The York Pioneer and Historical Society is the oldest historical society in Ontario. Since 1869, the York Pioneers have worked to fulfill the founders’ goal of “preserving the past for the future”. We own and operate Scadding Cabin, Toronto’s oldest house, now on the grounds of Exhibition Place; we hold annual social events; we publish and launch an annual journal of history articles (included with your membership). For more information about our long history, see the About Us page.
The York Pioneer and Historical Society (YPHS) began on April 17, 1869, as an informal gathering of men at the Mechanics’ Institute, at the corner of Church and Adelaide Streets in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Within a few months the York Pioneers Association (the Pioneers) was founded under the leadership of Richard Oates , with Colonel Richard Lippincott Denison as the first president. Its purpose was “to keep alive reminiscences of a primitive day and of making collections of them before they became lost”.
The YPHS is the oldest historical society in Ontario and thought to be the second oldest in Canada. Annual fees were $l.00 in the early years compared to $20 today, almost 150 years later. While today’s membership is open to everyone, in the past the Society was only open to gentlemen who lived in the original Town of York and prospective members had to be nominated and seconded by adherents in good standing.
In 1891 the Pioneers united as a registered charity with the name York Pioneer and Historical Society, and for the first time, accepted women as members. Among the first was Sarah Anne Curzon, who along with Mary Agnes Fitzgibbon went on to form the Woman’s Canadian Historical Society of Toronto in 1895.