Canadian Necrology Database – University of Toronto

Table for looking up the composition of Canada, 1867-1999. © 2018. Past Presence. All rights reserved.

This is a page of resources for the province of Ontario, Canada. Last updated 28 Jul 2020.

Ontario (Canada West) joined Confederation on July 1, 1867, one of the original 4 provinces.

Prior to that, the Act of Union created the Province of Canada in 1841, which consisted of Canada West (Ontario) and Canada East (Quebec).

1842 Canada West Census, Library and Archives Canada

After the 1941 Act of Union creating the Province of Canada, a decision was made to enumerate the population to determine parliamentary representation. This may help explain the emphasis on specifically enumerating the numbers of immigrants from England, Ireland, Scotland, France, and the USA.

1851 Canada West Census, Library and Archives Canada

The second census of the Province of Canada.

Library and Archives Canada has a single searchable database for Canada East (Quebec), Canada West (Ontario), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

1861 Canada West Census, Library and Archives Canada

The third census of the Province of Canada.

Like the 1851 Census above, Library and Archives Canada has a single searchable database for Canada East (Quebec), Canada West (Ontario), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. The census of Canada West was begun on January 14, 1861.

Ancestor Search – Library and Archives Canada (LAC)

If you haven’t been on LAC lately, it’s worth another look. In 2019, LAC rolled out my three favourite words in the English language: centralized database search. Bearing in mind that the usual spelling issues still apply, you can now search all the collections at once. 

Directories (Canada) – The Ancestor Hunt

Thanks to the work of Kenneth R. Marks and Miriam Robbins, we have a site for Canadian directories. This site is always being updated. As of July 2020 there are directories for Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. Plans are underway for Alberta, BC, Newfoundland & Labrador, PEI, Quebec, and the Territories. 

Divorces in Ontario and Quebec 1841-1967

The Canada Gazette also published notices of divorce, which got me really excited for a while, but I was only able to find Notices of Divorce where at least one party was from Quebec or Ontario. Unfortunately, work on digitizing the Gazette has stopped, and this site is archived, so it’s unlikely there will be more coming in future.

Hospitals, Mental and long term care, 1921

I’ve found the locations of two hospital records in the 1921 Canada census for the Toronto area. Here are the links from Ancestry (which should be available to you even without a subscription):

  1. The Hospital for the Insane, Toronto City, Ward 5. There are 16 pages of census results here, so roughly 800 patients;
  2. The awful sounding Hospital for Incurables, Toronto City South, Ward 44. There are about 250 patients listed here.

Non-BC Wills, Abbotsford Genealogical Society

This is an odd one, and a total Hail Mary shot in the dark, but there is a slim chance your ancestor left a will in …BC. I found 200+ entries for wills for ON residents in this index, which is a list compiled by the AGS. There are also wills for Alberta, Saskatcheawn, Manitoba, England, Scotland, etc.

Ontario GenWeb

Staffed by volunteers and once a great site, but seems to now have some issues resulting in many broken links (Aug 2018). Hoping it’ll recover, so I’ll leave this link up for now.

Ontario Genealogical Society

The OGS is one of the largest – if not the largest – genealogical society in the country. Haven’t tried its resources yet (Aug 2018) but will report back with a fuller review when I do.

OurOntario Search

It’s like going to garage sales, genealogy-style. Enter a family name and see what comes up! I tried a couple of my Ontario old family names and got 1000 hits, the first 20 of which were newspaper announcements. I can see a few Sunday afternoons being spent on this site.

OurOntario Newspapers

Until I find a collection as rich in free ditigal newspapers for western Canada, I’m going to live in a state of total envy for Ontario family lines. This link will take you to over 200 newspapers, all searchable at once. I did a quick search for my husband’s family lines and was immedidately overwhelmed with results. Definitely coming back on a lazy Sunday when I’ve got more time..!

Prisons – Mercer Reformatory for Females

I was looking at the 1921 Canada census for the asylum records (see above) and found the Mercer Reformatory for Females. Here’s the link from Ancestry, which should be free to access. There are ~130 inmates listed, mostly from Ontario and the UK.

The Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women has a dark history. Built in 1872 with grand ideals of being a home for its female inmates, it was sometimes a place where women were sent for the crime of getting pregnant outside of marriage. It was closed in 1969 under allegations of beatings, torture, experimental science and eugenics. A true horror story.

Service Ontario – Death certificates

The government of Ontario will fill death certificate requests for genealogy searches. There is a fee.

Toronto City Directories, from Where the story takes me

I love it when bloggers get creative with genealogical resources and organize information that’s helpful for everyone. Jane MacNamara has done exactly that with her table of links to the Toronto City Directories, organized by year. You’ll have to do another search once you’re within the archives of Ontario, but I can see the huge benefit of having a single table.

Bonus: if you read the comments below the table, you’ll glean a wealth of details about the directories as well.