Last fall, I wrote an article about the importance of city directories for Toronto family history research—really for all Toronto historical research. They are a way to see the development of the city and to stroll around the neighbourhood where your ancestor lived, worked, worshipped and shopped. A reader of that September 2 article has asked a question and has inspired this new post.
The question: Any idea which month the Toronto city directories were published?
Well, I don’t think there is any one answer. Directories were commercial ventures and I’m sure each publisher would work at a different pace. Speed was, as they say, of the essence, and a major selling point.
To be most useful, a directory had to be as current as possible. They were therefore compiled in a hurry. Some 19th century compilers boasted that their directories were compiled in 6 to 8 weeks, including door-to-door canvas, compilation, and binding. This of course, led to errors.
Up until 2000, Might’s directories produced a five volume set for Toronto. These recent Toronto directories were based on the phone book and took about an additional 2 months to produce after the phone book’s release.
A notice for the newly issued city directory in The Globe newspaper of Tuesday 30 January, 1883 (page 6, column 1)
But narrowing down the window when the directory information was collected could be crucial to pinning down the date when an ancestor arrived or left the city or moved within it—or died.
With a little perseverance you can probably establish that window using newspapers. Directory publishers needed to establish their credibility with both potential purchasers and the general public, and the best way to do this was with a prospectus for the upcoming publication in the newspaper. The newspaper notice would go a long way towards explaining that nosy parker at the door.
Once the directory was ready, or ready to go to press, it needed to be sold, and newspapers were one of the few ways of doing that. I found an announcement for the 1883 directory in The Globe on January 30, so presumably the book (more useful than “any hitherto published”) was compiled during the last couple of months of 1882. If your ancestor appears on the list “too late for regular insertion” that would narrow the window even more.
If this article inspires you to find the dates for a Toronto directory, I’d love to hear about it.
There’s a great article about searchable digitized Toronto newspapers available through the Toronto Public Library on its Local History and Genealogy blog.
Need a great excuse for a week of research in Toronto? Consider Genealogy Summer Camp offered by the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.
This will be the 17th Summer Camp. It is, by the way, a program for adults—no tents or campfires, and not many mosquitoes in downtown Toronto!
We travel to a different archives or library each day, and after a tutorial, you’ll have lots of time for hands-on research with guidance from your “camp counsellors”.
For details of this year’s camp and the online application, visit the Summer Camp pages. To avoid disappointment, please get your application in as soon as possible.
Very pleased to find a box from Dundurn Press at my door last week—the first copies of my new book Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and Other Records for Family Historians.
The book covers wills and related records from 1763 (well before “Ontario” existed) up to current records. For novices and researchers new to Ontario records, I’ve explained the structure and value of estate records. Experienced researchers will appreciate the descriptions of records beyond the estate files we typically use. The book covers records at the Archives of Ontario as well as those available on interloan and through FamilySearch.org around the world.
Researchers with roots before 1793 will be particularly interested in Chapter 2: Early Records of Inheritance, where I’ve extracted the names of all parties involved in hearings before the District Prerogative courts. Not just the deceased, but administrators, heirs, guardians, friends, relatives, and creditors—a rich resource for the period.
Thank you to the archivists and librarians in Toronto, Ottawa, London, Prince Edward County, Detroit, and Salt Lake City, as well as friends and fellow researchers in most of those places—for your help and insight and support. (Now I’ll have to find something else to pester you about!)
For more details, please visit the Inheritance in Ontario page.
This is the third and final episode, in which I speculate wildly on the reasons for the animosity between Toronto bookseller Magnus Shewan and his niece Margaret Fraser. If you’re new to the story, it will all make more sense if you read Part 1 and Part 2 first.
In the last episode, we read the wishes of Magnus Shewan in his will:
I more particularly direct that under no circumstances shall the wife or daughter Margaret of my brother have any share or portion of my Estate in consequence of their misconduct towards him.
