Guide to Ontario Genealogy

Getting Started

This guide had minor revisions in September 2014.

The Humanities and Social Sciences Department at the Toronto Reference Library has resources from many towns and regions across Ontario to help in your genealogy research. We collect Ontario local history and family histories.

Searching the Library website

For an introductory guide to Ontario genealogy try

More guides to Ontario genealogy can be found at Ontario genealogy handbooks.

 Additional tips on searching the library website:

  • "Registers" with [place name] e.g. Registers Guelph
  • [Place Name] followed by the word "Genealogy" e.g. Simcoe County genealogy
  • [place name] "Directories" e.g. Elgin directories
  • [place name] History e.g. Cobourg history
  • For family histories use [surname] "Family" e.g Fraser family (Note: Canadiana Dept. collects family and local histories)

Some general Ontario titles

Early Birth Marriage and Death registers

Recommended Websites

Ontario - Genealogy

Births, Marriages and Deaths - Ontario

Land Records- Canada

Recommended Databases

In Library Resources

Available at the Toronto Reference Library, Humanities and Social Sciences Department

Microfilm or Microfiche

Cemetery records

  • OGS – Ontario transcriptions (also in paper format)

Directories/Voters Lists

  • Pre 1901 city directories
  • Toronto City directories 1833- 2001 (also available in paper at Toronto Reference Library)
  • Guelph, Hamilton and London City Directories
  • Phonefiche Ontario 1986 -1991
  • Federal voters’ lists for Ontario 1935-1980 (including By-Elections)
  • Ontario voters’ lists (incomplete 1847–1954 for various townships)
  • Digitized Ontario directories on Internet Archive

Land Records

Local Histories

  • Early Families of Leeds
  • Local Histories (Tweedsmuir)
  • Note: published local histories for many Ontario places and institutions. Search library website.

Military records


  • Loyalist Lists (C 1475, C 2222, C 9821)
  • Toronto Emigrant Office Records  (Hawke Papers)(MS 6909 -  MS 6912)
  • Upper Canada Sundries and Contents Listing (Chronological list of contents C 9822 - C 9825)

Vital Statistics

  • INDEXES to Ontario registrations of Births 1869-1913, Marriages 1869-1928, and Deaths 1869-1938 published by the Archives of Ontario. 

Newspapers on Microfilm

 Toronto Area

  • (Globe & Mail and Toronto Star are available online and microfilm to approximately one year before the present) 
  • Toronto Telegram 1876–1971
  • Enterprise. North York. 1926-1969
  • Mirror. North York. [1957-current]

Beyond Toronto

  • Ottawa Citizen 1851-1991
  • Upper Canada Gazette 1793-1845
  • … and selected early newspapers for other cities and towns

Periodicals (in the Reading Room)

  • Families (Ontario Genealogical Society OGS)
  • Ontario History. Also available online from 2005-2010 (TPL library card required)
  • OGS branch newsletters including OGS Toronto Tree and OGS York Region Ancestors
  • Loyalist Gazette (up to 2008–continued online) (TPL library card required)
  • … and many regional genealogical and historical society publications


County Historical Atlases many of which have been digitized. Copies of maps, some with names, for Ontario counties.

Deposit Collections

The Humanities and Social Sciences Department at the Toronto Reference Library houses the libraries of the following Ontario-based genealogical societies. Search their catalogues at the links given below.

For further assistance contact:

Answerline: 416-393-7131

Toronto Reference Library, Humanities and Social Sciences, 416-393-7175