Preapare for Your Visit

Now that you plan to visit the Archives, there are a few things you should do to prepare for your visit that will help you find what you need. The Archives of Ontario has assembled a number of tools, databases, links and catalogues of information that can help you conduct much of your research from home. You might wish to start there.

For a very general overview of our collections, click here.

For information on obtaining copies from a distance, click here.

For information of particular interest to university students and professors, click here.


Prepare for Your Visit to the Archives of Ontario

Finding Archival material is somewhat different than finding materials in your library. Records that are located in our facility can be retrieved with a couple of hours notice. However, only the most frequently requested records are located in our facility. Most of the records managed by the Archives of Ontario are located in off-site storage. As a result, you must notify us which off-site records you wish to see ahead of your planned visit to our facility, to ensure that the records you want are on-site when you visit.

Before your visit, we strongly recommend you consult this web site and check our research guides, finding aids and databases to determine if you can identify the records you are seeking, or determine if we have them. This web site has access to the same research tools we have in our facility. In the event you have a question about our records or customer services please contact our Reference Desk at reference@ontario.ca.

Please note: In order to register our guests at the Archives, we require 1 piece of Government issued ID to be presented (such as a Driver’s Licence, Passport, or a Government photo identification card). A Provincial Health card will not be accepted as a valid form of ID.

Please see the links below for other essential information you’ll need to know before you visit!

  • Our Location - Where to find us and how to contact us.

  • Reading Room Hours - Our hours of operation.

  • Online Registration - All visitors to the Archives require an Archives of Ontario Researcher (AOR) card. Sign up for one in advance and save time when you arrive.

  • Ordering Materials in Advance - How to make sure your materials are here when you plan to be.

  • Retrieval Information - What materials we have on-site for same day retrieval and what materials are stored off-site, and must be pre-ordered up to five days in advance.

  • Services and Fees (Word, PDF) - An outline of the services we provide. What’s free and what we charge you for.

  • Rules of the Reading Room (Word, PDF) - What is and is not permissible in the Reading Room.

  • Our Copyright Policy - How to make sure you are abiding by the copyright policies of the Archives of Ontario.

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Our Location


Our Address

Archives of Ontario
134 Ian Macdonald Boulevard
Toronto, ON M7A 2C5

Our Contact Information

Telephone: 416-327-1600
E-mail us at: reference@ontario.ca
For more contact options click here.

View Larger Map


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Getting Here


By Toronto Transit (TTC)

Downsview Station & Sheppard Station

  • 196 York University Rocket — Express from Downsview Station; 196 B from Sheppard Station via Downsview during peak times
  • 106 York University — from Downsview at non-peak times
  • 107 B&C Keele North — Downsview Station to Rutherford GO Station (107 B) or Teston Rd (107 C) via York U (one-fare service between York Region and York University)

Finch Station: Steeles 60C or 60F

Jane Station: Jane 35 E — Express to York U

Keele Station: Keele 41 (41 B — including Petrolia; 41 C — including Steeles Ave via Murray Ross)

Subway Construction
at York

The new subway stop at York University will make it easier to get to the Archives. For construction updates visit the Subway Construction page


By GO Transit

Hwy 407 Express GO Bus Service: Hamilton - Burlington - Oakville - Mississauga - Bramalea - York University Common - Thornhill - Mount Joy - Scarborough - Pickering - Oshawa

Newmarket GO Bus Service: Newmarket - Aurora - King - Maple - York U Common

Meadowvale Express GO Bus Service: Meadowvale - York University

Bradford GO Train Service: Barrie - Bradford - East Gwillimbury - Newmarket - Aurora - King - Maple - York U - Union Stn. A free York shuttle transports passengers to/from the York Common to the York University GO Train Station.