The brother in question was Christopher Shewan, a few years younger than Magnus. Christopher died about six months before his brother in September 1883, in Guelph, Ontario, where he appears to have moved somewhere between about 1855 and 1861. Christopher appears in the 1856 Toronto city directory (likely compiled in 1855.) The 1861 census shows the family in Guelph—Christopher aged 49, Jane aged 42, and Margaret aged 22.
For most of the more than 25 years that Christopher lived in Guelph, he was a merchant.
But while he lived in Toronto, presumably from about 1841 like his brother Magnus, Christopher worked mainly as a carpenter and builder, maybe with a little land speculation thrown in. In the 1843 city directory, he’s running a boarding house (listed as Christopher Shawan) on Scotch Street. In the 1850 directory, Scotch has become Scott Street and Christopher, now a carpenter, lives at the head of it.
By 1853, the assessment rolls show that Christopher owned three unfinished houses on the east side of today’s Jarvis Street between King and Queen streets, and he lived on the south side of Queen Street. The 1850s were a time of rapid development in Toronto and the transformation of substantial town lots with enough property to have at least a kitchen garden and stable, into much smaller lots for rows of residential and commercial buildings.
A man with some means, like Christopher, grabbed a piece of the action, if he could.
In 1854, Christopher Shewan got into some hot water about a land transaction that ended up in the Court of Chancery. One of the stirrers of the stew pot was Christopher’s wife Jane. In a time when a married women had few property rights, she could protect her eventual inheritance of her husband’s property by refusing to bar her dower. (Dower rights ensured that a widow got at least one third of her husband’s land.) This refusal could effectively stop a sale or mortgage of a property.
Here’s where the wild speculation comes in. I don’t know why Jane prevented the sale—or how Christopher reacted. But I bet he wasn’t pleased.
The parties involved were Christopher Shewan, William Kendrew, Robert Walker, and Thomas Hutchison, and brothers Samuel and Marcus Rossin. Walker and Hutchison were major dry goods merchants; the Rossins ran several businesses. The property involved is not clearly identified in the paperwork—in fact, Judge Esten makes that point in his bench book—but I’m quite sure it was the small parcel at the head of Scott Street.
Plans of Town Lots 1, 3, and 4 from City of Toronto abstract index vol. 17. Christopher Shewan owned part of Block 3 on the lower plan (see note 5)
Scott Street stopped at Colborne Street in 1854, so the property was on the north side of Colborne, part of Block 3 within Town Lot 3. It was about 30 feet deep and backed onto much deeper lots on the south side of King Street. Christopher acquired the east half of the lot in December 1841, and the west half in June 1845. The original one-acre Town Lot 3 had been purchased in 1824 by the Honorable James Baby, and Christopher Shewan’s property was known as Baby Place (pronounced Bawbee).
Today, Scott Street veers to the west at Colborne to continue as Victoria Street. Part of Block 3 was expropriated for Victoria Street. The rest is now occupied by the King Edward Hotel.
But back to the story.
Let me see if I can explain what happened in 1854. William Kendrew approached Christopher Shewan about selling the property for £287 and change. Kendrew did not disclose that he was acting as an agent for Robert Walker who owned the adjacent property on King Street.
Christopher consulted with another neighbour, Thomas Hutchison, who told him it was a “large” price. Now Hutchison and Walker were business partners, and if Christopher had been aware the Walker was behind Kendrew’s offer—he certainly wouldn’t have gone to Hutchison for advice. (Turns out that contrary to wanting a better deal for his business partner, Hutchinson actually was more interested buying the land to resell to Walker at a profit. That partnership didn’t last long!)
Approximate locations of the above plans: red box is Town Lots 1 and 4; Block 3 was on the lower edge of the blue box.
Christopher Shewan agreed to sell the land to Kendrew. Here’s where the chronology gets a little hazy, and the motives become questionable.
The Rossin brothers got wind of the agreement, and “expostulated” with Christopher for not giving them an opportunity of buying it at the same price.
