and lecture fees during his career. Unfortunately he did not manage his money well, losing the bulk of his fortune in bad business ventures. His largest financial blunder was backing the Paige Compositor. He invested the modern equivalent of millions in inventor James Paige's mechanical typesetting machine over a period of years. But the Paige Compositor was a failure and Twain lost his investment.

Paige Compositor


















The Paige Compositor


Twain eventually declared bankruptcy in 1894. He then embarked on an around the world speaking tour to raise the funds to pay his creditors. He was able to pay his debts by 1900 and he returned to America, where he continued to accept lucrative speaking engagements.

By the time of his passing in 1910, Twain was again a wealthy man with the means to support his family for the rest of their natural lives. Sadly, Mark Twain was predeceased by three of his four children, Langdon, Susy and Jean and by his wife Olivia. Only his daughter Clara of his immediate family survived him.

  Mark Twain gravestone

Pipeline Trouble: Saying No to Fossil Fuels in a Warming World

September 28, 2015 | Pam | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Fragile Planet


As society begins to seriously grapple with the global threat of climate change, pipeline proposals like Keystone XL, Northern Gateway and Energy East have faced unprecedented levels of opposition.

Adam Scott from Environmental Defence will explain why citizens are saying no to oil sands pipelines across North America. Canada's transition away from an economy based on fossil fuels to a modern one based on clean energy will bring large and lasting economic benefits for Canadians.

The program takes place at Toronto Reference Library on September 30 in the Beeton Auditorium. 

Some recent books on the subject of energy policy, the Alberta tar sands, and oil pipelines:

A line in the sands Energy of slaves Ethical oil Pipeline and the paradigm

A Line in the Tar Sands: struggles for environmental justice, by Toban Black

Energy of slaves : oil and the new servitude, by Andrew Nikiforuk

Ethical oil : the case for Canada's oil sands, by Ezra Levant

The pipeline and the paradigm : Keystone XL, tar sands, and the battle to defuse the carbon bomb, by Samuel Avery



The Complete Works: A Film Screening and Celebration of bpNichol

September 23, 2015 | Winona | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Please join us for the North American premiere of The Complete Works, an experimental cinematic ode to bpNichol, on Thursday September 24, 7:00-8:15 p.m., at Toronto Reference Library.

The Complete Works (film, 2014) trailer

Fifteen years in the making, The Complete Works, by filmmaker Justin Stephenson, is a welcome tribute to the acclaimed and beloved poet bpNichol, and a fantastic introduction for those who have yet to discover him. This event will feature a screening of the film, along with a visual display of bpNichol's work, and will conclude with a Q&A period.

BpNichol photo credit Linda Charyk RosenfeldPhoto of bpNichol by Linday Charyk Rosenfeld

bpNichol (Barrie Phillip Nichol, 1944-1988) was one of Canada's leading experimental writers. He was an inventive force who blurred the boundaries between genres and played joyfully with textual strategies, techniques, and processes. His inspiring range of groundbreaking works include poetry, stories, essays, operas, musicals, comic books, collage, computer poems, spoken word, and television.

The Complete Works by bpNichol"The Complete Works" (1968)

In the mid-1960s, bpNichol became known for his concrete poetry. In 1970 he won the Governor General's Award for four small volumes: Beach Head, a collection of lyric poems; Still Water, a box of poems on cards; The True Eventual Story of Billy the Kid, an anti-heroic re-telling of the Billy the Kid legend; and The Cosmic Chef, (PDF) a boxed anthology of Canadian concrete poems that he edited.

Blues by bpNichol"Blues" (1968)

Emblems bpNichol
"Emblems" (1985), published in Zygal: A Book of Mysteries and Translations

His best-known published work is The Martyrology, a life-long poem begun in 1967 that came to encompass 9 books in 6 volumes and remained unfinished at the time of his death.

