Fire Insurance Plans and Atlases at Library and Archives of Canada

*Note: We recommend you also consult our guide to Fire Insurance Plans held at the University of Toronto.

The following text from an email by:

Heather Tompkins
Technicienne géomatiques | Geomatics Technician
Cartographie, architecture et géomatiques | Cartography, Architecture and Geomatics
Archives cannadiennes et collections spéciales | Canadian Archives and Special Collections

  1. In the "Search all" box (upper right corner) on LAC's main webpage (http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/index-e.html), you can type in "fire insurance plan" (keep the quotes). This should result in a list of all the plans described online. The Search All Results list will be divided up into 4 areas: Library, Archives, Ancestors and Website. Make sure to refine your selection to only the Archives results because the images are associated with the Archives database. There are fire insurance plans described in the Library section as well, but there are no online images. Once you click the "Show all" in the Archives section, there will be a list of 900+ descriptions. Descriptions with an icon beside the title contain images. Your result list can be further refined by choosing options on the right-hand side of LAC's webpage. For example, there is a option to show only "Online" which will result in only descriptions that contain images.
  2. You can further refine the above search for a specific plan using the keywords "fire insurance plan" and a place name. For example, "fire insurance plan" Ottawa, should result in about 97 results in Archives database (e.g. http://tinyurl.com/6kq6llm).
  3. Alternatively, you can do a search on the follow phrase "fire insurance plans of canada" in the "Search all" box also. On the results page, select "Fire Insurance Plans of Canada [cartographic material]" which is listed under the Archives heading. This will take you to the main series that describes the plans. By selecting the Show Arrangement Structure hyperlink, you will see the arrangement structure which is divided up by province. You can expand and contract the hierarchy to facilitate browsing of the sub-series or the actual item-level descriptions (i.e. has a folder icon with the letters "IT").

Note: If a keyword search does not return any results, it does not necessarily mean that LAC doesn't have the plan. It may indicate:

  • The place name is not included in the description. The place name could have changed over time, spelling could have changed or it may be a smaller community included within an atlas.
  • The plan is just not described online yet. I would advise you to consult the following publication:  Dubreuil, L. and C. Woods, "Catalogue of Canadian Fire Insurance Plans, 1875-1975" Occasional papers of the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives, No. 6 (Ottawa: Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives, 2002), pp. 500.

When viewing online images:

  • If a description contains image(s), a thumbnail of the first image will appear beside the plan's title in the description.
  • If you click on the thumbnail, a new page will load which shows a row of thumbnails along the top. Below the row of thumbnails will be the first image in a larger size.
  • However, if you click on the text/caption below a thumbnail, a much larger, higher resolution images will appear.
  • You can right-click and save the images as jpegs. This is the highest resolution that can be downloaded from LAC's website.
  • If you would like a 1:1 tiff image (highest resolution available), you can order the original tiffs here: http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/reproduction-requests/Pages/reproduction-requests.aspx