• Historical Overview

Among the many neighbourhoods and districts in the City that may be considered “old,” a few areas have been identified as particularly significant to Toronto’s development, and a number of local organizations are working to preserve and promote these important places. This Guide will set out to explore one of these areas, the “Old Town”, defined by the Citizens for the Old Town as the land from Victoria Street to the Don River and from Queen Street to the Esplanade (see map above).

The Old Town provides a wonderful snapshot of the evolution of Toronto. Its buildings, landscapes and archaeology tell the stories of our early government, land use, economics, education, architecture and social life. It was on this stage that a remarkable cast of characters performed the drama that is our past. We are mindful, of course, that Toronto’s history predates the arrival of the British by centuries of First Nations settlement and French fur trade activities. For the purposes of this guide, however, the goal is to focus on the beginnings of the modern city itself.

Today, Toronto’s Old Town has one of the largest concentrations of 19th century buildings in Ontario, and is a tremendous heritage resource. Its historic buildings and landscapes have the potential to serve as a unique framework for cultural and economic revitalization.

Old Town Toronto. A Heritage Landscape Guide (PDF)