Kendrew, in a effort to complete the deal, requested the deed but was informed that Jane Shewan had refused to bar her dower. I’ll admit that the legal technicalities are a little beyond me, but Christopher and Kendrew did have some options to keep the deal alive, and Kendrew certainly tried.
Sometime later (apparently not late enough to avoid a lawsuit), Christopher made a deal with the Rossin brothers for £300, and Jane Shewan’s dower was duly barred. William Kendrew filed a suit against Christopher Shewan, Marcus Rossin and Samuel Rossin to enforce the original contract.
Judge Esten was not pleased that Kendrew had been put forward as the plaintiff—or had misrepresented himself as the purchaser. Esten felt that Christopher had been deceived, but didn’t believe that Hutchison and Walker were in cahoots. (Not sure I buy that.)
Although he doesn’t exactly say there was anything underhanded going on with Christopher Shewan and his lawyer, Esten notes that the deal should have been handled differently. In the end, despite deception from almost everyone involved, he was of the opinion that the plaintiff, Kendrew, should get the land at the original price.
Those are the facts. Now for some wild speculating.
Why did Jane Shewan refuse to bar her dower? Did Christopher ask her to so he could accept the better offer? Or did Jane find out about the questionable deal—or the better offer—from the neighbours? Was 16-year-old Margaret Shewan involved in the discovery? Seems to me a bustling dry goods store would be a hard place to keep a secret, particularly when all parties lived but a stone’s throw away.
Was Christopher angry at being hoodwinked by Walker, or embarrassed by his own naiveté? How did his wife react to the news? Did Christopher accept that he’d given his word and the deal should go through, only to be thwarted by Jane’s dower rights?
We’ll likely never know. But I can’t help thinking that the family’s departure from Toronto a year or so later may have been precipitated by these events. If that’s so, would Christopher’s brother Magnus Shewan been upset about losing his brother to faraway Guelph? Upset enough to voice his opinion in his will, written just a few years later in 1858?
Did Magnus really hold a grudge against Jane and Margaret for nearly 30 years?
The only thing we know for sure, was that like too many of us, Magnus was guilty of not updating his will!
This is the third in a series of articles about wills and other records of inheritance to support my new book Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and Other Records for Family Historians (Dundurn Press, April 2013).
I had some wonderful help with this article from researchers in Shetland. Thank you to Janice Halcrow for her transcriptions of Shetland newspapers at www.jghalcrow.co.uk, and for putting me in touch with Tony Gott who has compiled a marvelous database of names at www.bayanne.info/Shetland.
The records of the Toronto Necropolis Cemetery were also essential, both the transcription of gravestones by the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, and the index to its burial registers at FamilySearch.org.
 Both Ancestry and FamilySearch have hidden the Shewans under the name Sherman. The blessed ability to search either index without a surname—and the unusual forename “Christopher” allowed me to find them.
 Toronto in the 1850s: A transcription of the 1853 Tax Assessment Rolls and Guide to Family History Research. (Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society, 2005)
 Archives of Ontario, Benchbooks of Justice James C.P. Esten / RG 22-390-10 / May 1853 – July 1854 / Box 62 / p 11 and 12.
 City of Toronto abstract index vol. 17, spine title: “T.L. 1 N. Wellington & 3 & 4 E. Old Toronto”, on microfilm GSU 197315 at the Archives of Ontario. Plan at beginning of volume. Block 3 starts on page 201.
Yesterday morning I spoke at Richmond Hill Public Library as part of its series on “Women in 19th Century Ontario”. I highly recommend the rest of the lectures in this series: Janice Nickerson on March 30 on Women in the Upper Canadian Criminal Justice System; Guylaine Petrin on April 27 on Treason, Bigamy and Adultery in Riverdale; and Cameron Knight on May 25 on Poor Nancy Malone. See the library’s website for details.
The following is a brief summary of yesterday’s presentation.
Ma Owned the Farm: Women as Land Owners in Ontario
In early Ontario, most land was owned by men and the law limited the rights of women to own (or control) their property. However, some did, and the records associated with that ownership and a woman’s rights to her husband’s and parents’ properties are some of our richest genealogical treasures.
