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Family History at the Archives of Ontario - The Records

The Records

The Archives of Ontario holds many different kinds of records, with a few of the most heavily used being listed below. They are the starting point for most genealogical investigations. Such records are generally indexed, and they are usually available on microfilm at the Archives or through Microfilm Interloan.

Our Sources of Family History research guide [Word, PDF] provides general information on records that may be of interest to your research. We have also published a series of in depth research guides on a variety of specific topics to help you with your research.

Vital Statistics - Birth, Marriage and Death Registrations

Vital statistics are government records pertaining to births, marriages and deaths within the province of Ontario.  Click here for information about these records.

Other Sources for Birth, Marriage and Death Records

The Archives of Ontario hold some church records, as well as cemetery transcriptions done by the Ontario Genealogical Society and various other records documenting births, marriages and deaths. Click here for information about these records.

Estate Files

Estate files contain wills, and documents pertaining to the disposition of a deceased person’s property. The Archives of Ontario holds estate files from roughly 1793 to about 1975.

Immigration Records

The Archives of Ontario hold records from the Toronto and Kingston Emigration Offices and the provincial Immigration Branch and Department of Immigration. These records primarily document immigrants who received financial assistance.
We also hold microfilm copies of federal passenger lists.

Land Records

Ontario land records fall into two main categories:

(i) Crown land records (for property owned by the Crown), which document the history of a property until it was granted or sold by the Crown; and

(ii) land registry records (for privately owned property), which document the history of a property after it was granted or sold by the Crown.

Crown land records
  • Research Guide 205 - How to Use the Ontario Land Record Index ca.1780-ca. 1920 - [Word, PDF] – this index documents land grants, as well as leases and sales of land by the Canada Company to settlers.

  • Crown Land Records: Introduction

  • Second Heir and Devisee Commission Case Files Database – this database indexes case files for land claims made by heirs, devisees or nominees of original nominees for grants of Crown land.

  • Research Guide 215 - From Grant to Patent: A Guide to Early Land Settlement Records, ca. 1790 to ca. 1850 - [Word, PDF]

  • Research Guide 225 - Researching Crown Land Records - [Word, PDF]

Land registry records
  • Research Guide 231 - Finding Land Registration Records [Word, PDF]

Other Records and Resources

After you have taken these initial steps, be prepared to go further. At the Archives of Ontario you may consult naturalization records, passenger lists, maps and tombstone recordings, as well as church, court, military, hospital and school records. You may also consult city directories and voters’ lists.

Family History Centres

FamilySearch (formerly known as the Genealogical Society of Utah, a Branch of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons) has done extensive microfilming of family history-related records. This includes microfilm of records held by Archives of Ontario as well as Library and Archives Canada and some religious and local archives. This microfilm can be consulted at any of FamilySearch’s Family History Centres worldwide. All FamilySearch microfilm of Archives of Ontario records is also available in our Reading Room, and your library can order Archives material for you from through Microfilm Interloan.

For more information on the FamilySearch microfilm holdings, to consult their online indexes and databases, or to find the nearest Family History Centre, please visit Addresses can also be found in the Yellow Pages, under “Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints”. It is best to contact them before your visit as they have limited hours of opening, and microfilm reels may need to be ordered from the FamilySearch’s central repository in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada (the federal government archives) hold federal records such as censuses, military records, passenger lists, immigration and naturalization records, and land petitions. Some of these records are available on microfilm in the Archives of Ontario’s reading room. For information about Library and Archives Canada records and resources, please visit

 Old photograph of a Chinese family
Doing genealogical reseach requires a plan and and organized approach. This page details a few steps you may want to consider following.
Various OSWAP documents that are kept here
The Archives of Ontario holds many different kinds of records, with a few of the most heavily used being listed on this page. They are the starting point for most genealogical investigations.