Research Guide to York - Township, Borough and City - 1793-1997

April 15, 2016 | Barbara

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Getting Started

This research guide focuses on Toronto Public Library's resources on the former City of York, a municipality that was located northwest of the old city of Toronto, southwest of the former city of North York and east of the Humber River and the former city of Etobicoke. It was one of seven municipalities that were amalgamated in 1998 to form the current City of Toronto.

York logo

City of York coat of arms.

Background History

The history of the former City of York dates back to 1791 when Upper Canada (Ontario) was first surveyed and divided into townships. Originally known as Dublin, York Township was a large area surrounding Toronto, designated as the provincial capital and renamed York in 1793. The name Toronto was resumed when the Town of York became a city in 1834.

On January 1, 1850, the Township of York was incorporated within the large County of York. Between 1853 and 1926, about a dozen areas separated from York Township and became incorporated as individual municipalities, considerably reducing the size of the township. From 1883 to 1912, several of these municipalities, including Yorkville, Brockton, Parkdale, East Toronto, West Toronto and North Toronto, were annexed to the city of Toronto. East York, Forest Hill, Leaside, North York, Swansea and Weston were other break-away municipalities from York Township.

On April 15, 1953, York became one of thirteen municipalities in the new Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. York and the neighbouring Town of Weston amalgamated on January 1, 1967 and were incorporated as the Borough of York. In turn, it was incorporated as a city on June 10, 1983.  York ceased to be an individual municipality on January 1, 1998, and became part of the amalgamated City of Toronto.


City of York time capsule.

Searching the Library Website

Subject headings 

York (Ont. : Township)

York (Ont. : Borough)--History.

York (Ont. : Borough)

York (Toronto, Ont.)

Toronto (Ont.)--History.


“Borough of York” Ont*

“City of York” Ont*

Old Catalogue

For more refined searching, follow these steps:

1. Go to the Library's homepage

2. Click on "Old Catalogue" to the right of the search button

3. In the "Exact Search" field, select "Subject Heading"

4. In the search bar, type:

York (Toronto, Ont.)

York (Ont. : Township)

York (Ont. : Borough)

Digital Archive

York (Ont. : Township)--Maps

County of York

York (Ont. : Township). Municipal Council--Periodicals

 Map of Toronto Neighbourhood Historical Resources

Bloor West Village (includes Baby Point)

Books, Pictures & Maps: Bloor West Village


Books, Pictures & Maps: Cedarvale


Books, Pictures & Maps: Fairbank


Books, Pictures & Maps: Lambton

Mount Dennis

Books, Pictures & Maps: Mount Dennis


Books, Pictures & Maps: Oakwood-Vaughan


Books, Pictures & Maps: Silverthorn


Books, Pictures & Maps: Weston

Toronto City Directories 

Published for almost 170 years, Toronto city directories are an invaluable research tool to: research the history of a house or other buildings; trace people that have lived in the city including family members, missing persons, birth parents; discover the development of a neighbourhood or a street; learn about services, products and entertainments that were available to Torontonians over time; find out about local businesses and other organizations

TPL has created this file to help you find directories by area name. Place names in the file that are in the former City of York include:

  • Albion Park
  • Cedarvale (York Township)
  • Earlscourt
  • Fairbank
  • Humbercrest
  • Lambton
  • Lambton Mills
  • Mount Dennis
  • Oakwood
  • Runnymede
  • Scarlet Plains
  • Silverthorn
  • West York
  • Weston
  • Wychwood
  • York Borough
  • York Township

Research Guide to Reggae Lane: Toronto's Jamaican Music Scene, 1960's to Present 

This guide contains multiple media resources related to the world renowned Jamaican music scene in this area.

Recommended Reading

Books at Maria A. Shchuka Branch Local History Collection (in chronological order)

This reference collection is housed on the second floor of the library. Circulating copies of some titles may be available at Toronto Public Library.

History of Toronto and County of York, Ontario. 1885.

Outline of the history of the Dominion of Canada and a history of the City of Toronto and the County of York. See "The Township of York," volume I, pages 77-96. Read both volumes online at Internet Archive (Volume IVolume II).

History of Weston, by Fredrick D. Cruickshank. 1937.

Pioneer Life in the County of York, by Edwin C. Guillet. 1946.

Volume 1 of the County History Series.

The Settlement of York County, by John Mitchell. 1952.

York Township: An Historical Summary, by J. C. Boylen. 1954.

Rails from the Junction : The Story of the Toronto Suburban Railway, by James V. Salmon, John F. Bromley, Mike Filey. 1954.

The town of York, 1793-1815: A Collection of Documents of Early Toronto, by Edith G. Firth. 1962.

Dedication service : Mount Dennis United Church, Toronto, Ontario : Sunday, March 14th, 1965--3 p.m. 1965.

Heritage of York: a Bibliographical Study Related to the History of the Township of York, 1793-1840. 1973.

A Local Immigration Partnership (LIP)-funded research project, sponsored by the Borough of York. Note that Volume II has the title: Township of York: Historical Sources.

