Using the Archives

Collecting Toronto: Settling Toronto


The garrison town founded by John Graves Simcoe on the shore of Lake Ontario in 1793, grew from a tiny grid of 10 blocks between Fort York in the west and the Don River in the east, to a 243-square mile metropolis still largely based upon a grid system.



Among the most important records preserved by any municipal archives are property records - the maps, plans, indentures, tax assessments, and other documents that trace development, ownership, and occupation in the city. Larry Becker put together a relatively small, but important collection of property records that complement those already held by the City of Toronto Archives.

Here, a sealed, parchment indenture from the period when "Toronto" was still "York" describes the 1831 sale of part of the triangular parcel of land where the 1892 Gooderham Building now stands at the intersection of Front, Wellington and Church streets. Another parchment indenture, signed a week after the "City of Toronto" was created on March 6, 1834, describes the100-acre parcel of land purchased by John and Sarah Ashbridge in Scarborough. And a third wax-sealed parchment document describes an 1841 sale of land in Scarborough transferred from King's College (now University of Toronto) and John Stobo. An 1878 map shows the highly-developed, predominantly-grid structure of central Toronto, with the aforementioned triangular parcel also evident. And a 1920 subdivision plan outlines development plans for the area around the Old Mill on the Humber River in Etobicoke.