Fire insurance plans and atlases

Fire insurance plans and atlases are large-scale (high resolution) urban maps which grew out of the need of fire insurance underwriters to understand the physical characteristics of a structure to be insured. These maps show with detail colour drawings and symbols, the character of the outside and inside construction of buildings, passages, probable fire cut-offs, fire walls, openings in walls, height and occupancy or use of individual buildings or groups of buildings. Street widths, street addresses, property lines, water pipes or mains, fire hydrants and fire alarm boxes are also located on the maps. They are an invaluable resource for historical urban research.

All out-of-copyright fire insurance plans and atlas plates of Toronto have been digitized and georeferenced (UTM NAD83 Zone 17N), and are available for download here:

Please inquire at the Map & Data Library during reference hours for access to more recently published plans of the city of Toronto. Here is a listing of all of the University of Toronto Libraries' holdings of fire insurance plans, including those housed at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

Bibliographies and catalogues

Catalogue of fire insurance plans of the Dominion of Canada, 1885-1973

Fire insurance maps in the Library of Congress : plans of North American cities and towns produced by the Sanborn Map Company : a checklist

Catalogue of Canadian fire insurance plans, 1875-1975

Canadian fire insurance plans in Ontario collections

Fire insurance plans in the National Map Collection