Air Photos

The University of Toronto Air Photo Collection

The air photo collection is strongest for the Toronto region, which includes coverage for Metro Toronto at 1:5000 for alternate years from 1972 to the present; sets for the City of Toronto at 1:500 from 1967-8 to the present; recent colour aerial photos and digital colour orthophotos for the Greater Toronto Area. The collection also includes air photos for selected locations throughout Ontario and Canada.

Finding Air Photos

To find out what years are available for a particular location, begin by consulting the Air Photo Collection Listing, a comprehensive inventory of the collection by place name. 

Recent air photos come in digital format and are available only to University of Toronto faculty, staff and students due to licensing restrictions. All our digital air photos are catalogued in the Geospatial Data Inventory. You can browse through all digital air photos, or Toronto digital air photos.

Other Air Photo Collections

Toronto Archives

Here is an overview of the Toronto Archives air photo holdings:

  • Photographic Prints - 1947, 1950, 1953, 1956-58 (1958 is incomplete), 1959-71
  • Photographic White-prints - 1973, 1975-77, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991-92
  • Chronoflex Positives - 1972-78, 1980-83, 1986, 1988-89.

The 1947-1971 air photos were once held by the University of Toronto Map & Data Library, on loan from the then Metro Toronto Planning Department. In 1993 this unique collection was transferred to the Toronto Archives (then the new Metropolitan Toronto Archives). The Toronto Archives also holds the negatives for the air photos from 1972 into the 1908s and are able to make copies of sheets for users.

York University Map Library

The York University Map Library has the following air photo holdings for Toronto:

  • Photographic prints: 1954, 1971, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1986
  • Paper Air Photos (Photomaps): 1954, 1974, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1998.

Archives of Ontario

The Archives of Ontario holds a collection of black & white positive print air photos (1952-1977), originally from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The Archives of Ontario maintains an online interface which can be used to discover available photographs and order reproductions (fees apply) or for viewing in the reading room.

These air photos were held by the University of Toronto Map & Data Library until 1993 when they were transferred back to OMNR (then to the Archives in 2009). More information about the collections is available on our blog.

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

While historic black & white air photos were transferred to the Archives of Ontario in 2009, sales of colour infrared aerial products continue to be available from the Natural Resources Information Centre, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, at 1-800-667-1940 or mnr.nric.mnr@ontario.ca

Natural Resources Canada

Natural Resources Canada's National Air Photo Library (NAPL) archives over six million aerial photographs covering all of Canada, some of which date back to the 1920s. The National Earth Observation Data Framework Catalogue allows for searching NAPL content (under Search Critera, expand "Airborne" and check "NAPL", then use a "Selection Method" to define a geographic area). Digital reproductions of images can be ordered online (fees apply). NAPL is also open to the public however its hours are limited and it is located in Ottawa.