Toronto Island Archives collection

Here is the full description of the ‘Toronto Island Archive fonds’ at the Toronto Archives.

A direct link to descriptions of the material:

A long term goal of this Toronto Island History Project is to digitize, help organize all of cataloguing work done by the Toronto Archives (and Peter Holt and Albert Fulton) of this rather vast collection of material, and provide, on-line, access to this material.  All offers of self-directed assistance accepted!

Title Toronto Island Archives fonds
Date(s) of creation of record(s) 1793-2011, predominant 1940-2008
Physical description of record(s) 25.5 m of textual records and other material
Form of material Textual records
  Graphic records
  Moving images
  Sound recordings
  Cartographic – maps
Scope and content Fonds consists of records created, accumulated, and maintained by two different iterations of the Toronto Island Archives (TIA), operated by Peter Holt and Albert Fulton respectively.
  The records created and accumulated by Peter Holt are contained in series 872 and 873. These textual and photographic records were created and acquired between 1974 and 1979 as part of the Islanders’ political campaign to prevent the destruction of the homes and communities at the eastern end of Toronto Island. The textual records include newspaper clippings, community and Toronto Island newspapers, correspondence, reports, and ephemera documenting Toronto Island, including Ward’s Island, Algonquin Island, Centre Island, Hanlan’s Point, and the Toronto Island Airport. The photographs include historic images documenting life on Toronto Island, as well as photographs taken by professional and amateur photographers who lived on the Island during the 1970s, including Ursula Heller, April Hickox, Ellen Tolmie, Doug Ganton, and Peter Holt.
  The remainder of the series in the fonds consist of the records that were created and accumulated by Albert Fulton between 1980 and 2008. They contain a range of textual, photographic, cartographic, graphic, and audio-visual material, and document not only the Islander’s fight with the Metropolitan Toronto government, but also the Island’s long history as a strategic, commercial, and recreational hub, and the development of the Island community up to 2008.
  Included are alphabetically arranged subject files containing newspaper clippings and other material relating to everything from “airports” to “zoning,” with files in-between containing information about various Island residents, properties, and organizations. Augmenting the subject files are presentation albums, which contain photographs and other material relating to Island houses, prominent families, artistic residents, annual and special events, famous buildings, and Island-based organizations.
  Researchers interested in the ownership history of the residential community on the eastern portion of Toronto Island will be well served by property files, which contain assessment lists and other material documenting each house on Algonquin and Ward’s Island. Further, anyone interested in the Islander’s leasing fight with the Metro government and the subsequent establishment of the Land Trust can consult the records of the Toronto Island Residents Association (TIRA) and the Toronto Islands Residential Community Trust Corporation (TIRCT).
  Rounding out the fonds are publications, official reports and transcripts, Island phone directories, Toronto Island Radio Tower Committee records, maps and plans of the Island, graphic material produced by Islanders, and audio-visual material, including, among other things, oral histories and home movies.
Subjects Toronto Island (Ont.)
Ward’s Island (Toronto, Ont.)
Algonquin Island (Toronto, Ont.)
Sunfish Island (Toronto, Ont.)
Centre Island (Toronto, Ont)
Hanlan’s Point (Toronto, Ont.)
Billy Bishop City Centre Airport
Toronto Island Public School
Toronto Island Archives
Fulton, Albert William, 1938-2008
Holt, Peter, ca. 1946-
Administrative history or biographical sketch The first incarnation of the Toronto Island Archives (1974-1979) was headed by Ward’s Island resident, Peter Holt. Holt, assisted by other Island residents, collected and displayed a wide range of materials documenting the history of Toronto Island, including Island newspapers, ephemera, and historic and contemporary photographs. The main impetus for the creation of the Archives was the Islanders’ campaign to save their homes and community from being destroyed by Metropolitan Toronto in order to extend the Toronto Island Park. The group made presentations, based on the material collected, to public groups and government bodies, including the United Nations Conference on Habitat, the Ontario Lifestyles Exposition, and the Ontario Jr. Conservationists. The project was funded in part by federal and provincial grants. Peter Holt transferred the TIA records to the City of Toronto Archives between 1980 and 1983.

The second incarnation of the TIA began in 1980. Albert Fulton purchased a home on Algonquin Island, part of Toronto Island, in 1980 and began photographing and collecting information relating to neighbourhood homes, residents, and heritage. These activities accelerated after he retired from teaching in 1988, and his work formed the basis of the Algonquin Island Archives (renamed the Toronto Island Archives sometime after 1999) which he ran out of his house at 5 Ojibway Avenue. After Mr. Fulton’s death in 2008, his widow, Mrs. Emily Fulton, continued to care for the records.

