York County GenWeb: City Directories

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York County GenWeb
City Directories

City Directories can be invaluable for you when you are searching within Toronto. However, remember that accuracy or completeness is not guaranteed. First, they can tell you where your ancestor lived and help you find him on the census records. Second, the later ones give information such as occupation and the company worked for. Some list women as "widow of" (eg. wid. John), which is a clue to when the husband died.

City directories for Toronto begin in 1833. Microfilmed copies are available at the Archives of Ontario, the Toronto Reference Library and the North York Central Library, and Library & Archives Canada.

The Toronto Public Library is digitizing city directories from 1833-1900 into an online searchable database. Once you find someone in the database, click on the icon to the right to get a scan of the page where your ancestor's name appears!

    City directories not only listed individuals, but also businesses and "general intelligence". Most institutions, such as hospitals, banks, schools and fraterna lorganizations were listed, usually with the current officers and often with a brief history. In four directories, landowners in various parts of the county were some villages were also included:
    • 1837 - all of the Home District
    • 1846/47 - all of the Home District
    • 1850/51 - all of the combined York and Peel County
    • 1866 - all of York County

    York Minutes (1797-1823) are also indexed. These are an annual list of male inhabitants, and others in their household (only nale head is listed by name).

    For simple name searches of city directories not yet on line, or directories for 1900+, the Ask A Librarian service of Toronto Public Library may be of assistance.

    For more complex searches, Toronto Public Library offers Intellisearch, a fee-based research service.

    You will also find directories for York County, which list landholders (farmers).

In early years, directories were printed every few years; in later years, a new one was published every year. Some have been reprinted, like Brown's Toronto City and Home District Directory 1846-7, which was reprinted in 1989 by the Halton-Peel Branch of Ontario Genealogical Society.

See: 1837 Toronto Directory. The title for this publication was: The City of Toronto and the Home District Commercial Directory and Register with Almanack and Calendar for 1837.


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Last updated: 2009