Laws governing women’s land ownership
Under English Common Law, a single woman or a widow could buy and sell land and enter into contracts like mortgages with more or less the same rights as a man, but when a woman married, the situation changed altogether. The “Doctrine of Marital Unity” from English Common Law meant that “By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law.”
- Upon marriage, a woman lost her right to manage her own personal and real property, although she didn’t lose ownership of her real estate
- All rents and profits derived from her property went directly to her husband.
- Married women could not contract, sue or be sued.
- Married women could not operate a business without her husband’s consent.
- All personal property including a wife’s wages, belonged to her husband.
- Marriage contracts and other trusts could protect a woman’s property from her husband, but were used only by the rich, and rarely.
A husband was, in turn, obligated to provide for his wife and children. But when the marriage broke down, or the husband was absent for some other reason, the woman’s situation and that of her children could become desperate very quickly.
Beginning in 1837 with the establishment of the Court of Chancery, a number of pieces of legislation were passed to deal with the inequities, but it took almost 50 years before the Married Women’s Property Act of 1884 stated unequivocally that a married woman could “acquire and dispose of any real or personal property as her separate property as if she was a feme sole.” She could contract, sue and be sued.
There were many further refinements, but that 1884 Act and certainly by the turn of the century, we had more or less the same situation we have today.
Land Records for Researching Women
There were many records created to document the acquisition and ownership of land in Ontario and most apply equally to men and women. I’ll concentrate on those records that tend to provide richer details about women and their families.
UPPER CANADA LAND PETITIONS
A petition was the first step in acquiring land from the Crown. The petition explained why the petitioner felt he or she deserved the grant. In the case of women, it usually included the name of her husband and/or father, and sometimes other siblings. The main collection of Upper Canada Land Petitions is at Library and Archives Canada, digitized on the LAC website and on microfilm at the Archives of Ontario. There is an online index.
TOWNSHIP PAPERS (RG 1-58)
This is a collection of miscellaneous documents from the surveyor-general’s office that were pulled from their files for some particular reason—usually a question of ownership. Rather than refile them, it was decided to create new files, by township, concession and lot. They are now on microfilm at the Archives of Ontario and available on interloan. This filing arrangement makes them easy to access. Not every lot has a file, but many do and it is well worth a look. Film listing.
HEIR AND DEVISEE COMMISSIONS
Many recipients of grants of Crown land did not take the steps that would finalize the transfer of ownership. In some cases the grantee had died or transferred ownership to family members or others. To clarify titles and settle disputes, the government set up two “Heir and Devisee Commissions”. The Commissions held hearings, where the proof of ownership was presented.
The records of the Second Heir and Devisee Commission (1805–1896) are at the Archives of Ontario. A file of supporting documentation was created for each of the more than 5,000 cases that came before the Commission (RG 40-5). These are indexed in the Second Heir and Devisee Commission Database.
LAND REGISTRY OFFICE RECORDS
By the 1830s, most land in Southern Ontario had been granted by the Crown and was in private hands. Any transfer of ownership fell under the auspices of the Land Registry Office. Land records in Ontario are organized by parcel. An “Abstract Index to Deeds” for each parcel of land was created in 1865. The Abstract Indexes attempted to list transactions retroactively back to the Patent from the Crown, and provide the “instrument number” for each subsequent sale, etc. These instrument numbers lead to the actual documents (or copies of the documents). Many Abstract Indexes and copybooks of deeds have been microfilmed by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and are also available at the Archives of Ontario. Depending on the area and time period, you may need to visit the local Land Registry Office.
CHANCERY COURT RECORDS
From 1837 to 1881, the Court of Chancery had jurisdiction over many matters concerning land, including trusts, the partition of estates, mortgages, dower and alimony. Many records have survived and are at the Archives of Ontario. (These records will answer many of the questions raised in Abstract Indexes.) Equity civil suits case files (RG 22-409) which start in 1869, are a particularly rich source within the Chancery records, and they are listed by surname in the Archives Descriptive Database.
