Genealogy, Ancestry & Local History

Local History

The Barrie Public Library has a Local History collection available to access at the Downtown Library location. Browse the research collection of the Simcoe County Branch of the Ontario Ancestors on site. Do note that our Local History collection is available to use in the library but can’t be borrowed. The section contains books, microfilms, and other documents covering the history, geography, geology, culture and socio-economic  structure of Simcoe County. It specifically focuses on Barrie, Oro-Medonte, Springwater (including Vespra), Innisfil and Essa. Review our Online Research Resources in the section below to find a list of recommended websites and databases.



Genealogy Coach

Need help with a basic family history search? Discover online genealogy tools and local history collections. Book an hour Genealogy Coach session, where library staff will provide one-on-one help with basic research. Launching in November, sessions will be available in-person, by phone or Zoom Conference on Tuesdays, 11AM. Register online or call 705-728-1010.

The Digital Microfilm Scanner can also be booked for an hour of independent research online, by email or by calling 705-728-1010

NOTE: For advanced searches, we recommend contacting the Ontario Genealogical Society or the County of Simcoe Archives. Other genealogical research services can be viewed on the Information Barrie Community Database


Gene MeetUp   

Online & Print Research Resources

Biographical Dictionaries

Births, Marriages and Deaths

Cemetery Records

Census Returns

Church Records

Court Records


Land Records

Local History

Our Local History collection contains books, microfilms, and other documents covering the history, geography, geology, culture and socio-economic  structure of Simcoe County. It specifically focuses on Barrie, Oro-Medonte, Springwater (including Vespra), Innisfil and Essa. Search the Library catalogue for resources on these topics:

  • Histories of churches, schools, personalities, communities in Simcoe County
  • Tweedsmuir Histories for selected Simcoe County townships (microfilm)

Note: Local history resources are available for in-library use only. 

Loyalist and Military Records

Various print resources, search the Library catalogue for specific titles for this topic.


Online Resources

  • Ancestry Library- Census, vital statistics, church, court, and immigration records from Canada, the United States, United Kingdom and other areas. FREE at home access until January 2021! 
  • Archives of Ontario - Tracing Your Family History- Genealogical holdings of the Archives of Ontario and links for genealogical research, information regarding births, marriages and deaths, microfilm interloans, wills and estates.
  • Barrie Historical Newspaper Archive- Index of Births, Marriages and Deaths in Barrie Newspapers, 1847-1979
  • Genealogy and Family History- Military Records, Land Grants, Census Returns, as well as lists of resources arranged by provinces.
  • Cyndi's List- Comprehensive genealogical website covering worldwide resources, arranged by category and searchable by topic.
  • Family Search - LDS- Ancestral Files; 1880 Census of the United States; 1881 census of Great Britain; 1881 Census of Canada.
  • GenUKI- Comprehensive information about genealogical research in the United Kingdom and Ireland, including parish registers, birth, marriage and death certificates, surnames lists.
  • Historical County Atlases of Ontario- Digitized illustrated historical county atlases of Ontario, published in 1874-1881. Searchable by name or county.
  • History at Home: A Guide to Genealogy- Great primer for budding genealogical researchers with lists of recommended online resources.
  • Ontario Genealogical Society - Simcoe County Branch- Includes the online Settler's Database for many Simcoe County cemeteries, family names of the 1861 and 1891 census, Settlers Forms, Pedigree Charts, Wesleyan Methodist Baptismal Records.
  • OurOntario- OurOntario searches across hundreds of sites. You can find audio, video, text, government documents, images and collections about Ontario, or from an Ontario organization. Great for searching historical local newspaper articles, birth/marriage/death notices and archival photographs. Includes pre-1980 Barrie Examiner and other local newspapers.
  • OurRoots– Full text of local histories from across Canada
  • RootsWeb- One of the largest genealogical websites, with a heavy focus on U.S. family research.
  • Dictionary of Canadian Biographies- a reference work of Canadian Biographies
  • Many Roads- 'Mega search engine' of the top 100 genealogy websites

Surname Index

Settlers Database online, also reference settlers' names contained in documents of the Simcoe County Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society