Using the Archives

York Records

In the 19th century, the area that would eventually become the city of York was largely agricultural, with grist, lumber, and woollen mills dotting the banks of the Humber River. In the first half of the 20th century, it was a refuge for working-class families earning independence by building their own homes.

J.A.D. McCurdy in biplane, Weston 1911

J.A.D. McCurdy in biplane, Weston
Fonds 1244, Item 78

The City of Toronto Archives has 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.

Important Dates

  • Pre 1850: The area that would become the Township of York is part of the Home District
  • January 1, 1850: The Township of York is incorporated
  • 1853-1926: The municipalities of Brockton, East Toronto, East York, Forest Hill, Leaside, North Toronto, North York, Parkdale, Swansea, West Toronto Junction, Weston, and Yorkville separate from York and incorporate as individual municipalities, reducing the size of the Township of York
  • April 15, 1953: York and Weston become two of thirteen municipalities in the new Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto
  • January 1, 1967: York and Weston amalgamate and are incorporated as the Borough of York
  • June 10, 1983: York is incorporated as a city
  • January 1, 1998: York ceases to be an individual municipality and becomes part of the amalgamated City of Toronto

Types of records

Council proceedings

Early council proceedings from York County are found in Christine Mosser, ed., York, Upper Canada, Minutes of Town Meetings and Lists of Inhabitants, 1797-1823 (Toronto: Metropolitan Toronto Library Board 1984) in the Research Hall Library (call number 929.3513541 Y7 1984). Council proceedings for York from 1860 to 1997, and for Weston from 1882 to 1966, are also available. To find them, search for them in the Gencat database.

By-laws from 1850 to 1997 are also available; please consult Reference Desk staff.

Assessment rolls

The Archives has York assessment rolls from 1882 to 1992 and Weston assessment rolls from 1883 to 1966. To find assessment rolls, search the Gencat database or consult Reference Desk staff.

Other municipal records

For York records, see Fonds 211, City of York fonds in the Gencat database.

The records of other municipal governments may also be of use. The records of the former Metro (regional) government ((Fonds 220) and its agencies, boards, and commissions also include information about matters relevant to York, including public works, such as water mains; transportation, such as roads and the TTC; planning; parks; and social services. To find these records, search on your research topic in the Gencat database, or speak to Reference Desk staff.

Also available now are records from municipalities that were originally part of York. As well as the former City of Toronto (Fonds 200), these consists of Brockton (Fonds 203), East Toronto (Fonds 204), Forest Hill (Fonds 207), North Toronto (Fonds 206), Parkdale (Fonds 202), Swansea (Fonds 208), West Toronto (Fonds 205), and Yorkville (Fonds 201).


Toronto City Directory 1926

Toronto City Directory 1926

City directories

Some areas of York are listed in the Toronto city directories in a separate suburban section (see each year's table of contents for page numbers) from 1905 to 1929. Starting in 1930, York listings are part of the main directory.

Between 1983 and 1995, York listings appear only in the &quotcentral&quot and &quotwest&quot editions of the directory, which are not published every year. After 1995, York listings appear in one volume along with parts of the City of Toronto.

Directories are available on microfilm, found in the self-serve cabinets in the Microfilm Room.

The Archives also has a copy of a Directory and Map of the Township of York (917.13540025 ON8 1909) for 1909, which includes listings for York villages. Ask Reference Desk staff to retrieve this directory for you from closed reference.

Fire insurance plans

The Archives has fire insurance plans on microfilm for parts of York for 1948, 1957, 1962, and 1964. They are found in the metal cabinets in the Microfilm Room (boxes are titled &quotGoad's&quot or &quotUnderwriters'&quot).

Each set of maps begins with a key map and an index of street names. You can use either to find your area. A key to the symbols used in the maps is found on the bulletin board in the Microfilm Room at the back of the Research Hall.


To find maps showing York, or use the Gencat database. Reference Desk staff can show you how to use the database. The Archives also has several atlases that may be useful. They are found in the section titled "Atlases" in the main area of the Research Hall.

Aerial photos

The aerials cover the York area from 1947 to 1992. Each aerial shows a part of the city, not the entire city. A selection of years is online. A smaller group of valley lands from 1937 to 1942 is also online

A more complete run of years is available on computers in the Research Hall.


The Archives holds published reports regarding York, including those on topics such as public transit and roads, as well as official plans. Search the Gencat database for your topic.


To find photographs of York places and events, search on your research topic in the Gencat database.

Introduction of streetcar route on Rogers Road, York Township November 19, 1924

Introduction of streetcar route on Rogers Road, York Township
November 19, 1924
Series 71, Item 3526


These general reference books on the history of York are a good place to start your research:

J.C. Boylen, York Township: An Historical Summary 
(Toronto: Municipal Corporation of the Township of York and the Board of Education of the Township of York 1954)
971.354 B69 1954

Wilbert G.Thomas, The Legacy of York: A Survey of the Early Development of the Communities of York 
(Toronto: Historical Committee of the City of York 1992)
971.354 T36 1992

Wilbert G.Thomas, The Legacy of York: A Survey of the Later Developments (1920-1950) in York Township 
(Toronto: Historical Committee of the City of York 1992)
971.354 T36 1996

City of York: A Local History
(Toronto: Board of Education for the City of York 1987)
971.354 C39 1987




Some photographic highlights of York records currently available at the City of Toronto Archives include early airplane flights near Weston (Fonds 1244), the first TTC streetcar in York (Series 71), and views of Weston and York streetscapes in the 1920s (Series 71).

Highlights of other media include correspondence, plans, and notes regarding various properties in the Township of York from 1851 to 1900 (Fonds 79), including a brochure for "suburban gardens and villa residences" for sale on Balmoral Avenue, Weston (Series 346, File 105). Also of interest are the daily journals of William Abbott Parsons (1844-1923), who owned a farm near Eglinton Avenue and Dufferin Street (Fonds 85).

Other Information

For general information, see the information files titled "York, Ont.-City 1983- " and "York (Ont., Regional Municipality) includes York County 1792-1971." You may also find other information files about more specific topics. For a list of information file titles, please consult Reference Desk staff. For a list of York mayors and other municipal information, please ask Reference Desk staff for the binder entitled "York Reference Highlights."

Another useful source for York history is the York Museum, 2700 Eglinton Avenue West, 416-396-2819.

East York Records Former City of Toronto Records Etobicoke Records
Metropolitan Toronto Records North York Records Scarborough Records York Records