Researching a House in Weston
If you would like to find out more about your house the following information can get you started. This is only a beginning list of resources and will change from time to time as we learn more about researching a house in Weston.
In order for you to research a house you need to know a little about the history of the area. Weston can be difficult to research because every time it got incorporated or amalgamated documents were moved. Some got lost, some got destroyed and others just have not been archived yet.
Important Dates in Weston’s history:
|Pre 1850||In Home District (Ontario had districts before there were provinces)
|1851 ||York County formed
|January 1, 1850||Township of York is incorporated
|1881 ||Separates from York Township and becomes incorporated as Village of Weston, effectively reducing the size of York Township
|January 1, 1882||First Village council meeting
|1915||Incorporated as a town
|April 15, 1953||York and Weston become two of thirteen municipalities in the new Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto
|January 1, 1967||York and Weston amalgamate and are incorporated as the Borough of York
|June 10, 1983||York is incorporated as a city
|January 1, 1998||York ceases to be an individual city and becomes part of the amalgamated City of Toronto
Weston has also been found in the records of York North Township, Etobicoke Township, York West Township and Toronto
It is also important to know if and when the street name changed:
|Present Name||Former Name||Date changed
|Fern Ave||LaMaire Ave||Feb 18, 1924
|Queen’s Drive||Maria Street||Dec. 10, 1923
|Church Street||Beach Street||June 14, 1920
|Bellevue Street||Mill Street||Nov 14, 1924
|Clouston Ave.||St. John’s Road||March 2, 1964
|Wadsworth Ave.||Helen Ave.||May 6, 1968
Sometimes the street numbering has changed, even though the street name has not.
Items Used to do Research:
- Survey, mortgage info, home insurance may all supply you with the lot number, plan number, frontage, type of house, date it was built, original owner etc
Goad’s Fire Insurance Atlases
- first published in 1880 and updated at regular intervals
- 1st one to have Weston in it is dated 1910
- taken over by Underwriters Insurance Company
- are street maps showing the shape, size and material of buildings
- watch for ones that have the original date on them but have been changed after that date
- use a number of these to narrow down when a house was built. i.e. the house is on the 1923 plan but not on the 1910 one, then you know the house was built after 1910
- City of Toronto Directories were published from 1833, approx. every 5 years until 1861, when they were done yearly
- organized alphabetically by both street name and surname
- a year by year check of the directories may indicate when the site you are researching was developed, be aware that the information in any volume was usually compiled the previous year
- directories list the occupants not necessarily the owner
- will say what adults are living there, or if the lot is vacant, under construction, etc.
- if there is no number, this does not necessarily mean there is no house
i.e. looked up 153 King Street, it was there some years, vacant others and not there in others.
- sometimes gives occupation or association person belonged to, this helps determine historical importance of the individual
Property Tax Assessment Rolls
- information was compiled each year for tax collection the following year.
- organized by city ward, indicates the name and address of the owner and occupant, status of property (vacant or built on) and the assessed value of the land and buildings.
- these can give you an idea of when the house was built, but need further checking to determine if a general tax rise in the area was the real reason for increased assessed value.
Former Owners, Neighbours, etc.
- talk to people living in the house right now and in the past, even rumours and legends are a good place to start
- see if they have plans, old mortgages, actual deed, or surveys.
- it is important that you get the lot and plan number, not just the street address.
- The Weston Times and Guide newspaper can mention subdivisions being built, new plans, lots for sale
- they also have “Personal” columns that talk about people and what homes they lived in
- these give you the complete history of who owned the land that your house is on.
- they can also tell you when the house was built
- sometimes a survey or deed will be attached
- can be found in the form of copybooks and abstract indexes
- Some definitions found at the Land Registry and its records:
- Abstract – means condensed version
- Copybook – has the formal documents in it -usually listed by the instrument
- Abstract Index – index to the abstracted version of the instruments
- Instrument – each transaction that occurs on a piece of land -an instrument number is given to each one
- Transfer – when someone buys a piece of land
- Charge – a mortgage
- these may give the original owners, builder and architect
- also the height, size of the house
MPAC –Municipal Property Assessment Corporation
- this can be accessed online once you phone in to be registered
- your own info is free, additional info costs extra
- gives you Plan number, Lot description, frontage, and other initial information
Toronto Property System – Available at Toronto Archives
- on computer
- can access any Toronto address by typing in address
- gives address, owners, plan and lot info, frontage, depth and type of house
General Research Information
Talk to people living in the house first
- find out all you can
- even the smallest detail can lead to finding documented info
- most important find out the original lot number
Cite your sources
- write down where you found the information in as much detail as you can
- even write down where you didn’t find something so you don’t look there again
Photocopy the information whenever you can
- this produces fewer mistakes
- also tends to gather more information in one shot than just copying down just what is needed for that house
- keep receipts and note what they are for so you can be reimbursed for them (if you are researching someone else’s house for the study)
Places to Research
Weston Historical Society Archives Has:
1901 Weston Road
- a few photo albums have been compiled that tell some history of certain homes
Fire Insurance Plans
- 1910, 1913, 1923, 1955/56
Directories and Voters’ List
- numerous directories and voters’ lists from different years
Property Tax Assessment Rolls
- transcribed assessment rolls for some streets from 1883 to 1966
Biographical and Topical Files
- there are some files on people, businesses and groups etc. throughout Weston’s history
Plans and Maps
- most of the plans of Weston
- and some of the older maps
City of Toronto Archives
255 Spadina Road
Go online to search for information related to Weston. Follow instructions to order items before visiting the archives because it can take up to an hour for the items to be retrieved.
Archive staff is very helpful and will show you around and inform you of the rules and regulations of the reading room.
Information found can be photocopied (at a cost), photographed or scanned onto your own USB.
The City of Toronto Archives has:
Property Tax Assessment Rolls
- from 1883 to 1966
- names are in alphabetical order by last name of occupant of house up to 1925
- alphabetical order is not perfect; if there are two people owning the same property, they are listed together, which puts one of them out of order
- from 1925 onward they are listed by street
- in book form (very large books)
- go back through the years following the house number, the lot and plan number and the ongoing owners until you find the year that has no monetary value in the “Value of Buildings” column. When this column is blank it means there was no house and so that means it was built either that year or the year after
- Might’s Toronto directories are all on microfilm (ask staff for location
- Weston is listed in a separate suburban section in some, with the rest of the city in others and in colored sections for others.
- see each year’s table of contents near beginning of reel for page numbers
Fire Insurance Maps
- parts of York for 1948, 1957, 1962 and 1964
- also 1910, 1913 and 1923
Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge Street
- all info on the 4th floor in the Special Collections, Genealogy & Maps Centre
Fire Insurance Maps
- Complete holdings from 1833 but see breakdown for York in Toronto Archives notes
- in book form and microfilm
- pre 1900 Canadian directories are on CIHM microfiche
North York Central Library
5120 Yonge Street
416-395-5623 (Canadiana Room, 6th floor)
- Weston Times & County of York Herald, 1890-1894
- Times & Guide, 1908-1913
- Weston Times – Advertiser, 1961-1965
- Weston Times, 1965-1970
- Weston-York Times, 1971-1973
- Times, 1973
- all on microfilm
The Archives of Ontario has:
134 Ian Macdonald Blvd,
Land Records and Assessment Rolls
- ask the staff to help find this information
Metro Toronto Land Registry Office
Atrium on Bay
20 Dundas St. W.
- policies and procedures change constantly at the Land Registry Office so the best thing to do is to ask for help
There are two Printable versions of these notes:
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