This is a page of select resources for the province of Ontario. Last updated 24 Oct 2022.
The British territory of Upper Canada was established in 1791 by Great Britain as part of British North America. It comprises what is now southern Ontario.
The Act of Union created the Province of Canada in 1841-67, which consisted of Canada West (Ontario) and Canada East (Quebec).
From 1867-70, the northern portion of what is present-day Ontario was Rupert’s Land. In 1870, the Northwest Territory and Rupert’s Land merged to become one vast territory encompassing modern day Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and northern Quebec.
Ontario (Canada West) joined Confederation on July 1, 1867, one of the original 4 provinces.
See the FamilySearch wiki for Ontario for more.
Listings below are in the following categories:
- BMDs and Divorce
- Cemeteries, Obituaries
- Church Records
- Courts, Law, Legal, Prison
- Land, Directories, Property
- Local History Books, other Publications
Archives – 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.
Archives – 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.
Archives – 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.
Archives – Ontario Ancestors
Formerly the Ontario Genealogical Society, Ontario Ancestors is one of the largest – if not the largest – genealogical society in the country, with multiple branches. As of 2021, I am a member of the Toronto branch.
Archives – 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.
Archives – 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.
BMDs and Divorce
BMDs – Death certificates – Service Ontario
The government of Ontario will fill death certificate requests for genealogy searches. There is a fee.
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.
Courts, Law, Legal, Prison
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.
(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.
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):
- The Hospital for the Insane, Toronto City, Ward 5. There are 16 pages of census results here, so roughly 800 patients;
- The awful sounding Hospital for Incurables, Toronto City South, Ward 44. There are about 250 patients listed here.
Land, Directories, Property
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.
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.
A rich resource of free digitized Ontario newspapers.
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
No discernible online archives; however, an unusual collection of school records for the area.