The Martyrology Books 1 & 2 The Martyrology Books 3 & 4 The Martyrology Book 5
The Martyrology Book 6 The Martyrology Book(s) 7 & The Martyrology Book 9

The Martyrology Books 1-9 (1972-1992)

His early, convention-shattering work in sound poetry was documented in Michael Ondaatje's short 1970 film Sons of Captain Poetry. (online version)


"Pome Poem" (1972) | Hear more here.

He believed in the power of collaboration and constantly worked with other artists, including in the sound poetry group The Four Horsemen with Rafael Barreto-River, Paul Dutton, and Steve McCaffery.


The Four Horsemen in Ron Mann's film Poetry in Motion (1982)

Some of you may be familiar with bpNichol's work from the children's television show Fraggle Rock.


"Muck and Goo" (1983) from Fraggle Rock, music by Phil Balsam, lyrics by Dennis Lee and bpNichol

In 1983/84, he used an Apple computer and programming language to create a series of kinetic computer poems. 


"First Screening" (1984) (more about this computer poem here)

In 1994, a Toronto street was named in his honour. bpNichol Lane is just behind Coach House Books, one of his publishers, in Toronto's Annex neighbourhod.

bpNichol Lane

An eight-line poem is set in concrete in the lane: "A / LAKE / A / LINE / A / LONE".

A / LAKE / A / LINE / A / LONE
 This poem also appears in the book An H in the Heart: A Reader.

bpNichol Lane is not far from the Toronto Reference Library and would be a perfect destination to check out after you've been to the program The Complete Works: A Film Screening and Celebration of bpNichol on Thursday. Hope to see you there!


Addendum: On September 24th the new Digital Archive was relaunched and is now up and running. Browse thousands of digitized pages by bpNichol and download his books in PDF - for free!

Grand Designs: Innovative Urban Design and Toronto's City Hall

September 22, 2015 | Cynthia | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

City Hall LogoTo mark the 50th Anniversary of Toronto's "New City Hall", we've posted blogs, celebrated at City Hall and highlighted a wonderful exhibit curated by George Kapelos and Christopher Armstrong, at Ryerson University in the Paul H. Cocker Gallery.

Two new books, Competing Modernisms (Kapelos) and Civic Symbol (Armstrong) have been launched as part of the exhibit. If you prefer the digital landscape, check out the Toronto Public Library's new site, Grand Designs: The Toronto City Hall Design Competition, to view the models and plans entered in the City Hall Competition, 1958.

Don't miss the final lecture in our three-part lecture series. Lectures 1 and 2 covered the competition itself and the political atmosphere around the new City Hall. George Baird, former Dean, Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at University of Toronto, and architect and partner, Baird Sampson Neuert Architects, will talk about the urban design aspects of Revell's winning entry, and the way the building of City Hall influenced Toronto buildings and public spaces.


George Baird photo by Andre Beneteau George Baird graduated from the University of Toronto in 1962, and then went on to University College, London, England. Baird taught architectural theory and design at the Royal College of Art and the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, returning to Toronto in 1967.

There he founded his architectural practice, and joined the faculty of architecture at the University of Toronto and the faculty of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, where he was the G. Ware Travelstead Professor of Architecture, and Director of the M Arch I and M Arch II Programs. From 2005 to 2009 Baird was Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto.

Since the pioneering 1974 urban design study On Building Downtown, he has been the author/editor of numerous books, including Meaning in Architecture (with Charles Jencks), The Space of Appearance, and Queues, Rendezvous, Riots (with Mark Lewis).

Writings on Architecture and the City

The recently published Writings on Architecture and the City is an anthology of texts by George Baird, focusing on his on going interest in planning and the built environment, particularly in relation to the city of Toronto. The book is essential reading for those interested in architecture, architectural history and theory, urbanism and the built environment.


 Don't miss

George Baird, Thursday, September 24, 2015, 7pm

City Hall Council Chamber

100 Queen Street West


And please join us in the Toronto Reference Library Atrium

on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 7pm,  for

The Battle of the Architects: Revisiting City Hall's Architectural Design

Noted architects defend the finalists designs from the 1958 competition --

Dragon's Den-style.


