Blog originally posted April 2, 2020
This week is Archives Awareness Week in Ontario. The theme this year is “Archives Online". With many heritage institutions, including the Simcoe County Archives, closed to the public as a result of the COVID19 pandemic, online records and resources have become an even more important bridge between researchers and archives.
In solidarity with all those self-isolating at home, Simcoe County Archives staff have put together a list of our favourite (free!) online resources for historical research.
Top 5 Online Resources from Simcoe County Archives
As this week also marks the anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, we thought it fitting to highlight the Simcoe County Remembers database. The database includes the names of 1,006 men and women who had connections to Simcoe County and who died while in service or as a result of wounds or injuries sustained during the First World War. This database serves as a memorial for those who served and has a lot of information for researchers. Access the database here.
The SCA collections database holds descriptions of a significant portion of our archival holdings. Collection highlights include our municipal records, Women's Institute branch records, and private collections and manuscript holdings. Access the database here.
That's right! Simcoe County Council Minutes of meetings held between 1846 and 1952 have been digitized, and made available as PDFs. Access the PDFs here.
Select special collections have been highlighted on our Online Exhibits page. The exhibits allow researchers to go on a deeper dive into some of our holdings and into various local history topics. Learn more about the Livingston Collection, the Black Settlement in Oro Township, and much more! View the exhibits here.
Last but not least, be sure to check the Simcoe County Archives blog. Archives staff have written many posts on a variety of local history and archives-related topics. Check out the blog here.
Top 5 Online Resources from other Institutions
Simcoe County Maps is a very useful tool for obtaining property and land-related information. The website was developed by the County of Simcoe GIS Department and includes several interactive map layers which enable users to explore the County. Using the Advanced tab, users can determine which Historic Geographic Township their property was located in and find out which Lot and Concession their property is on, to name just a few points of interest. Access Simcoe County Maps here.
2) Ontario Land Registry Access (OnLand)
Early historic land registration records have been digitized and are available through the Ontario Land Registry Access portal: OnLand. This is a great resource for figuring out the historical owners of a property. In order to use the portal researchers need the following information about the property:
- Name of regional municipality
Example: Simcoe County
- Name of city or township - This may include historic townships
Example: Springwater Township would have included Flos Township and Vespra Township prior to amalgamation in 1994.
- Lot and Concession Number
- Plan Number
The Canadian County Atlas Project, developed in conjunction with McGill University, features digitized and indexed historical maps and atlases of Canadian counties and townships. This is an excellent resource for family and settlement research. Visit the website here.
4) Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid (OCFA)
The Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid is an amazing resource for genealogists. With contributions from many historical societies and Ontario Genealogy Society branches, the OCFA includes individual surnames, cemetery names, and locations of thousands of interments in different cemeteries, cairns, and memorials. Visit the website here.
5) Military Heritage databases from Library and Archives Canada
Library and Archives Canada offers many online resources for researchers, but as this week is the anniversary of Vimy Ridge we wanted to highlight their Military Heritage records. Personnel records for servicepersons from the First World War have been digitized and are accessible through an online portal here.
More recently, select service records for Canadian military personnel who died in the Second World War have also been made available here.
We hope you enjoy perusing these resources. As always, good luck with your research!