How well do you know your home?

How much do you really know about your house?

So, after a long and extensive search, you’ve finally found – and fallen in love with – your new forever home. You know that you’ve bought it from Mr. & Mrs. Ramsey, who’ve lived in the house for 22 years, but who was there before that? And before that? You’ve gotten a bit of oral history from your Realtor, but how can you get to know the backstory on your home?

In a recently published article on, writer Jay Young provides a highly informative overview of some of the options available for those who’d like to learn more about the lineage of their residence.

Perhaps the best suggestion he makes is to consult the Toronto Archives guide to Researching Your House, a document that outlines the process in a logical and easy to digest manner.

Other helpful sources:

City Directories

Researchers and genealogists use city directories to trace individuals, families and businesses. They usually include an alphabetical listing of adult residents, with their occupation and address.

Assessment Records

Tax assessment records help in accurately dating the construction of a building as well as disclosing the original owner and a list of occupants.

Land Registry Records

These records detail the chain of ownership of a property by means of plan and lot number.


Check your local city archives to access large-scale maps that show the shape, size and exact location of individual buildings.

Historical Photographs

If your building was known by a name in addition to its address, make sure to search under that heading as well. You can also check photographs of the street the house is located on to see if your building might be shown. There are also specialized finding aids for other collections available in the department.

To obtain more information about the people associated with the building, you may wish to check family papers, clipping files, census returns, genealogical indexes, funeral home indexes, cemetery indexes, promotional booklets, photographs, local publications and other sources within local archives.

If you’re interested in buying, selling or leasing a property in Toronto or in California, get in touch with  us directly, or head on over to instagram and reach out to our preferred realtor and California partner-in-crime @RealEstateByRana