Gibraltar Point Lighthouse: History & Old Pictures

July 20, 2021 | Pamela

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Did you know that Centre Island is home to one of Toronto’s oldest buildings? That building is Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, completed in 1808. Here's an overview of its history — from the geological origins of the Toronto Islands to the lighthouse's spooky lore. This post features paintings, photos and other...

6 Posters Collected from the Streets of Toronto that Highlight LGBTQ2S+ History

June 14, 2021 | Nicole

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Did you know that Toronto Public Library has collections of ephemera — things like posters, flyers, brochures? These items offer fascinating glimpses into Toronto’s past. Here are just a few that capture community events, rallies, performances and spaces important to the city’s LGBTQ2S+ history. Clicking or tapping on each of...

Creased Receipts: Historical Receipts from Digital Archive Ontario

May 14, 2021 | Ann

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In the song "Best Regards", Quebec heavy metal band Voïvod's sings about unrequited love. They lament that not even "a creased receipt" was issued from an indifferent world. Unlike in that song, you can find lots of receipts on Digital Archive Ontario, our Ontario-facing database of digitized items held by...

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1921–2021): Photographs from Our Collections

April 9, 2021 | David

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Buckingham Palace announced this morning that Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh has died. Prince Philip was the longest serving consort of a reigning monarch in the Commonwealth, and the longest-lived male member of the British royal family. Below are a selection of photos of Prince Philip from our Toronto...

Laura Secord (and Chocolate): Historical Books, Photos, Paintings and Ads from Our Special Collections

April 1, 2021 | Pamela

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The name Laura Secord may make you think of either a Canadian woman who assisted the British in winning the War of 1812, or tempting chocolate treats. Our Special Collections at Toronto Public Library have documents and paintings related to Secord and her role during the War of 1812. We...

The Great Depression: Federal Work Camps in Ontario

March 8, 2021 | lfeesey

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There was nothing great about the Great Depression except its length and penetration into every corner of Ontario from 1929 to 1939. Below is a brief overview of work camps, or "relief camps", in Ontario — and what led to them. Features photos from Digital Archive Ontario, a database of...

Cobalt's First Bloom: Early Views of Ontario's Silver City

March 8, 2021 | lfeesey

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In the 1920s, Cobalt, Ontario was world famous. It was home to some of the most productive silver mines in the world. Over 600 million troy ounces (around two million kilos) of silver were produced there from 1903 to 1926. Below are images of Cobalt during its time as a...

Shop Local: A Look Back at Toronto's Early Retail History

March 5, 2021 | Nicole

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As the lockdown continues, I find myself fantasizing about shopping. Not online shopping, but leisurely strolling down a busy city street with a friend, popping into small shops along the way. So I decided to do some window shopping in our digital collections. TPL's Digital Archive is our database of...

New Genealogical Research Tools

March 1, 2021 | Wendy B.

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Discovering your family's past can be as thrilling as any detective work. And now, we have three databases to help you in your quest: Ancestry Library Edition Available from home until June 30, 2021. Ancestry Library Edition is our largest genealogical collection. It covers the United States and the United...

11 Vintage Crowd Photos in Toronto that Now Seem Otherworldly

February 19, 2021 | David

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Below are old photos of big crowds in Toronto — plus some trivia about each scene. The images are from TPL's Digital Archive, our database of over 170,000 historical photos, books, maps and more. The idea for this post came from a coworker's reaction to a photo of a crowd...