Newspapers and books for Genealogists


This is a list of newspapers that are free to access, unless otherwise noted. I’m going to order these by my highly biased judgements of whether or not I’ve found them useful! 🙂

This gets top billing because it’s the best I’ve seen for the research I do, which is highly concentrated on urban centres. I reviewed in June, 2019. See Top 12 tips on getting the most out of (for Canada, for free).

British Colonist Online edition 1858-1980 – University of Victoria

This publication was one of the leading papers of Canada in its day. Great interface, searching by text and browsable by date.

Newspapers – SFU Digitized Newspapers – Simon Fraser University

A quirky collection of newspapers unlikely to be ever digitized by the big guys. Titles include The Chinese Times, The Canadian Jewish Review, and the student newspaper The Peak.

Newspapers – The Ancestor Hunt

Kenneth Marks has done an exhaustive job of researching newspapers and it shows. Spend a few minutes doing his Historical Newspaper Search Lessons – it’s time well spent.

BC historical newspapers – Open collection – University of British Columbia

Over 150 small town BC newspapers are here. I’d be curious to know who has more – UBC or

Internet Archive

Amazing site and getting better all the time. I just did a quick search for articles about my soccer-playing first cousin twice removed from the 1920s and 1930s and found a dozen articles from the Victoria Times Colonist.

Newspapers (for the prairies) – Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta

Free and wonderful. I wish they’d digitize more. The OCR searches are not as good as those of

Newspaper Search – University of Manitoba

One central search engine for Manitoba papers. Note: not the Winnipeg Free Press – has that title.

Google Newspapers

While there are many more papers featured for the USA, I found a number of titles for Canada. Google appears to be going wide and shallow – a wider range of titles, with 5 editions / time period. I’m guessing this is a work in progress, but for a free resource, it’s darned impressive.


This is a page of book reviews on materials I’ve found helpful in my genealogical research. Also see the Books for Chinese Canadian history page. Hint: click on the picture to access the link.


Burpee, L. (1927). An historical atlas of Canada. Toronto, ON: Thomas Nelson and Sons, Limited. Contains maps of the railways of Canada, among other things.

Hanowski, Laura M. Tracing your Aboriginal ancestors in the Prairie Provinces: A guide to the records and how to use them. 2006. Regina, SK.: Saskatchewan Genealogical Society. This comprehensive text is a rich resource, filled with clearly written and logical advice on tracking down sources, with hints on how to ask for information that’s not available online. This isn’t just for Aboriginal roots – I found Chapter 1 – How to begin family history research valuable. We all need more tools in the toolkit, and this book would be a great addition to the Canadian researcher’s library.


Harris, R. (1987). Historical Atlas of Canada, Volumes I, II, III. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. Oversized, full colour maps of Canadian history from 1800 to present day. A must have resource for the Canadian genealogist.



Hull, L. (2006). Tracing your family history: the complete guide to locating your ancestors and finding out where you came from. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association. This is my recommendation for a first time genealogist.


Renick, Barbara (2003). Genealogy 101. Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press. A great resource for beginners and experts, but could use some updating in the digital section.