By York Region Transit

Jane-Concord - Route 20: connections to Vaughan Mills Mall; Jane Street Industrial-Employment Corridor; Interchange Restaurants & Entertainment Complex; Ahmadiya Mosque; Paramount Canada's Wonderland (provided only during park operating season) and many other local destinations.
Woodbridge - York University 10 - Islington/Langstaff - Martin Grove/Woodbridge - Rutherford/Islington - Langstaff, south on Ansley Grove and Weston Road - Steeles - York U

Thornhill - York University 3 - from York Region Transit Terminal at Promenade Mall (with connections to YRT Routes 77, 83, 88 and TTC Bathurst 160) - Bathurst/Atkinson - New Westminister - Steeles - Dufferin/Steeles - York U

By Viva

Viva Orange line
Viva Purple line

For more specific information on bus routes and transit services visit your city's transit Web sites:

By Car

From Highway 401

  • Take Hwy. 401 to Keele Street
  • Exit at Keele Street and go north
  • Follow Keele Street north of Finch Avenue (the campus is on your left)
  • Turn left at York Boulevard, north of Finch Avenue

From Highway 407

  • Take Hwy. 407 to Keele Street
  • Exit at Keele Street and go south
  • Follow Keele Street south of Steeles Avenue (the campus is on your right)
  • Turn onto the campus via York Boulevard, south of Steeles Avenue

From Highway 400 (southbound)

  • Take Hwy. 400 south to Hwy. 7
  • Exit onto Hwy. 7 and go east
  • Follow Hwy. 7 east to Keele Street
  • At Keele Street go south (the campus is on your right)
  • Turn onto the campus at York Boulevard, south of Steeles Avenue

From Highway 400 (northbound)

  • Take Hwy. 400 north to Steeles Avenue

Our Precise Location

For those using a GPS our coordinates are:

Latitude = 43.7749 - 43 degrees, 46.5 minutes North
Longitude = -79.5002 - 79 degrees, 30.0 minutes West

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Reading Room Hours


Alexander Fraser Reading Room

  • Monday - 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Tuesday - 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM - Extended Hours 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM*
  • Wednesday - 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Thursday - 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM - Extended Hours 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM*
  • Friday - 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Saturday - 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • Sunday - Closed
Closed on Statutory Holidays

*Note: Services available during these extended hours include registration, assistance from reference archivists, access to self-service microfilm, microfiche and finding aids, viewing of previously ordered materials, and access to the exhibit gallery. Requests for certifications, reproductions and copyright that are placed during extended hours will be sent for processing on the next business day.



Helen McClung Gallery (main floor)


  • Monday to Friday - 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Saturday - 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Sunday - Closed

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Holiday 2014 2015
New Year's Day Wed, January 1 Thurs, January 1
Family Day Mon, February 17 Mon, February 16
Holy Thursday
Thurs, April 17
(no extended hours - closing at 5:00 p.m.)
Thurs, April 2
(no extended hours - closing at 5:00 p.m.)
Good Friday Fri, April 18 Fri, April 3
Easter Monday  Mon, April 21 Mon, April 6
Victoria Day Mon, May 19 Mon, May 18
Canada Day Tues, July 1 Wed, July 1
Civic Holiday Mon, August 4 Mon, August 3
Labour Day Mon, September 1 Mon, September 7
Thanksgiving Day Mon, October 13 Mon, October 12
Remembrance day Tues, November 11 Wed, November 11
Christmas Eve
Wed, December 24 Thurs, December 24
(no extended hours - closing at 5:00 p.m.)
Christmas Day Thurs, December 25 Fri, December 25
Boxing Day Fri, December 26 Mon, December 28
 

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Ordering Materials in Advance


Ordering records from the Archives of Ontario

Most records in our holdings are stored in an off-site facility, so we recommend that you order records in advance. Please note that:

  • You do not need to order self-service microfilm and DVDs, and you cannot reserve them in advance.

  • Records subject to an access restriction must be requested in writing and will take longer to retrieve; please e-mail mailto:reference@ontario.ca or speak to our staff for more information.

  • Records you wish to view on Tuesday or Thursday evenings and on Saturdays must be ordered in advance.

  • Records will be kept for you for a week, after which time they will be re-filed if you have not visited or contacted us.

Ordering in advance

You can request retrievals in advance:

  • By e-mail (highly recommended), at reference@ontario.ca. We suggest that you send your request about a week in advance; please indicate the date of your visit in the subject line of the e-mail.

  • By phone at 416-327-1600 or 1-800-668-9933 (toll-free in Ontario) or by fax at 416-327-1999 (6 files or boxes or fewer), two days or more before the date of your visit (five days for photographs, audio or video records).

  • By mail (please give enough time for the request to be received and processed).

Please give us the following information for each container or item:

  • Title.

  • Reference code (RG xx-xx, F xxx, C xxx).