For more information about land records research, the Archives of Ontario’s Research Guides and Tools page is a good place to start. Look for guides 205, 215, 225 and 231.
In the last episode, we learned about Toronto bookseller Magnus Shewan’s death in 1884 and that his niece Mrs. Fraser was surprised when she tried to claim her inheritance—at least according to the Toronto Daily News.
The Globe published a death notice on February 5, 1884:
DIED/ Suddenly, on Monday morning, Feb 4th, Magnus Shewan, age 75 years, a native of Dunrossness, Shetland, and a resident of Toronto since 1841. Funeral on Wednesday afternoon at two o’clock, from his late residence, 21 Dalhousie-st. Friends and acquaintances will please accept this invitation. Shetland papers please copy.
And they did. On March 1, 1884, a similar notice appeared in the Shetland Times.
Now back to the fate of Mrs. Fraser, who I’m now almost certain was the former Margaret Shewan, daughter of Magnus’ brother Christopher Shewan.
Magnus Shewan’s will was written, as the newspaper stated, 26 years before his demise—in 1858. I’ve transcribed it, and the original is also reproduced below.
This is the last will and testament of Magnus Shewan of the City of Toronto in the Province of Canada Bookseller.
I give devise and bequeath all the property real and personal of which I may die possessed to my cousin Magnus Shewan upon trust to sell and dispose of the same as soon after my decease as possible without sacrificing the same but no forced sale within two years which I allow for winding up of my Estate, and to divide the proceeds thereof in manner following:-
One fifth to my mother Agnes Shewan
One fifth to my brother Christopher Shewan
One fifth to my cousin Magnus Shewan to be retained for his own use and benefit
One tenth to my servant Charles Backus
One tenth to my cousin John Harper in Shetland, Scotland, one half of that for himself and the residue to be given by him to such of my relatives as he may consider most in need of it.
One fifth to Magnus, the son of my cousin Magnus.
I’ll interject a little more, here, about the cast of characters. Mother Agnes died in 1865 (7 years after the will was written but 19 years before our Magnus died) and is buried in the Toronto Necropolis in plot L 124S. The nearly illegible gravestone says she was the wife of the late James Shewan and mother of Magnus and Christopher. The plot was owned by Magnus.
Brother Christopher Shewan died less than six months before Magnus on September 12, 1883, in Guelph, Ontario, and was buried the next day in plot L 125 in the Toronto Necropolis. This plot was also owned by Magnus.
Cousin Magnus, as we saw last time, did outlive our Magnus Shewan, and served as administrator of the estate.
Servant Charles Backus has eluded me, and I haven’t identified John Harper of Shetland.
Young cousin-once-removed Magnus (son of cousin Magnus) also survived to inherit.
Now back to the will.
I give my wearing apparel to my brother Christopher.
I will and direct that my mother’s share shall be first paid and that she shall from time to time immediately after my decease have such sums of money out of her share of my Estate as she shall require.
I will and direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses shall be in the first place paid out of my Estate and Effects and before payment of any of the shares or legacies above given except such sums as my mother may require for her support and maintenance.
In the event of the death of any of the legatees above mentioned before me, I will and direct that his or her share shall be divided amongst the others in the proportion of their respective shares of my Estate, and I more particularly direct that under no circumstances shall the wife or daughter Margaret of my brother have any share or portion of my Estate in consequence of their misconduct towards him.
Ah, so it is true. It doesn’t pay to upset Uncle Magnus.
I hereby appoint my said cousin Magnus the Executor of this my will, and I hereby bind myself not to alter this in any way whereby his position or share may be diminished or affected nor to make any other will or codicil without his knowledge or consent while any portion of my present or any future debt to him remains undischarged.
Signed Sealed Published and declared by the said Magnus Shewan the testator as and for his last will and testament this fourth day of December AD 1858… M. Shewan
So, what did Margaret Fraser and her mother do to Christopher Shewan? Were their misdeeds really serious enough for him to hold a grudge from 1858 to 1884?