On December 8th, 2010 the Toronto Island Archives was incorporated pursuant to letters patent. The stated purpose of the TIA was to “collect, preserve, and display documents, photographs, and other archival materials regarding the Toronto Island community and its environs; and to make these archival materials available to individuals and/or institutions for research and educational purposes.” The records of the TIA were transferred to the City of Toronto Archives in 2011 in order to make them accessible to a greater number of researchers.

Source: Toronto Island Archives

Record consists of
  • Series 872; Toronto Island Archives photographs
  • Series 873; Toronto Island Archives textual records
  • Series 1822; Toronto Island Archives subject files
  • Series 1823; Toronto Island Archives files relating to Island properties
  • Series 1824; Toronto Island Resident’s Association (TIRA) and Toronto Islands Residential Community Trust Corporation (TIRCT) records
  • Series 1825; Toronto Island Archives presentation albums
  • Series 1826; Toronto Island Archives publications
  • Series 1827; Toronto Island Archives photographs
  • Series 1828; Toronto Island Archives reports and transcripts
  • Series 1829; Toronto Island Archives audio-visual material
  • Series 1864; Toronto Island phone directories
  • Series 1868; Toronto Island Archives Radio Tower Committee records
  • Series 1893; Toronto Island Archives graphic material
  • Series 1894; Toronto Island Archives maps and plans
Access conditions OPEN – No restrictions on these non-government records.
Copyright conditions Copyright may or may not be held by the City of Toronto…more
To request records at the archives Please fill out the Records Request Form available at the Reference Desk, indicating:
Notes about author or creator
City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1047.
Searchable form of the Creator(s) name Toronto Island Archives
Notes about physical description Fonds includes ca. 19.62 m of textual records, ca. 30,400 photographs, ca. 281 plans, ca. 149 architectural drawings, ca. 132 maps, 41 postcards, 9 posters, 4 folders of graphic material, 3 books, 82 videocassettes, 35 audio cassettes, 4 DVDs, and 1 crest.
Numbers or letters borne by the records Series 872 and 873 were previously cited as: City of Toronto Archives SC 47.

6 Comments for “Toronto Island Archives collection”

J. Cogan


I used to go to the Island school back in the early 90’s (1992-1994?). I believe the same building is now operated and managed by Artscape?

Any photos of the old school and classrooms? Would be interesting to see…

Barbara l Singer


Are there any pictures of homes on Centre Island before they were destroyed?
Does anyone remember Jack Frankish? His daughter Trish is looking for any info.

Peter Holt


Omg, George!
How wonderful to hear from you.
Am a) just seeing this for the first time now
and b) neither sure of where to find the answer
nor if you are still looking for those statistics but
if you are, I’d start with the City of Toronto Archives
on Spadina Road between Dupont & Davenport.
It would be great to see you again!
Am still at 19 Fourth St. and
you’d always be welcome!
416 203-3993

Peter Holt


Islanders who participated on one or both of the TIA (OFY) projects incl. Patrick Coyle, Nadia Stein, Suzann Greenaway, Lynn Purves, Julie Whitfield (formerly Ganton nee Philpot), Robert Hollis, Kari Dehli, Jorge Lozano and myself, (Peter Holt). For the record, my birth year is 1946 (not 1945), Albert Fulton’s late widow, Emily Fulton, Adam Zhelka and I were the founding Directors of the the Toronto Island Archives Incorporated and negotiated a “permanent loan” with the City of Toronto Archives that permits the return of TIA’s archival materials to the Island whenever there is an archivally appropriate storage facility built for them, here on the Island. Thank you to all involved, including: former City Archivist, Karen Teeple and her staff; the memory of Albert & Emily Fulton for their monumental part of the collection and last, but not least, Eric Zhelka and Eric Light, for this impressive site and the immense amount of work that has obviously gone into it. How sad that Toronto’s (post-WWII) Metro Council “leaders” were so dim that they could just wipe a little piece of paradise off the map for no reason.

george stein


Hi Peter: I have been trying to obtain information on the number of visitors to the Islands, annually, back to the 30’s. Is that information included in the archives, and if so, how can I access it? If not, can you suggest a site where that information might be available?
George Steiin

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