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Skip Navigation LinksSimcoe County > Archives > Researching Indigenous histories in Simcoe County

Researching Indigenous histories in Simcoe County

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​This page provides an introduction to archival records and collections that relate to Indigenous persons and communities in Simcoe County. The focus will primarily be on resources available at the Simcoe County Archives, but links and direction to relevant resources from other institutions are also included.​

This page will be updated to reflect ​additional knowledge and resources as they become available​.

Indigenous communities in Simcoe County 

Indigenous peoples have lived on the land currently known as Simcoe County for thousands of years. When Jesuit missionaries arrived roughly 600 years ago from Europe, the land was home to the Huron-​​Wendat, Petun, Neutral, Haudenosaunee and the Anishinaabe​​​ peoples.​

Simcoe County is located on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg​. The Anishinaabeg include the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Pottawatomi nations, collectively known as the Three Fires Confederacy. There are two First Nations reserves located within the geographic boundaries of the County: The C​hippewas of Rama First Nation and​ Beausoleil First Nation​.​​

The C​ounty is also home to the Métis people, many of whom descend from the historic Georgian Bay ​Métis community​ based in​ the Town of Penetanguishene​ and Townshi​ps of Tiny and Tay. Simcoe County is covered by Region 7 of the Métis Nation of Ontario​. In addition to these communities, the County is home to many other First Nations, Inuit, and Métis citizens.​

In Canada, treaties govern the rights, responsibilities, and relationships between provincial and federal governments and First Nations communities. The area now called Simcoe County is subject to a number of treaties, including the pre-confederate Southern Ontario Treaties of 1764-1862, including the Penetanguishene Treaty No.5 and Lake Simcoe Treaty No.16​,  and the post-confederate Williams Treaties of 1923​.  ​​

​A note on other institutional records

As a municipal archives the Simcoe County Archives do not hold original documents such as treaties or Indigenous Affairs records. These records were created and are held by agents of the Federal and Provincial governments, and can be found at the Library and Archives of Canada or Archives of Ontario. 

Residential Schools

While there were no Indian Residential Schools located within Simcoe County, there were at least two Indian Day Schools. The Rama Indian Day School was operated by the United Church of Canada, and the Christian Island Indian Day School​ ​​was operated by the Roman Catholic Church. Some records related to these institutions are held by the United Church of Canada Archives

Indian Residential School records are also held by the Library and Archives of Canada​.​

For more information about the Indian Residential School system​ and Indian Day Schools, please read the Reports and Findings​ of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

For survivors and their families, The National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her Residential school experience​: 1-866-925-4419.

​Resources at the Simcoe County Archives​

At the Simcoe County Archives content related to Indigenous peoples and histories can be found in corporate and municipal records, private collections, the Simcoe County Archives newspaper collection, and the Reference Library 

​​Coraid News, 1973-1974

Simcoe County Newspaper Collection, The Coraid News : The Voice of the People   –              a partial run from 1973 –1974. Produced in Rama First Nation.

Additionally, access to Ontario birth, marriage and death records and Federal census information can be accessed on site at the Archives through Ancestry.ca.  

It is important to note that the majority of the records and collections at the Simcoe County Archives were created, accumulated and/ or donated by non-Indigenous persons. Some of the earliest and most substantive collections acquired by the Archives were donated by local archaeologists and specifically focus on the pre-contact sites and material culture of Indigenous communities in the County. These records, while they focus on Indigenous history, lack Indigenous voices and perspectives. 

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​. ​

Blogs and e​xhibits​

Institutional records

These resources are available for review on site at the Archives. To book a Reading Room Appointment please visit the Archives Booking Service page​

Corporate and Municipal records 

  • The Corporation of the County of Simcoe fonds
  • The Corporation of the Township of Rama fonds 
  • The Corporation of thTown of Midland fonds 
  • The Corporation of the Township Tiny fonds 

Private fonds and collections

  • A.F. Hunter papers  ​
  • Ardagh F​amily fonds
  • C. Beck Manufacturing Company Ltd. fonds 
  • Djenane Mackellar Lemmon collection  ​
  • E. Ross Channen collection  ​
  • Fort Ste. Marie collection 
  • Gaudaur Family collection
  • Hanley Clarke collection 
  • Huron Institute collection  
  • Kenneth E. Kidd collection 
  • Norman D. Clarke collection
    • Archaeological papers  
    • Cartographic papers 
    • Historical papers 
    • ​Photograph index 
  • Orillia Public Library collection  
  • Ontario Historical Association collection 
  • The Township of Oro Historical Committee collection
    • ​​Peter Scott Slide collection ​
  • Paul Delaney collection  ​
  • Jarratt-Switzer Family collection​​​​
  • ​Leigh collection   
  • W.A. Fisher fonds ​
  • Wally McNeice collection ​
  • Stuart N. Keyes Limited fonds ​
  • Simcoe County Library Co-operative fonds 
  • Sainte-Marie Among the Huron Reference Library collection ​​​

Select land records 

  • Reel of microfilm - Department of Indian Affairs, re. Town Plot of Orillia and Indian Reserve between Orillia and Coldwater, 973-45 ​
  • 1834 Census of Coldwater Reserve, “Coldwater Reserve” file, 983-84  
  • William Hawkins (Deputy Surveyor).  “Report and Description of the Native Reserve between Lake Simcoe and Coldwater” York, March 14, 1833, 987-15   
  • Grant to Irwin Moore. N ½ Lo 16, Con. IV, Innisfil Township, 1853, 970-87   
  • Grant to Council of the District of Simcoe. Lot 8, North Coldwater Street, Orillia, 1846, 970-87 
  • Grant to Richard Hodges. Lot 6, North Side Coldwater Street, Orillia, 1847 , 970-87 
  • Transfer of Lands by the Chippewa Nation to the King of England. In the North Part of the County. Signed at Niagara, 1795,  Xerox only, 970-87  
  • Grant to John Currie. Lot 12, East Side Front Street, Orillia, 1846, 970-87   

Newspapers and publications  

  • The Simcoe County Archives Newspaper Collection 
    • The Coraid News: The Voice of the People – a partial run from 1973 1974. Produced in Rama First Nation. 
    • ​​Smoke Signals – A zine produced in Beausoleil First Nation​.​

Thematic finding aids

Thematic finding aids are inventories of many different records and collections organized around a place, subject, or organization. ​  

  • Archaeology finding aid 
  • Art/Artists Thematic finding aid 
  • Barrie – Miscellaneous thematic finding aid 
  • Barrie – News clippings thematic finding aid 
  • Cemeteries and Cemetery Studies finding aid 
  • Centennial Historical Booklets 
  • Depression Years finding aid 
  • Ethnology/ Ethnic groups finding aid 
  • Huronia Historic Sites finding aid   
  • Huronia Historic Sites Plaques finding aid   
  • Moving Images finding aid 
  • Native Peoples finding aid 
  • Township of Orillia thematic finding aid 
  • Town of Midland thematic finding aid 
  • Township of Nottawasaga thematic finding aid 
  • Township of Rama thematic finding aid 
  • Village of Coldwater thematic finding aid ​

County of Simcoe resources

Local heritage institutions 


Other resources

​​Treaties with the British Crown and Canadian Government