Skip To Content

Archives Awareness A-Z

First entry dated March 11, 1852 in the minute book for the Standing Committee of the Church Society of the Diocese of Toronto.

Archives Awareness A-Z


We’re joining the Archives of Ontario in its #ArchivesAtoZ month-long campaign. The aim is to increase the public’s awareness of archives and their collections. We’ll be sharing four posts throughout this month showcasing items from our holdings or providing information about Archives terminology based on each letter of the alphabet.

A – Archives

The Diocese of Toronto Archives as we know it began collecting material for permanent archival preservation in July 1956 when Bishop Wilkinson established the Archives Committee and appointed Rev. T. R. Millman as chairman. This committee decided to “collect, preserve, and make available” the following:

  • journals and proceedings of Synod
  • diocesan charters
  • reports of Synod committees
  • reports of diocesan officials
  • correspondence of bishops
  • registers and vestry minutes of churches
  • published books and pamphlets

The Archive Committee was given a room in the basement of the old Synod House to house the material it collected.

In 1958, when the Synod Office was moved to the present building at 135 Adelaide, the Archives was given two rooms in the basement. The Archives Committee began to collect material from diocesan files and to receive material from parishes.

The first archivist, Canon Mary-Anne Nicholls, began work on October 1, 1983, and established a formal accession process while promoting the Archives to receive ongoing transfers of records from parishes. Since then, the Archives has received 724 accessions from 369 congregations, parishes, and missions.

B – Boundaries

In 1858, the Canon for the Erection and Division of Parishes, and Settlement of Boundaries was adopted, which determined that “the boundaries of every parish erected under the authority of this Canon be entered and registered in a book to be kept by the Secretaries of the Synod . . .”. The Diocesan Archives holds the books of Parish Boundaries dating from 1874. One of the first entries is for St. Philip, Spadina, which closed in 1940.

         first page of Boundary book describing the requirement to keep a book of boundaries as outlines in the Canon                     page showing a diagram of the original boundaries for St. Philip, Spadina in 1875, along with written description of the boundaries


C – Church Society of the Diocese of Toronto

Before “An Act to Incorporate the Synod of the Diocese of Toronto, and to Unite the Church Society of the Diocese of Toronto therewith” was passed on January 23, 1869 by the Legislature of Ontario, the Diocese was operated as the Church Society of the Diocese of Toronto. We hold the Church Society Standing Committee minutes from 1852 to 1869, as well as the Church Society Lay Committee minutes from 1842 to 1860.

First entry dated March 11, 1852 in the minute book for the Standing Committee of the Church Society of the Diocese of Toronto.                 First entry dated June 28, 1842 in the minute book of the Lay Committee of the Church Society of the Diocese of Toronto.


D – Donations

The Archives recently received an interesting donation of materials that had belonged to the Rt. Rev. Frederick Wilkinson. The donation included a photo album that had been presented to Bishop Wilkinson from the Toronto Daily Star of photographs taken during the 1963 Anglican Congress hosted by the Diocese of Toronto. In reviewing old editions of The Anglican, we found an article in the November 1963 edition recognizing this gift from the Toronto Daily Star.

Front cover of photograph album given to Rt. Rev. Wilkinson by Toronto Daily Star            Column in the Anglican acknowledging receipt of the photo album from the Toronto Daily Star.


Image showing 2 of the photographs included in the album


E – Episcopal Acts

Among the responsibilities of the bishop is the duty to perform Episcopal Acts, including such things as consecrations, ordinations, appointments, confirmations and laying of cornerstones. We have records of such Episcopal Acts beginning with Bishop Bethune’s register of these events, which begins in 1867 after he was elected coadjutor bishop of Toronto in 1866 and the Bishop of Niagara in 1867.



F – Fonds

The entire collection of the records originating from the same creator are called a Fonds. The Diocesan Archives has Fonds for most parishes in the Diocese, the Diocese, and Anglican groups such as the Anglican Church Women and Downtown Church Workers. Some fonds with records close to 200 years old include the Parish of Fenelon Falls, which includes its parish register beginning in 1839 and the Parish of Cavan, which includes its parish register beginning in 1819.


G – Genealogy

The Diocesan Archives has recently produced two resources to help individuals conducting genealogical research determine what records the Archives has that might be helpful in their search for an ancestor. One is a document that lists churches with records prior to 1869 , when legislation was enacted requiring the registration of births, marriages and deaths in the province, and includes the dates covered by the records. One is a map that plots the rough location of churches in the Diocese of Toronto, outside the city of Toronto, along with the date they were established.


Next week we will share Archives Awareness H to M!