A Nineteenth Century Registry of Landowners in Ontario - The Intrepid

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Nineteenth Century Registry of Landowners in Ontario

York County Historical Atlas Cover 1878
Ontarians rejoice! If you’ve ever wondered about the nineteenth century owner of the plot of land that your house currently sits on, the Canadian County Atlas Digital Project can help. The database, compiled by McGill University between 1998 and 2001, is a searchable composition of forty-three Ontario atlases from 1871 to 1881. While streets and landmarks have changed, with a little guess work it’s still possible to use the maps to determine who the previous tenants were.

Historical Map of Etobicoke 1878
Let’s say you live Etobicoke—a former township that was amalgamated into the City of Toronto in 1998—in a house on the south western corner of Bloor Street West and Royal York Road. Just choose Etobicoke from the list of Ontario townships and a map from 1878 pops up. Locating the plot is a little tricky, but with the help of Mimico Creek and Dundas Street you can find where intersection would be located today. According to the map, the 1878 owner of the land between Islington Avenue and Royal York Road was one Alexander Thompson.

The best part about the database is that is also includes some background information about the person (or persons) who owned the land. Once you’ve determined the location of your house, you can cross reference the owner with the names database. Unfortunately though, other than his name, there isn’t any information in the database on Alexander Thompson. Even if the database isn’t entirely complete—historical records are never complete—it’s still a great resource for history fiends and curious Ontarians.

All photos are from the Canadian County Atlas Digital Project.