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Check Local Resources - For Buildings

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Building Permits

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to determine the exact date a building was constructed through building permits. The Canadian Building Code was put into effect about 1950 and the Ontario Building Code in 1975. Until then, municipalities did not necessarily issue building permits. As a result, there may be no official record as to when a house, barn or other building was erected. For those buildings which were constructed after the arrival of the Building Code, permits can usually be accessed at municipal offices. Retention periods vary, however, so consult with the clerk or records manager of your municipality. Click here for a list of contact information for the various municipalities in Simcoe County.

Census Returns of Buildings, Lands, Churches, and Schools 
As well as information about the populace, data pertaining to agricultural activities as well as buildings, lands, churches and schools was also gathered. The lands and building returns for 1861, 1871 and 1901 still survive and are available on microfilm; and on-line for 1901.

Fire Insurance Plans

These plans were created for the use of insurance companies, and were periodically updated. They still exist for a wide number of communities. Information to be found on them includes construction materials, site of water sources for fire suppression, and type of business or industry.

Architectural Drawings

In order to build a structure, plans of some kind have to be used. Check local directories to see what architects or builders were operating in the area at the time you believe your building was constructed, and then enquire about the evolution of the businesses. The Simcoe County Archives holds drawings by John Wilson (1881-1944) and Carswell & Griesbach (1924-1968), among others.

Hurontario Street, Collingwood
Hurontario Street, Collingwood


Photographs can assist you in determining a date range for construction. General views, street scenes, and aerials can give you a pictorial history of buildings, landscaping, and structures such as lamps, fences, and gates.


Newspapers contained the local buzz, so you may find an article where a large new home with all of the latest conveniences was being built for one of the doctors or lawyers.