Visit the Toronto Reference Library,

Humanities and Social Sciences Department, Toronto Collection

for further reading.

My Brilliant Career!

September 18, 2015 | Pam | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Each year, Canadian Business Magazine  compiles a list of 100 best occupations showing the highest growth and the biggest paycheques. Engineers, air traffic controllers, statisticians, and registered nurses are examples of occupations showing growth. There are many other occupations on that list.

Are you thinking about a new career, and would like to research the possibilities? We have resources for you on just about any career you can think of. The Careers Collection, located in the Business, Science and Technology Department on the 3rd floor of the Toronto Reference Library has a wealth of materials for job searching, training, certifying, resume writing and more. Approximately one third of the collection can be borrowed.

Breaking into the Game Industry Career Paths in Psychology















Breaking into the Game Industry, by Brenda Brathwaite

Career Paths in Psychology, by Robert J. Stemberg

  Best Jobs for the 21st Follow your true colors to the work












Best Jobs for the 21st century, by Laurence Shatkin

Follow Your True Colors to the Work you Love, by Carolyn Kalil

Do you want to update your old resume or need to write an effective cover letter?  Do you need to practice for an upcoming job interview? Here are a few examples of available titles: 

New Resume New Career  Cover of resume books

New Resume New Career, by Catherine Jewell

202 Great Cover Letters, by Michael Betrus

Knock em Dead : the ultimate job search guide, 2015, by Martin John Yate

Everything Practice Interview Book, by Dawn Rosenberg McKay

Are you planning to write a certification exam? Here a few examples of certification review guides.

certification review guides 

Get Certified : a guide to wireless communication engineering technologies, by Syed Ahson.

Firefighter Exams, by James J. Murtagh

Pharmacy Technician Exam Review, by Lorraine C. Zentz

  Radiography Prep



Radiography Prep. by D.A. Saia







Do you need to practice for the GMAT, GRE or LSAT exams? We also have SAT, SSAT, OAT and more!

GMAT Premier 2016 Master the GRE    LSAT 2016

GMAT Premier 2016

Master the GRE, 23rd edition

McGraw-Hill Education LSAT 2016

There is also  a great online resource called Career Cruising, a career guidance database with career and occupational profiles and links to relevant Canadian College and University Programs. It also includes a Canadian Job Search Section. Sign in with your library card.

You might also want to check out these upcoming job and career programs at Toronto Reference Library or or at other branches across the city

Books, Books, Books - Sale, Sale, Sale: Treasures and Good Books Sale September 17 - 19, 2015 at the Toronto Reference Library

September 15, 2015 | Bill V. | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Treasures and Good Book Sale is back September 17-19, 2015, after two years. The Friends of the Toronto Public Library, South Chapter have gathered thousands of high quality donations.  They've sorted, sifted and priced a wide array of art and photography books, first editions, author signed copies, rare and out of print books.  There are also unusual sets and a wide selection of beautiful Folio Society titles. Also mixed in are a wide range of affordable reading copies of classic titles. 

Prices will range from $1 up to $300 but most material is between $2 and $15. Sorry for those who like to bargain, the prices are firm. Good news though, we accept cash, debit or credit card.

Treasures and Good Books Sale September 17 to September 19, 2015 held at Toronto Reference Library, Beeton Auditorium and sponsored by the Friends of the Toronto Public Library, South Chapter.


Friends of Toronto Public Library, South Chapter

Treasures and Good Books Sale

Thursday, September 17,  9:30 a.m - 8 p.m

Friday, September 18, 9 a.m - 7 p.m

Saturday, September 19, 9 a.m - 4 p.m 

Beeton Auditorium, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street 

All proceeds benefit library programs.

