About the collection
The Map & Data Library has thousands of paper air photos and terabytes of digital imagery in its air photo collection, primarily of the Toronto region, but also for selected locations in Ontario and Canada. We have coverage available for the City of Toronto at 1:5,000 scale for alternate years from 1972 to the present, with 1:500 coverage of the former municipality of Toronto from 1967-68 onwards. Recent air photos come in digital format and are available only to University of Toronto faculty, staff and students due to licensing restrictions.
To find out what years are available for a particular location, consult the Air Photo Collection Listing, a comprehensive inventory of the collection by place name. You may also wish to consult our Remote Sensing Resources page as well.
Other air photo collections
The Toronto Archives holds the following print copies of air photos:
- Photographic prints: 1947, 1950, 1953, 1956-58 (1958 is incomplete), 1959-71
- Photographic white-prints: 1973, 1975-77, 1981, 1983, 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. The Toronto Archives also holds the negatives for the air photos from 1972 into the 1980s 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, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Earth Observation Data Management System allows for searching NAPL content. To begin, click your language of choice, then on the left sidebar, under Get Started, click Search. (Note that if you wish to order photo reproductions or scans, you will need to be logged in, but you can search without registration.) In the Select Data tab, check the box next to National Air Photo Library. Underneath, expand Select Dates and specify your date ranges. Under the Select Data Options tab, you can specify the colour, scale, roll, and photo number of your desired photos as well as specifying whether to include only photos with previews available. Under the Select an Area of Interest tab, there are several options for specifying geographic extent, including manually drawing an area, using text search, entering latitude and longitude coordinates, or uploading a shapefile with coverage. Once you are done, click Submit Search.
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.