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Browse Digital Collections by Format
Toronto Orphanages and Day Nurseries
In the early half of the nineteenth century, it was common practice for orphaned or deserted children to be bound into apprenticeships. By mid-century, adoption and institutional care began to emerge as alternatives to apprenticeship.
Orphanages or children's "homes" and day nurseries provided residential care for children in need. By the 1920s, institutional care was gradually phased out and replaced by programmes of foster care, or "boarding out".
Day nurseries evolved as the pre-cursor to daycare centres. Reports and Papers from Toronto's early child care agencies reflect society's evolving attitudes towards childcare and the work ethic from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s.
Tarragon Theatre: 40 Years On
Toronto's Tarragon Theatre celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2010. Toronto Public Library salutes Canada's leading playwrights' theatre with this exhibit of photographs, posters, programs and stage designs from the Performing Arts Centre at the Toronto Reference Library.
Launched September 2010.
"A name that will bring him luck": Pinocchio and the Italian Fairy Tale Tradition
From an exhibition at the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books, September 13 - December 13, 2010
This Virtual Exhibit shows a few highlights of the Osborne Pinocchio collection including:
a rare first edition of Pinocchio, first published in book form in 1883
intriguing pop-up version
fine illustrated editions
Fraternal Societies in Canada
Fraternal societies have existed since ancient Greece and Rome. They were first introduced to Canada in the nineteenth century by immigrants from Great Britain. Although they developed independently, most fraternal societies mimicked their British counterparts.
Launched July 2010.
Worlds Away! – Wild Inventions at Osborne
Venture into the unknown with an exhibit of children's books and illustrations featuring weird science, exploration, space travel and off-beat inventions.
An Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books exhibit from June 17 to September 4, 2010.
Garden City: Public and Private Gardens in Early Toronto
Early Toronto residents, politicians and local entrepreneurs transformed the City by creating public gardens and offering services and supplies to the gardening industry. As a result of their efforts, nineteenth century Toronto emerged as a more liveable community and a popular tourist attraction.
Launched May 2010.
Sidney Paget: Iconic illustrator of Sherlock Holmes
2010 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sidney Paget (1860-1908), an illustrator closely associated with creating a visual identity for Arthur Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes.
Launched April 2010.
The First Black Doctor in Canada: Anderson Ruffin Abbott
Anderson Ruffin Abbott was the first black Canadian doctor. Abbott and his family had a long history of contributing to the social life and economy of Toronto.
Launched March 2010.
Winter Fun in Toronto
Blessed with many ravines, wooded lots and parklands, early Toronto residents were able to enjoy many winter outdoor activies right in their own neighbourhoods.
Launched December 2009.
Royal Visits to Toronto
Toronto has hosted many royal visits. Anniversaries, fundraisers, conferences, athletic competitions and military duty are some of the events and occasions that royalty have celebrated or attended. These visits have included walkabouts and drive-bys that gave the public and media the opportunity to take photographs and catch glimpses of members of the royal family.
Launched November 2009.
The National Game
Long before hockey was played in Canada, the First Peoples of Canada played lacrosse.
This exhibit takes a look at our National Game.
Launched October 2009.
Torontonians have a long and happy tradition of heading north to cottage country during the long, hot days of summer.
When Cinderella Went to the Ball: Five Hundred Years of Fairy Tales
This virtual exhibit presents a small selection of items taken from the Osborne Collection's sixtieth anniversary exhibit, When Cinderella Went to the Ball: Five Hundred Years of Fairy Tales, held from September 12 to December 12, 2009.
Toronto's 175th Anniversary
Toronto is celebrating its 175th anniversary in 2009. A selection of virtual exhibits are presented by the Toronto Public Library to mark this event.
The Maple Leaf Forever
On July 1st, Canadians from coast to coast will proudly wave the red and white Maple Leaf flag. But how many are aware that the tradition started here, in Toronto? At the time of Confederation in 1867, the maple leaf as a symbol of Canadian patriotism was relatively new. At a public meeting in August, 1860, a group of Toronto citizens, planning for the upcoming Royal Visit of the Prince of Wales, decided to identify themselves as native-born Canadians by wearing a maple leaf.
Capturing Canada on Paper and Canvas
Sixteen artists and thirty-nine views of Canada are represented in Capturing Canada on Paper and Canvas. These works of art provide us with a lasting record of what Canada looked like during the 19th century. From TD Gallery exhibition held January 31 - March 15, 2009.
Local Flavour: Eating in Toronto, 1830-1955
This virtual exhibit surveys the various aspects of eating in Toronto over a span of 125 years.
From TD Gallery exhibition held October 25, 2008 - January 11, 2009.
The Circus Comes to Town
The circus is a theatrical spectacle that is international in scope and appeals to all ages. This exhibition features an array of images that range from the lavish and decorative designs of the late 19th century to the gritty social realism of the early 20th century. From TD Gallery exhibition held July 19 - October 5, 2008.
Ontario Time Machine
History becomes hands-on with the Ontario Time Machine, a partnership project of the Toronto Public Library, Hamilton Public Library and the Kingston Frontenac Public Library. A digital collection of 19th and early 20th century crime reports, tourist guides, farming manuals and settler handbooks comes to life with interactive, page-turning and fun facts about each item.
Collected Works: A Public Legacy
In celebration of Toronto Reference Library’s 30th year, the library presented a gallery exhibition featuring highlights from its special collections. Beginning in the late nineteenth century and developed over time, the collections represent a public legacy that reveal a great diversity of focus, form, age and content. From TD Gallery exhibition held October 20 - December 31, 2007.
