This page will direct users to resources on researching Black History in Simcoe County.
2017-129 African Methodist Episcopal Church front, 2000
From the Eileen Murdoch collection
Black people have been building lives in North America for as long as there has been a colonial presence here, and this includes the County of Simcoe. Enslaved Africans were taken to British North America from the mid-17th century until the abolition of the slave trade in 1807.
Following the abolition of the slave trade, dating back to 1819, there were a number of well-documented migrations of Black people to Simcoe County, primarily from the United Sates and southwestern Ontario. Many of those original families settled in the Township of Oro (today the Township of Oro-Medonte), with later generations branching out to the surrounding Township of Medonte (Township of Oro-Medonte), the Townships of Flos and Vespra (Township of Springwater), the Townships of Sunnidale and Nottawasaga (Township of Clearview) and beyond.
The Simcoe County Archives holds very few records that predate the 1830s. For this reason, the resources listed here will mainly focus on early Black settlements in the County following the War of 1812. These resources will also be of use to those researching Black families and individuals living in Simcoe County through the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
2016-25 S.S. No. 6 Oro Township (Edgar) school children, 1893
From the Oro Township Historical Committee collection
It should be noted that the majority of records and collections held by the Simcoe County Archives were created by agents of municipal governments and/ or white historians and researchers. The Archives have very few records created by Black people describing their lives and experiences. This is an obvious and unfortunate gap in our collections. Archives staff are working to identify the gaps, silences, and biases present within these records and collections and are working to create better, more contextualized, archival descriptions. For more information about this process, please refer to our Historical Content and Language Advisory.
The Archives is also seeking to acquire records from interested BIPOC community members, businesses, and organizations.
Resources at Simcoe County Archives
These resources are available for review on site at the Archives. To book a Reading Room Appointment please visit the Archives Booking Service page.
Municipal Tax Assessment Rolls
Simcoe County Patent Book
972-86 Simcoe County Patent Book, page 298.
Features entries of early Black land patent holders in Oro Township
School records, church records, cemetery records
School, church, and cemetery records, particularly for the historic Townships of Flos, Medonte, Sunnidale, and Oro, as well as the Town of Collingwood
Corporate and municipal records
Corporation of the Town of Collingwood fonds
Corporation of the Township of Flos fonds
Corporation of the Township of Medonte fonds
Corporation of the Township of Oro fonds
- Corporation of the Township of Sunnidale fonds
Private fonds and collections
Gary E. French collection
East Simcoe District Women's Institute fonds
Eileen Murdoch collection
New Lowell Women's Institute fonds
West Simcoe District Women's Institute fonds
Thematic Finding Aids
Township of Oro Thematic Finding Aid
Town of Collingwood Thematic Finding Aid
Township of Medonte Thematic Finding Aid
Township of Sunnidale Thematic Finding Aid
Township of Flos Thematic Finding Aid
Simcoe County Archives Photo Index
Simcoe County Archives Map Index
Township of Oro-Medonte
Provincial and National Archives
- Morgan's Seed
By Janie Cooper-Wilson, 2004
- The Oro African Church: A History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Edgar, Ontario, Canada
Edited by Tim Crawford, 1999
- Men of Colour: An Historical Account of the Black Settlement on Wilberforce Street and in Oro Township, Simcoe County, Ontario, 1819-1949
By Gary E. French, 1978
- Medonte: A Township Remembered
Compiled by Mary Garbutt, 2003
- Emancipation Day: Celebrating Freedom in Canada
By Natasha Henry, 2010
- Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Simcoe: including the district of Muskoka and the townships of Mono and Mulmur for 1872-3
By W.H. Irwin, 1872
- A History of Oro Schools, 1836 to 1966
Compiled by the Oro School Board Historical Committee, 1967
- Kith 'N Kin
Compiled and edited by Joanna McEwen, 1978
- The Story of Oro
Edited by Oro Township Historical Committee, 1987
- Wilberforce Street
By Janet Read, 1998
- Sunnidale looks at… Yesterday: A History of Sunnidale Township
Compiled by The Township of Sunnidale, 1984