Virtual Museum of Toronto - Historical Collection
The City of Toronto's Toronto Culture is responsible for the ongoing acquisition, care, research and interpretation of art works and objects that are part of the City's heritage. This collection has grown to over 100,000 historical objects and close to a million archaeological objects since it was started in 1881. The range of objects is as diverse and fascinating as the history of the City itself, but there is no space available to showcase this entire collection. Currently, only 20% of the historical objects in the collection are on display in the City's museums.
The artifacts in the collection date from the 18th century onwards. They are material witnesses of the lives of citizens, from new immigrants to leading families. Rural and industrial objects remind us of traditional activities such as farming, milling, papermaking, printing, brewing, distilling and brick making. Military and marine objects reflect Toronto's central place in Canada's history.
Knowing our past helps us to understand who we are and address our contemporary issues.
There is a growing public interest in Toronto's history. The City's Museum Collections holds the key to many stories from the City's past. A treasure to be conserved and managed for future generations.
The Historical Collection is composed of several important distinct collections, also called fonds and sub-collections.
major fonds / sub-collections
- Morris Norman Collection [1996.18] - 14426
- C.H.J Snider Collection [1972.6] - 4838
- Carroll Collection [1993.29] - 4500 (est.)
- Larry Becker Collection [2000.5] - 4200 (est.)
- Spadina Collection [1982.7] - 2574
- T. Eaton Company Collection [1988.56] - 1763
- Reidel Collection [1972.5] - 1607
- John Street Roundhouse [not accessioned] - 757
- Anna Simpson Young [1972.33] - 605
- CEF Cap badges [1977.1] - 548
- Crosswaite [1991.28] - 320
Three examples are:
- The T. Eaton Company Collection holds spectacular objects such as the original architect's design model for Eaton's College Street store and Toronto's first fire alarm telegraph.
- The McCormack and Carroll, Designers, Modellers and Wood Carvers Collection is made up of architectural elements used to decorate the interiors of many of Toronto's most important buildings from the last decade of the 19th century to 1972.
- The Larry Becker Collection, one of the largest and most valuable private collections of historical Toronto material, was donated to the city.
The City's significant historical art collection includes the works of international and Canadian artists such as Cornelius Krieghoff (1815 -1872), Bernard de Hoog (1867 -1943), John Colin Forbes (1846 - 1925), William Armstrong (1822 - 1914) and Lucius Richard O'Brien (1832 -1899). Works from the early years of the Women's Art Association of Toronto Art form a unique and important part of this collection.