The Toronto Heritage Register and the Architectural Index for Ontario are two good sources for basic information on historic buildings in Toronto. Both provide details, such as year built, architect, and building name(s), which you will need to find more detailed information about the building you are researching.
Toronto Heritage Register
The Toronto Heritage Register allows you to search for basic information on a number of historic buildings in Toronto. This basic information is found in the Heritage Property Detail record which can be searched either via the Heritage Register Search map or by using the
Toronto Reference Library's Architectural Index for Ontario is another good resource for basic information about historic buildings in Toronto. You can browse the index by designer/architect, building name, building type or street. The entry provides basic information on the building as well as an index to articles about the building.
Each listing also provides references to current and historical books and articles on the building.
The documents and reports created during the heritage designation process can contain valuable information on heritage buildings. Many are available online at the City of Toronto website.
(The by-law number is found in the Heritage Property Detail Record).
Once you have the bylaw number:
This document has a Background Information section that can contain report(s) with detailed information on a historic building including the architectural and cultural significance, the history of the building and the area, pictures and architectural drawings.
Search TIMMIS using the building address for reports from 2004-present.
(The Toronto Archives provides access to pre-2004 Ontario Heritage Act Designation files - Series 822).
|Background Information (Community Council)|
|(May 16, 2014) Report from the Director, Urban Design, City Planning Division - Intention to Designate under Part IV, Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act - 704 Queen Street East (Entrance Address 106 Broadview Avenue)
Information on materials and methods can often be found in historical articles written at the time the historic building was constructed or in books featuring the building. The Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada and the Architectural Index for Ontario are excellent sources to help you find historical articles and books that feature your building.
The Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800 - 1950 is an excellent source to help you find references to articles or books on a historic building. You can browse or search by architect or building name.
Each page has a brief biography of the architect and entries for each building he or she designed. (Hint: Use CTRL-F to find your building on the page).
Sample Entry for 299 Queen St. West:
Abbreviations for a select list of digitized sources (full list of abbreviations):
Finding Articles from older journals: Once you have a list of the journal articles that feature your building, you can search several sources for the full-text digitized article. See below for frequently cited journals.
b.p. - building permit
C.A.B. - Canadian Architect & Builder [Toronto], pub. 1888-1908 digital full-text available at McGill)
C.R. - Contract Record (available through Internet Archives), and its variant titles, including :
Const. - Construction: A Journal for the Architectural, Engineering and Contracting Interests of Canada [Toronto], pub. 1907-1934 (digital full-text available through the Internet Archives)
demol.. - demolished
OA - Archives of Ontario (at York University)
R.A.I.C. - Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Ottawa, Ont. (digitized at Dalhousie)
Books: You can search the GBC Library Catalogue for recent books that feature your building. The Toronto Reference Library is another good source for books. Check the Internet Archive and Google Books for the full-text of older works that are no longer covered by copyright.
The Heritage Designation Bylaw and Easement Agreement can also contain information on materials and methods used in heritage buildings.
Blueprints and specifications for many historic buildings in Toronto are often housed at one of the following locations:
If the original blueprints are not available, one can often find copies of the drawings in historical articles written at the time the building was built.
Toronto Archives (255 Spadina Rd - just down the street from the Casa Loma campus):
To search for blueprints, start at the Toronto Archives Advanced Search Page.
If blueprints are available, you must create a Record Request Form to request the blueprints for the building. If you need assistance, contact your librarian Andrea Hall or call the City of Toronto Archives at 416-397-0778.
You can take non-flash pictures of blueprints and other records found at the archives.
Archives of Ontario (at York University subway stop - now only 35 minutes from Casa Loma!)
**Note: If you wish to view blueprints or records at the archives, they may need to be ordered 24-48 hours in advance. Speak to Archives reference desk staff for assistance (416-327-1600)**
Search the Archives of Ontario for drawings of many historic buildings in Toronto and Ontario. Collections from several architects who worked in Toronto and Ontario are housed at the Ontario Archives including:
Information about Toronto's historic buildings can also be found in current articles and books. You will use a specific search to find articles on a building and a general search to find books that feature a building.
Start with our databases that have a Canadian focus.
Next, search the main search box below. This will allow you to simultaneously search a number of databases including Art and Architecture Complete and CPI.Q.
Google Books is another excellent way to find references to your building within books. Try the name of your building and architect in the Google Search. If the book is not available full-text, check the GBC Library catalogue or the Toronto Public Library catalogue for the book.