Fire Insurance Plans for Toronto
Updated: July, 4, 2016
Toronto Public Library has fire insurance plans for the City of Toronto dating from 1858 to 1973, and has digitized the plans up to 1910. Sometimes called Goad's atlases, after Charles E. Goad who started fire insurance mapping in 1875, these large-scale aerial drawings show locations of buildings of the time, as well as their size, shape and construction materials as those were important details for insurers.
Fire insurance plans: why are they useful?
Researchers find fire insurance plans are an invaluable information source, using them for a variety of purposes including to:
- narrow the date when a building was constructed.
- determine earlier street numbers of individual buildings and previous names of streets which may have changed.
- locate a building on the street and in relation to other buildings on the block. This is useful in resolving confusion that sometimes happens in directory research. Sometimes a directory will indicate that a building, which is now located in mid-block, as being at the corner if no closer buildings to the corner have yet been built.
- determine the lot number, block number (if there is one), and the registered plan number of a property. These can be useful with assessment and title searches.
- indicate buildings that may have been demolished or recently constructed.
- track how buildings have been used and altered over time.
- indicate a building in relationship to its neighbourhood, such as schools, churches, industries.
- show how a neighbourhood has changed over the years.
- indicate sites where soil may be contaminated from noxious uses.
Where to find Toronto fire insurance plans at Toronto Public Library
Atlases of fire insurance plans 1858 to 1910 are available on our Digital Archive in PDF format. Warning: these files are very large (150-227 Mb) and users may experience long download times.
Hard and microform copies are available at the Toronto Reference Library.
- Originals (1858-1973) are in the Marilyn and Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre, 5th floor.
- Photostats (1858-1945), microfilms (1880-1924) and microfiches (1903-1951) are in the Humanities & Social Sciences Department, 2nd floor.
1894 Humanities and Social Sciences (microfilm). Not digitized
1903 Special Collections (Note: transferred from North York Central Library; mislabelled as 1890.) Not digitized
1903-1951 Humanities and Social Sciences (microfiche). Not digitized
1904 Area of fire, wholesale district, Toronto, Canada April 19, 20. (Goad). Special Collections (T1904/4Msm). Digital Archive
1914-1918 Humanities and Social Sciences (microfilm). Not digitized
1923 Special Collections. Not digitized
1924 Humanities and Social Sciences (microfilm). Not digitized
1952-1973 Special Collections. Not digitized
Nathan Ng's blog "Recursion" provides access to individual plans by plate number for fire insurance atlases published in 1880, 1884, 1889, 1890, 1893, 1899, 1903, 1910, 1913, and 1924.
City of Toronto Archive has digitized selected plates from fire insurance plans, 1880 to 1924
Library and Archives Canada has digitized the following editions:
Detailed information on all Toronto and Canadian fire insurance plans is available in Catalogue of Canadian fire insurance plans 1875-1975