For more info and volunteer opportunities, call 416-397-5948 or email

friendssouthchapter @


If you can't make the sale, there are plenty of bargains at the two Friends' bookstores:

Did you know the Friends of Toronto Public Library have over 100 volunteers and that together, every year they dedicate over 11,500 hours of service? It is through their support and dedication that to date, the Friends of Toronto Public Library, North and South Chapters have jointly raised over $2 million in support of Toronto Public Library programs. You can buy both donated items and materials withdrawn from the library's collection. Money raised from sales is used to support library  programs and services.

For further information, visit our website to volunteer or donate material.



Grand Designs : Modernist Architecture and More

September 10, 2015 | Cynthia | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

City Hall Logo

The actual 50th Anniversary of the New City Hall is Sunday, September 13, 2015.

To mark this event, we have posted a couple of blog posts. We’ve looked at past City Halls, we’ve talked about the competition for the New City Hall in 1958, and we launched a new website, A Grand Design. But there is so much more to discuss. Two noted specialists in the field have published books to tell the tale.

Put your hold on these books now.


Competing Modernisms

George Thomas Kapelos FRAIC is currently an architect, planner and associate professor in the Department of Architectural Science, Ryerson University as well as a Visiting Professor at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture at the University of Toronto.

On Thursday, September 3, 2015, George Kapelos filled the City Hall Council Chambers. Not only did Kapelos give a stimulating overview of what was happening in the architectural world at the time, but he also delighted us with segments of actual CBC television interviews with the competition's judges, rescued from old kinescopes lying in the vaults of the CBC Archives.


City Hall  Competing ModernismsSo now it is time to read the book: Competing modernisms : Toronto's new City Hall and Square. It examines the history, impact, and influence of Toronto's 1958 City Hall and Square competition on the design of public institutions and urban public spaces in Canada, and reflects on the value of architectural competitions as Modern architecture developed in the mid-20th century.

The release of this new book coincides with an exhibition at Ryerson University.




Shaping Canadian Modernity: Toronto's 1958 New City Hall and Square Competition and its Legacy, curated by George Thomas Kapelos and historian Christopher Armstrong, is currently mounted at the Paul H. Cocker Gallery, Ryerson University from September 1 to October 9, 2015. The official opening of the show and book launch is Thursday, September 17, 2015 at 6:30 pm.


Civic Symbol

Making Toronto Modern Armstrong

On Thursday, September 10, 2015, Dr. Christopher Armstrong, Professor Emeritus, York University, presents the second lecture of our 3-part series. Having long taught courses on the urban history of Toronto, he has published a book on municipal politics in the 1890s and most recently a study of the spread of Modernist architecture: Making Toronto modern : architecture and design, 1895-1975 .




ArmstrongCivicSymbolHis new book, Civic Symbol : Creating Toronto's New City Hall, 1952-1966, speaks on the background and history of the construction of Viljo Revell's winning design for the Toronto City Hall. The path was not a straight one. Dr. Armstrong chronicles the complex and controversial development of this urban landmark from the initial international competition to the many debates that surrounded its construction and furnishing. Illustrated with photographs, plans, and drawings, Civic Symbol is the essential history of this iconic Canadian building.



Additional Reading, Commentary and Dialogue

Apparently Frank Lloyd Wright claimed future generations would say the new Toronto City Hall "marks the spot where Toronto fell." Was he right? What do you think?

Come down to the Toronto Reference Library and see the April 1959 issue of Canadian Architect. The issue opens with a eulogy to Frank Lloyd Wright who had just passed away. However, the magazine is largely devoted to various views on the New City Hall and Modernist architecture in Canada.

Laced with wonderful black and white photographs and drawings, articles such as Reflections on Monumentality, How to Buy a Work of Art (Sara Bowser), City Hall and Centre (Sigfried Giedion), The Civic Square (Jaqueline Tyrwhitt) and for contrast, Report : What’s Happening to Downtown Montreal, provide a snapshot of the game-changing influence of the City Hall competition and the Modernist architecture movement on our sleepy Canadian cities.

