Using Google Maps for Genealogy

George Speed with his aunt Meg Wilson Forret

George Speed with his aunt Meg Wilson Forret at 6 Corby Avenue, Toronto, Ontario circa 1921

Today I was looking at my collection of old family photographs when it dawned on me that I should see if some of the houses in the photos are still standing.

The above photo has been in my possession for over 30 years. With the help of the internet and especially Google Maps, I was able to do some detective work and find this house today. I’ve used it in the past on client’s reports and it’s fascinating to see if 1. the house is still standing and 2. how much it’s changed since the photo was taken.

First, I knew that the family had emigrated to Canada in 1920 because the wife was a WW1 widow and came over with the pension she was given for her husband’s service.

Secondly, I looked up the family in the 1921 Canadian census through my subscription to Ancestry. I found them (the widow and her 3 surviving children) living at 6 Corby Avenue, Toronto.

The boy in the photo is the youngest son of the widow. I wanted to know if this was his home or the home of the woman who is with him (his aunt). She lived someone where else in Toronto.

Thirdly, I looked up the aunt’s information in the 1921 Canadian census and found her to be living at 121 Perth Ave, Toronto.

Finally, I did a search on Google Maps with both of these address and found both of the homes still standing. I compared them to the above photo and discovered that the above photo was taken at 6 Corby Ave which is the home of the widow not the aunt.

Here is what the house looks like today!



6 Corby Ave Toronto 2016

You can see that the house is exactly the same in regards to windows, and doors but that the exterior of the house has been modified extensively. This street is now in what is called “Little Italy” in Toronto. Ironically, this was the home of my husband’s great grandmother who was Scottish and I’m Italian and when my parents emigrated in the 1950s, they lived only a few houses away on the adjoining street!

It’s a fun thing to do if you have old photos and you have an idea of where the photo was taken.¬† You should try it!

In the next photo, you can see the same boy from above with his much older sister. They emigrated in 1920 and by 1925 she had died so I know that this photo was taken in the 4 years since they arrived and at the same house.

The detective work of genealogy is always so much fun for me!

About tiesthatbindsite

I'm a genealogist with a passion for Scottish and English ancestry. I'm trilingual so I can also do research in French Canadian records and Italian records. My love for family history began 35 years ago and continues to grow every day. My family is very important to me and I hope to instill in them a love for "where they came from" so that they can better understand who they are. I also want to share my love of family history with anyone who understands how important it is to not lose site of their ancestors. They all have a story to tell.
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1 Response to Using Google Maps for Genealogy

  1. fhtess65 says:

    I have done the same thing with addresses from my families’ UK Census returns and found some of the houses appear to still be standing.


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