Oldest known Toronto Photos

The oldest known photos of Toronto come from the Toronto firm Armstrong, Beere and Hime that took a set of 25 photos of the city in 1856 or 1857 for Queen Victoria. She was deciding on the permanent home of the Parliament for the new United Province of Canada. It had alternated between Toronto and Quebec City, with Kingston, Montreal, and Ottawa (the eventual winner) also being considered. The photos were lost until 1979 when an archivist rediscovered them.

For more information, see the City of Toronto article as well as further descriptions of some of the photos from The Torontoist article. Michael Redhill was inspired, in part, by these photographs to write his 2006 book 'Consolation: A novel.'

Castlefield Estate There is one other Toronto photo from around 1856 - a family portrait, complete with a 4 year old on a rocking horse, on the 'Castlefield' estate just west of Yonge street, south of Castlefield Ave. It was built around 1835 for James Hervey Price, the city's first Clerk with a long a varied political career. The house was sold to Franklin Jackes in 1844, then eventually torn down in 1918. A church still stands on the property today - renamed a number of times from the Castlefield Baptist Church, Zion Baptist Church, etc... 
 

List of all subjects. You can also see all the historic photos for a given neighbourhood. We also have a list of all the photos arranged by date.

1856 Historic photo from 1856 - Looking north up York Street to Osgoode Hall - Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel in Financial DistrictLooking north up York Street to Osgoode Hall - Toronto from the top of the Rossin House Hotel
161 years ago - Financial District - 1856
Link to archive record - Map location (From the City of Toronto Archives)
1856 Historic photo from 1856 - Normal School building : central facade still stands - Gould Street, north-side east of Yonge  in RyersonNormal School building : central facade still stands - Gould Street, north-side east of Yonge
161 years ago - Ryerson - 1856
Link to archive record - Map location (From the City of Toronto Archives)
1856 Historic photo from 1856 - Second United Presbyterian Church under construction at Queen St and Mutual in Old TownSecond United Presbyterian Church under construction at Queen St and Mutual
161 years ago - Old Town - 1856
Link to archive record - Map location (From the City of Toronto Archives)
1856 Historic photo from 1856 - Rossin House Hotel : south-east corner of King and York streets in Financial DistrictRossin House Hotel : south-east corner of King and York streets
161 years ago - Financial District - 1856
Link to archive record - Map location (From the City of Toronto Archives)
1856 Historic photo from 1856 - Castlefield estate at Yonge St, - one of oldest known Toronto Photos in North TorontoCastlefield estate at Yonge St, - one of oldest known Toronto Photos
161 years ago - North Toronto - 1856
Link to archive record - Map location (From the Toronto Public Library)
1856 Historic photo from 1856 - Bank of British North America - designed by John Howard (Wellington and Yonge streets) in St. LawrenceBank of British North America - designed by John Howard (Wellington and Yonge streets)
161 years ago - St. Lawrence - 1856
Link to archive record - Map location (From the City of Toronto Archives)
1856 Historic photo from 1856 - Osgoode Hall : Queen Street West, north-side, before the central section was reconstructed by Cumberland and Storm in City HallOsgoode Hall : Queen Street West, north-side, before the central section was reconstructed by Cumberland and Storm
161 years ago - City Hall - 1856
Link to archive record - Map location (From the City of Toronto Archives)
1856 Historic photo from 1856 - Parliament Buildings : Front Street West in DowntownParliament Buildings : Front Street West
161 years ago - Downtown - 1856
Link to archive record - Map location (From the City of Toronto Archives)
1856 Historic photo from 1856 - Trinity College : Queen Street West, north-side in Trinity BellwoodsTrinity College : Queen Street West, north-side
161 years ago - Trinity Bellwoods - 1856
Link to archive record - Map location (From the City of Toronto Archives)