Heritage Toronto

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Heritage Toronto is a charitable arm's-length agency of the City of Toronto established in 1998 to promote a greater appreciation for the city’s rich architectural, cultural, archaeological, and natural heritage. Through partnerships with local community groups and volunteers, Heritage Toronto provides city-wide programs and services. It replaced some of the roles of the former Toronto Historical Board and other heritage agencies of the cities of Scarborough, North York, York, Etobicoke and the Borough of East York. The THB was created in 1960 to protect sites in the old City of Toronto and replaced the Toronto Civic Historical Committee created in 1949.

Heritage Toronto's head office is at St. Lawrence Hall, a heritage building.


Heritage Toronto has diverse programming that includes Tours, the Heritage Toronto Awards and Kilbourn Lecture, Plaques, and special projects.


For over 40 years, from April to October, Heritage Toronto has been offering a series of walking, bicycle and bus tours around the city as well as boutique walking tours for smaller groups interested in a more personal experience. All tours are researched, designed and led by local historians, community groups and professionals who volunteer their time.

Heritage Toronto Awards & Kilbourn Lecture[edit]

Every October, Heritage Toronto hosts an evening of awards and a lecture by a prominent figure in the cultural sector. Different award categories recognize the best in new books, short publications, architecture and craftsmanship, media, and community heritage volunteer efforts. The Awards have been presented for over 40 years. In 1996, the Kilbourn Lecture (known at the time as the William Kilbourn Memorial Lecture) was added to the Awards evening. It is named for William Kilbourn, an academic, writer, politician, mentor and champion of the arts and humanities who personified the richness of life in Toronto. Previous speakers have included:

Year Lecturer Lecture Title
1996 Robert Fulford The Invention of Toronto – A City Defined by its Artists
1997 John Raulston Saul Toronto and the Idea of the Public Good
1998 Ursula Franklin Citizen Politics: Advocacy in the Urban Habitat
1999 George Baird Needed: An Urban Vision for Toronto, Again
2000 Robert Fung & Michael Kirkland Our Last Best Chance: Realizing a Century Old Dream
2001 N/A No lecture this year
2002 David Crombie The Idea of Toronto
2003 Sean Conway Toronto as a Capital: Fence Posts and Fingerprints, the Growth of our Democracy
2004 Her Excellency Adrienne Clarkson Green Thoughts in a Green Shade: The Making of a Good City
2005 John Honderich Creative Toronto: Isn’t It About Time?
2006 Bruce Kuwabara Toronto’s Cultural Renascence: Revival or Survival
2007 David Mirvish The Night of Nights: The History of Theatre in Toronto
2008 John Campbell A Shore Thing: The Future of Toronto’s Waterfront
2009 Albert Schultz The Great Toronto Roast
2010 Peter Oundjian "Notes" on Toronto
2011 Cameron Bailey Toronto in Focus: A City of Festivals
2012 Chief Bryan Laforme A Layered City
2013 Gail Dexter Lord Building Heritage With Innovation
2014 Jack Diamond Toronto 1974-2014: A Challenge from the Field
2015 Rahul K. Bhardwaj On Being Nice: Turning Compassion into Our Competitive Advantage

Plaques and Markers[edit]

For almost 50 years now, Heritage Toronto’s Plaques and Markers Program officially has been recognizing key people, places and events which have been influential to the city of Toronto (http://heritagetoronto.org/programs/plaques-and-markers/). There are multiple kinds of plaques situated around Toronto that represent different aspects of the city's history.

Inventory of Heritage Property Plaques: Bronze Inventory Plaques recognize properties listed or designated under the City of Toronto’s Inventory of Heritage Properties. These plaques interpret Toronto’s built heritage.

Commemorative Plaques: Heritage Toronto Commemorative Plaques tell the stories of important people and events in Toronto’s history, where they happened.

Toronto Legacy Plaques: In 2009, Heritage Toronto and the Toronto Legacy Project inaugurated a line of historical plaques modeled on the famous “Blue Plaques” of London, England. These plaques recognize notable Toronto residents by indicating where they lived or worked. A map of plaques in the city of Toronto (including all of Heritage Toronto's) can be found here: (http://torontoplaques.com/)

Special projects[edit]

State of Heritage Report: Released every four years to coincide with Toronto municipal elections, the State of Heritage Report provides a picture of the current state of heritage in Toronto, lays out goals for strengthening the heritage sector and provides recommendations to the Mayor, City Council, senior staff and decision makers to improve heritage management. Prior to the release of the State of Heritage Report, Heritage Toronto hosts the Heritage Matters Mayoral Candidates Debate.

Heritage Diversity Stories: In 2012, Heritage Toronto, with the support of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, chronicled the experience of nine different immigrant communities in Toronto.

War of 1812 Bicentennial Lectures: In 2012, in partnership with RBC, Heritage Toronto hosted a series of lectures across the city to commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812.

Building Storeys: Building Storeys was a yearly digital photography exhibit held in 2009, 2010 and 2012 that examined the architectural and cultural history of the city of Toronto.