For related reading, have a look at our booklist and visit the Toronto Collection, Humanities and Social Sciences Department, Toronto Reference Library.



Enjoy September and take in some of these special events:

City Hall 50th Series: Civic Symbol, Part 2 with Christopher Armstrong

Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 7pm, City Hall Council Chamber


City Hall Special 50th Anniversary Event

Sunday, September 13, 2015 from noon-5pm


Shaping Canadian Modernity: Toronto's 1958 New City Hall and Square Competition and its Legacy

Thursday, September 17, 2015 at 6:30pm, Paul H. Cocker Gallery, Ryerson University, special opening. 


City Hall 50th Series : Innovative Urban Design Aspects of Revell's Design, Part 3 with George Baird

Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 7pm, City Hall Council Chamber


Join us for the Battle of the Architects : Revisiting City Hall's Design

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 7pm, Toronto Reference Library Atrium

Research Guide to Toronto Maps Online

September 8, 2015 | Richard | Comments (8) Facebook Twitter More...

Bird's Eye View of Toronto 1893Bird's-eye view of Toronto, 1893.  For description click here. Open in full size Open in full size



The explosion of maps on the internet has been made possible, in part, by advances in Geographic information systems, or GIS: the set of tools that capture, store, analyze, manage, and present data that are linked to locations (definition adapted from the glossary of terms in Getting started with GIS: a LITA guide). Normally, GIS relies on the availability of large 'data sets'. The City of Toronto hosts map making "Open Data" on its website (see below) for anyone to use. Other institutions, like universities, grant permissions, through student number authentication, to use special subscriptions to data sets for mapping and research purposes. For those up to the challenge, Quantum GIS (QGIS) is free public domain software for map creation, editing, data viewing, and analysis. To find out more about GIS, visit Safari where you will find many excellent textbooks and reference works that explore in detail this exciting topic.

Maps are used for all sorts of purposes. This Research Guide will be of interest to those conducting both contemporary and historical research. Sometimes online maps are not easy to locate: it is hoped that this list will be of use to researchers in various subjects of enquiry, including urban planning, geography, environmental studies, local history, and interdisciplinary studies.

The following is an alphabetical list of 25 sources of Toronto maps online, freely available to anyone with an internet connection.

For sites of mostly present day or contemporary interest see: 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 23, 24.

For historical interest see: 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25.

The list of sites:

1. AirSensors

This new site was recently featured in a CTV News article. The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) "is calculated based on the risks of a combination of common air pollutants including ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter which are known to harm human health. Air quality is changing all the time, though daily and weekly patterns exist. Locate the nearest AQHI monitoring station near you and click to see historical measurements."  

Air Sensors Related sources include the Ontario AQHI and the Canada AQHI.


2. The Atlas of Canada 

Use this site for Toporama, a GIS interactive map of Canada that includes a detailed map of Toronto. Available data sets cover topics such as environment and conservation, municipal services, roads and transportation, topography and waterfront. The Atlas archives a small number of historical maps of Toronto.

Toronto Airport
Using Toporama, I was able to enclose a map section to work out the approximate area occupied by the Toronto Island Airport


3. The Archives of Ontario Visual Database

The Visual Database of the Archives of Ontario includes digitized maps for Toronto and environs that cover the early history of the area. Search tip: type "maps" into the search box, but do not include a second term (as invited) since to do so will result in zero hits (i.e. just type "Maps", not "Maps" and "Toronto"). From the results list you will need to browse to find maps.

Marshat DistThis map shows a marsh where the Distillery Historic District is currently located

4. Aerial Photographs of Toronto (from the City of Toronto)

In these photographs, covering the periods from 1947 to 1992, "you can see buildings appearing, changing, and disappearing over the years. You can also distinguish geographic forms, such as rivers that seem to vanish, indicating that they have been channeled into sewers, and neighbourhood features such as parks, schools and community centres". (Just a little note of caution, some of the Index maps on the site are not correctly georeferenced to the maps covered).