Come explore the Curator’s Showcase. We have digitized seven treasures from the Toronto Public Library’s rich and varied special collections, and added pictures, maps, notes and more. Four original Dumbells scripts are presented from Toronto Reference Library’s manuscript collections relating to the performing arts in Canada.
Toronto's Sanctuaries - Church Designs by Henry Langley
Henry Langley (1836-1907) was a Toronto-born architect. During an impressive career spanning over forty years, Langley designed more than seventy churches throughout Ontario, approximately a quarter of them in Toronto alone, as well as many handsome commercial buildings and lavish private homes. From TD Gallery exhibition held April 28 - June 30, 2007.
Picture Perfect! Canadian Picture Book Art
A celebration of Canadian picture book art, featuring more than 50 original book illustrations from The Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books, Toronto Public Library. This virtual exhibit highlights Canadian book illustration at its most imaginative, colourful and audacious! From TD Gallery exhibition held January 27 - April 1, 2007.
A Case of Considerable Interest: Treasures from the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection
An exhibition celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection at the Toronto Public Library. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) is best known for his detective stories about Sherlock Holmes, but he was also the author of many other works and one of the best known public figures of the late Victorian age. Enter the world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes through this exhibition of rare and unusual books, manuscripts and memorabilia. From TD Gallery exhibition held October 18, 2006 – January 7, 2007.
Setting the Stage: 20 Years of Design for Opera Atelier
An exhibition of designs, photographs, costumes, props and prints to celebrate 20 years of design by Opera Atelier. The exhibition traces the company's design process beginning with Orfeo in 1986, followed by Pygmalion, Persée, The Magic Flute, Médée, Iphigénie en Tauride and Armide and more. From TD Gallery exhibition held February 9 - April 30, 2006.
Animals are Allowed in the Library
Selected from Toronto Public Library’s rare books, original art and postcard collections, this virtual exhibit features prints from Audubon’s Quadrupeds, images of wild and domestic animals as well as animals at play. From TD Gallery exhibition held November 12, 2005 - January 22, 2006.
Group of Seven Style and Design
Book illustrations and bookplates designed by Group of Seven artists J.E.H. MacDonald and A.Y. Jackson are examined in this virtual exhibit. Also includes biographical information and commentary on the designs. From TD Gallery exhibition held June 18 -August 6, 2005.
Canadians On Guard: the Home Front 1939-1945
This exhibition commemorates the 60th anniversary of VE Day, the end of the war in Europe. The exhibit of colour posters, unique ephemera, manuscripts, books, periodicals and photographs from the collections of the Toronto Public Library is dedicated to those who served their country at home and abroad. From TD Gallery exhibition held April 9 – May 29, 2005.
Frozen Ocean: Search for the Northwest Passage
Books, maps and prints from the Library’s collections, dating from 1578 to 1907, document 300 years of Arctic exploration, from Sir Martin Frobisher’s discovery of Baffin Island in 1576 to the first navigation of the Northwest Passage by Roald Amundsen in 1903-5. From TD Gallery exhibition held October 2 – December 31, 2004.
Kabuki Part 2: The Performance
The second of this two-part exhibition offers a glimpse into the plays of kabuki theatre that have retained their fascination for Japanese and other audiences for hundreds of years. From TD Gallery exhibition held July 17 – September 12, 2004.
Kabuki Part 1: The Actors
This two-part exhibition of rare Library materials details the cultural history of kabuki theatre. Kabuki is a performing art that combines music, dance, pantomime, song, drama and comedy. Part 1 presents images of the world of actors, showing them in signature roles, in rehearsal, backstage at the theatre and memorialized after death. From TD Gallery exhibition held May 8 – July 3, 2004.
Ontario History Quest
News releases only. This exhibition features materials from the Toronto Reference Library, the Archives of Ontario and the City of Toronto Archives. Ontario's history is brought to life through the eyes of a new settler to Upper Canada, a working child at the turn of the century, and a 1950s family. From TD Gallery exhibition held January 28 - April 18, 2004
Toronto through the Lens
A selection of images by Toronto’s professional photographic studios, talented amateurs and unknown professionals from the 1860s to the 1910s provides an interesting glimpse into Toronto’s people, streetscapes and institutions of the past. From TD Gallery exhibition held November 8, 2003 - January 11, 2004
Audubon Images on Stamps
The exhibition features prints from the Library’s rare first edition of Audubon's The Birds of America and Audubon stamps from around the world. Includes the Canada Post design process used to transform a print into a stamp and commemorates Canada's first Audubon stamp series. From exhibition held February 22 – April 27, 2003
Toronto: A Place of Meeting
Artifacts, artwork and documents illustrating ten thousand years of the city’s history are presented in five timelines from 8000 BCE to the present day. From TD Gallery exhibitions held June 29 – September 22, 2002 and May 17 – August 2, 2003.
This Magical Book: Movable Books for Children, 1771-2001
For the serious scholar or the young at heart, the exhibition features the history of children's pop-up and other movable books, 1771 to 2001, from the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books. From exhibition held April 13 – June 9, 2002
Footprints of the Hound
Footprints of the Hound celebrates the centenary of the re-emergence of Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles, and the thirtieth anniversary of the opening to the public of Toronto Reference Library's Arthur Conan Doyle Collection. From exhibition held October 20 – December 29, 2001
All Aboard Toronto! Railways and the Growth of the City
The role that railways have played in the history and development of Toronto is celebrated with a train tour, an online gallery and some interactive “fun and games.” From exhibition held August 4 - October 7, 2001.
Doing Our Bit: Canadians and the Great War
The impact of the First World War on Canadians at home and in Europe is documented. Approximately 20 images show Toronto landmarks and events. The full exhibit catalogue is also online. From exhibition held October 31, 1998 - February 14, 1999