Well, I have some theories, but you’ll need to wait till next time.
This is the second in a series of articles about wills and other records of inheritance to support my new book Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and Other Records for Family Historians (Dundurn Press, April 2013).
Will of Magnus Shewan, from estate file 5193 (1884), RG 22-305, Archives of Ontario
Page 2 of the will. Click images to enlarge.
Sometimes it is what is left out of a will—intentionally or not—that provides the intriguing story.
Magnus Shewan was a Toronto bookseller who operated a shop in the arcade of St. Lawrence Market from about 1845, and from about 1862, on King Street. At the time of his death on February 4, 1884, the bookstore was at 150 King Street East at the corner of Jarvis. The building still stands, one of the few surviving examples of the scale and type of architecture that lined both sides of King Street when it was Toronto’s main thoroughfare.
This article from the Toronto Daily News, 8 Feb 1884, introduced me to Magnus Shewan.
Mr. Shewan first came to my attention in this article from the Toronto Daily News of February 8, 1884. Please take a minute to read the sensational account of poor Mrs. Frazer who presumed she was in the will—and presumed incorrectly. Maybe a little bossy, too, was poor Mrs. Frazer.
This niece of Magnus Shewan was likely the wife of George Fraser (rather than Frazer), listed in the 1884 city directory as an engraver for Masters and McPhail, moulding and frame makers. The Frasers lived at 24 Widmer Street.
Now to consult the estate file, to see if the newspaper got the story right.
Beginning in 1859, estates in Ontario were handled by county surrogate courts. Family members or friends or other parties would apply to the court to be appointed to administer the estate. If the deceased left a will, it would usually be the person(s) named as executors. The court would decide if the applicant was suitable, and after having them fill out the appropriate paperwork, pay the fees, post a bond and swear to do a good job, a grant of probate or administration would be issued.
Magnus Shewan died in Toronto, so his estate was proven in the York County Surrogate Court. The records (and nearly all Ontario estate records) are at the Archives of Ontario. Most are on microfilm and available on interloan from the Archives of Ontario, or through FamilySearch.org.
The first step is to consult a semi-alphabetical index that shows name, residence, type and date of grant, and a grant number. Semi-alphabetical means all the “S” names are listed together, but not sorted beyond that. However, they are recorded chronologically, and since we know Magnus died in February 1884, we can start looking for “Shewan” shortly after that.
In 1884, Magnus Shewan’s bookstore was on the corner of King and Jarvis in this yellow brick building dating from the late 1840s. ©Jane E. MacNamara
For York County, the estate files are arranged on the microfilm numerically by the grant number in the index.
Magnus Shewan’s estate file, grant number 5193, contains the following documents:
- application to administer the estate from the deceased’s cousin, also named Magnus Shewan
- certificate from the Surrogate Clerk’s office ensuring that no one else has applied
- oath of the executor (cousin Magnus) that he will “faithfully administer”
- the will, written in 1858 and witnessed by Hector Cameron and Adam Crooks, naming cousin Magnus as executor
- affidavit stating the date of death by cousin Magnus
- affidavit that the will is genuine by witness Hector Cameron
- affidavit of the value of property ($3,689 personal effects and $5,200 in real estate)
- inventory of the estate
What about poor Mrs. Fraser? Is she in the will or out of luck? Stay tuned till next time!
This is the first in a series of articles about wills and other records of inheritance to support my new book Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and Other Records for Family Historians (Dundurn Press, April 2013).
I can’t quite fathom how this much time has passed, but 2013 will be my 20th trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. A number of my travel mates seem anxious to add to their list of visits, and you’re invited, too.
The elegant new City Creek development—shopping and residences—in downtown Salt Lake City. (photo: Jane E. MacNamara)
We’ll fly from Toronto on Sunday, September 8. You can choose to stay for one or two weeks. (We can accommodate other departure points.)