Maple Leaf Stadium
The Maple Leaf Stadium (built in 1926) from a 1950 Aerial Photo. The stadium was home to Toronto's Maple Leafs baseball team and was demolished in 1968; the area now forms Little Norway Park.

5. BlogTO Neighbourhood Guides

This site maps the restaurants and stores voted "best in Toronto" in each of Toronto's Neighbourhoods.



6. The Changing Shape of Ontario (from the Archives of Ontario)

This set of pages provides very good historical political information that documents, through maps, the evolution of the Ontario boundaries, including those of York and Toronto.


Our province was once divided into four districts. In 1792 York East Riding appeared in the 'Home' District.


7. City of Toronto Maps

The City's Map page contains a treasure trove of geographic information, beginning with this Interactive Map where one can select and view 30 different map attributes (e.g. the locations of childcare centres, bike ways, traffic cameras, ravines, etc.) under 7 category headings (e.g. Administrative Boundaries, Community, Transportation). For those interested in GIS, detailed information is available through the Open Data portal, where citizens are encouraged to create apps that will enhance 'living in Toronto' - view over 700 data sets and files! The Other Maps page lists dozens and dozens of maps that will be of interest to anyone in the city: from Road Restrictions, to Tennis Courts, to Recreational Facilities. Wellbeing Toronto

It is easy to create a map like this which shows the location of Fire, Police, Libraries, and Public Transit. This one comes from Healthy Living Toronto.

And last, but not least, the City of Toronto hosts two indispensable and related demographic maps very important for policy development and urban planning: Neighbourhood Profiles and Ward Profiles.

  Neighbourhood list

8. City of Toronto Zoning Bylaw Interactive Map and Office Consolidation

Zoning can be a complicated matter, but this map, along with the list of amendments for any changes subsequent to the last posted update, should be current. For any zoning issues or questions prior to 1998 (the year of amalgamation), consult the former municipalities' individual zoning by-laws kept in the Humanities and Social Sciences Department of the Toronto Reference Library, 2nd Floor, and/or contact the City Clerk's Office (416-392-8016).



9. Don Valley Historical Mapping Project

This collection includes over 100 maps of Toronto and the Don River Valley watershed ranging from 1780 to 1962, including city planning, environment & conservation, fire insurance plans, historic, topographic and waterfront. These images are available to view in JPEG or TIF format. The project has also compiled a number of geospatial data sets which are presented in formats that are not compatible with TPL computers.


Don Valley Historical Mapping Project

10. Elections Canada and Elections Ontario

These websites provide political boundary maps for Federal and Ontario Provincial Electoral Districts in Toronto.

Elections Ontario

11. Environment Canada – Environmental Indicators

Many of us are familiar with Environment Canada Weather Radar, but Environment Canada also monitors local and regional environmental indicators using multiple accessible map and data formats.

Greenhouse Gases in Toronto


12. Fort York and Garrison Common Maps

According to Nathan Ng, this "themed collection of site-specific historical maps and images was put together in collaboration with the Friends of Fort York. The project explores the evolution of the Fort, and the surrounding 1,000 acres comprising the Military Reserve/Garrison Common, an area including the CNE, CAMH, and Liberty Village." (see Nathan's comment below).

Block house
Blockhouse and battery in Old Fort, Toronto

13. The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

This U.S. site catalogues over one million images of the Earth from space: the "service is provided by the International Space Station program and the JSC Earth Science & Remote Sensing Unit, ARES Division, Exploration Integration Science Directorate". An interactive map search function allows users to focus in on any area of the Earth they choose. There are thousands of pictures of Canadian cities captured from space, including many of Toronto.

View of Toronto from spaceCredit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

14. Historical Maps of Toronto

In 2013, with the curiosity of a historian, Nathan Ng asked, "How did ‘Muddy York’ develop into the modern metropolis we live in?"

