Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery
Horses have had an important relationship with humans long before these four-legged animals came to Ontario.
Records in our collections document this significance in terms of the tremendous ability of horses to move people and goods, especially in the days before the dominance of the car and other motorized forms of transportation.
Cover of T. Eaton Co. Christmas catalogue, 1902
T. Eaton Company fonds
Archives of Ontario, I0074006
Horses and jockeys, Queen’s Plate at Woodbine
Racetrack, Toronto, June 1958
Conn Smythe fonds,
Archives of Ontario, I0054218
Although the railroad is often seen as the key travel mode that enabled the colonization of land for European settlement across Canada, this poster shows that horse transportation also played a major role.
Horses pulling a sleigh loaded with pine logs near Flanders, Ontario, [ca. 1920]
Photographs of the Ministry of Education Audio-Visual Education Branch
RG 2-71, CNF-21
Archives of Ontario, I0004037
Horses and other draught animals provided essential help with ploughing, harvesting and many other farming tasks until the ascendency of motorized tractors by the mid-20th century.
Drawing by Leonard Crysler, [ca. 1850-1880]
Crysler family fonds
Archives of Ontario, I0054248
Horses were a common sight in Ontario cities into the 1940s. As this photo shows, their presence left a mark on the urban landscape, from everyday infrastructure like water fountains and stables to early suburbanization via the horse streetcar.
Bread delivery truck, horse drawn during the war to save gas, 1941
Gordon W. Powley fonds
Archives of Ontario, I0002596
Greer's Livery Stable, Cobourg, Ontario, 1910
George S. Mitchell Collection
Archives of Ontario, I0007408
The significance of horses to people in Ontario made breeding an important industry. This poster promotes the ability and availability of one such stallion.
American Trotting Register Official Certificate for May Patchen, March 26, 1902
R. R. McLennan fonds
Archives of Ontario, I0073995
Archives are home to records that trace how animal welfare has changed over time. The importance of horses as work animals, along with their emotional connection to humans, put them at the forefront of campaigns against animal cruelty starting in the mid-19th century.
This photo shows a horse forcibly plunged into water as an attraction for amusement park visitors. Do you think this is a scene you would see today?
The popularity of horse racing in Ontario lasted well after the animal’s general importance to humans declined in the 20th century.
The Conn Smythe fonds at the Archives of Ontario contains records that document his love of horse breeding and racing, including this photo of his horse Caledon Beau's victory at the 1958 Queen’s Plate, the longest continuously-run horse race in North America.
Queen's Plate, Woodbine Racetrack, Toronto, [ca. 1950]
Department of Travel and Publicity, Tourism promotion photographs
RG 65-35-3 ,11764-X2128-1
Archives of Ontario, I0005496