  • Container number or barcode. That information appears in the “How to order”, “Ordering information”, “Box” or “Container” field in the Archives Descriptive Database (ADD).

  • Accession or transfer number (if there is one provided with the container or box number).

A few ordering tips:

  • If the Archives Descriptive Database (ADD) mentions an inventory or file list that is not online, please contact us, as we may be able to send you inventories or lists in electronic or paper format.

  • If there are multiple entries with the same container number or barcode, you need to order that container only once.

  • If you plan to be at the Archives for a number of days, you can order the first records you’ll be reviewing in advance, then order the rest once you have arrived.

If you submit your order by e-mail, we will notify you once the records have arrived. If you order by phone, please let us know if you would like to be notified, and how to notify you.

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Retrieval Information


Ordering retrievals that are stored on-site

Textual materials

On-site textual materials consist of some of our most frequently used records. These records can be retrieved on the same day they are ordered (subject to daily retrieval times). To determine which textual materials are on-site, please consult the ADD.

If you are ordering on-site materials from the Reading Room, you can order these materials using a “records request slip”. Our staff can help you complete it. If you are ordering from home, please consult (LINK) Ordering Materials in Advance – How to make sure your materials are here when you plan to be.

Requests submitted in person for on-site materials are processed on an hourly basis. Retrieval times are 9:30, then every hour on the half hour, with the last retrieval at 3:30 (4:30 on Tuesday and Thursday). There are no retrievals on Saturday.

On-site items are usually available 20 to 30 minutes after the retrieval times.

On-site records that you wish to view on Tuesday or Thursday evenings and on Saturdays must be ordered in advance.

Microfilm

We also have a large number of onsite records on microfilm. Microfilm is self serve and generally does not need to be ordered in advance.

The Archives of Ontario has microfilmed important and heavily-used records in order to preserve them and to provide better access. Approximately 48,000 reels of self-serve microfilm are available in the storage cabinets in the Reading Room. To determine which reels you wish to use, please contact a Reference Archivist.

Within the Rotunda are a range of microfilm and microfiche readers. Some machines are also set up to make paper copies of your records for you (for a nominal fee). You can also save images to your own USB key from the digital microfilm readers. Contact the Reference Desk for directions on use of the reader printers, direction on which machines are set up to print and how to use your USB key. Please note: The Archives of Ontario does not provide or sell USB keys.

Major Archives of Ontario Collections on Microfilm include:

  • Vital Statistics:
    • Births: 1869 to 1916
    • Marriages: ca. 1780 to 1931 (pre-1869 records are very incomplete)
    • Deaths: 1869 to 1941
  • Wills and Estate Files: c. 1790 to 1930 (dates will vary depending on the county).

  • Newspapers: The Archives has microfilmed most of its newspaper holdings,
    including a large selection of older Ontario newspapers.

  • Eaton's Mail-order Catalogues: 1884-1976

The Archives also provides access to some Library and Archives Canada microfilm including:

  • Ontario Census Returns: 1842, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901

  • Upper Canada Land Petitions: 1792-1867

  • Ships Passenger Lists: 1865-1919

See our Register of Microfilm Collections from Other Institutions for a complete listing of the Archives' microfilm holdings from other institutions.

Ordering retrievals that are stored off-site

Less frequently used Archival records, fragile records and records that are stored in a cool or cold storage area are stored off-site.

Textural records stored off-site are usually available the next working day, from the time our reference staff receives your order. However, cold storage records (photographs and audio or video records) require time for acclimatization and as a result can take three to five working days to retrieve, from the time our reference staff receives your order.

The ordering process for off-site retrievals is the same as it is for on-site retrievals. If you are ordering from the Reading Room, you can order materials using a “records request slip”. Our staff can help you complete it. If you are ordering from home, please consult (LINK) Ordering Materials in Advance – How to make sure your materials are here when you plan to be.

To avoid disappointment, your best option is to order off-site material in advance; leaving time for delivery and acclimatization.

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All records at the Archives of Ontario are covered by the Canadian Copyright Act. Customers who reproduce records are required to comply with the act. To find out more about the Copyright Act, different types of copyright and access restrictions on archival materials and the conditions that apply when copying archival materials held by the Archives of Ontario, please see the Archives of Ontario Public Policy on Copyright and Terms of Use for Archival Materials.



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