For family historians, there is no place like the Family History Library—an unimaginable collection of original records on microfilm from all over the world, free access to subscription databases and an extensive collection of genealogies, local histories and research handbooks.
The best parts, though, are the knowledgeable staff, top-notch equipment, and the opportunity to grab some concentrated research time in a too-busy life!
Salt Lake City also has some of the most spectacular desert and mountain scenery in the U.S.A. Our hotel is just a short walk from the magnificent Salt Lake Temple, the Mormon Tabernacle, major concert halls and shopping. TRAX, the city’s electric transit system (free in the downtown area) will take you to more shopping and points of interest. A short drive or bus ride will take you to the Great Salt Lake, state parks, many historic sites and Olympic-class ski resorts.
September is lovely in Salt Lake City—warm, late-summer daytime temperatures with cool evenings. The gardens of Temple Square will be overflowing with flowers—chrysanthemums, asters, lavender, roses, sage, and exotic grasses.
The Carlton Hotel is a pleasant stroll away from Temple Square and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City (photo: Jane E. MacNamara)
We’ll be staying at the Carlton Hotel. Built in the 1920s, it is a friendly, 45-room hotel with cable TV and a refrigerator in each unique room. A full cooked-to-order breakfast (or continental if you prefer) is included. Regular van transportation to and from the Family History Library is provided free of charge.
THE TOUR PACKAGE INCLUDES:
- round trip airfare from Toronto
- hotel accommodation for 7 or 14 nights including breakfast
- a special group dinner
- introduction to the Family History Library
- walking tours to points of interest
- all applicable taxes
The Salt Lake Temple, focal point of Salt Lake City’s Temple Square (photo: Jane E. MacNamara)
Royal City Travel (Guelph) will handle travel arrangements for us, again. Although prices for 2013 will not be available for a few months, you can use the 2012 prices below as a guideline. We’ll stay as close to them as we can.
Airfare and accommodation (per person)
ONE WEEK (Note: 2012 prices)
Single occupancy $2195
Double occupancy $1800
TWO WEEKS (Note: 2012 prices)
Single occupancy $3083
Double occupancy $2290
I’ll be posting more details about the trip from time to time, and we’ll set prices and start taking reservations by the beginning of May.
To keep up to date, you can subscribe to this blog. (It’s easy, just fill in the “Want to know when I write?” box on the left.) Or send me an email.
Whenever you’re doing urban research, particularly in North America, city directories should be a first stop.
For Toronto, the first directory was published in 1833—a year before the Town of York even became the City of Toronto. Over the next 25 years, five more directories were issued by various publishers. Directories were commercial ventures and expensive to produce. (Someone had to knock on all those doors.) By 1859, the value of owning an up-to-date directory seems to have been recognized by enough businesses to make publishing annual editions a reasonable investment. Annual or semi-annual directories for Toronto were published from 1859 to 1999.
This detail from page 232 of the “streets” section of the 1914 Toronto city directory shows the heads of household on Kimberley Street as well as a church and school that their families may have attended.
Most Toronto directories have two main sections: an alphabetical index of names and a street section that lists each street alphabetically and shows the resident or business at each address. Both sections are equally important.
Here’s how I suggest you search a city directory:
- Look at the title page first and properly cite your source, including title and publisher. It isn’t good enough to say “1888 Toronto directory.”
- Study the table of contents. Note the page numbers of all relevant sections.
- Look at the alphabetical index of names section first, noting all information. If the surname isn’t common, look at all occurrences. Watch for matching or similar addresses and related occupations.
- Look up the addresses you found in the “streets” section.
• Note the street’s location, and former names if given.
• Note the intersection before and after your ancestor’s location. Street numbering may change as the area develops and knowing the location will help you decide whether your ancestor actually moved house.
• Note the ward information at the beginning of each street, particularly in census years.
• Note your ancestor’s neighbours and neighbouring businesses. Take a “tour of the neighbourhood.” Perhaps he attended a church right up the street—or married the girl next door?
