Genealogy, Ancestry & Local History

Local History

Visit our Downtown Branch to access our Local History collection, which is available to use at the library but can't be borrowed. This 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. 

We are also pleased to hold the research collection of the Simcoe County Branch of Ontario Ancestors: The Ontario Genealogical Society at our Downtown Branch.

View our Digital & Print Research Resources below for a list of recommended websites and databases.

Genealogy Coach

During a one hour Genealogy Coach session, library staff can help you learn how to: 

The Digital Microfilm Scanner can also be booked for an hour of independent research through our website.


  • Coaching sessions are learning opportunities to introduce patrons to library resources that they may not be familiar with; library staff are not paid genealogy researchers
  • For advanced searches, we recommend contacting the Ontario Ancestors - Simcoe County Branch or the County of Simcoe Archives
  • Due to the popularity of these sessions, we ask that you book only ONE individual Genealogy Coach session per month

We want to improve, to serve you better. Please take a moment and fill out our Program Evaluation Form.

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:

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.
  • 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