The archives were established in 1973 by The Body Politic's editorial collective. Originally named Canadian Gay Liberation Movement Archives, the organization became the Canadian Gay Archives in 1975, and adopted its current name in 1993.
Formerly located on Temperance Street in downtown Toronto, in November of 2005 the Archives moved to a temporary location at 65 Wellesley St. in the city's Church and Wellesley gay village. Concurrently with the move, the Archives launched a capital fundraising campaign to fund another move to their eventual new permanent location at 34 Isabella Street in the same neighbourhood. The permanent building was donated to the Archives by the city's Children's Aid Society after that agency began construction on a new building next door, but requires some renovations and an addition before the Archives moves there in 2008.