Phone Wallpapers for Toronto History Geeks (And Everyone Else)

July 22, 2022 | David

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Looking for Toronto-themed backgrounds for your phone? Here are 20 unique ones of old Toronto — from 1870 to 1950. There's a bit of history under each wallpaper, too. We made them from our public domain photos, paintings, postcards and maps. The actual items are held in our Baldwin Collection...

Rochdale College 1968-1975: A Revolutionary Education

July 20, 2022 | lfeesey

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Rochdale College registrar Rick Waern in front of 18-storey building for Rochdale College at Bloor and Huron Streets, 1968. From our Toronto Star Photograph Archive. View on Digital Archive. Rochdale College was a cost-saving measure The University of Toronto’s Campus Co-op, a self-funded student-led housing co-operative, incorporated Rochdale in 1964...

Cure-Alls & Cure-Naughts: 6 Vintage Ads & Pamphlets for Medical Remedies Sold in Ontario

June 13, 2022 | Ann

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"When the remedy you have offered only increases the disease, then leave him who will not be cured, and tell your story to someone who seeks the truth." – translation of Rumi, 13th-century poet This quote made me think of medical cure-alls — dubious remedies that claim to fix almost...

Happy 100th Birthday, North York!

May 31, 2022 | Nicky

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From the Aga Khan Museum to the Humber River Trail to the Black Creek Pioneer Village, North York has many attractions for residents and visitors to enjoy. Did you know that 2022 marks the centennial of North York becoming an independent township, and that it didn’t actually become a city...

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...