In the process of answering this question, Nathan assembled "these important maps from our past" that "reveal the essential tension of this city — between the quest for growth, and the heavy influence of what came before. They reflect a municipality in constant flux, and give insight into our contemporary urban identity."

Detail of the Toronto PurchaseDetail of the Toronto Purchase: "a treaty negotiated between the British and the resident Indians in 1787"

15. Land Information Ontario

This website can be a bit confusing to use, but it is important to include here because it contains a large amount of Ontario provincial public information. The LIO has a "data warehouse with more than 300 data sets that include geographic information on Ontario’s road network, trails, wetlands, lakes, river and streams, parks and protected areas, soil types, heritage sites, airports, official names, and municipal boundaries." The LIO is part of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry: for an interesting detour see, "12 pages within the topic: Natural resources maps" by MNRF.

Ontario Open dataThe Ontario Open Data website will lead you to data sets that will test your mapping skills.

16. Library and Archives Canada - Maps, Charts and Architectural Plans

There are around 200 digital maps of Toronto ranging in date from 1788 to 1933 at this site. The map collection covers a variety of types and topics including aerial photographs, base maps, city planning, fire insurance plans, historic, land use & zoning, municipal services, parks & recreation, roads & transportation, and waterfront. Most digital maps are easily viewable in PDF format.

Toronto Fort
Imagine . . . Toronto might have had its own Pentagon.  Above: detail from the 1833 Royal Engineer Office "Sketch of the Ground Plan of a projected Place d'armes for the position of York, Upper Canada".

Search Tip:  All records in the Maps, Chart and Plans Collection are accessible using the Archives Search tool. Search for Toronto using the "Title Keyword" search option to eliminate maps published in Toronto. Beside "Type of material" select "Maps and cartographic material". Also, try searching for the term "York" in "Title Keyword", then use the operator "NOT" entering "New" to eliminate maps published in New York. The results of these searches can be narrowed to display only maps that are available online.

17. Strava (note: this is the only site in this guide that requires you to create an account)

This site is designed primarily for biking and running enthusiasts and is a good example of how big data (using GPS) can be applied to GIS mapping. Cyclists and runners can search or browse for 'segments' (stretches of timed sections on maps) and load their own timed results to compare them with others times.

But since nearly one-half of the millions of uploaded GPS activities are for travel commutes, the billions of data points collected using GPS technology "when aggregated, enable deep analysis and of understanding of real-world cycling and pedestrian route preferences"; and according to Strava Metro: using Strava in "departments of transportation and city planners, as well as advocacy groups and corporations, can make informed and effective decisions when planning, maintaining, and upgrading cycling and pedestrian corridors."

Even at this scale, you can see from this "Heatmap" by Strava Labs that the natural settings along the Don River are the most popular routes.

18. Toronto Archives

The City of Toronto Archives "has over 10,000 maps and aerial photographs in its collection".  Fire Insurance Plans and Historical Maps and Atlases are available through the online maps portal. You can search the whole Toronto Archives collection, print and electronic or conduct an advanced search.


Plan of Harbour 1792This small detail comes from a Plan of Toronto Harbour, Joseph Bouchette, 1792

19. Toronto Fire Insurance Plans & Index (from the University of Toronto Map Library)

This large collection of public domain Fire Insurance Plans is now accessible through an index that "allows you to identify and download out-of-copyright fire insurance plans (1889-1922)". The very useful "Index Map" includes detailed information about the plans: volume number, date, and plan number.

 Plan of University of Toronto
This Plan was published only 8 years before a great fire ripped through UC and destroyed its interior. Note that the heights of towers are indicated in these plans.


20. Toronto Historical Maps

Here is another excellent resource put together by Nathan Ng. This easy-to-use interactive map allows researchers to see changes across the city for select years beginning in 1818, and going forward to present times. The site is especially useful for tracking street and road changes.

