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About Toronto city directories

Published for almost 170 years, Toronto city directories are an invaluable research tool to:

Toronto Public Library holds a complete set of Toronto city directories from the first in 1833 (published in 180 pages when the municipality was known as York) until the last in 2001 (in five separate volumes covering Toronto Central East and East York, Toronto Central West and York, North York, Etobicoke, and Scarborough). In addition, the Library has separate directories for places such as Yorkville, Weston and Willowdale that are now within the city of Toronto.

Initially Toronto city directories were published about every five years, in 1833, 1837, 1843, 1846, 1850, 1856 and 1859. From 1861, when the city had grown enough to support an annual publication, directories were published almost every year. By the time the last Toronto city directory was published in 2001, directory information had become increasingly available through a variety of online databases.

Almost all of the 19th- and early 20th-century directories have been digitized, and are universally available over the Internet. The entire run of print directories may be viewed on open shelves in the Humanities and Social Sciences Department on the second floor of the Toronto Reference Library.

City directories of Toronto may contain the following information that could help you in your research:

An alphabetical list of inhabitants

An alphabetical directory of streets in the city

A classified list of businesses and professions

Business advertisements

Miscellaneous information

A directory of places in the vicinity of the city

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