The Denison family of Toronto, 1792-1925, by David Paul Gagan. 1973.

Robertson's Landmarks of Toronto, by John Ross Robertson. 1974.

Township of York: Historical Sources, vol. 2, by Kristine Black. 1974.

The British Indian Department and the frontier in North America, 1775-1830, by Robert S. Allen. 1975.

Dennis News, 1891-1977. 1977.

Dennis Avenue School (Toronto, ON) history.

Library information needs of the West Indian population in the area served by the Main Library (Dufferin and Eglinton), Borough of York, by Sandy Dunsneath. 1977.

St. Phillip's Church: 150 Years Beside the Humber, 1828-1978. 1978.

Toronto, 100 Years of Grandeur: The Inside Stories of Toronto, by Lucy Booth Martyn. 1978.


Stories of York, edited by Bill Bailey. 1980.

York, Upper Canada Minutes of Town Meetings and Lists of Inhabitants, 1797-1823, edited by Christine Mosser. 1984.

City of York: A Local History, by Gene Miller. 1987.

York City Centre Official Plan Amendment. 1989.

Mount Dennis Redevelopment Study: Phase I Report; Background Research & Analysis for: City of York, by Macaulay Shiomi Howson. 1990.

Where To Find It. 1990.

Child, Youth and Family Services Directory: for the City of York, by City of York Community and Agency Social Planning Council. 1992.

Community Profile of the City of York: a Social Report of the Metro, by the York Community and Agency Social Planning Council. 1992.

The Legacy of York: (a Survey of the Early Development of the Communities of York), by Wilbert G. Thomas. 1992.

City of York Municipal Code, by Michael J. Smither and Nicholas R. Smither. 1994.

Our Lady of Victory Catholic School : 50th anniversary, 1944-1994. 1994.

York Memorial Presbyterian Church: a Brief History, edited by Jean Ann Lowry. 1994.

Lights... Camera... York!: In the City of Toronto. 1998.

School days : Recollections of Toronto Schools. 2003.

History of the County of York, Ontario: Index. 2005.

St. Clair West in Pictures: a History of the Communities of Carlton, Davenport, Earlscourt and Oakwood, by Nancy Byers and Barbara Myrvold. 2008.

You can also borrow this book on-line through OverDrive here.

Glimpses : An Artistic Perspective on Humber, by Bogumila Derewicz, artist; Michael J. Hatton, editor; Daniela Molina, artist. 2015.

All the Libraries Toronto, by Daniel Rotsztain. 2015.

Books available at other Toronto Public Library branches (in chronological order)

Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of York, Ontario: Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens and Many of the Early Settled Families, by J. H. Beers & Co. 1907

William Tyrrell of Weston, by Edith Lennox Morrison. 1937

I Was There: A Book of Reminiscences, by Mary Edith Carey Tyrrell. 1938

Old Toronto: A Selection of Excerpts from Landmarks of Toronto, John Ross Robertson. 1954

One Hundred Years: A Retrospect, 1857-1957: Weston Grammar School to Weston Collegiate and Vocational School. For the Centenary Celebration, October 18 to 20, 1957, by Dora E. Wattie. 1957

The Trail of the Black Walnut, by George Elmore Reaman. 1957

Toronto During the French Régime: A History of the Toronto Region form Brûlé to Simcoe, 1615-1793, by Percy James Robinson. 1965

A Thread in the Gardhouse Family Tapestry, by Wilbert W. Gardhouse. 1969

Life in Ontario: A Social History, by Adrian Dingle. 1968

Pioneering in North York: A History of the Borough, by Patricia W. Hart. 1968

Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of York, by Miles & Co. 1969

Originally published in 1878, this was one of approximately forty county atlases published in Canada between 1874 and 1881. Consists of a historical text, township and town maps, portraits, views, and patron directory / business cards. In addition, names of residents are marked on lots of the township maps.

From Methodist Episcopal and Wesleyan Methodist to Central United: The History of Central United Church, Weston, Ontario, by Stanley V. Musselwhite. 1970

The Story of Etobicoke, by Robert A. Given. 1973

A Picture History of Ontario, by Roger Hall. 1978

Heritage: A History of Riverside Mission, Riverside Church, Weston, Ont., Riverside-Emry Church, Weston, Ont., with History of Claremont Methodist Church (the old Emery Church) also the new Emery Church, by C. J. Ware. 1978

Ontario Since 1867, by Joseph Schull. 1978

A Pictorial History of Weston, by Weston Historical Society. 1981

Lost Toronto: Images of the City's Past, by William Dendy. 1993

All the libraries Toronto, by Daniel Rotsztain. 2015

Resources at City of Toronto Archives

York Records

A finding aid to the City of Toronto's "records, created by municipal governments as well as private groups and individuals, about York, including personal papers; published books and reports; and visual material, including maps and photographs."


This research guide was developed by Toronto Public Library staff: Barbara Baillargeon, Librarian, Maria A. Shchuka Branch and Barbara Myrvold, Senior Services Specialist, Local History. They were assisted by Abby Sharon, Graduate Student, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto.

Updated November 6, 2019