From the "About" section - "About the cached maps: Data was collected from the University of Toronto Map and Data Library, Toronto Public Library, Library and Archives Canada, and City of Toronto Archives.The maps were created from digital scans of the original plat maps Charles E. Goad, James Cane, and others. Thanks to Nathan Ng for organizing these great maps into one location, via his Historical Maps of Toronto project. About the Viewer and Data: Using ArcGIS 10.2, the raw images were georeferenced and created into mosaic data sets. The data sets were then cached and published using ArcGIS Server. The viewer is built [with] ArcGIS Viewer for Flex. This is a sister project to the Pittsburgh and Cleveland historic mapping viewers."


St James Cathedral and St Lawrence MarketIn this detail from the 1842 map, you can see in the upper right two important city landmarks: St James Cathedral and St Lawrence Market.


21. The Toronto Public Library Digital Archive

Use this site to find almost a thousand digitized maps of Toronto published between 1788 and 1913. The collection includes base maps, city planning maps, fire insurance plans, historic and waterfront maps.  All maps are in JPEG format.

Toronto Maps

Search tip: In the Digital Archive Search box type: "Toronto Maps", then sort by Subject, e.g. "Fire Insurance Plans", Financial District", etc.


22. Toronto Public Library Local History: Toronto Geography & Maps

We have organized some of the mapping resources that are part of this list, so expect to see some duplication in terms of content.

23. Toronto Public Library Map of Neighbourhood Historical Resources

This interactive page was designed to link you to library resources on Toronto's unique neighbourhoods.

Click on the part of the Toronto map below to be linked to digitized maps and photos of your neighbourhood.

Importantly, also find references to your neighbourhood in print books held in our collections, (e.g. Tales of North Toronto) and in ebooks (e.g. North Toronto in pictures, 1889-1912) that you can read online.


TPL Neighbourhoods

24. Torontoist: Posts Filed Under Maps

This site includes dozens of interesting and useful blog posts that contain maps that have been created by various enthusiasts. If you want maps on biking, rental housing, schools, ethnic distribution, public transit, ghosts, and more - you'll find them here.

Typographic Map of TorontoThis "Typographic" Map of Toronto is made entirely of words - now that's different.


25. University of Toronto Map & Data Library 

Use this site to find hundreds of maps of Toronto ranging in date from 1780 to 1990. Maps in this collection contain the following types and topics: aerial photographs, base maps, city planning, historic, land use & zoning, roads & transportation, topographical and waterfront. There are maps of Toronto neighbourhoods and suburbs. Some are ZIP files which are inaccessible on a TPL computer. Some maps and most of the large GIS data inventory of Toronto materials are restricted to University of Toronto students and faculty.

lands for sale
This map marks out lands for sale in the area of King Street and Bathurst Street.



This list is a 'snapshot' of some of the sites available at this time. As you can see, there is now a wealth of mapping resources covering Toronto. Many more obvious and popular mapping websites are not even covered here, e.g. MapQuest, Google Maps (including "Street View" and Photos) & Earth, and Yellow Pages. Incidentally, did you know that Google now provides select interior views as part of "Street View", e.g. CN Tower, and even higher? We can expect to see huge developments and changes in the years ahead where it comes to these and other sites. More data and more real time mapping are sure to come (like Google Traffic and Waze). We might also see improved detailed realistic graphical displays of terrain and features - change is certain. Even in the space of three years, you can see how quickly the situation has evolved by comparing this list with Exploring Maps Online Part 1,2,&3: Major Sources of Digital Maps of Toronto.

In addition to the online sources listed in this guide, you are always welcome to come in to see what we have in  print in the Map Collection at the Toronto Reference Library.

If there are any sites that you think should be on this list but are not, please tell us about these by posting a comment and link on this blog post.


Bird's eye 1886
Birds-eye view of Toronto, 1886. For full description, click here.    Open in full size Open in Full Size.


"What is it but a map of busy life,
Its fluctuations and its vast concerns?"

   William Cowper - The Task (1785)                                                                        


p.s. Click on most of the map examples above to be taken directly to the map featured. 

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