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Historical Maps of Toronto

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A selection of significant historical maps of Toronto. These maps connect us to our past and give us a glimpse of what our city used to be like. Check out the collection at oldtorontomaps.blogspot.com!
1892 Map of Toronto & Suburbs Shewing the Location of the Toronto Belt Line Railway “The Toronto Belt Line was supposed to be Toronto's first commuter railway. A real estate boom in the 1880s encouraged businessmen to form the Belt Land Corporation to speculate on opening up undeveloped land in northern Toronto. The Belt Line would link the suburbs to downtown Toronto with a railway that would encircle the city.

1892 Map of Toronto & Suburbs Shewing the Location of the Toronto Belt Line Railway

1893 Fisk and Co. Map of Toronto  These Atlas maps represent in a certain sense an ‘outsider’s’ view of Toronto. They are straightforward and unadorned with the loving details of maps intended for local usage.  The utilitarian street map of Toronto shown below notably indicates steam-driven railway lines and horse-drawn transit (streetcar) routes. Also of interest are the very clearly labelled wharves along the waterfront.

1893 Street map of Toronto showing steam-driven railway lines and horse drawn transit routes

1859 University of Toronto Campus / Queen’s Park. University College was opened in 1859 and some of the curving drives were added in that year. Taddle Creek, prominently shown in the middle, was polluted with sewage from Yorkville by the 1870s and remained a bone of contention between city and university until it was covered over in the 1880s...

1859 University of Toronto Campus / Queen’s Park [Plan of the University Park]

1833 Bonnycastle No.1 Plan of the Town and Harbour of York Upper Canada. This reconnaissance plan is rich in information about the surroundings of the town and the peninsula. By 1833 Fort York was in such disrepair that new fortifications to the west were planned as shown here.   Several plans made in the 1830s, including this one, were oriented to the south, probably under the influence of military map-makers whose attention was always focused on the harbour and its defense...

1833 Bonnycastle: Plan of the Town and Harbour of York Upper Canada

1872 Wadsworth & Unwin Map of the City of Toronto - Tax Exemptions ‘The coloured additions to this map show the land exempt from taxation in Toronto in 1878. The table in the upper right corner [of the 3rd panel] indicates the total assessed value of exempt property - one-seventh of the value of all city property. Below this is the legend which indicates categories of exempt land. Note the high proportion of church property...

1872 Wadsworth & Unwin Map of the City of Toronto - Tax Exemptions

1834 Alpheus Todd Engraved Plan of the City of Toronto. Alpheus Todd was an English-born Canadian librarian and constitutional historian.  When he was still a young boy, his family emigrated to York, Upper Canada in 1833. The following year, York was incorporated as the city of Toronto. Todd -- at the precocious age of 13 -- produced the following Engraved Plan of the City of Toronto, by walking through the streets and converting his paces to a scale.

1834 Alpheus Todd Engraved Plan of the City of Toronto

1892 Toronto Railway Company's Map Showing Street Railway Lines “This bird’s-eye view illustrates streetcar service provided by the Toronto Railway Company shortly after it took over operations in 1891. In spite of continued city growth, the company refused to extend its single-fares, build new lines or buy additional cars to service the area beyond the city limits of 1891. This inflexibility eventually led to the establishment of the publicly-owned Toronto Transportation Commission in…

1892 - Toronto Railway Company’s Map Showing Street Railway Lines

1857 Fleming Ridout & Schreiber Plan of the City of Toronto. This map shows the boundaries of the city, all streets, ward boundaries, parks and some notable buildings. Printed at the edges of the map is information concerning fire alarms and cab districts and fares.  Both Sandford Fleming and Collingwood Schreiber were railway engineers as well as surveyors, so it is no surprise their map is the benchmark for recording the railway building in the 1850s.

1857 Fleming Ridout & Schreiber: Plan of the City of Toronto

1882 City Engineer's Office: Plan of the city of Toronto, shewing proposed system of parks and boulevards to accompany Mayor McMurrich's report to council What I find remarkable about this map is the presence and formative power of Toronto’s rivers.  In less than a decade, Garrison Creek and Taddle Creek would begin to be covered, while the straightening of the Don River would turn out to be a massive engineering undertaking that cost twice as much as originally estimated.

1882 City Engineer's Office: Plan of the city of Toronto, shewing proposed system of parks and boulevards to accompany Mayor McMurrich's report to council

George Tremaine compiled large wall maps of most of the counties of southern Ontario in the 1850s and 1860s. The maps identify names of owners or tenants, houses of subscribers, and names of estates. This 1860 map is for York County.  Small black squares indicate buildings such as residences, inns, schools, churches, and factories. Illustrations of major buildings border the right-side of the map. There is also a list of the names, professions and residences of subscribers to the map...

1860 Tremaine's Map of the County of York, Canada West

1834 Chewett City of Toronto and Liberties. The first 'official' map of the incorporated city. In [March] 1834 the City of Toronto was incorporated with boundaries extending far beyond those of the old Town of York. The city was divided into five wards: St. Patrick's, St. George's, St. David's, St. Lawrence, St. Andrew's. Liberties were attached to each ward for the growth of the ward or the creation of new wards...

1834 Plan of the City of Toronto and Liberties, by James Grant Chewett

1902 Sankey Plan of the City of Toronto ‘The post of City Surveyor, left vacant in 1854 by the resignation of Mr. Howard, was not filled until Dec. 24th, 1888, when Mr. [Matthew] Villiers Sankey received the appointment. Mr. Sankey was born at Brookeboro, County Fermanagh, Ireland, Oct. 3rd, 1854: educated at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, and in 1872 passed his examinations for the India Civil Service.

1902 Plan of the City of Toronto by Villiers Sankey, city surveyor.

1876 PA Gross Bird's Eye View of Toronto. For three years, P. A. Gross walked every avenue, street, lane, and alley from Fort York to the Don River, north through Rosedale, Yorkville, and beyond, to produce this 1876 Bird’s-Eye View of Toronto. In his rambles, he sketched every shop, dwelling, and factory in Toronto—14,000 private and public buildings in all—with “a faithfulness and a minuteness that excites astonishment and admiration in all beholders,” according to Illustrated Toronto…

Toronto, Ontario in Restoration Hardware Home Deco Style Old Wall Vintage Bird's Eye View Reprint Map.

1862 HJ Browne Plan of the City of Toronto “This map shows the great increase in subdivided land as a result of the boom years of the 1850s. Building lagged well behind subdivision, however, and many of the lots shown here were still vacant decades later.  This type of plan, known as a "compiled plan" first appeared in the 1850s. It was put together from the official plans in the Registry Office, and was very helpful- to speculators, builders, and ordinary citizens trying to locate lots..."

1862 HJ Browne Plan of the City of Toronto

1878 Copp Clark & Co. Plan of the City of Toronto: Waterworks The burgeoning city of the late 1870s was a thirsty one. This interesting map focuses on the supply of water. It documents new pipe that had recently been laid, along with the location of new fire hydrants (the black dots).   ‘The first public water supply in the Toronto area was a private company operating from 1843 to 1873, known as the Furniss Works (Toronto Gas, Light and Water Company).’

1878 Copp Clark & Co. Plan of the City of Toronto: Waterworks