- Check the business listings and any other sections you noted in step two.
Where can you find Toronto directories?
If you are in Toronto, the easiest directories to use are the bound paper copies at the Toronto Reference Library. To be able to flip back and forth between sections as I suggest above, you can’t beat the real thing. The directories are on the 4th floor now, but will soon be migrating to the 2nd. There will be a brief time when they won’t be accessible, so be sure to check if you’re going to TRL in the fall of 2012.
Toronto city directories are available on microfilm at several Toronto libraries and archives. They are available on interloan from the Archives of Ontario. Toronto directories are also part of the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproduction (CIHM) collection. The CIHM collection is widely available a major public and university libraries.
But now you can also search Toronto directories in your pyjamas.
Digital images of most directories before 1923 are now freely available from either the Toronto Public Library or Internet Archive. They are each searchable—although be cautious with this option. Luckily, directories were always meant to be searchable and arranged alphabetically for that purpose. (Unfortunately the Toronto Public Library’s earlier version of the directories, which allowed a search of all issues at once, is no longer available.)
To make the digital versions a little easier to access, I’ve created this chart of links. You’ll note that a few years are not linked at this point. When digital versions of these waifs become available, I’ll add them to the chart.
Please let me know if you find the chart useful, and certainly if you notice any broken links.
The invasion is over! Well, it was a small invasion—ten Genealogy Summer Campers and their camp leaders visited archives and libraries all across Toronto last week.
Genealogy Summer Camp started on Sunday, August 12, with a picnic supper in the peaceful quad of the University of Toronto’s Massey College. We met the campers, who came from Alberta, Michigan, and various locations around Ontario. They got to know each other a bit and we discussed plans for the week. Their mission was to relax and absorb what each research facility had to offer—to focus on the process rather that on a list of results—to be willing to follow the clues as they presented themselves.
Monday took the group to the Toronto Reference Library. We focused on city directories, the Library’s biographical card index, and manuscripts and images in the Baldwin Room. City directories are an important first step in Toronto research and the Toronto Reference Library’s hard copies are the easiest to use.
On Tuesday, we headed north on the Spadina line and the York University Rocket bus to the Archives of Ontario. It was a busy day with tutorials on using the Archives, researching Ontario birth, marriage, and death records, and probate records. It was a good thing the AO was open until 8:00.
On Wednesday, the group divided for the morning and then again at noon, each camper visiting one or two of four denominational archives. There was lots of travel, but thanks to the wonderful efforts of staff at the archives, all the campers had a fruitful day. Some of the campers, who ended the day at the Anglican Diocese of Toronto Archives, adjourned to the St. Lawrence Market for refreshments and then visited Toronto Branch members who were transcribing grave markers at St. James Cemetery that evening.
On Thursday, we headed up the Yonge line to North York Central Library’s Canadiana Department. Canadiana also houses the Ontario Genealogical Society’s library, so cemetery transcriptions were a major research focus. In the afternoon, most of the group headed back to the Archives of Ontario for a tutorial on land records and another opportunity to research until 8:00 pm.
On our final day, Friday, we headed to the newly renovated City of Toronto Archives just north of Dupont station. Campers dug into assessment rolls, valiantly figuring out wards and street indexes. The digitized insurance maps, and magnificent photo collections were also well used. At noon, we headed back to the Archives of Ontario for another afternoon delving into its records, and an informal get-together to end the week.
I was exhausted, but very glad to be part of the happy, relaxed group. They seemed to have enjoyed the chase, as well as appreciating the results. And that was the point.
Many thanks to Ron Junkin who helped me and the Summer Campers all week, and to Ruth Burkholder who helped us ride “madly off in all directions”* on Wednesday. And a very special thanks to the staff at all the libraries and archives, who once a year allow us to run them ragged. They greet us with welcoming smiles and represent their institutions and Toronto so very well.
* Stephen Leacock in “Gertrude the Governess”, Nonsense Novels, 1911. [Wikiquote.org]