I am helping a relative with some research. A now deceased ancestor emigrated from the UK to Canada in 1957. We have the UK departure record and the US arrival record. The arrival shows them as going to a specific address in Toronto.

I have done various web searches without success trying to find if there is such a thing as a 1957 Toronto electoral roll available anywhere on-line.

Does anyone know whether this sort of information is currently available and if so where?

2 Answers 2


A voter's list is an unlikely place to start. Remember that presence on a (national) voter's list implies being qualified to vote - meeting citizenship, residence and age requirements. By 1957, British subjects had to apply to get Canadian citizenship. Unlikely for a new arrival to be eligible for several years.

City directories and telephone books are available for various years. Search at the City of Toronto Archives for specific titles and years. Actual lookups will need on-site assistance. Some copies may also be held at public and university libraries.

An alternative approach might be property tax lists, but these are not on-line. Some municipalities tracked renters as well as owners.

It might be worthwhile to check Google's Streetview of the address to ascertain what kind of building is at that location today. If the neighbourhood has older buildings, they may indicate what kind of residences were in the area in the late 1950s. A lot of new arrivals stayed at lodging houses or the YMCA, unless they were with family. In addition, the destination address on a passenger list might be a place of business rather than a residence.

  • I just checked Ancestry; I didn't see any Canadian directories that covered the 1950s.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 2:37
  • I wasn't suggesting that they were registered to vote there BUT that the people who lived there may be. Thanks for the leads though on where to look. It seems from your and Jan's comments that this will have to be a local visit rather than something that can be done on-line.
    – Colin
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 7:53
  • Colin, I didn't look at your profile before -- now I see that you are in Spain! If you have an Ancestry world subscription, you should be able to view the collection I linked to with the voter lists. If you have a Family History Center or library, you might be able to get access to Ancestry Library edition there. I agree with your comment above -- if the address you have is a 'going to meet a relative or friend', those people could have been there long enough to be on a voter roll. It's worth a try. In the meantime, check the TPL's link to the city directories on the Internet Archive.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 8:02

My basic checklist:

  1. Who required the records to be created?
  2. How long does that agency hold them?
  3. Which records survive?
  4. When records are past their keep date, are they turned over to an archive? If so, which one?
  5. What collections are available online?
  6. What information can you expect to find in the collection?

For background information on the history of elections in Canada see: Elections Canada (answering point #1)

For what collections survive: Library and Archives Canada's Genealogy and Family History Page on Voter Lists. Here's the catalog for the microfilm numbers for 1957.

Note also they say:

If you are looking for someone who lived in a city, search city directories instead of voters lists because the names of individuals are listed alphabetically.

The Toronto Public Library's Guide to Ontario Genealogy has a link to city directories at the Internet Archive.

But back to voter rolls. Ancestry.ca has 1957 and it has been indexed:

Ancestry.com. Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935–1980. R1003-6-3-E (RG113-B). Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

This blog post gives an overview of what you can expect to find: Why Canadian Voter's Lists Can Further Your Research

The FamilySearch wiki's list of Ontario records has a link back to the collection on Ancestry. I checked World Vital Records, but I didn't see any voter rolls for Ontario in their Census and Voter List catalog. It's not as easy to see what FindMyPast holds, but my very quick search seemed to indicate that the only Canadian electoral rolls they have are from 1952; without logging in, I couldn't see what provinces were covered.

Unfortunately, the Canadian Voter Lists are not part of the New Year's package of free collections that are searchable this weekend. The Toronto Public Library has some voter lists that can be viewed in-branch at the North York Central Library, but their collection doesn't cover 1957:

Ontario voters’ lists (incomplete 1847 – 1954 for various townships)

So the only thing I've been able to find online so far is the one digitized collection on Ancestry.

One good way of keeping up with what new collections are coming online is the online magazine Genealogy In Time -- here is their list for Most Recent Genealogy Collections in Canada.


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