Yorkville is a former village, annexed by the City of Toronto. Its original boundaries were Bloor Street on the south, Davenport Road on the north, Church Street on the east and Avenue Road on the west.
Founded in 1830 by entrepreneur Joseph Bloore (after whom Bloor Street, one of Toronto's main thoroughfares, is named) and William Botsford Jarvis of Rosedale, Toronto, the Village of Yorkville began as a residential suburb. Bloore operated a brewery north-east of today's Bloor and Church Street intersection. Jarvis was Sheriff of the Home District. The two purchased land in the Yorkville district, subdividing it into smaller lots on new side streets to those interested in living in the cleaner air outside of York. The village grew enough to be connected by an omnibus service in 1849 to Toronto. By 1853, the population of the village had reached 1,000, the figure needed to incorporate as a village and the Village of Yorkville was incorporated. Development increased and by the 1870s, Potter's Field, a cemetery stretching east of Yonge Street along the north side of Concession Road (today's Bloor Street) was closed, and the remains moved to the Necropolis and Mount Pleasant cemetery.
By the 1880s, the cost of delivering services to the large population of Yorkville was beyond the Village's ability. It petitioned the City of Toronto to be annexed. Annexation came on February 1, 1883, and Yorkville's name changed officially from "Village of Yorkville" to "St. Paul's Ward" and the former "Yorkville Town Hall" became "St. Paul's Hall". The character of the suburb did not change and its Victorian-style homes, quiet residential streets, and picturesque gardens survived into the 20th century. In 1923, Toronto Hebrew Maternity and Convalescent Hospital was opened at 100 Yorkville Avenue and a year later the name was changed to Mount Sinai Hospital. The facade of this building still stands today and houses retailer Teatro Verde.
In the 1960s, Yorkville flourished as Toronto's bohemian cultural centre. It was the breeding ground for some of Canada's most noted musical talents, including Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot, as well as then-underground literary figures such as Margaret Atwood, Gwendolyn MacEwen and Dennis Lee. Yorkville was also known as the Canadian capital of the hippie movement. In 1968, nearby Rochdale College at the University of Toronto was opened on Bloor Street as an experiment in counterculture education. Those influenced by their time in 1960s-70s Yorkville include cyberpunk writer William Gibson. Its domination by hippies and young people led MPP Syl Apps to refer to it as "a festering sore in the middle of the city" and call for its "eradication."
After the construction of the Bloor-Danforth subway the value of land nearby increased as higher densities were allowed by the City's official plan. Along Bloor Street, office towers, the Bay department store and the Holt Renfrew department store displaced the local retail. As real estate values increased, the residential homes north of Bloor along Yorkville were converted into high-end retail, including many art galleries, fashion boutiques and antique stores, and popular bars, cafes and eateries along Cumberland Street and Yorkville Avenue. Many smaller buildings were demolished and office and hotels built in the 1970s, with high priced condominium developments being built in the last decade or so.
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 1915 are now available [October 2014]; 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, known to Canadians as "LAC". Copies of original microfilms are online at the LAC website for all censuses up to 1911. Each census database is preceded with an explanation of the geographical area covered, the amount of material retained (some census division material has been lost), the questions on the census form, and whether there is a name index. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited. The 1921 census is only available through Ancestry.ca, but it is free-to-view.
E-books and Books
Websites with more local information on the City of Toronto