Norway was a village located in the east end of City of Toronto in Ontario, Canada.
Predating development along Toronto's Beaches, Norway was a postal village in what is today the eastern part of Toronto. There is no evidence of Norwegian settlement in the area. Rather, the name likely comes from the Norway Pines that dominated the region, and whose harvesting was one of the main industries for the community. The most prominent landowner in the area was Charles Coxwell Small, who tried strenuously to have the town renamed to Berkeley, after his hometown in Britain. The name Norway stuck.
The village’s post office was originally a wooden structure built in 1825, today the site of 320 Kingston Road. The Norway Steam Mills, a steam powered saw mill began operations in 1835 near Woodbine and Kingston Road, established by the iron mongers, Wragg & Co., who advertised Norway pine as a specialty.
A toll gate resided at the Woodbine and Kingston Road. To the dismay of travelers, tolls were common along the stretch of Kingston Road during the 1800s as they funded the upkeep of the popular route from Toronto to Kingston, Ontario. It was main east-west land route through what was then defined as Upper Canada.
The community grew up in the 1840s around the toll station, saw mill and postal office becoming a popular stagecoach stop. The community was then at a distance of about 5 miles from the city at Woodbine, in a still largely wooded area. By 1850, the village’s population had reached 100. At this point, the village also included a few inns, three taverns, a school and a blacksmith’s shop.
One of the popular inns was The Norway House Hotel, standing on the south side of Kingston Road just east of Woodbine Avenue and was typical of many hotels in the suburbs of Toronto, heavily patronized by farmers on their way to and from market. Another was James Shaw’s Hotel and Tavern, described as a long low building painted dazzling white with green shutters.
In 1850 Charles Coxwell Small had donated 3 acres of land to be used for St John’s Church, Berkeley. His church was a wooden structure built in 1850 and served the Anglican community. In 1853 a cemetery was added to the property. In 1893 the brick structure that resides in place today was constructed and the church was renamed St. John's Norway.
In 1909 The Village of Norway was annexed to the expanding City of Toronto, one year after its neighbour to the east, East Toronto. The village of Norway has long since been fully engulfed by the City of Toronto. Its name does persist in a number of places, including Norway Avenue, and the nearby Norway Public School. St. John the Baptist Norway Anglican Church, the attached St. John's Cemetery Norway were named after Canada's original patron; the later St John's Roman Catholic church and school also preserve the name.
The primary source for basic documents (vital statistics, land records, wills) for people who lived in the Province of Ontario is the Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M7A 2C5.
Civil registration did not begin in the province until 1869. Before then there may be church records of baptisms and burials. For the most part these are still held by the denomination who recorded them. Copies of marriage records made pre-1869 had to be sent by individual clergymen to the registrar of the county in which the marriage took place. These marriage records are available through Ontario Archives, on micorfilm through LDS libraries, and on paid and unpaid websites, but because they were copied at the registrars' offices, they cannot be considered a primary source.
Vital Records after 1869
Birth, marriage and death registrations are not open to the public until a specific number of years after the event occurred. Births to 1914 are now available [October 2012]; dates for marriages and deaths are later. Birth and death registration was not universally carried out in the early years after its adoption. Deaths were more apt to be reported than births for several years. The more rural the area, the less likely it would be that these happenings were reported to the authorities.
Land Records and Wills
Information on how to access land records and wills is best sought on the Archives of Ontario website. An ancestor's land holding might be found on Canadian County Atlas Digital Project if he was in occupancy circa 1878.
Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents (APOLROD). A list of Land Registry Offices for all Counties of Ontario.
The original censuses are in the hands of Library and Archives Canada. All of the original census (1851-1911) images are online with the exception of that for 1861. Not all of them are indexed. Later censuses are not yet available. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited.
E-books and Books
Websites with more local information on the City of Toronto