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If you like historical maps of Toronto, go here...

Posted by Derek Flack / February 16, 2011

Historical Maps of TorontoIn addition to poring over old photographs of Toronto on a regular basis, I try to get my hands on historic maps of the city as often as I can. As far as general overviews go, it's tough to beat Derek Haye's Historical Atlas of Toronto, a book that I've lauded on more than one occasion. But, it's not without its limitations. As excellent as the selection of maps is, offered in book-format, the collection doesn't allow for the type of close examination that one gets with the real thing or a high resolution digital scan.

Historical Map of York 1783Enter the University of Toronto Maps collection. Although perhaps old news to Toronto-based geographers and historical researchers, the casual fan of Toronto history will be fascinated by U of T's extensive holdings. I've used the collection a couple times in the past in an effort to find specific maps I've seen elsewhere (a notable example of which is the wall-sized archival map at the White Squirrel Coffee Shop), but only recently have I spent extensive time perusing the impressive collection.

With holdings that date back as earlier as 1788 (at least by my searching), many of these maps are more specific than your garden variety road plan. Here you'll find topographic maps, transit ridership maps, sewer system charts and a whole variety of other cartographic efforts you're unlikely to come across elsewhere.

Toronto Rush Hour MapAlthough the majority of these maps are available for digital download, there are some important exceptions, one of which is Goad's Fire Atlas (only available at the library). But, not to fear, I've already got that one covered. The best way to navigate the database is simply to use "Toronto" as the key term at the main search page. Another option is to visit the Don Valley Historical Mapping Project, which offers a smaller selection of maps of the waterway and the old city (we'll have more on this later). One caveat, however - some of the files on these sites are enormous. So be prepared to wait awhile for them to download (and try to avoid having 50 other tabs open like I do right now!).

All images from University of Toronto Libraries (but of course).

Discussion

8 Comments

Paul D. / February 16, 2011 at 02:10 pm
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Love the Maps - always more maps, please! ;-)
Fig / February 16, 2011 at 03:30 pm
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The 1915 civic transporation map is very cool.
Colby / February 16, 2011 at 10:32 pm
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Hi Derek,

The Toronto Archives has just added a map section to their online presence, including scans of 8 Goad's Atlases and the White Squirrel Annexation Map:

http://www.toronto.ca/archives/maps.htm

Great stuff guaranteed to cause me to get less work done.
Crystal Lantz / June 3, 2012 at 05:34 pm
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Hi my name is Crystal Lantz and I am a First nations person from the Thunder bay area. I am currently looking at the possibility of finding Indian Burial Grounds in the Rexdale and Isington Area. Any assistance in this request would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely

Crystal Lantz
647-896-3872
Judy Dunn / October 16, 2012 at 08:08 am
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Hello, I have a large wall map of metropolitan TORONTO by PERLY's VARIPRINT lTD. 1977, WONDERING IF HAS ANY VALUE AS I AM ABOUT TO RENOVATE MY HOME AND HAVE NO PLACE FOR IT. THANKING YOU IN ADVANCE FOR ANY INFO ON THIS MAP !!
Nate / January 26, 2013 at 09:22 am
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I’ve recently put together an easy-to-use online collection of significant historical maps of Toronto, ranging from 1787 to 1902.

http://oldtorontomaps.blogspot.ca

Highlights include the 1858 WS Boulton Atlas and the 1842 Cane Topographical Map of Toronto. The maps are coupled with contextual information about the timeframe they were produced and the surveyors who compiled them.

Come by and check it out!
Adam / October 30, 2013 at 06:07 pm
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Wow! These maps are fabulous, so cool..
Bette / April 25, 2014 at 09:00 pm
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How did you know that I have 50 other tabs open? lol Thanks for all the work you have done. It is priceless.

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