Township council was the level of government closest to our ancestors and the one where they were most likely to participate in or interact with. They might be elected as a member of council, or be appointed for tasks like pound keeper or fence viewer. They may have petitioned the council to open a road or fix a bridge, or been paid by council to do that work. Council could issue tavern and shop licenses, settle disputes, look after a foundling child, assist the sick or indigent, and even pay for a burial. Council minutes are full of names!
The Township of York was incorporated on January 1, 1850, and included all the area surrounding the City of Toronto from the east boundary of Etobicoke Twp., to the west boundary of Scarborough Twp. It was bounded on the south by Lake Ontario, and on the north by Vaughan and Markham townships, along today’s Steeles Avenue. York Township diminished in size over the next century as its communities like Parkdale grew and became separate municipalities, and with annexations by the City of Toronto. See our Toronto Chronology and this annexation map for more information.
Note that a fire on November 20, 1881, at the Masonic Hall Building (where the council met), destroyed the council minutes for that year, except for January and December.
These links to digitized council minutes lead mainly to searchable PDFs from the Toronto Public Library’s digitalarchiveontario.ca. Those marked with an asterisk are at familysearch.org and must be accessed through a FamilySearch Centre or an affiliate library. While those ones are not every-word searchable, some volumes include indexes. Minutes marked with an MS are original manuscript versions.
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Please see the City of Toronto Archives for more recent council meetings.