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School Records

TEACHERS

Boys eating lunch in 1980 at Scarborough School Section No. 7. Photo by Joseph Adamson Blakey (Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Room N 1-437)

Boys eating lunch in 1980 at Scarborough School Section No. 7. Photo by Joseph Adamson Blakey (Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Room N 1-437)

The Archives of Ontario (AO) holds Admissions Registers and other student records for a number of Ontario teacher training institutions. Search under institution’s name in the Archives Descriptive Database: <follow the link to ‘Accessing Our Collection’>

The most comprehensive collection of Normal School/Teachers College yearbooks is in the OHEC Collection in the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Library (OISE) at 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 2V6. Please note, an appointment is necessary to visit the OHEC Collection

There is a comprehensive listing of all Ontario teachers from 1911 to 1966, which includes qualifications, home address, and salary for each teacher. Known as Public and Separate Schools and Teachers in the Province of Ontario, or variously as Schools and Teachers in the Province of Ontario or The Blue Books, all years are available on Internet Archive.

The AO also has a wide selection of records for Ontario teachers. For example, RG 2-114 Teacher Superannuation Files, 1820–1919. These are applications for payment from the teachers’ superannuation fund, plus related documents. For more information see the AO’s Research Guide 216.

STUDENTS

There is no single source of student records in Toronto, and many records have not survived. Check city directories for the period in which you’re searching for a list of schools that existed at the time. For much of Toronto’s history, its schools fall into the following categories:

1) Public (government funded) primary and secondary schools

The boards of education of the former Toronto, Etobicoke, East York, North York, Scarborough and York were amalgamated in 1998 into the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). The TDSB Heritage Centre is located on the lower level of Eastern Commerce Collegiate Institute at 16 Phinn Avenue, Toronto, ON M4J 3T2. Before visiting, you should contact the archivist, Greg McKinnon at 416-397-3680 or at greg.mckinnon@tdsb.on.ca to make an appointment.

If the school is located in Scarborough, there may also be information available at the Scarborough Archives.

It is worthwhile contacting the individual school your ancestor attended, as many schools have set up their own archives.

2) Roman Catholic or “Separate” primary and secondary schools

Roman Catholic education in Toronto began in 1841 with St. Paul’s school. The separate school boards in the municipalities that became Toronto were incorporated as the Metropolitan Separate School Board in 1953, and it was renamed the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TSDSB) in 1998. There is a brief history that may help you narrow the search on the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s web site. The TCDSB has an archive at the Catholic Education Centre at 80 Sheppard Avenue East, Toronto, ON M2N 6E8, 416-222-8282.

If the school is located in Scarborough, there may also be information available at the Scarborough Archives.

It is worthwhile contacting the individual school your ancestor attended, as many schools have set up their own archives.

3) Independent or Private schools (requiring fees)

Many of these schools are still operating and maintain archives. Use Google to search for their web sites and find out about availability of student records.

4) Post Secondary Institutions

Most universities and colleges maintain extensive archives. Use Google to search for their web sites and find out about availability of student records.

OTHER SOURCES

Archives of Ontario (AO)

The AO holds extensive Ministry of Education records, including exam results and other student lists, as well as a miscellaneous education collection and related records in many private collections. For more information see the AO’s Research Guide 216.

For King and Country

Toronto Branch’s own “For King and Country” project is the best centralized source for the history of Toronto schools. Now covering more than 100 elementary, secondary, independent, and post-secondary institutions, the website will continue to grow as war memorials are added.

School Yearbooks

High-school  and university yearbooks are an invaluable source for student names and student activities. These may be held at the board archives or at an individual school. Toronto Public Library and the OGS Library both actively collect yearbooks tor Toronto schools.

School Histories

You may be lucky and find a history published for the school you are interested in. Check local public libraries in the area. Education and Ontario Family History: a Guide to Resources for Genealogists and Family Historians, by Marian Press, has a listing of all the known school histories for the Toronto area.

Curricula and Textbooks

If you would like to learn a little about the context of the schooling your ancestor received (or dispensed in the case of a teacher ancestor), Ontario curricula and textbooks are an excellent source. The OHEC collection at OISE has an extremely comprehensive set of both. Internet Archive has many of the earlier textbooks digitized online.