Last week the Government of Canada issued a new map of Canada, the latest in the Atlas of Canada Reference Map Series, and an update of the 2006 version. It’s available as both digital download and paper. While more and more maps are available online, and the mash-ups created from them become increasingly complex and innovative, there are still thousands of maps available only in print.
The Toronto Reference Library holds over 75,000 maps and plans--the largest map collection in a public library in Canada. Most are located in the Humanities & Social Sciences Department (HSS) on the second floor. Here’s quick tour of the wealth of material available.
(Click to enlarge images or find more info)
Maps from all over the world are included, but there's a special emphasis on maps for Toronto and Canada. Fire Insurance Plans for Toronto, showing building locations and street configurations over many years, are some of the most heavily used maps in the department. While many pre-1920s versions have been digitized by the library, copyright restrictions mean that most are available only in paper or on microfiche. You'll find facsimile maps in HSS from 1858 to 1955. Originals, other communities’ maps and insurance plans published after 1955 can be viewed in the Marilyn and Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre on the 5th floor.
There are also hundreds of other maps for the City of Toronto: historical facsimiles from the 1780s to the 1940s; and original maps from 1950 to the present of previous townships and cities that make up today's Toronto, including Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York. There are planning, promotional, land use, electoral, transportation and aerial photo maps.
Historical atlases of Ontario counties show farm lots, names of landowners and drawings from the nineteenth century.
Topographic maps of Canada:
Our collection includes maps from every part of the world, including ordnance, political boundaries, road and street maps.
The maps are not limited to land, or even the earth--find nautical charts, ocean maps, extraterrestrial maps.
The majority of individual maps cannot be searched through the library website, although images of some older maps are available through TPL’s Digital Archive. Instead, this is one area where the old fashioned card catalogue is still in use. If you’re looking for a particular map, or series of maps, please contact us in the Humanities & Social Sciences Department, in person, by phone or through our email service.
Maps and map-making have a long and fascinating history. On the second floor you’ll also find books exploring the many ways human beings have captured their world in maps.
For further assistance contact:
Humanities & Social Sciences Department, Toronto Reference Library
trlhss @ torontopubliclibrary.ca