Prior to 1859, the disposition of the estate of a Toronto resident could have been handled by one of two courts: the Court of Probate or the Surrogate Court. The estate files for both courts are held at the Archives of Ontario.
For the pre-1859 era, a nominal index is provided in the Archives of Ontario “Descriptive Database”. Choose “Advanced Search” and then “Search Files and Items”. Enter your ancestor’s surname in the Keyword field, and use the Archival Reference Code field to narrow the search to court records by entering “rg 22-155” for the Court of Probate, or “rg 22-305” for the York County Surrogate Court. (Drop the quotation marks.) If you think estate may have been probated in a different county, use “rg-22” followed by an asterisk, to search all court records.
The Descriptive Database will direct you to a microfilm number. Copies of the films are available on inter-institutional loan or through the FamilySearch.org. To convert the Archives of Ontario film number to a FamilySearch film number, use this conversion list.
After 1858, all Toronto estates were handled by the York County Surrogate Court. Indexes and estate files up to 1967 are held by the Archives of Ontario on microfilm. Estate files older than 40 years are also in the custody of the Archives of Ontario, but have not been microfilmed. They are in off-site storage, so you should allow a couple of days for them to be retrieved.
The microfilmed indexes and estate files up to 1930 are available on inter-institutional loan and through the FamilySearch.org. To convert the Archives of Ontario film number to a FamilySearch film number, use this conversion list.
The Archives Ontario website has a detailed guide to the search process.
Estate files less than 40 years old are held by the:
Superior Court of Justice – Estates Division
330 University Avenue, 7th floor
Toronto, ON M5G 1R7
NOTE: If your ancestor’s estate consisted mostly of real property, it was not necessary to use the services of a court. The will may have been registered only in the Land Registry Office.