History of Toronto Public Library's Staff House (1928–1964)

April 27, 2022 | Pamela

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We preserve some of TPL's own history in the Toronto Public Library Archives, part of our Special Collections. In addition to vintage photos of branches and annual reports, available on our Digital Archive, this collection has mysterious objects like a flat wooden shovel. Believe it or not, this shovel was...

From Our Archives: Parties in Ontario During the Late 1960s

March 14, 2022 | lfeesey

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In the late 1960s, there was a sense of buoyancy in much of Canada due to the country's economic growth. This blog post looks back at scenes in Ontario among affluent and high-profile partygoers at the time. Below are photos are from Toronto Public Library (TPL)'s Digital Archive Ontario, a...

Love Murdoch Mysteries? See Historical Images of Toronto Tied to the TV Show

March 11, 2022 | Pamela

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Murdoch Mysteries is a tremendously popular Canadian television show. William Murdoch is a fictional police detective working in Toronto in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He solves many of his cases using methods that were unusual at the time such as fingerprinting and surveillance. At Toronto Public Library...

Cartography in the 17th and 18th Centuries: Maps of North America from Digital Archive Ontario

February 18, 2022 | lfeesey

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Maps are important historical documents. Not only do maps represent geographies, they reflect the worldviews of when they were made and who made them. Many early maps of North America are available on Digital Archive Ontario, a free site of digitized items held by Toronto Public Library. This blog post...

First-Hand Accounts of a French Officer in Canada During the Late 17th Century

January 3, 2022 | lfeesey

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Note: This article includes historical materials from the collections of Toronto Public Library. Who tells the story, and how the story is told creates tensions when trying to present content written by settlers about Indigenous people. These materials can reflect offensive historic attitudes, and in some cases, were created by...

Celebrating Main Street Branch Centennial: Snapshots of the Last 100 Years

December 14, 2021 | John P.

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On December 16, 1921, Toronto’s Globe newspaper carried a small article entitled “New Library Opened at Main and Gerrard”: “East Toronto’s new Public Library, at Main and Gerrard streets, was opened last night for the adult population, but the children will have their initial function on Saturday. The building is...

Early Hollywood Star Mary Pickford and Her Toronto Houses

October 25, 2021 | Pamela

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As an early Hollywood actress, Mary Pickford (1892–1979) was one of the most famous people in the world. Pickford's introduction to acting can be traced back to the red brick house that she was born in on University Avenue in Toronto. This post features digitized postcards and photos related to...

Hiking in Ontario: Photos from Digital Archive Ontario

October 12, 2021 | Sam

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Fall is one of the best times of year to get out for a hike, a pastime long enjoyed by Ontarians across the province. Digital Archive Ontario offers a window into that history. It has over 100,000 digitized photos, maps, postcards and other items related to Ontario's past. Below is...

Toronto Islands in the Early 1900s: Postcards, Pictures and a Poet's Diary

August 16, 2021 | Fiona

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In the summer of 1900, a young poet named Marjorie Pickthall and her family rented a cottage on the Toronto Islands. During her stay at Golden Gate Cottage on Hanlan's Point, she kept a diary. Pickthall recorded her daily activities and fascination with the surrounding natural world. Inspired by passages...

Snapshot of Swimming History in Ontario

August 9, 2021 | Sam

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As the summer heats up, Ontarians cool down in the water! To find out where swimmers of the past made waves in the province, I turned to Digital Archive Ontario. It has over 100,000 digitized photos, maps, postcards and other items related to Ontario's past. Photo from our Toronto Star...