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.

Atlas-r-195_smallDetail of Atlas of the city of Toronto and vicinity. (Goad) 2nd ed. 1893. Plate 47

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.

Chronological list

1858  Special Collections.  Digital Archive

1880  Special Collections.  Digital Archive vol. 1vol. 2

1884  Special Collections.  Digital Archive

1889  Special Collections. (Note: mislabelled as 1880) Digital Archive (Note: mislabelled as 1892)

1890  Special Collections.  Digital Archive

1893  Special Collections.  Digital Archive

1894  Humanities and Social Sciences (microfilm).  Not digitized

1899  Special Collections.  Digital Archive

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

1910  Special Collections.  Digital Archive

1912  Special Collections (Note: transferred from North York Central Library; mislabelled as 1910.)  Not digitized

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

Additional Sources

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