134 Ian Macdonald Boulevard
CA M7A 2C5
Archives of Ontario
The Archives of Ontario was founded in 1903 as the Bureau of Archives. For over 100 years, it has been providing innovative leadership in collecting, managing and preserving the records of the Government of Ontario and promoting and facilitating their use by present and future generations. It has also acquired records from the private sector that help document the history of the province. The Archives of Ontario is the second largest archives in Canada and provides a window into the past for all Ontarians, connecting the province with its ancestors, communities and government.
The Archives and Recordkeeping Act (2006, S.O. 2006, chapter 34, Schedule A.) provides the basis for all acquisitions of archival records by the Archives of Ontario. It came into force on September 1, 2007.
The purposes of this Act are,
(a) to ensure that the public records of Ontario are managed, kept and preserved in a useable form for the benefit of present and future generations;
(b) to foster government accountability and transparency by promoting and facilitating good recordkeeping by public bodies; and
(c) to encourage the public use of Ontario's archival records as a vital resource for studying and interpreting the history of the province.
The head of the Archives has been known as the Archivist of Ontario since 1923. Eleven people have held this position. The first Archivist of Ontario was Alexander Fraser (1903-1935). John Roberts is the current Archivist of Ontario and has held the position since 2015.
The Archives of Ontario forms part of the Information, Privacy and Archives Division of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
Under the authority of the Archives and Recordkeeping Act, 2006 the Archives of Ontario provides recordkeeping advisory services to assist Ontario government ministries and designated provincial agencies meet their recordkeeping responsibilities under the Act. To foster government accountability and transparency, and to promote excellence in government recordkeeping practices, the Archives has developed and released supporting tools, guides, and related training and education materials. The Archives of Ontario supports ministries and agencies in their records scheduling activities and manages the tracking of over 14,000 Archivist-approved record retention schedules.
As the official repository for the archival records of the Province of Ontario, the Archives of Ontario strives to acquire records from the private sector which document the many facets of Ontario's diverse society, and provide a reflection of the interaction between the government and its citizens. The records in its collection are from individuals and organizations that tell the stories of Ontario’s people, document events and trends with wide-ranging social or political impact, and reflect the province’s cultural diversity. The Archives of Ontario holds the records of over 2600 private individuals, businesses, clubs and associations, and labour and political organizations that have significance in the history of the province.
More information about the Archives’ private acquisition initiatives including its current Private Acquisition Strategy can be found on its website.
The Archives of Ontario has been at its current location since April 2, 2009. The Archives of Ontario can be found at 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd., on the York University campus in Toronto. The AO was originally located at the Ontario Legislature.
The collections held by the Archives of Ontario are a rich resource for the study of the history and people of the province. The collections are assembled on a total archives concept, meaning they document both the government work of the province as well as the private lives of its citizens. Researchers have access to a unique and multi-faceted collection that includes records dating back to the late 16th century and contains everything from hand-written ledgers to electronic files, hand-drawn maps, architectural drawings, photographs, films and sound recordings.
The archival collection is divided into two categories: government and private. This collection is further enhanced by the J. J. Talman Library and the Government of Ontario Art Collection.
Please note that the records of the Government of Ontario, which form a large part of the holdings of the Archives of Ontario, are not yet reflected in Archeion. To search these, use this link to the Archives of Ontario's descriptive database:
The Alexander Fraser Reading Room is open at the following times: Monday - 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM Tuesday - 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM - Extended Hours 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM Wednesday - 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM Thursday - 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM - Extended Hours 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM Friday - 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM Saturday - 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM Sunday - Closed
*Note: Services available during these extended hours include registration, assistance from reference archivists, access to self-service microfilm, microfiche and finding aids, viewing of previously ordered materials, and access to the exhibit gallery. Requests for certifications, reproductions and copyright that are placed during extended hours will be sent for processing on the next business day.
The Archives of Ontario is a fully accessible facility.
All available research and reproduction services are outlined on the Archives of Ontario’s website.
Copies can be made for personal use and research purposes. Restrictions may apply based on fragility of records, donation agreements and applicable copyright and privacy legislation. All reproductions for publication purposes must go through archives staff.
Public research space is available in the Alexander Fraser Reading Room. The Helen McClung Exhibit Area is open to the public during regular business hours. The George Spragge Classroom is available by appointment only for learning activities including onsite education workshops.