Researching the history of your home
Many of us are curious about our homes. Who used to live there? What’s the history of the condo conversion? What was the land used for before the house was built? You may be surprised at the interesting information you uncover. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Examine physical clues. The structure, style and materials can give you a rough sense of when a home was built. Look for original hardware, wallpaper or flooring to give you an idea of its history. If you’re renovating, check inside the walls for old newspapers, which were often used as insulation.
Look online. Google your street name or neighbourhood. You could find old photos, information about former residents, and details about the properties in your area. Recently, neighbourhood-specific Facebook groups have become more popular, allowing members to walk down memory lane and find photos and stories rich in nostalgia.
If you own a newer house or condo, visit to your developer’s website or contact them directly. Condos that have been converted from heritage buildings often include information on the building’s history.
Visit your local library, archive or museum. Keep an eye out for fire insurance plans, which include information about the date a house or building was built, modified or demolished, what materials were used and the lot size and shape. Property tax assessment rolls contain the name and occupation of the owner(s) at time of assessment, as well as a list of occupants, a description of the property and its assessed value. Photographs of your home, street or land or aerial photos of your neighbourhood can provide interesting insights. Finally, look for census records, building permits and voters lists. Talk to the people working in the facility for more local resources.
Call the land registry office. They can tell you how to search for titles to your property, which indicate who built your home and who has owned it over the years.